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ARIA the NATURAL #1 PDF Print E-mail
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R1 DVD Reviews
Monday, 19 October 2009 00:00
ARIA the NATURALTime for another visit to Neo-Venezia, and the continuing efforts of Akari, Aika and Alice to become the best undine that a new world has to offer. As ever with stories from Aqua, expect slow-paced slice-of-life, with a little touch of the supernatural...

As ever with multi-disc sets, you can find the episode summaries and screenshots on the following pages. This set is part one of ARIA's second season, but you'd be hard pressed to spot the break - it carries directly on from events in the final episode of the first season, with young Ai still staying with Akari and Alicia for her holidays, and the girls still spending as much time goofing off in their own low-key way as they work on their training. Each episode takes a day in their lives and runs through what happens, be it fun, melancholy, or - even in the smallest of ways - character-defining. Running though all this, though, is a thread dealing with Akari and her growing connection with one of the city's most supernatural characters, who usually would actively avoid all human contact but who somehow takes a shine to the Aria Company's latest trainee.

One thing at a time, though. The focus this season is firmly on Akari - fans of the other girls, be they trainees or leads, will feel just a little short-changed as their screentime is severely limited. For the most part they simply support Akari in her own little adventures. The main exception to this is the final episode, which is Alice's chance to shine and looks a just how hard she can make life for herself at times, but that's the exception that proves the rule - we're here to see Akari grow and develop, to see what makes her tick and why she can so easily make connections with other people, and to a certain, small extent see how she's learning that there are things about life and herself that she still needs to learn. The rest of the story just forms a backdrop to her journey - a very enjoyable backdrop, it's true, but fluff around the main event nonetheless.

It's during this time that she comes to meet Cait Sith. No, he's not a light-weapon-wielding super-powered maniac (although that would have been fun to see), but a giant amongst cats in more ways than one. A feline the size of a cow, he's also the king of Neo-Venezia's feline world, a world whose true nature seems to go un-noticed by the humans in the city. Until now, that is, as Akari finds out that Cait Sith is no legend, while the King of Cats takes an unusual interest in our most likeable of human girls. Cait Sith forms an underlying thread to the series, with three episodes on this set devoted to his appearances, and while the story of their coming together isn't resolved yet - we'll have to wait for the season's second set for that - there's no doubt that it's shaping up to be something important.

Along the way, we get a few fun little episodes dealing with things like Akatsuki's failed attempt to express his true feelings to Alicia, Aika and Alice following Akari on a trip around the city while trying to learn just what it as about her that makes her so popular, and a few more run-ins with the mail service. Yes, it's all very slow-paced & not something you'll really want to marathon, but there isn't a story here that isn't charming, engaging and something that you'll happily watch from start to finish. Highly recommended to anyone who doesn't clinically require action in their anime, as that's the one thing you won't find here.

Rating - ****