Japanese Anime: Aria

ARIA is an ongoing manga and anime by Kozue Amano. It is serialized in Mag Garden's monthly magazine Comic Blade, and has been collected into nine tankōbon volumes to date with more releases planned in 2006. It is actually a sequel series to the two volume series, AQUA, which is an introductory series to Aria and tells of how Akari comes to AQUA.

ARIA takes place in the twenty-fourth century, on the planet Aqua (formerly Mars), which has been terraformed into a habitable planet covered in oceans and seas. The town of Neo-Venezia, where the story occurs, is based on Venice both in terms of art and feel, and despite the futuristic time period, there is very little science-fiction to the manga at all.

The manga stars Akari, who is an apprentice gondolier with ARIA Company, one of the three most popular gondola companies in the city. She is training to become a full-time gondolier (or undine, as they are called in Neo-Venezia).

The style of ARIA is very laid-back, taking a "slice of life" approach to the story and is not plot driven. Most of it is devoted to the lush expansive art, as Kozue Amano frequently will take pages and pages to draw an environment, showing the wonder of both everyday activities in Neo-Venezia as well as one-of-a-kind events. It is very similar in tone to Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō.

The first three volumes of ARIA were released by ADV Manga in 2003 and 2004; however, the series appears to be on permanent hiatus. In 2006, Tokyopop announced it acquired the licensing for both Aqua and ARIA; the first three volumes of ARIA are to be republished before Tokyopop publishes further unreleased English volumes of the manga.

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