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Okay, I’m guessing I’m a little late to the party on this one. If you’re looking for a show to help you relax, this one might actually be the ultimate experience. I came to the series from the manga, but the anime does a great job of translating the tone.
The story is set on a futuristic version of Mars, which has been terraformed for normal habitation, in the city of Neo Venezia. Because the real Venice has likely been swallowed by the ocean at this point, humans build a copy of the iconic city on Mars. The main character, Akari Mizunashi, is a gondolier tour guide called an Undine. The series follows her as she explores the city around her and guides tourists with the knowledge she gains.
Aria is a series that really appeals to the wanderlust within me. Akari is endlessly curious about the world around her, so many of the episodes involve her learning something new about herself through the city. The series does a great job of balancing its realistic setting with a sense of mysticism and deep-rooted traditions. It truly feels like you’re travelling along with the main characters.
Akari doesn’t carry the series alone. I think that the entire cast of characters (whose names strangely start with the letter A) is entertaining to watch. They come from different backgrounds, but they all move forward towards something they want to accomplish. As a result, I think the series captures the slice of life tone without making every episode feel like a sandbox. The characters can make clear progress, and I would say the story has a logical ending point.
It’s an older show, but I think it still has a lot to offer. It’s probably the kind of show that’s easy to find boring if you prefer shows with action, but I enjoyed its sense of wonder.
As a final comment, I think the strangest part about this series is that it uses the opening animation to show unique scenes that lead into the episode’s content. It works out because I like the openings for this show, but it could have gone so very wrong.