I first ran into this show at an anime expo. I was taken in by the gorgeous artwork, the realistic settings, the magnificent music and the poised story telling with measured pacing. I had to wait a bit before I could fully track it down and when I was able to see the full run, I was disappointed beyond words.
The series is set in the 24th century on a terraformed Mars, now named Aqua, and follows a young woman named Akari Mizunashi (far right) as she trains as an apprentice gondolier for the Aria Company. Her two friends and rivals are Aika S. Granzchesta (far left, Himeya Company) and Alice Carroll (center, Orange Planet).
Now, you don’t always need slam-bam, massive explosions, dramatic battle sequences, giant fighting robots and unrelenting carnage for an anime to work, but you do need SOME kind of action or conflict. Aria’s biggest drawback is that the worst thing that happens is Akari feels she will never be a Prima undine (the highest level of gondolier).
You feel really badly in smacking this show about. Seldom do you see such a wonderful convergence of character design, artistic output and music. Now, I know that the author wanted us to find happiness in the small things and not to focus on our failures, but you feel something MORE should be happening. I mean, you can’t make progress without understanding set-backs and this merely steels your determination to achieve what you want.
It is like a gondola ride, in that it is slow and a touch lazy, so you can take it all in, but even when you row, you have to exert some degree of force or effort to get ahead. It has to mean something for you.
Still, everyone should see and hear this show, as it is still a fine (albeit flawed) example of what anime can strive to be. I have decided not to take on the rest of the series, owing to my perceived failures of the first show, but if you feel that this is what you want in an anime, they I feel you should go all out for it.
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 9 (Very good artwork, save for the cats)
Plot 7 (Needs something more)
Pacing 8 (It moves well, but something is off)
Effectiveness 7 (For what it wants, it works)
Conclusion 7 (It reaches a ‘save point’, but doesn’t really end)
Fan Service 1 (A similar show would be “Ouran”)
Overall 7 (Again, it’s missing something)
And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. Embarrassing remarks are not allowed!.