If you didn’t know, we at Right Stuf really, really, really, like Aria… a lot. So it’s no surprise that we got to review Tokyopop’s omnibus collection of the manga, Aria The Masterpiece. As a first-time reader, I was lucky to get the first volume; after reading it, I feel privileged. Aria is a delightful, beautiful book.
Set in the year 2301, humans have terraformed Mars into a Mediterranean-esque paradise. They even created a city, Neo-Venezia, modeled after Venice. This means the new-retro city has water canals and gondoliers, aka Undines. Enter our main character, Akari, an Earth expat who dreams of becoming an Undine. She joins the Undine Aria Company as an apprentice. Under the watchful eye of master Undine Alicia, Akari learns about rowing, the city, and herself.
Akari’s journey is an optimistic and pretty one. Amano pulls out all the stops to make the best looking book possible. The quality of the art is simply ridiculous. The scenery is detailed and is enhanced by thoughtful panel layouts. It helps that Neo-Venezia is one of the most beautiful settings in manga. The Italian-inspired architecture is great and gives the city a lived-in feel. This is all done to prop up Amano’s positive view of humanity's future.
The slice-of-life based plot is feel-good and wholesome. In Neo-Venezia, stories are episodic and character development happens over time. Akari’s transformation creeps up on you until the author pounces with emotional scenes that hit you like a supersonic gondola.
When the fireworks were over and I turned to the last page, I was shocked how sad I was. I wanted to be in this world, see more of it, and be with the characters for a little bit longer. I guess it’s nostalgia, even if it is something just experienced. I’m glad there's more to come, both on the manga and home release front. Now I know what everyone else at Right Stuf is talking about.
On the planet Aqua, a world once known as Mars, Akari Mizunashi has just made her home in the town of Neo-Venezia, a futuristic imitation of the ancient city of Venice. In pursuit of her dream to become an Undine — a gondolier who leads high-end tours around the city — Akari joins as a trainee with the Aria Company, one of the three most prestigious water-guide companies in Neo-Venezia. There, she explores the beauty of the city and the world along with other trainees from Aria and rival companies, working hard for her dreams and making new friends along the way.Add to CartLearn More