Plot Summary
This series takes place in the early 24th century in the city of Neo-Venezia on the planet Aqua (formerly Mars). Aqua was terraformed into an inhabitible planet 150 years ago, and many of its locations are based on locations from the past that were present on earth (now known as Manhome). Neo-Venezia, based on Venice right down to having canals instead of streets, traveled by unmotorized gondolas. Those that pilot these canals as a Taxi/Tour service are known as Undines. This series focuses on Akari who moved away from the technologically advanced Manhome to be an Undine on a world with considerable less conveniences. Each chapter is best described as a slice of life mini story of Akari’s exploration of the this world.

Characters


Aria Company
 Alicia (left) Akari (middle) President Aria (right)

These two are the most carefree, and seem to enjoy themselves the most. Alicia is very polite and composed. Akari often makes silly faces in surprise/excitment but is fairly observant. Akari moved to Aqua because something seemed empty about the inconvenience-free way life is lived back on Manhome. Plus it’s her dream to become an Undine. Aria Company only has these two employees and Alicia is Akari’s mentor. Alicia is one of the 3 top Undines on the planet.


Himeya Company
President Hime (top) Aika (middle) Akira (bottom)

These two are the ones with a temper and have considerable pride. Aika is befriended by Akari when she finds her hanging around Aria Company. Aika admires Alicia more than any other Undine in the world. Akira is Aika’s mentor and she is also one of the top 3 Undines. The two of them are a part of Himeya Company that is over 100 years old and has many employees.


Orange Planet
Alice (left) Athena (right) President Maa (Athena’s shoulder)

This duo are soft spoken and shy in comparison to the rest of the Undines listed above. Alice is a genuis newbie Undine and Athena is her mentor (and roommate). Akari and Aika were impressed with Alice’s skills and insisted on having lunch with her. Athena is known for her beautiful singing and is also one of the top 3 Undines in the world.  Orange Planet is a newer company but it’s large and already well respected.

I’ve found yet another love, Aria is a great series. I love the beauty of the world, and the beauty (inside and out) of all the characters. If I had to compare this series to another one it would be Yotsuba. Yotsuba’s message is to “Enjoy Everything”, and Aria shares this same message. Yotsuba creates realistic joyful events that make you fully embrace the message. Now Aria’s events aren’t realistic since they’re world is science fiction, but I’d say that this message/theme is also the one that is most dominant in Aria. I enjoy all of Akari’s adventures, they often include mythological creatures and Japanese folklore.


Art
This series has some INSANELY gorgeous illustrations. So much care is put into the scenery that illustration is worthy of being framed and hung on a wall. As for the characters themselves you can’t help but want to approach them and step into their world. If there was ever a series/world I wanted to be a part of, it would be the world of Aqua in Aria. I’ve noticed that Dancing Queen’s Room seems to have a lot of beautiful Aria illustrations displayed. Also Wolf Hurricane has posts on all 3 of the art books released from this series (Alpha, Stella, Cielo


Read the ANN article here

I’ve been purposely avoiding reading this series for a while now. Why? Well look at who owns the rights to it…Tokyopop. They already put Aria on “indefinite delay” status once, luckily that was retracted and volume 5 was released November 2009. The series is currently complete at 12 volumes in Japan, and we’re at only 5 released with no prospective date for a release on Volume 6. I was worried about the heart break of having an unfinished series that is owned by a company that stops scanlations from being available. So that was the main reason I took so long to try it out. Aria first belonged to ADV, and then Tokyopop rescued it from them, but will someone have to rescue it from Tokyopop? Well Aria is such an amazing series I have great hope that if Tokyopop goes under someone will save it.

In the meantime I’ll start the anime and pray that I get to see the end of this series in manga form someday.