Written by TheBigN
So this week, I’ve finished up (some would say survived) my first year of medical school. While that is an accomplishment in and of itself (though I don’t really feel like that at the moment, and it’s only because people tell me that it’s so), I still have a whiles to go. Even after going through four years and two major tests (where the first one pretty much decides how high I can aim for the future based on what I get) in the end and hopefully grabbing that MD, there’s still more work to be done before setting off on my own. A couple more years in a residency program, where I would work with bonafide doctors in learning my future specialty as well as participate in an internship for a year (or so I’ve heard, and I bet you’re getting tired of these parenthetic remarks by now. Maybe I should start using footnotes or something. :P), along with some more tests, and I would be good to go. The reason why I mention this sorta off-topic personal tidbit is because I hope that if I manage to get through my “magical” time in med school, my residency ends up being as enjoyable as the ones that Akari, Alice and Aika experienced under their tutelage under the Three Water Fairies in Neo Venezia.
I feel like everyone has already said everything that can or should be said about ARIA already, or at least have said it in a way that they could do more justice to the show than I could. And I doubt that me fanboying over it to the extent of “OMG OMG OMG! I LOVE ARIA!” ad nauseum for the entire post, though its how I really feel, would be productive. Even now, I’m still not sure how much of an impact that the series has for me. Though looking at how much time I’ve spent on it (like watching all episodes in the OVA, unlike some people who it doesn’t always work for them. And there goes another one… :P), and considering that the anime and manga are among my all-time favorite series, it already has significant influence on me. It’s really only been like four years since I got interested in the series, but in a way I still can’t believe that it’s been that long at the same time, and that I still retain a strong interest in the world of Aqua and what it holds within. I wait for bated breath for the first season R1 DVDs to come out soon, for example. :3
My experience was definitely helped by the fact that I had been primed for the show’s mood beforehand on some Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou before starting, as the show’s pace more than worked for me. Both the idea of a terraformed Mars, and the eyes with which we saw it through hooked me in a heartbeat. The supernatural and more mysterious aspects of the planet (and Alicia) were fun to behold (and Cait Sith is the man. Cat. Whatever), and Akari interacting with the other characters and the world of Aqua itself was great. An interesting point that I grabbed early on from the work was that when all is said and done, the one who seems most in tune with the soul of the planet is a “foreigner” from another planet. But as you can see when observing her adventures, Akari’s someone who can genuinely and sincerely make friends with anyone and anything with her optimism and sense of wonder leading the way. Given how easily and eagerly Akari assimilates into the culture and experience of Neo Venezia, this concept makes sense, though she does have some doubts about how well she’s done it sometimes. And lo, ARIA is suddenly pro-immigration (legally), obviously. 😛
Though Akari’s interactions with the world would easily be entertaining for me if that was all to there was, the rest of the cast of characters definitely makes the show a fun experience. As noted by some ARIA blogger scholars, there’s always some sort of solid chemistry that immediately clicks from any of the character interactions, even if it’s just Alice and Her Cat, for example. Though that sort of power is definitely at its best when the participants involved are three or more, but I’m digressing there. Even with such a large cast of characters that are slowly introduced into the world, unless you try very hard to do so (in which you are a sad, sad person), it’s hard to have any of the characters when things are said and done. I mean, it even took me a while to get over my annoyance of President Aria, yet slowly but surely, I came around and came to appreciate his failings as well. It’s a great demonstration of a circle of friends that feed off of and support each other, and realizing that makes things sad for me when I realize that I just might have seen the last of any new adventures with Akari and co.
Plus the show has just about the best SD faces ever for each character, which is more a plus for me than I would have expected. Though Bamboo Blade has warped my view of Akari’s unique one. Damn you Dan-kun, you slick Pangolin you.
I can see how a show/manga like ARIA can grate on some people’s nerves/not be what they’re looking for might not be able to reach all the people that it should. Stuff does happen, but it’s never anything too major, too abrupt or too high tension (‘cept maybe near the end.), and it’s almost the same exact formula every episode, as the main issue that is always resolved in the end, with an awesomely cheesy awesome phrases from Akari as an exclamation point (and I never once thought of phrases as embarrassing myself! :D). We do get change with our lovable cast of characters, especially when seeing how far they’ve come to get that goal. And oh how wonderful that journey was! Though the pace at which things went can be too slow for some people. And sadly, a relaxing, healing, feel-good (and happy happy joy joy… could it be the “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” of anime, now that I think of it? 😮 ) atmosphere with cute girls rowing nice boats just isn’t enough or doesn’t work for some people. Maybe they wanted a little more subtext I guess. Or they’re just Choro Club haters, and therefore they suck. And no, I’m not being serious about that 😛
But I do feel that ARIA is a show which hits some right buttons if people just let it do so, and I believe that people should take a look if just for the unusual experience that it attempts to provide for the viewer. It gives me a good deal of delight when I find out that more people are checking it out with this recent licensing announcement and the well-stated opinions of fans of this wonderful show/mange now that it has ended (I’m not biased at all, obviously). While people might not necessarily be blown away by what they see, I “hugely” believe it’s not a waste of time at all. And if you get that last line, you are awesome. :3