"My experience watching Aria can be best described as therapeutic. The show radiates with charisma and a delightful cast."
I have to admit, I don’t typically enjoy the “Slice of Life” genre. Many shows fail to build interesting and intriguing characters and while the lack of distinct narrative is part of the appeal, I’ve never been able to stay engaged throughout an entire series. So imagine my surprise when Aria The Natural (Season 2) Part 2 enthralled me to watch all five and a half hours in one sitting. Very few shows manage to pull of slow pacing with such grace, charm and personality. Aria’s ethereal vibe is remarkably enchanting providing a perfect blend of drama and humor. Like the recently reviewed Blessing of the Campanella, Aria is devoid of an overarching storyline and relies purely on its protagonists to carry each episode. But unlike the paper-thin and mundane Anime stereotypes of Campanella, Aria radiates with charisma and a delightful cast. While I’m new to the series and missed out on previous Aria releases, I was drawn to its world from the very first opening credits.
My experience watching Aria can be best described as therapeutic. Its happy attitude and warmhearted nature are indescribably contagious. Despite knowing little about the show’s background, Aria does a fantastic job of inviting viewers into a surreal, otherworldly place where both fans and newcomers are equally welcomed. Aria revolves around a group of amiable gondoliers in Neo-Venezia and their daily lives. You won’t find plot twists, evil antagonists, or any major conflicts for that matter; instead you’re treated to a worry free paradise and its colorful inhabitants. Akari, Aika, and Alice are professional gondoliers and best friends. Each episode introduces new challenges that test their skills and their playful and exceptionally well-written dialogue carries the entire season with soothing elegance.
"Even though I'm not a huge fan of the genre, Aria is exceptionally funny and well written."
The most surprising aspect of Aria is its witty humor and notable writing. The comedic timing is perfect and oftentimes startling, breaking up the otherwise mellow pacing with bits of unexpected whimsy and hilarious flashbacks. The back and forth between Akira and Akari’s childhood friend Akatsuki is delightful and makes this magical world feel surprisingly relatable. My only issue is with Aika’s tendency to overdramatize situations. She tends to take the most joyous moments and feels the need to overanalyze their meaning. I suppose its part of her charm and personality, but it can be a little perplexing at times.
Visually, Aria has a stunning art style. The beautifully painted backgrounds and memorable character designs bring energy and life to Neo-Venezia, although it's a shame that the format hasn’t been converted to wide screen. Furthermore, both the soundtrack and voice acting are surprisingly strong, making the entire world feel extraordinarily immersive and believable. To top it things off, Aria The Natural (Season 2) Part 2 is loaded with extra features like the Aria Company roundtable discussion, Himeya roundtable discussion, Orange Planet roundtable discussion, clean ending 2, cast reflections on the first two Aria parts, director discussion, and various trailer. Yea, you’re definitely getting your money’s worth.
Aria The Natural is one of the best “Slice of Life” shows…and this is coming from someone who typically dislikes the pacing and lack of narrative within the genre. There’s an indescribable magnetism to both the world and its characters and the creators have done a marvelous job of balancing the leisurely pacing with moments of comedic bliss. In fact, I enjoyed the show so much I want to revisit earlier seasons just to fill in the blanks and ready myself for future releases.
Review by: Tin Salamunic | Review Format: DVD | Running Time: 325 Minutes