Manga Mondays: Aria the Masterpiece Vol. 1 + 2 Review

Aria the Masterpiece Volume 2 was provided to me via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

On the planet Aqua, a world once known as Mars, Akari Mizunashi has just made her home in the town of Neo-Venezia, a futuristic imitation of the ancient city of Venice. In pursuit of her dream to become an Undine — a gondolier who leads high-end tours around the city — Akari joins as a trainee with the Aria Company, one of the three most prestigious water-guide companies in Neo-Venezia. There, she explores the beauty of the city and the world along with other trainees from Aria and rival companies, working hard for her dreams and making new friends along the way.

Experience the world of Aqua like never before with Kozue Amano’s gorgeously detailed illustrations and full-color spreads in this deluxe edition featuring the full prequel series, Aqua! 


Aria is one of my favorite anime series ever. It’s a slice-of-life story mixed with a very unique sci-fi setting of Aqua, a terraformed Mars that was turned into a water planet and a culture based on Venice, Italy. It has this calming and soothing atmosphere about it, that feels like watching an ASMR video.

When I discovered that they were finally translating the rest of the manga series into English with new editions I immediately pre-ordered the first volume.


CHARACTERS

The first volume introduces us to Akari, the main protagonist of the series and her perspective living in Neo-Venezia on Aqua as she is from Manhome (the new name for Earth). Akari is a genuinely kind and bubbly person and is eager to become an undine. Having her as a main character is so much fun and enjoyable. She has her moments of being naive and clumsy, but its very endearing.

The other characters introduced are equally as charming. There’s Alicia, Akari’s mentor at Aria Company (the place where she works as an undine) and the number one Undine in all of Neo-Venezia is a relaxing person who is kind to Akari and is patient with her learning the ways of an undine. The first person Akari meets in Neo-Venezia is the Postman who delivers mail via gondola.Then she meets Aika, another trainee Undine who works for another Undine company called Himeya. She’s a little more sassy and always calls Akari out for using “sappy lines”. She also has a crush/admiration for Alicia.

Then there’s President Aria the cat (yes a cat is a president of a company) who is there mostly for comic relief and also adds an interesting factor to the story. Cats from Aqua are special because they have aquamarine eyes and represent the Goddess of the Ocean and that’s why they are considered special and are made presidents of the Undine companies.

The second volume includes even more characters that have various professions as well as showing Akari dealing and interacting with unique customers she takes on tours.

WORLD BUILDING

The world of Aqua is set in the year 2301 and is what used to be known as Mars. Neo-Venezia where most of the series takes place is based on mostly Italian culture, specificially that of Venice where everyone travels and works by using gondolas, except in the few spots where there isn’t water. There’s also a mix of Japanese influence and Scottish mythology (there’s the introduction of the Cat Kingdom and king of cats, Cait Sith.

The author takes the time to explain how the months work (there are 24 months on Aqua) and how the seasons and weather operates.

As I mentioned there are other professions on the planet Aqua. There are Salamanders, who work in the sky called Ukijima and maintain the climate and weather. The gnomes who work underground control the gravity of the planet.


Here’s tl;dr version of why you should read Aria the Masterpiece

6 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD READ THIS SERIES

  1. Unique Italian/Japanese inspired sci-fi setting.
  2. In-depth world-building without being overwhelming.
  3. Cute slice of stories with meaningful messages.
  4. Likeable and fun cast of characters.
  5. Gorgeous and calming art style.
  6. Because I said so.

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