Review for Aria the Origination - Season 3 + OVA
The first Aria series came out in 2005, and the second series, Aria The Natural was just 4 months in the making after Aria the Animation stopped broadcast, in April of the following year. But between Aria the Natural and this third series, Aria the Origination, there was a gap of almost 2 years. Given that the anime industry was in a process of change and adaptation around this time, switching from cel and paint to digital, from 4:3 ratio to widescreen, and from SD to HD, you’ll be unsurprised that Aria the Origination looks markedly different from the first two series. It’s still too early for full HD though. And despite being teased by the title, this isn’t an origin story for the characters; it still continues the story from The Natural.
Akari Mizunashi is living her dream. She’s always wanted to be an Undine, and went as far as leaving her home world of Manhome and moving to the water planet Aqua. An Undine is a gondolier who takes passengers on gondola rides around the sleepy water city of Neo Venezia. After a year, Akari is still in training with the Aria Company. Aria the Animation follows the adventures of Akari and her fellow and rival trainees, Aika and Alice in and around Neo Venezia.
13 episodes of Aria the Origination plus the Arietta OVA are presented across four Blu-rays from MVM. There is a problem here, in that the US release also delivered the three episodes of the Avvenire OVA too. Apparently licensing issues mean that we in the UK miss out on that disc. Hopefully in the future we’ll see Avvenire get a stand alone, single disc release.
1. That Imminent Spring Breeze...
2. That Smiling Customer...
3. Those Feelings Within...
4. Those Who Aim for Tomorrow...
5. That Keepsake Clover...
5.5. That Little Secret Place...
6. That Wonderful Extracurricular Lesson...
7. In That Gently Passing Time...
8. The Memories of That Precious Person...
9. Surrounded By That Orange Wind...
10. The Excitement on That Moon-Gazing Night...
11. Those Ever Changing Days...
12. Embraced By That Blue Sea and Wind...
13. To That New Beginning...
Disc 4: OVA
Aria the Origination steps up to a 1.78:1 widescreen 1080i transfer, a 60 Hz interlaced upscale of the SD source. I haven’t seen the original DVD release to compare, but what we have here on this Blu-ray release matches the better anime DVDs of the mid-2000s. The image is clear and sharp, line detail is good, and colours are consistent, and the show gets nice, smooth animation. Aria is a vintage show from early on in the digipaint era, and what we get here is an example of effective simplicity. The character designs are cute, yet memorable, and prone to drop into super-deformed mode when they do something goofy. The world design, heavily influenced by Venice offers an appealing sense of architecture without being overly detailed. This is a reflective and atmospheric show that has a whole lot of sunsets and colourful skies. But in a step up over the first two series, the colour palette has broadened, and the detail in the animation has increased. The show is a lot more interesting, aesthetically speaking, but it doesn’t lose the style that the first two seasons established.
Aria the Origination comes with the option of PCM 5.1 Surround English, and PCM 2.0 Stereo English and Japanese with the choice of subtitles and a signs only track. And get this; you have the choice between white and yellow subtitles. No one can be as fickle as an anime fan, and in one fell swoop, this release removes one point of contention. If only more distributors did this, the yellow vs. white anime subtitle flame wars would end. Facetiousness aside, the audio presentation on this release is as you would hope for, at least when it comes to the Japanese audio (with yellow subtitles). The dialogue is clear, you get a decent level of stereo separation, and the show’s mellow soundtrack comes across to excellent effect.
The discs boot to animated menus. Each disc ends with a translated English credit scroll for that particular set of episodes.
Picture Drama 1 (7:40)
Picture Drama 2 (5:28)
Picture Drama 3 (7:00)
Picture Drama 4 (7:10)
Picture Drama 5 (6:37)
Picture Drama 6 (5:33)
Picture Drama 7 (5:46)
SATOJUN’S “Venice, I’m Sorry!” Returns pt.1 (25:11)
SATOJUN’S “Venice, I’m Sorry!” Returns pt.2 (27:17)
Episode 13 Commentary
Cast Discussion on Aria (46:34)
Director Discussion on Aria (43:54)
Clean Ending (1:32)
US Trailer (1:56)
It is disappointing that we don’t get the Avvenire OVA episodes that came with the US release, especially as we use the same assets otherwise. Hopefully we get the rest of the Aria spin-offs as individual releases in due course as well, but thankfully it turns out that they aren’t essential when it comes to the story. All of Aria is told in the three series that MVM have released in the UK, and this Origination series effectively concludes the story, in the same, laid back, easy-going style.
The three seasons of Aria, The Animation, The Natural, and The Origination, cover the three years of apprenticeship as gondoliers on Aqua, for main character Akari and her peers, Alice and Aika. The Origination takes the story up to the end of their training, and as such, actually tones down the whimsy and magic from the earlier series, particularly The Natural, to instead offer more of a focus on the characters’ emotional arcs.
There is still the exploration of Neo Venezia, the appreciation of the passing of the seasons, and the slow pace of life, but we get to see the relationships between the apprentices and their mentors, Akari and Alicia, Alice and Athena, and Aika and Akira developed and explored. We also get to see more behind the scenes of their respective companies, seeing how gondolas work on Aqua, with a significant focus on the Aria Company and its past.
The passage of time takes on greater meaning in these 13 episodes, as the apprentices come closer to graduation, the impending change from student to master that will happen, and the bittersweet feeling that comes with it. At the same time, for their mentors, they are seeing their students grow up and become independent, and in one case, big changes in their life as well. Even continuing to be the light, slice-of-life show that it is, Aria manages to pull out a ‘happy tears’ finale for its final episode that delivers the perfect conclusion.
As for the one OVA episode that we do get with this collection, it is a great companion piece to the conclusion of the story. As the Undines get closer to becoming Primas, they naturally have some trepidation about whether they will confident enough and experienced enough to handle that responsibility. That is addressed in the series to narrative and emotional satisfaction, but the Arietta OVA gives a different perspective to this problem, and has Alicia relate how she, Akira and Athena handled the same problem when they were the same age as Akari, and they graduated. It’s a nice ‘alternate angle’ to the series that is fun to watch, and just as heart-warming.
Aria the Origination is the perfect conclusion to a great series. It may be a disappointment that we don’t get the same package as the US, but we do get the conclusion of the story, and we do get one of the OVAs. What’s more, unlike so many anime series that just get perfunctory presentations on disc, Aria the Origination has a very fulfilling collection of extra features that will keep you busy for hours beyond just the episodes.
Aria the Origination can be purchased directly from MVM's webstore Anime Online, UP1, and the usual mainstream retailers.
Your Opinions and Comments
Be the first to post a comment!