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.

Suggestions:
Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou
Anne of Green Gables
Kino no Tabi

12 Responses

  1. Avatar 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. Avatar 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. Avatar 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. Avatar ariafag says:

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

  5. Avatar 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. Avatar 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. Avatar 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. Avatar 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. Avatar 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. Avatar Hellomotto says:

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

  11. Avatar 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. Avatar 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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