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.