I don’t follow manga and anime as much as I used to and I don’t planning on anime/manga blogging again, but there are certain things that I still want to write about. One of these things is Aria the Avvenire, a three-episode OVA series to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the first airing of the Aria anime. Aria is one of my favorite manga and anime series. Both the manga and anime adaptation ended in 2008, so I was really surprised that in 2015 they decided to come out with this OVA series, along with one special manga chapter to go along with it. I finished watching the last OVA episode recently, and I can’t help but feel a bit sad that the series is finished again. It is farewell once again to this beautiful series.
For those who don’t know, Aria is an utopian slice-of-life manga created by Kozue Amano. The series is set in the 24th Century, where Mars has been terraformed into a water-covered world called Aqua, and the story follows Akari Mizunashi, a young woman from Manhome (Earth) who comes to Aqua to become an undine (gondolier tour guide) in the city of Neo-Venezia (a recreated Venice). The series is known for its beautiful art, calm pacing, and positive outlook on life. The manga collected 14 volumes in total, and Aria was adapted into anime with 54 total episodes (including specials/OVAs). The anime adaptation has been praised for the quality of its soundtrack. Both the anime and manga concluded in 2008.
Aria is one of the first manga series I started following back in my college days, and it really got me into the anime and manga scene and led me to start my now-defunct anime/manga blog. I found the series by randomly browsing manga sites, saw that it has nice cover art and started reading, and it turned out to be a great read. On top of the beautiful art that consisted of cute character designs and absolutely gorgeous scenery illustrations, each chapter in Aria just leaves you with this warm and fuzzy feeling. The theme of the manga is about enjoying the good moments, and appreciating the little things in life. It is an utopian fantasy that takes place in this happy world where people don’t worry about things like crime, poverty or natural disasters, and for me it’s nice to escape to such a world from time to time. Aria also makes good use of the sci-fi and fantasy elements to add a little more magic to the stories. Not everyone will like Aria, since it’s not fast-paced, action-packed or thrilling in any sense of the word. For those who want a relaxing read that brightens the spirits a bit, Aria is a great series to get into.
The only parts of Aria that made me sad were the last two manga chapters, and the last episode of Aria the Origination which adapted these chapters. It was sad because the series was ending, and also sad because it was the end of the journey that our main character Akari had with her mentor Alicia. I have to admit that I teared up a bit reading/watching those parts. It was obviously still a happy ending where all the characters find success, and it’s not like any of characters don’t see each other anymore, but it was still a farewell to a period of time and farewells can be sad. Life goes on and things change, and Aria‘s the message is to look towards the future with a positive note.
That is where Aria the Avvenire comes in, as it serves as an epilogue to the main story. It presents a new generation of apprentice undines led by Akari’s current apprentice Ai, and the series also covers some parts of the manga that weren’t covered in the previous anime (like the end of the Cait-Sith story line). It is a glimpse into the future of our favorite Aria characters, and the message, particularly in the last episode (and the special manga chapter that the episode is partly based on) is to be optimistic about the future and the good things that will come.
Watching the OVAs along with reading the Special Navigation (special manga chapter) really brought back that nostalgic feeling. It is both the warm and fuzzy feelings and also that wistfulness that characterizes the Aria series. The special chapter featuring Alicia’s perspective of her time with Akari (and the last OVA episode that partly adapted this chapter) was something really special. We found out that Akari was the first applicant to job at Aria Company before Alicia even sent out word that she was looking for an apprentice, and Alicia just went with the flow and accepted Akari’s application. The rest of the chapter takes us down memory lane of all the good times that Alicia and Akari had together, and it was quite moving. I didn’t tear up like the end of the main story, but the feelings really do resonate.
And thus with the end of Aria the Avvenire, the Aria franchise is over, probably for good this time. It was a pleasant surprise that they made this epilogue material which I’m sure all Aria fans enjoyed. Unless Amano-sensei decide to pen a sequel after her current manga Amanchu!, we probably won’t be seeing any new material again. So it is farewell again and onward, as stated at the end of the OVAs, “towards the miraculous future”.
For those who like Aria and would like something similar to read, the logical progression is to read Kozue Amano’s current manga series Amanchu!. It’s also a slice-of-life series, but it is set in an ocean-side Japanese town and it’s about scuba diving. Those hungering for more Aria-related content can also read the excellent doujinshi-series Aquamariners by CO-MIX. Aquamariners is basically a series of fan-made chapters for Aria, but the story and art are very high quality as far as doujinshis go.