「その 逢いたかったあなたに…」 (Sono Aitakatta Anata ni…)
“To You Whom I Wanted to Meet”

I like all sorts of anime. That’s not news; if I wasn’t fond of anime in general I wouldn’t be here blogging about it. And anime is certainly not lacking in genre coverage; be it action or drama, comedy or tragedy anime fans are, if nothing else, blessed with variety. It’s not hard to find something to like.

ARIA was different though. It wasn’t a matter of liking ARIA. For ARIA, I fell in love.

It’s hard to describe exactly what makes ARIA such a great show. When one is in love, the reasons why are difficult to articulate, and to a sober third party sound completely stupid. So it is when one tries to give a synopsis of the ARIA plot. In the future, mankind has terraformed Mars, recreated old Venice on it, and everyone there are happy and content. The end. I suppose that was highly reductionist and not entirely fair, but the point is that there is not much there to convince the average adrenaline-junkie anime viewer to watch a slice-of-life show, especially if they go in expecting hard science fiction (and ARIA is only sci-fi in the most transient sense).

Sometimes there are those who describe slice-of-life shows, including ARIA, as not having a plot, or not having conflict. I wouldn’t exactly put it like that; there is plot, and there is conflict, but the focus is not on the Suddenly Stuff Happens. Instead, ARIA is about a world, its people, and their growth. That last part requires extra emphasis, as through The ANIMATION to The ORIGINATION we followed an endearing cast of characters through a significant part of their lives, and the main draw of The AVVENIRE is definitely seeing them all grown up, complete with curious new hairstyles. This includes Ai (still voiced by Mizhuhashi Kaori; the entire original cast reprise their roles), whose vastly enlarged part in the anime was certainly one of the most brilliant additions to the original manga (this in an adaptation that was done very well by staff that really understood the charm of ARIA). Suffice to say, if you haven’t watched the original three seasons of anime, The AVVENIRE is not the place to jump in from, especially since so much of its appeal comes from nostalgia.

Now, I understand that implying that a show tries to play to nostalgia may sound like a pejorative, as if was trying to make an emotional appeal instead of a substantive one but 1) there’s really nothing wrong with an emotional appeal in anime and 2) ARIA does it in the most positive way possible. For starters, isn’t it a bit strange for an anime with a sci-fi setting to also be ‘nostalgic’? It’s certainly not the same atmosphere as a ‘used future’ setting where all the tech bears an extra layer of pessimistic rust (like, for example, Cowboy Bebop); ARIA always looks bright and optimistic. But it contrast Neo-Venecia still uses gondola when flying cars are freely available, and a deliberate effort had been made to preserve the old-timey feel of the city. Look, 16th century architecture, and spaceships. ARIA The AVVENIRE plays all the nostalgia completely straight, starting with that the fact it’s pretty much an episode of ARIA that would have fit perfectly well in The ORGINATION (in fact, it’s based on a previously un-adapted manga chapter), but framed as a tale of the past. Everything you loved about ARIA is back. Beautiful soundtrack. Beautiful backgrounds. Quirky moeblob cat. Even the ED is a slideshow of past locations. And the story itself is about missing days gone by. When the old OP song, Undine, started playing, did you not get a straight hit of the nostalgic feeling? Same as when Barcarolle heralded Athena’s arrival? I know I did, and it felt good.

The thing is, ARIA is designed to let you feel good about waxing nostalgic, even though normally nostalgia is associated with rose-tinted glasses and a stubborn hatred of change. But it is ARIA‘s way to completely reject negativity. Yes, it celebrates the past, the simpler times, the forgotten wonders. Yes, things sure were great, back in the day. But there’s no reason that the future can’t be great too. That’s why ARIA is science-fiction, despite its retro airs. It’s speculative fiction, and it speculates with nothing but optimism. That’s not the same as naivete, mind you; again, ARIA is not without conflict and obstacles and even plot, even if that obstacle is just a packed schedule and the plot is just to deliver a present. It’s the attitude with which the conflict is faced, with unrelenting belief in the good in people, the wonders of the universe, and the silver lining in the clouds. The end result is nothing but incredibly satisfying.

I know I sometimes get roped into doing my old man act, about how things were better back in my day, and that you kids need to get off my lawn. Indeed, even ARIA cannot avoid change. The water is computer generated now. The singing voice of Athena, Kawai Eri, has sadly passed away. ARIA changes, anime changes. Nobody’s going to deny that the old shows aren’t great. But, in the spirit of ARIA, let’s not let that stop us from appreciating the new generation too.


ED Sequence

ED: 「ピアチェーレ」 (Placere) by 西沢幸奏 (Nishizawa Shiena)


  1. This is a fine example of how simple things could make you smile. When Undine started playing, I cried, because it was like getting back home after a long, long journey away. It doesn’t matter that time has passed, we still remember our dear water faeries, their slice-of-life goodness that’s still timeless and that feeling of peace just watching the amazing backgrounds of Neo-Venezia. Listening Athena’s singing and remembering (and bawling your eyes out, mind you) both Eri Kawai and Tomoko Kawakami is part of our reunion, and the hope of peace and quieter times that this loveley series always have.
    The only negative is that it’s only 15 minutes, and with the almost godly work presented, it’s clearly unfair. In an era were we’re stuck with 22 min, 2-cour trainwrecks or some overhyped trash of long-lost glory studios, having Aria is a godsend.

  2. I want to watch this, and I can’t find it anywhere! All I can find is a patch, apparently for raws that I can’t get. I want to relive some of my time on Aqua! Why must it be denied to me?

    Even just looking at the screencaps it’s a delight to see Ai as a single, and catch glimpses of a couple of others who look like they might fill out the new generation. Let the magic of Neo Venezia never come to an end.

  3. I’m curious: Can I watch this and then go back and watch the original anime or do I need to watch that first? It sounds like a slice of life anime which is a genera I’m a fan of.

    1. I’d recommend watching the original seasons first, cause as Passerby said, this episode relied a lot on nostalgia. They go “Aria the Animation”, “Aria the Natural”, and “Aria the Origination”.

      And yes, to many this is the slice-of-life anime, so I highly recommend it.

    2. This series pretty much began the swell of slice-of-life anime that we’ve seen over the past decade, give or take. And as far as “healing” anime go, even though a number of really good ones have come out since then, I have yet to see one that does it better than Aria.

      1. Seiyuu Ai Kayano enthuses about its ‘healing’ properties as well. It’s a nice little touch that she’s on board the cast now. As a matter of fact, I should probably begin watching this series when the Blu-Rays get licensed overseas, or if that’s not possible, some other method then.

        Also, I looked up on the voice acting section for ARIA over at MyAnimeList and it states there are Italian voice actors for ARIA! Italian! Oh man, I can only imagine watching ARIA in Italian, it’d be so immersive!

        Nishizawa Mihashi
  4. I dont know if it’s me only or anyone else share the same feeling, since the first series until today, i’m still listening to aria soundtracks…i especially like Eien no Umi A Song for Zephyr…This show makes my heart calm and fulfilled…like an old geezer in a good way!:P

    1. The ARIA soundtracks are certainly some of my favourites, and were certainly instrumental (no pun intended… until now) to building the atmosphere of the show. When I went back to read the manga some time ago, I found myself looping the soundtrack in the background; it had simply become part of the experience. And of course, as you say, it’s great to listen to just to nurse one’s soul.

      1. I do the same too, re-reading mangas + looping the soundtracks is a norm for me, passerby!So happy to found a someone who does the same haha…I’m a Huuuuuuuge fan of Aria, thanks so much for covering this anime passerby!…honestly speaking, after 16 years of anime watching (never missed a season), i have yet to come across an anime that invokes serenity in one’s soul as good or better than Aria, it still tops my list any day…

      1. Also wanted to comment on Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou. It’s something like the predecessor of Aria and similiar and also has the easily recognizable guitar music by GONTITI. In parts I like the music even better than Aria.
        Sadly Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou got only an OVA release that while being great only takes some chapters from the first half of the manga and skips tons. So after watching it I strongly recommend reading it. The Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou manga is easily in my top 3 and the first one in years I completely bought after finishing it.

        Just wait for a rainy day, make cocoa, get the manga and enjoy the calm, a little sad but warm world of Yokohama Kaidashi.

      2. Oh my god, i can totally imagine myself watching it, downloading this instant haha, thank you all for your awesome recommendation, hopefully i’ll be able to add another set of soul purifying OSTs to my collection! When it’s raining, i play aria songs in parks esp during rainy seasons under a small hut, with a cup of hot cocoa, staring into the air….the breeze, smell + Aria soundtrack makes it feel like paradise…

    2. I actually added the soundtracks to my Amazon.jp’s wishlist, and I’m planning to get them- this year even, if possible. Heck, they’re going around for anywhere between 1,000~3,000¥- both new or used! So if you’re interested, don’t pass it up!

      Nishizawa Mihashi
      1. Ahh… that’s why you can capture the emotion perfectly, Passerby-dono.
        Your review alone proved that.
        Oh how I wish you were alive during the Animation/Natural/Arietta/Origination era, and cover them all in RC.

        – Too bad the Holy Koala couldn’t turn back the time or have Koalaemon descendant or something…

    1. Oooh very late reply but thank you for this post. It sure brings back memories… Well actually when I heard news about this last year, was very excited and went out and bought a few old merchandise that I missed (the Undine magazine monthly. I missed volume 4-6). Can’t believe it’s already 10 years…

  5. Is it safe to assume that this has the same mood as the original? Haven’t really followed the series in a coherent way, but I somehow know how the story goes. Really interested to see how the girls grew up.

  6. Oh God, it’s back. Same magical experience as ever. Watched the entire thing with teary eyes and giggly smiles.

    For me, it’s an elixir. A magical experience. Watch two or three episodes when you are exhausted or negative in the night, then sleep like a child after being told fairy tales by his mom.

    The thing about ARIA is that the entire elements is an utopia. It’s slice of life, but the existence of a man made planet where the entire town is made of good will is more fiction that every other sci-fi parts of ARIA. However, it served perfectly as a perfect counter thesis for the negativity of this world.

    All of it is shown in the eyes of Akari. The one who could see beautiful things from any angle and matter. ARIA won’t be this good from the eye of other character. Her adult form is beautiful, too.

    Ah dang, I’ll rewatch some Origination now since this is waaay too short.

    p.s Granted, ARIA is not for everyone. But actually I was not really feeling the magic for the few first episodes of Animation before the magic kicks my cynicism out. Until then it’s a great journey for around a year (watched 1-3 eps when I’m down) until I finished Origination.

    1. Well, just to be technical, the planet isn’t completely man made. It’s Mars, after all. It’s just been so thoroughly terraformed that it’s unrecognizable.

      But indeed, Akari is the key. A wonderful girl who can see the beauty and find the delight in anything. The reflection of the city in the still surface of the water. A single set of footprints down a snowy alley; or a snowy alley without any footprints down it. The view of smoke rising from chimneys as the sun sets. The fun in talking to whoever she happens to sit near on public transportation, and instantly making friends. The feel of running barefoot through ankle-deep water. Akari finds these things and many more that most people are far too busy with “more important things” to stop and notice, and as a result she is probably one of the most cheerful and genuinely happy people I have ever seen. And when she stops to exclaim in wonder at something that most of us would just walk right by, it allows people with her, for just a moment, to see the world the way she sees it, and find some beauty and wonder in their lives that they never would have had without her.

    2. The reason why this rock that we’re living in in outer space reeks of bad ju-ju, is because we ourselves are deliberately pumping more bad ju-ju into the ecosystem. What was once a potential paradise is quickly turning into a potential hell. This anime is created with the aim of solidifying the hope that you can achieve a positive world if you deliberately work towards it. Expunge all the bad ju-ju, and things’ll be just fine… Just fine…

      Nishizawa Mihashi
  7. Aria is my favorite slice of life anime ever, and I cried watching this.

    The soundtrack distracts me a bit because I have been listening to the same soundtrack for the past 6-7 years now

  8. All hail based Amano-sensei and the anime crew. :p

    I’ve been following ARIA since the early chapters (though sadly long after its name was changed from Aqua), and it’s always great to see more ARIA.

    Now if only Amanchu! would get an adaptation as well…

  9. Oh my god the feels of watching Aria once more are hard to put into words. Its like you’ve just looked into the past and realised that everything is good once more, all from a show about simpler times that happen in our future.

    There’s always been something so hard to put to why Aria is so good, its a timeless feeling you just cant put easily into words.

    10/10 would re-imagine once again.

  10. I love ARIA, and I’ve watched the three seasons so many times already I was so sad when it finished 🙁 but today on all days when I came across this, really made a difference. I’ve been depressed for two weeks now and today I was going to take a ME day and watch some ARIA, and then I see this 🙂 This made my day! My week even! THANK YOU Passerby for covering this!!


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