Posted by psgels on 17 July 2010 with categories: Anime Reviews

it’s been a long while since I took so long in finishing a mere 13 episoded series, but this is not meant against this series: the episodes here just have this tendency to suck all energy out of you, but for once in a good way. While I wouldn’t consider this anywhere among Sato Junichi’s best series, I still enjoyed its calm atmosphere.

Aria’s genre, the slice of life moe series, is a genre that I usually don’t really enjoy. It’s definitely one of the better series of the genre, though. While a lot of time is spent on just showing the every day lives of its lead characters, it sets itself apart with two things:

First of all: its dialogue. Between the characters it feels natural, while the voice overs have this tendency to talk about pseudo-philosophical themes that have to do with the episode’s content. It actually works quite well in both making the episodes interesting and fleshing out its characters. The characters in this series aren’t exactly well developed, but they’re neither stereotypes or one-sided. They’ve all got this natural charm to them.

Second: it actually takes place in quite an interesting and original setting. Instead of yet another high school series in Japan, we’re brought into the future, where Mars has been colonized and a new Venezia has been founded. This series is excellent at portraying the city, as well as the jobs that the main characters have as gondoliers. The series explores the past as well as the present, and also managed to create an entirely new culture. It’s this part that managed to impress me the most about this series so far.

By far the most annoying part of this series was the portrayal of cats, especially the strange blob that is the pet of the lead character (named as President Aria). This cat is just way too over the top with its attempted cuteness, and a large potential turn-off for future audience. I know that this was the case me, when I first tried to check it out, back in 2005 when it first aired.

Overall though, you can see that Aria the Animation is only the beginning for its story: the side-characters actually received much more development and background than the lead characters, while instead a ton of time is spent on building up its setting and fleshing out its characters. Things really have to move in a weird way if its sequels aren’t going to surpass it.

Storytelling: 8/10 – A ton of slice of life, but also doesn’t forget to put meaning to its scenario.
Characters: 8/10 – Not much development, but the human characters are all nicely down to earth. The animals are annoying, though.
Production-Values: 8/10 – Not the best, not the worst. The soundtrack especially has its moments.
Setting: 8/10 – Original, interesting.

Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou
Anne of Green Gables
Kino no Tabi

12 Responses

  1. Firechick says:

    “The characters in this series aren’t exactly well developed, but they’re neither stereotypes or one-sided. They’ve all got this natural charm to them.”

    I guess that’s why the 2nd season of this is called Aria The Natural. You gonna watch that, too? Along with the 3rd, which everyone thinks is awesome? I haven’t watched it myself, but considering how everyone thinks it’s good maybe I should.

  2. Asfad says:

    I pretty much felt the same way after watching the first season. Loved the atmosphere and setting so I watched through the second and third season and OVA. While the cats are still portrayed the same way throughout the series, they are definitely given less focus as the series progresses. In it’s place are more world building and character development episodes. Definitely recommend watching the rest. Still rank Origination as one of my favorites.

  3. Shippoyasha says:

    Oh, but the sequels and the OVA do surpass it.

    I agree with the cat-fetish. It’s almost too much. Wait till you see more Cait Sith. It kinda detracts from ‘appreciate the natural beauty’ thing with the supernatural and cat-worship.

    BUT, characters do get deeper delved into, relationships gets deeper and you get to see more and more about the charm of Neo Venezia to the hardships of their profession and so forth. I’d DEFINITELY say it gets better.

  4. ariafag says:

    nice to see you finally get to review this one. looking forward to your impressions on Natural and Origination

  5. Esque says:

    I was pleasantly surprised to find a review on Aria. Finally! It’s one of my favorite series.

    About the pseudo-philosophical parts, I quite liked them though. Even if they were not conveyed in the most natural way, it was still good food for thought on certain stuff that we may have forgotten.
    Maybe I think too much, but putting it into the context of my own life made me ‘open my eyes’ in a non-literal way.

    Aria the cat is quite strange. I found him rather weird but later on he seemed more adorable to me haha.

  6. Troyen says:

    Yeah, the only things I didn’t like about this series were the cats (especially Aria, though I actually liked Cait Sith) and the dopey face animations that were used every time someone was embarrassed. Fortunately, the cats get seen less as time goes on, but the lazy facial drawings don’t.

    Interesting you didn’t talk about the music, which plays a big part in setting up the atmosphere. In an interview with the director, he even mentions that he’d often set up shots to fit the music, rather than cut the music to fit the shots.

    And as others have said, it does get better. I found the Origination to be pretty powerful emotionally, by far the best of the entire series.

  7. kagura says:

    Aah, Aria, finally :)
    I remeber I wasn’t really impressed with the first season. Sure, it was a nice and pleasant watch, but nothing too mind-blowing. But then came Aria the Natural, and I got totally sucked in. Natural still stays as my favourite Aria season, though, objectively speaking, Origination is probably the best of the three (well, it definetely has the best episode). So yeah, I’ll be looking forward to your reviews of Natural and Origination :)

  8. Puran says:

    I thought origination was the best. It’s one of those series that gets better as it goes, so whatever you do, don’t stop now. It seems you did enjoy the series so far, so it would be a pity to stop.

  9. cutemi2 says:

    I love this anime, that reminds of my favorite quotes from Aika with the no forbidden words and Akari got embarrassed, like this in Filipino Dubbed version
    Aika : Nakakahiyang Salita, Bawal
    Akari : Nyah!!!

  10. Hellomotto says:

    Oho, finally got around to seeing it, eh? Glad it didn’t disappoint.

  11. miden says:

    Glad you’ve gotten around to this! One of my favorites of all time! It’s just so good! You should try it’s sequels, I promise it won’t disappoint!

  12. Mooniecat says:

    This is the best de-stressing anime to watch, I found. I really liked how they did the opening song especially, which they continued doing thru all the seasons. Like everyone mentioned, it does get better as one watches the seasons and ova. No reason to read deep into this, just decent animation, nice soundtrack and simple everyday stories. So good to watch after a day of blah work.

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  • AidanAK47
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 06:51 PM)
    Hype kills anything. In regards to the kind of emotional manipulation Clannad and maybe Undertale uses, it’s like a drug. The more you are subjected to it, the less of an effect it has.
    Still there are examples of something which comes close to expectation. People say Muv Luv Alternative gives you PTSD and in a kinda does. Though it’s helped by the connection you build with the characters though the first two games.
  • AidanAK47
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 06:47 PM)
    @Kaiser,I haven’t updated the old entries of my MAL in quite a while. Pretty sure Code Geass is sitting at a 10 on it and I am sure if I give that a rewatch that rating is going to fall harshly.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 08:59 AM)
    I say this because people often like to hype up the genre or those elements. I bring this up/think about it now because I played a game called undertale lately on my brothers recommendation and he was all like it emotionally destroyed him but I never ended up crying, I mean don’t get me wrong its a good game, there were laughs to be had and there was sentiment but it wasn’t THAT sad/funny.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 08:44 AM)
    Given how many people cry at some drama, clannad included.
    That reminds me…
    I can’t actually remember the last time in my life where I cried, I draw a blank.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 07:58 AM)
    @Aidan: Something always feels off to me when you criticize clannad, I mean I’m critical enough of key these days too but it seems odd that you rank it as an 8 on MAL when you’ve always made it sound its more of a high 6 or a 7.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 03:45 AM)
    But I’m no fan of gung-ho soldier games/most fps games so I am glad clannad, a visual novel outsold call of duty.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 03:44 AM)
    I said it once I’ll say it again. I preferred the clannad movie over the tv series, had more style, a more mature feel to it and cut out all the superfluous arcs/comedy for the better. It also concludes better than the series. The emotional involvement in the kyoani version doesn’t work for me anymore, doesn’t hold up. However the film remains emotionally engaging after revisiting it.
  • AidanAK47
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 03:19 AM)
    Holy hell Clannad is selling like hotcakes on Steam. Even beat Call of Duty in sales at one point.
    Kinda happy to see a VN get recognised and it would help open up the market for more titles to come over. But..well..Clannad really isn’t all that great.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 02:29 AM)
    I can remember when I first got into anime when I was a whole lot younger I always said I would watch lodoss war, El Hazard and slayers, yet I never ended up doing so…
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Tuesday, Nov 24. 2015 05:34 AM)
    Ha, the child in me would love to see a film like that I’d imagine, when I was young I was pretty crazy about Egyptian supernatural stuff.

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