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Aquarian Age (Sign for Evolution) Complete Collection PDF Print E-mail
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R2 DVD Reviews
Friday, 02 January 2009 00:00
Aquarian AgeOne man's quest for a successful music career looks set to be overshadowed by the maneuverings of rival groupings jockeying for a much greater power - Aquarian Age: Sign for Evolution may not explain too much until it really gets going, but it doesn't half catch the attention...

Kyouta Kamikurata's just an ordinary guy, working in his parent's convenience store and trying to make it big in a band with his friends Shingo and Junichi. It seems he's going to get his dream, too, as following a New Year's Eve open-air concert the band is approached by Misato Yukimura, a scout for record company Cosmopop. A demo and a radio appearance later, they find themselves with a recording contract and Yukimura as their agent, and the future looking bright. Away from the excitement of the band's big break, though, Kyouta's vaguely aware that something's not right. He's been seeing visions of girls fighting around him - not normal girls, more magical girls in combat suits. He can see them fighting, feel the ground shake during their battles, and hear them speak to him - but as far as he can tell, no-one else can, and it's beginning to bother him. What he doesn't know is that he's only seeing the tiniest glimpses of what's going on around him - an age-long battle between rival groupings, fighting for control over humanity's destiny, a battle that a number of people around him are involved in.


Long-time friend Yoriko seems to have a key role the battles to come, but she's trying hard to avoid her responsibilities. She's been friends with Kyouta for a long time and obviously has wanted to push their relationship further than that, but for whatever reason she's never managed to make it happen. She's also connected to a local shrine that is home to the Arayashiki, one of the rival groups, and it's her destiny to become their leader in the battles ahead - but she'll have to break all ties with Kyouta to take up her responsibilities with the Arayashiki, and that's something she really doesn't want to do despite all the pressure she's under from others to just accept what she's destined to be. Through all this she's able to see the same battles as Kyouta, and how he's becoming the centre of their attention.


Yoriko's not the only one capable of seeing what's going on - for something that's so out-of-view to most people, there are a lot of people involved. The band's agent, Yukimura; singing idol Kanae Morino and her agent Abuto, who have both also taken an interest in Kyouta; classmates Kiriko and Asumi, who seem to be connected with the Arayashiki; and more besides, all of them with an interest in Kyouta. Why? Well, you'll have to watch the series to find out.

The one thing that surprised me about Aquarian Age is that, initially, very little information has been given out about what's really going on - all the viewer gets are some strong indications that there's a lot of manoeuvring going on between the various groups, and that Kyouta is the key to whatever it is that they're planning. Normally I'd find that to be thoroughly infuriating - I like to know what's going on - but in this case the way it's done makes this one of those series where you almost hate to stop watching.


There are a lot of characters to deal with, each of them seeming to have their own priorities and motivations that just happen to be converging on Ryouta. Abuto and Yukimura are the most dislikeable on first impressions - while Abuto is very much the meek & mild manager in public, he has Kanae on such a tight leash - literally - that she's almost his slave. Yukimura looks set to try and get the same influence over Ryouta, and from day one takes an interest in his private life, with some very direct hints to Yoriko that she should keep away from her latest signing. Kanae herself keeps switching from being the cute starlet to the evil demon and back, and to me is one of the most interesting characters in the show. Yoriko is tougher to connect with - while you're obviously meant to feel some sort of sympathy for the situation she finds herself in, her personality just didn't 'work' for me, and her scenes were some of the least enjoyable to watch. Rumiko may look the harmless young girl, but she's important to the Arayashiki and is the one putting the most pressure on Yoriko - even with the way she speaks it's clear that under the young exterior she's not to be taken lightly.

As the series progresses, there are a number of twists and turns that play out, mostly driven by out-of-control teenage hormones - most of the factions do appear to be dominated by teenage girls, after all - but there's also the discovery of just why Kyouta is so important to the tale, and the putting into place of a number of competing plans to deal with the threat that he poses. While having Yoriko central to the tale doesn't exactly help it, thre's still plenty going on elsewhere to keep the attention, with the series rising to a suitably high-stakes conclusion. The story proper actually ties itself up in episode 12, with a suitably epic battle involving all the various factions in the never-ending power struggle. For all that, the final scenes come down to something far more mundane but, given the focus of the series, more appropriate for the setting.

The final episode is almost is two parts - the first one looking at the immediate aftermath of the final battle against Sarasvati, which brings some nice closure to the Yoriko / Kyouta story, while the second part flashes forward a few years for a "where are they now" sequence. I have to admit to a little bit of disappointment at how this turned out, as I would have liked to have seen more made of the links between the various characters that developed over the series - without wanting to spoil too much, it felt that there were definite missed opportunities to show how people had moved on and grown over the intervening years, but instead nothing had really changed.

Overall, then, Aquarian Age is a surprisingly good little series - I wasn't expecting as much from it when I started it as I finally got out of it. The ending could perhaps have been handled better and the setting has the potential for far more explosive storylines (as the "movie"/OVA series shows off), but this has been a good story to follow. At the bargain price that this set is selling for, it's doubly worth checking out.

For full episode summaries and screenshots, check our reviews of the individual releases:
» Volume 1: Awakening
» Volume 2: Troubled Dreams
» Volume 3: Destiny

Rating - ****

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