The Aria series goes completely unoticed by many, which saddens me as I believe it to be one of the greatest anime ever created.
The majority of the Aria series is divided up episodically over three seasons (I know people who have tried watching Origination first w/o viewing the first two.). Each story unfolds a whole new adventure for the characters to explore. The first two seasons, Animation and Natural respectively, are about introducing the characters and learning about the world which surrounds them. A series completely made of up small special adventures. As for Origination, being the third and final season, the second half becomes more linear and appears to have an objective in mind. The end of each episode always packs some sort of "special moment" or "wonderful message" which include things from abstract ideals to truths which may feel are obvious or hear all the time, but simply forget. Some may be turned off by its episodic nature, but I feel that it adds to the experience yielding great satisfaction by the end.
In Origination, we recieve a nice upgrade in visuals. It flows much smoother than the first two seasons and appears much clearer. The character designs, as bland as they may seem, seriously fit the show's lighthearted and simple nature. The town of Neo-Venezia is also designed beautifully featuring pretty realistic European architecture. Overall, the animation is splendid as some refer to it as, "scenery porn." As for a series revolving around rowing gondolas, the water is also done especially well without looking too choppy.
The sound is probably one of the strongest aspects of the entire series. Throughout all three seasons, I have found nearly every single Aria soundtrack to be absolutely pleasant to listen to. It works perfectly together with the visuals to create a somewhat mystical, nostalgic and peaceful atmosphere. The OP and ED are once again great and music is used just at the right times to really add to the experience. It perfectly executes the tone of the show as lighthearted and optimistic.
The characters seem generic at first, but they are really what drive the show forward. Aria follows three girls, Akari, Aika and Alice, all friends working at different Gondola companies. Akari is an optimist who always stays happy no matter what happens. In fact, she may possibly be the most optimistic character I've seen in anime. For most of the series, he character is consistent, but recieves great character development by the end of Origination. Aika, on the other hand, has a more realistic outlook and often tells Akari to shape up. Her character is wary of what others think of her and she often attempts to be more, "mature." She also receives a great heap of development throughout the series. The final main character is Alice who is the underclassman of Akari and Aika. However, by no means is she looked down upon. She is intelligent and is probably the most skilled of the three at rowing. Everyday, she has her own personal goals to accomplish. As with Akari and Aika, she also matures throughout the series. The cast size is overall not super large, but has enough characters who reappear from time to time. I honestly can't say there a character who I hate in the Aria series.
At the end of the day, the Aria series is one of the greatest shows I've come to experience. I can easily place it within my Top 5 Anime. It performs outstandingly in all categories. However, it's appeal is definitely not universal. If you enjoy series with more action, suspense and big chests, then that's unfortunate because Aria has none of it. I can say that it's extremely slow-paced, has no action, violence, nudity or any questionable content of the sort. Aria requires an specific taste to enjoy to the fullest. As for me, there aren't that many series that I can easily say are as powerful and satisfying as Aria. It does deserve more recognition, but I doubt it has the chance of going mainstream considering its limited appeal. Feel free to disagree with me, but it will take a whole lot to knock this show off my favorites.
If you do enjoy Slice of Life series, then you're in luck because I hail Aria as the absolute pinnacle of the genre. It accomplishes so much and is an unforgettable experience.
If you do consider watching Aria, I definitely recommend viewing the first two seasons, "Aria the Animation" and, "Aria the Natural" before watching Origination due to requiring a large amount of buildup before delivering its phenomenal finale.
Ah, how I love this show. Certainly, the Aria series are full of flaws, contain almost zero plot twists, have very slow character development and have nearly nothing going on for most of the time, which is also why there are only very few people I’d immediately recommend this to, but it absolutely excelled at what it was trying to do: creating a slow paced slice-of-life show in a gorgeously idyllic setting.
Just like the previous two seasons, Aria the Origination starts off with a hand full of episodes about the training days of Akari, Aika and Alice and the small adventures they go on. Seeing this is the third season, I’m going to assume that you, the reader, enjoyed these kinds of episodes during the previous 39 episodes (and 1 OVA), so I won’t ramble on too long about how this format definitely won’t appeal to most people.
This third season has more of a central theme though. While the first and especially the second season were almost completely episodic, most episodes in this show are centered on the worries and dreams of the characters about becoming Prima’s. While it retains its calm and peaceful atmosphere, there are also plenty of more serious episodes this time.
For the final five-or-so episodes it drops the episodic nature the rest of the Aria franchise has and goes for a very satisfying ending. Although it’s definitely a predictable conclusion for most parts, they did throw in a few pleasant surprises that will without a doubt bring a smile on the faces of Aria-fans.
There is no noticeable difference between this and the other seasons in the animation used. While the quality of the static animation is average at best and the dynamics are severely lacking in fluency, the designs are gorgeous as ever. From the elegant undine dresses with the company-patterns, to the alleys and buildings of Neo-Venezia, to the beautiful landscapes, everything is as Akari would describe as “wonderful”. So even though the animation left a lot to be desired, because the idyllic design of everything made for such a great ambiance, this season gets a very acceptable mark on animation from me.
I’ll be frank: this season’s soundtrack isn’t as good as it was in the previous ones. Although the opening is still very fitting, it isn’t as strong as the previous ones and especially slow in the beginning of the song (yes, even slower than the others). The ending however leaves the most to be desired. It isn’t even bad on its own, but it doesn’t blend in well with the rest of the soundtrack.
That said, apart from the opening and ending, the rest of the music used is as good as ever. Much of the soundtrack from the previous seasons is reused here and much to my joy, they used the opening theme from Aria the Animation, still my favorite song of Aria, to tastefully close the final episode.
This is where the show really shines. No matter how beautiful and idyllic everything is, an almost 20 hour long episodic story falls flat on its face if it isn’t accompanied by an incredibly likable cast. Because of the nature of the characters, I realize this is a hate or love matter. Every single person in the show is kind and good natured and even though most of the personalities are very straight forward and lack depth, almost the entire cast was likable to me. As is stated before, character development only happens very slowly in the Aria series and most of the views into the pasts of characters only reinforce their bland nature. It is however this unconditional love and almost simplistic points of view the characters have that gives the series this “back to basic” feel.
If you’ve seen the previous seasons, you’ll pretty much know what to expect from Aria the Origination. The first half consists of the same episodicness the other seasons have, but all while building up towards a very satisfying conclusion. The show has great closure, but also opens the way for a potential fourth season or OVA. A must watch for fans, and if you somehow managed to watch the first two seasons while disliking the nothing-really-happens tales (you masochist), you’ll be pleasantly surprised with a non-episodic second half of the season.
As a final note towards the ratings: I decided to give this season a higher mark on the story section because they toned down a bit on the less-successful comedy and because of the satisfying conclusion. This is basically the rating I would’ve liked to give the previous seasons, but couldn’t because of the more obvious flaws they had on the comedy department.
Have you ever had an anime you like trashed by some Weaboo? They would criticize some action show like freaking literary analysis. So, you look at their profile. They have watched 100 plus anime shows and one of their highest rated shows is a show called Aria. Let me give you a review of Aria from an intermediate anime fan.
If you are adverse to reading books, listening to public radio, or going outside ( which is a phase I am in right now), Aria is good substitute to see the world. It is not in high school, depicts work, and takes place in a sci-fi city. For everyone else, it's boring and a complete time suck.
There are 4 characters: pink hair is the new employee with dreams, blonde hair is the kind boss, blue hair is friend of pink hair who works for another company. Green hair girl is the prodigy introduced later on. The cat is like Pikachu.
Story: Despite what fans and non fans say, there is plot and conflict. It takes place in different form. It could be getting lost, exploring the city, a distasteful conversation, meeting people, seeing a new part of town, remembering the past, cooking. Episodes revolve around exploring stuff and believe it or not, every episode is different. But, they aren't doing their fucking jobs which objectively constitutes as a show about doing nothing. And, the fact this is all in cartoon form makes it very hard for the most open minded people to relate to these character's problems. You could call this, Aria: the procrastinators and retards.
Characters: For a character centric show, the characters are not deep. Pink hair girl comes off as a bag in the wind. Blue hair girl is slightly neurotic saying like 1 or 2 selfish things, but that's it. Blonde hair girl is constantly kind and mother like. So, you could identify with these characters if you had a lobotomy or are borderline retarded. But wait, they have dreams and stuff to be primas! Well, go the fuck to work then and stop screwing around.
Art : There is sort of an anime haze around each scene. Although it takes place in anime Venice, it is really hard to get a sense of scale or direction. It confuses the audience of exactly where they are on the map. There is not enough details in the costumes or buildings to actually feel like Venice or have a certain culture to it. You need more colors, cracks, random flourishes of patterns, asymmetry, and craftsmanship. The setting seems more manufactured than actually absorbing you into the story. To express emotion, faces puff up which just looks weird.
Sound: There is a lot of classical guitar so if you like classical guitar this is for you. It gives a soothing feel. The girls and cat thing squeal and go ehhh which is annoying. It's also hard to distinguish who is talking because all the girls have high pitched voices.
Overall: I kind of liked Aria. I wasn't really bored cause I wanted to explore the "slice of life" genre. But, for newcomers and other anime fans, don't watch Aria. The characters are not deep. You don't learn anything. If you want to relax and see the world, visit a park, go actually cook stuff, do something else because Aria will just piss you off. If you want a refreshing anime break, don't watch anime. Do something else for Christ sake instead of living in delusion watching Aria and subject yourself to sub-par story telling. It's a fantasy of fucking around at work and getting paid which is equal to any harem or battle fantasy out there. Aria is trash and escapism equal to any other anime out there.