Ross founded the UK Anime Network back in 1995 and works in and around the anime industry.
Aria Vol. 1
Author/Artist Kozue Amano
I was first tempted into this series by an artbook bought by a friend of mine (Stu Dawson in fact, our occasional artbook reviewer). So taken with it was I, that I bought it from Stuart and promised to send him a review.
After flicking through the beautiful artwork, I went out and found the manga, to see if there was a story to match the stunning and serene visuals.
As it happens, there is a story, and it goes like this: On the world once known as Mars, Akari Mizunashi has just made her home in Neo-Venizia, a futuristic imitation of the ancient city of Venice. The story takes us through the daily life of Akari and her friends, as she trains to become a fully qualified Undine (gondolier).
The stories are relaxed, sedate and whimsical, which will be a massive turn off for some, but stick with it and its charms become readily apparent. Amano has taken great pains to create a working city, with its own landmarks and traditions, and clearly delights in touring his creation. Everything has a detailed and attractive appearance, from the beautifully realised details like the round windows in Akari’s bedroom all the way through to the waterways and classical buildings that litter the pages.
As mentioned above, this will be too sedate for some - very little actually happens for much of the book, but the pleasure is in the scenery and atmosphere that just drips from the pages. I’d recommend it to anyone with the patience to appreciate it.
A literal tour-de-force of an alternative lifestyle that many of us can only dream of. For those wishing to escape the monotony and drudgery of daily life, this is a reminder of just how sweet life can be. I defy anyone to deny they have pangs to visit Venice after reading this!