ARIA Vol. #02 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B-

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  • Art Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: All
  • Released By: ADV Manga
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 190
  • ISBN: 1-4139-0071-2
  • Size: Tall B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

ARIA Vol. #02

By Eduardo M. Chavez     October 15, 2004
Release Date: July 01, 2004

ARIA Vol.#02
© ADV Manga

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Amano Kozue
Translated by:Kay Bertrand
Adapted by:

What They Say
AKARI MINAZUKI has made her home on the planet Aqua, in the charming little town of Neo-Venezia. She is determined to become an undine and as her training continues, she finds herself in the middle of her first Neo-Venezian winter! Playing with snowbugs and going to hot springs with her friends, Akari is embracing her new life amidst the changing seasons, but nothing can compare to an encounter with a mysterious group of creatures. They will take Akari on an adventure of unseen places, but they won’t have to travel far!

The Review
ADV has done a fantastic job with this. They kept the original cover art and kept it in its original landscape format. It is a beautiful sunset image of the canals of Neo-Venezia with Akari on her gondola on the right. This image, full of color feels like autumn, very calm and relaxing. Above the image, ADV Manga keeps the original info that follows the spine. ADV also kept the original logo with the word "ARIA" in blue with kana between the romaji letters.

Inside there is a color volume header, featuring Alicia and contents page with an unusual image of Aika in her casual ware. The back cover has a night version of the volume header to the right of the volume description. The printing is some of the best I have seen from ADV. Tone looks solid and does not appear to be bleeding or blending to much. At the end of the GN, there is an ato-gaki, now called Monogusa Club (once called the Lazy Man's Club), with Amano sharing info on how and when the stories were written. There are a few ads as well: NewType USA magazine and Aria vol. 3.

The art is fantastic. Amano presents Neo-Venezia with wonderful architecture, lots of open water, floating islands with gondolas and airships. Mars never looked better. In some ways, it really reminded me of Europe, as there were long rivers along beautiful historical architecture.

Character designs are very nice. Whether it is the women or the cool mars cats they are all done with a lot of style. A good mix of thick and thin lines gives off a slightly flat feel (noses are not drawn in often, except in profiles). Costumes are very cute. Gondoliers and salamanders have to wear them and they are a mix of old and futuristic. Amano also mixes in some cute SD in this series. It can take a little time getting used to, but work perfectly in this very light, visually based title.

The layout is simple but with nice art inside all those panels, I really did not think about it too much.

The translation looks really solid. It really keeps the pacing and tone of the original. ADV does not use honorifics, but they always refer to Aria Pokoteng (the Mars-cat president of ARIA Company) and Alicia as President Aria and Miss Alicia, respectively. I was really pleased to see ADV not Americanize some of the dialogue. Instead, they shared notes on some Japanese and Italian culture (they should do that more often). I was curious about something. In chapter two, AKA Navigation 07, characters are obviously drinking beer and alcohol, but the dialogue was switched to "tonic" and "peach flavored drink." I wonder why drinking tonic water is so "adult" and why the peach drink was strong at all and on top of that why Akari and Aika drinking it would be crazy. As I said curious, wish I had bought these raw, especially since I have AQUA already. Still it is a decent job but this title does not really have a lot of text.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Time moves everywhere; even in Mars (BKA: Aqua) the seasons change and winter has finally arrived. To most people winter is about the holidays, sitting by the fireplace, playing in the snow, ice-skating, and heart-warming meals. For Akari who was raised on a mechanized Earth, where the weather is programmed and nature is rare, winter is almost overwhelming. Experiencing snow for the first time would bring adventure and new feelings. It will be exciting and lonely but in the end it is always fleeting. Do you remember your first snow and how cool it was? How cold it was? How fun it was? How sad it was to see it go in the spring? Time is fleeting especially on Mars where time and even if the seasons move so slowly.

Even in the cold of winter, there is always time for an adventure or two. What Akari has learned in her short time on Mars is that one need not go to the ends of the galaxy to find adventure or mystery. If you take a chance, go off the beaten path and look for new experiences you can find them anywhere. Akari took her chances and she was able to go deep into caves of the Dwarves that control the planet's gravitational pull. Her curiosity ended up giving her an audience with the legendary Casanova at the height of the Carnival season. She will never forget what the experienced then, nor will she forget all the other "first times" she has had so far.

As I stated in the review for the first volume, reading ARIA is like taking a leisurely trip. The pacing is slow allowing the reader to move at their own pace through Amamo's futuristic Venice. They can take their time on the canals, playing in the snow, going to an onsen, touring neighboring cities and celebrating the holidays. They can take a break through Amano's wonderful artwork and they would not need to worry about rushing since the main character is new to all those experiences as well.

If there is a problem with this series, it has to be the lack of a plot. These characters have no substance; their personalities are stunted. All these characters are just nice. The rookies are naive (as they should be); as the veterans are the real tour guides for this vacation. Unfortunately their is very little dialogue or much character development. So these characters are almost a part of the scenery, which is a step down from the drama of AQUA or the previous volume. Instead of growth, we get naivety, but in a series where the setting plays such an important role a little curiosity and an open accepting attitude are important to fully enjoy oneself in any situation. Readers can relate to that attitude as they too are just experiencing this new world from their own unique perspective.

Reading ARIA is like taking a vacation to a far exotic place. It is charming, relaxing and at times even exciting. There is so much to see and so little time to take it all in. In addition, Amano makes sure that the cast makes sure they use their senses - sight, sound, and taste - to make sure the readers of this title feel the overall experience. While there may not be much dialogue or much of a plot, there still is plenty being told by Amano's art and pacing. ARIA will possibly not have a large following but those who stick with ARIA will be treated to a wonderful experience that they will feel went by too quick.



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