The last time I wrote about Aria, I had only just heard of the series with the latest (and last) anime series Aria the Origination. Since then, I’ve collected all possible volumes of both manga series, Aqua and its sequel Aria, released in the UK, as well as Kozue Amano’s wonderful Illustration Works art books. Knowing this, you probably won’t be surprised to hear my opinion on the series.
To those unfamiliar with Aria, we follow the story of Akari Mizunashi, a resident of Manhome (previously known as Earth) who has come to the water planet Aqua, known as Mars before its near complete terraforming. Specifically, she’s travelled to the city of Neo-Venezia, made in the image of the long-since flooded Italian city of Venice, to become an undine – a gondolier tourist guide on the expansive waterways of the city. What follows is Akari’s slow and steady progression as an undine, the people of the town she meets and befriends and the general wonderment of Akari’s “beautiful miracles.”
I would say that any expectations about Aria from someone who hasn’t heard of slice of life or healing-type stories would quite quickly be shattered, but Aria would never shatter anything – it’s far too peaceful for that kind of verb. After Akari’s initial acceptance as an apprentice of Aria Company, we settle down into a series of chapters showing her everyday life in Neo-Venezia, as well as introducing characters from other undine companies in the city.
It’s almost been a week since this year’s October outing of the MCM Expo, and the dust has just about settled around the ExCeL Centre. Once again, nerds of all shapes and sizes took to the DLR to buy lots of merchandise and/or dress up as their characters of choice. It was self-evident from the massive overcrowding on the platforms of Custom House station that this year’s Expo was as popular as ever, and to prove it, the organisers have stated the attendance was the largest ever – 46,400 over the weekend.
My excursion started dark and early pre-sunrise at Cambridge train station. Though even from this point one could tell fellow Expo-ers apart from the normal people. As we all navigated the Tube’s scattershot service, the nerd density increased to a massive level. The queue for the Expo, now very organised (as opposed to a few years ago), was as jovial as ever. Despite outward appearances and stereotypes, the majority of people at Expo are a very friendly bunch, and much high-fiving was taking place as the queue moved steadily forward.
Expo wouldn’t be Expo without the provided goodie bag, right? The DVD spoils this year were the usual, with a few old titles that many passed over at the time, and some bargain bin live action flicks. S-Cry-Ed, a 2001 action series, was present, though only the luckiest would have got volume 1, if at all. I ended up with volume 6. There was also an OVA called Submarine 707R, an action-ish story from 2003.
The format and layout of the show has remained mostly static throughout the years, though there was also a Friday afternoon opening this time around. Though I didn’t go, I heard it was nice to walk around the stands without the usual maul of people. The format on the Saturday was the same at least, open around 9am, browse the stalls, take in the anime industry panel, browse some more, go home. While this is the usual path for many, veer off slightly and there’ll be lots happening. While previously lots of unofficial gatherings took place outside, they were semi-formalised this year as the MCM Fringe Festival. Though still having that chaotic nature they’ve always had.
The industry panel for this year had more announcements that usual, with a more upbeat tone than normal. All of MVM, Manga Ent. and Beez Ent. were throwing new licences out left, right and centre. Beez have licensed the two noitaminA shows from Spring 2010, House of Five Leaves and The Tatami Galaxy, with more in the pipeline. I am very glad Tatami Galaxy has been licensed, as it actually manages to be quirky and refreshing. MVM have licensed Tower of Druaga, a sort of action-ey, comedy show with some great characters that would be well worth the watch. Manga have licenced both the second season of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, and the movie sequel, The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya. Not only that, the also have the Haruhi-chan and Churuya-san shorts, which are likely to be bundled in with the second season as a sweetener to help you survive. Manga are really riding high right now, what with also licensing the first season of K-On! (after fierce competiton from Beez) and Birdy the Mighty Decode. These will all be available next year some time, barring any complications. And as Manga sub-licenses from Funimation, Jerome made it clear that the flow of licences is as obvious as it looks, and that it doesn’t take a lot of thinking to discover what they have lined up in the future.
Through a post I recently seen on Natsukashii, I found out about a new fansub group, called Tortoise Fansubs (web/IRC), who are subbing Drama CDs. Excellent! Drama CDs, and especially internet radio shows these days, are so common for anime in Japan. They are perfect for unlocking secrets and explaining nuances from the show that just can’t be picked up through the medium of video alone. Also, and especially in this case for me, it helps with the withdrawal symptoms of shows that have finished, much like Aria.