Posted by psgels on 26 August 2010 with categories: Anime Reviews




Watching Aria the Natural was… a challenge. Seriously, watching it (especially its first half) was a unique experience in trying to not doze off while still paying attention to the dialogue. I was nearly put to sleep by how calming the storytelling is here; that’s usually a really big insult!

Aria is all about making memories: those small events that leave a lasting impression on you, and the Natural is also full of episodes that focus on moments like these, in the middle of a ton of slice of life. Calm and soothing beyond belief, it’s very much an “Iyashi-kei” (healing-type) series that even more than the first season of Aria, is perfect if you just want to relax, or get rid of some stress.

The dialogue is also very important for this series, as it loves to flesh out its cast and setting with it. I especially liked how detailed and imaginative the script was. The thing that also sets Aria apart from most other slice of life series is that it really pays attention to the unique setting it’s in: the culture, history, traditions and people of Neo Venezia all get their turn to show a bit about themselves, and to be honest: I actually enjoyed this part more than the characters themselves.

Whether it’s the best slice of life series out there, though… I can’t say that. Aria is very good at what it does, but personally I enjoyed series as Windy Tales and Akage no Anne more. Even though the main characters have gotten 39 episodes worth of screentime, in which we do get to know them quite a bit, I still think they’re missing something. It’s like… they were trying too hard at times to be adorable, especially with the overuse of those comical chibi-faces. I’d also have liked a bit more variety in the different episodes. There were a few times at which I felt that this series might have gone on for a tad too long. This is just nitpicking, though. I enjoyed this show a lot regardless.

Storytelling: 9/10 – Calm, soothing, yet detailed, and a great script.
Characters: 8/10 – A charming cast.
Production-Values: 8/10 – An excellent soundtrack. The animation itself is nothing special but nice to look at.
Setting: 8/10 – Neat idea, well fleshed out, well used.

Suggestions:
Windy Tales
Ristorante Paradiso
Mushishi

9 Responses

  1. Sandshark says:

    I recommend you to finish the Aria series since you have endured it :P The last part is the best.

  2. Asfad says:

    Animation is the introduction, Natural is the world-building, and Origination finally develops the characters. Thats how I see the series as a whole at least. You made it this far, might as well finish it with the best part.

  3. Alec says:

    this actually one of my top 5 animes… There are times that I wish I didnt marathon it

  4. Shippoyasha says:

    The problem with Windy Tales: The character designs are the stuff of nightmares. PURE BLACK EYES? AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

  5. Machi says:

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with Windy Tales designs its just something you get used to as you see that it “works”, similar to how Kaiba’s animation “works” as well as you watch the series further.

    Sure they have pure black eyes but looking at how the faces were drawn I honestly couldn’t imagine anything different and in fact with the details away from the eyes they had the challenge of how to express certain emotions, since normal animation would rely on eyes. In Windy Tales rather than using the eyes their entire body was rather expressive, from their small fidgets to just being beet red when embarrassed, that helped to give the series its more slice of life feel. In that it focused on body language that you more commonly see than with the eyes, also it helped with what the series was going for in mostly using medium to long distance shots to reveal the landscape without losing the characters being in them and expressing something.

    So I definitely disagree in calling the animation of Windy Tales a nightmare when it fits to a T with what the series aims for.

  6. Shippoyasha says:

    I agree overall, but the black eyes is just…. wrong to me. I can’t ever get over it.. While Aria characters are quite easy to love since they express everything through their facial expressions.

  7. Sarynn says:

    Psgels, are you’re trying to marathon this show?

    I never felt sleepy watching this show. Then again, I just watched a couple episodes a day. It was so nice after a long day to sit down relax and see what interesting antics the world of Aria would give me today.

    Or maybe I’m wrong, and your mind just isn’t used to a calm show like this. xD

    Either ways, glad you’re bothering to experience it. I watched it so I had a calming world to escape to every day, a place where you’re reminded to appreciate even the smallest things in life. It’s like listening to a waterfall or river for an hour. Though if I go longer than that, yah, I’ll probably fall asleep. :P

  8. Puran says:

    Yup, Origination completes the character development. While you shouldn’t expect a ton of it, it does make the characters more rounded and they don’t miss something anymore.

    You’re definitely enjoying aria so far, so don’t stop now.

  9. Hellomotto says:

    Don’t worry; I felt the same way about the Natural. There were A LOT of episodes, and a few of the episodes were a bit boring. Others were calming and sweet; yet there were some that I struggled to sit through.

    As for the characters, they really did need to have an extra dimension. As of now, they’re a bit too flat; and 26 episodes didn’t do much to make them characters that are explored. (As the people above me have commented, Origination manages to complete it to a certain extent.)

    That being said, I don’t think the Natural was meant to be a character analysis; rather, it was about the journey that these three girls have undertaken. They are explorers; and Neo-Venezia is their Atlantis. That’s why, as you said before, you liked the episodes about the culture of Neo-Venezia more than the extra-dimensioning of the characters.

    Anyways, nice review. I hope you get the time to finish off the series with the OVA and the Origination.

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  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 07:10 AM)
    Seeing Hoffman in before the devil knows your dead and his character being dependent on drugs, that was another thing that hit me a bit knowing the circumstances of his death. Watching most wanted man I could also see that he was wearing out physically.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 07:00 AM)
    This is not Anno bitching about otakus jacking off to his characters and turning around and selling Rei panties, this isn’t the idiots at Shaft throwing around meaningless camera angles and the oh-so-symbolic teeth brushing scenes, this is a human being looking you in the eye with fear and telling you that he’s dying; morbid, honest, moving and remarkable.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 06:55 AM)
    Given my rants regarding Birdman it should be clear that I’m a sucker for these rare instances where the line between movie and reality get blurred- when an actor looks at a camera and just bares their heart out. This is the realism that reality tv tried but could never capture. this is art in one of its most sincere forms.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 06:50 AM)
    Oh yeah Hoffman was a massive talent and a beloved actor, so I don’t take it lightly when I call Synecdoche his greatest role ever. Given his death and knowing the circumstances of his life at the time imbues this performance with a chilling sincerity that just breaks your heart and leaves you in awe.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 06:42 AM)
    Oh Andrew Niccol, oh how the mighty have fallen.
    Hoffman showed up in Capote and most wanted man, the latter which I especially love and there need to be more thrillers of that vein coming out.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 06:37 AM)
    It’s funny how they also each have a Nicolas Cage movie. Kaufman has Adaptation and Niccol has Lord of War. Although despite the usual Cage antics neither of those movies is really that bad.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 06:33 AM)
    Eternal Sunshine and The Truman Show are the two roles where Jim Carrey really demonstrated his acting chops well outside of his usual comfort zone. But Kaufman moved forward from Sunshine with the superior Synecdoche, while Andrew Niccol went from doing Truman Show and Gattaca to doing young adult garbage like The Host *wretches*
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 06:28 AM)
    @Emma: yeah you’ll most likely enjoy it. On the surreàl scale it lies somewhere between Birdman and Holy Mountain, so although it’s peppered with symbolic imagery and thematic shots it’s still a personal story about a man’s struggle when faced with his own demise. Although a lofty statement, this is in my onion philip seymour hoffman’s best performance, and his untimely death adds another incredibly rich level of nuance to this movie.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 06:20 AM)
    @Bam: Adaption, Nicholas Cage =< a guilty pleasure actor to watch for the most part and little more.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 06:12 AM)
    @Bam: The more you mentiom Synecdoche, the more interested I get. Malcovich was a creative idea for a film and Eternal sunshine was a good spin on the romance genre which gave Jim Carrey a film worth acting in.
    Riki-oh if anything is just a heck of alot of fun.

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