Farewell to Aria

By the Nozomi Entertainment Production Team, 2010

They say all good things must come to an end, and with our combined release of ARIA The ORIGINATION and ARIA The OVA ~ARIETTA~ this March, so too does ARIA – going out on the highest note possible. While it’s no easy task putting together 52 episodes, one OVA, four booklets, and hours upon hours of extras, all the while maintaining the quality Nozomi is known for, ARIA is one of those rare gems and working on it has been a wonderful experience.

When it comes to ARIA, the superlatives come easy. The show is beautiful, from the striking landscapes, to the gorgeous music, to the bright smiles of the characters as they greet each other for another day in Neo-Venezia. Not a single aspect of the series was left to languish behind the others, and every piece harmonizes together to create a beautiful, relaxing experience. It’s as if we are its guests and ARIA is an Undine – guiding us down the Grand Canal and then slipping down a side waterway to point out a hidden delight. (Aika: “No sappy lines allowed!”)

But while ARIA’s art is amazing and the show’s fidelity to the actual Venice is stunning, what truly makes ARIA stand head and shoulders above the rest is its characters. Watching Akari, Aika, and Alice grow over the course of the series and learn more about their city and chosen profession, they work their way into your heart until you can’t help but laugh, smile and, sometimes, even worry with them.

The main characters, along with the rest of the rich cast, grow perhaps the most during this final season. We see them interacting with others they haven’t before, and thinking, not just about training, but of the futures lying ahead of them. Changes big and small are in order, and jaws dropped more than once as we first reviewed the tapes from Japan. Neo-Venezia grows too, and we see new sides of the city, not just from Akari and her friends’ points of view, but also through the eyes of Alicia, Akira, and Athena. Eventually, the plot threads that have been running since the very first episode all come together for the grand finale, and it’s an incredibly satisfying ending – not to mention a real tear-jerker!

If you take the time to watch some of the many included interviews, you’ll find the Japanese cast was sorry to leave the show, but they were also happy to have been able to give it such a good send off, pouring their hearts into making each scene hit just the right tone. We can only echo that sentiment here at the Nozomi office. Though there were times when lining up all that on screen text drove our subtitlers crazy and there were so many extras that we had to give them a disc of their own, it was such a relaxing show, full of heart and wonder, that we didn’t mind the extra effort. Aika would scold us again for expressing the sentiment, but the place won’t be quite the same without an Italian canzone floating through the air.

It’s not everyday you get to work on a show this special, and we’re glad we had the opportunity. Venice now feels like an old friend, and the natural rhythm of the seasons has taken on new meaning as we try to look at the falling snow and budding flowers with Akari’s wondering eyes. But time marches on, and there’s always another new project. Being here at Nozomi, odds are high it’ll be a good one, but there will always be a place in our hearts for Akari and her gondola, gently floating down the canals of life.