***This is a spoiler free review***
When a series contains almost no plot structure at all, it must rely on its characters, visuals, and sound to help bring it home with the audience. While Aria the Natural is the second of three seasons for Aria, it contains almost no changes from the first season but it resumes the story and keeps that calm and serine feel that will turn every frown upside down.
I can praise Aria all day for being an amazing anime but I cannot say its story is the most interestingly written one of all time. The show is the second of three seasons so it suffers the fate of all middle parts of trilogies, not having a defined beginning or end. The story takes place directly after the previous season and continues into watching our main characters train to become better gondoliers. This anime is a slice-of-life in the most hardcore of ways; it is literally a story following three normal girls who are gondoliers at different companies. There is no secret bad guy, hidden romance (well a very, very, very small one), or shonen story here; it is just watching other people live their lives. We see them grow and mature while learning how to prefect their craft into something they can live off of. While this season of Aria does not have a huge ending, it does leave on a very happy note. Do not let the low score make you think the story is boring; it is just my honest opinion that everything is predictable but still very much enjoyable (thus is why I rated all the Aria seasons with 5/5 stars).
Again, I can say Aria is my favorite anime of all time but I cannot say the animation is the best thing you will ever see. The scenes are well done and consistent in quality but lacks that “spark of brilliance”. The show has a unique color platelet that emphasizes on light colors that brings out the sunlight and reflection of the water. Character designs are passable at best; the animation really shines on the big set pieces such as the scene where Alice is rowing down the canal next to the windmills. These important scenes are drawn very well and help show the characters feeling. Other than that, it's average at best.
Now this is something I brag to my friends about all the time, the perfect music. Some people do not understand how important music is for setting the mood. The soundtrack for Aria the Natural (which I own) fits the show so well as it is mostly a collection of small ensembles playing smooth jazz and popish songs. You will hear Aria lovers call it, “The sound of Utopia” as the planet the anime takes place on (Mars but known as “Aqua”) was meant to be a replica of a Venice utopia. Every scene is accompanied by such beautifully smooth music. Being a music nut since middle school, I really appreciate the makers of the anime for putting together a great musical score to help capture the mood of every scene.
Slice-of-Life anime rely on two things; comedy (not strongly present in Aria) and character development. Over all the seasons and especially in this one as it is 26 episodes long, we see the characters grow, mature, and learn from their mistakes. We see them change into the role models that they look up to. Akari (our main protagonist) is extremely likeable due to the fact that she always tries her hardest at everything and always has a smile on her face. Aika is a very serious person who forbids embarrassing comments. Alice is a somewhat immature girl that has a hard time making friends due to her immaturity. The characters are so different that it works in showing how true friendship happens spontaneously. When these characters are together, they present a friendship that I can relate to from my high school days. The adventures they embark on may seem silly to some but it always leaves me happy and ready to watch the next episode. These characters “click” more than any other cast I have ever seen in any other anime. As you watch the series, you grow with the characters and once you reach the end of the third season, you will be left wanting more.
After reading to this point, it doesn’t sound like a very interesting anime right? It’s almost too hard to fathom why Aria is so interesting to watch but I strongly encourage you to watch the first season as well as this one and it's finale to see how this anime can literally make you happy and relaxed. It’s a show you want to watch on a rainy day or when things just are not going well in your life. To watch these girls work their hardest and live out their adolescence life is so enjoyable. Aria came to me at a very low point of my life and it somehow made me appreciate life and what it has to offer. A fun but uninspiring plot, average animation, the best soundtrack I have ever heard, and the best cast around, this anime is a must see for everyone wanting to turn their brain's off and just chill out. I tried to be as non-biased as possible for this anime and I strongly recommend it to all audiences.
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