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.|