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.

Most Anticipated Manga Releases of 2019

Welcome to Manga Monday where I talk about various manga-related topics! Today I’m listing some of my most anticipated 2019 manga releases.

NEW RELEASES

Witch Hat Atelier

This is compared to Studio Ghibli and Studio Ghibli is AMAZING. So I’m very hyped for this manga series dealing with magic.

Our Dreams at Dusk Vol. 1-4

This 4-volume series deals with the LGBTQIA+ community in Japan and I can’t wait because I’ve heard so many amazing things about this.

CONTINUING SERIES

Mob Psycho 100 Vol 2, 3 + more

Mob Psycho 100 is not just a great anime series (seriously go watch it because its stunning, hilarious and charming) but its also a great manga series. Originally started as webcomic (much like ONE’s other manga series One-Punch Man) there’s now print editions. I got the first volume back in 2018 and its such a delight.

Yona of the Dawn Vol 16, 17 + more

Yona of the Dawn is one of my favorite manga series EVER and it stays consistently good and gets ever better with each volume.

The Ancient Magus Bride Vol 10 + more

Another favorite is The Ancient Magus Bride series. Volume 10 begins the start of a new arc: The College Arc. I can’t wait to see what new adventures comes for Chise and Elias in this brilliantly magical world.

Golden Kamuy Vol. 8, 9 + on

Golden Kamuy is such a fun and hilarious adventure manga and I’m excited to read more. I’m actually way behind on this one but I will catch up in 2019!

Ran and the Gray World Vol. 2

I also got the first volume of this one in 2018 and it definitely intrigued me with its weirdness. I still don’t know much about this series but I’m hoping it’ll be worth it especially because the art style is gorgeous and whimsical.

REISSUES

Fullmetal Alchemist: Fullmetal Edition Volume 4 + more

I’ve been collecting this edition of this series since last year and I can’t wait to actually sit down and read them all. This cover is a personal favorite because it has best girl Riza on it!

20th Century Boys Vol. 3 + more

This is another series I’ve started collecting in 2018 and its one that is a must-read for me. It involves a cult and I’m so into cults.

Urusei Yatsura

This is a classic manga series by Rumiko Takahashi (who is also known for Inuyasha; Ranma 1/2). I’ve always wanted to read a classic manga series such as this and now they’re putting out new editions with color.

Aria the Masterpiece Vol. 1, 2 + more

The anime adaptation is one of my personal favorites and I think its so underrated. I’ve always wanted to get my hands on the manga series but its one of those that is super rare and hard to find. But now they’re putting out re-releases and I can’t wait.

Manga Series I’m Currently Reading & Series To Read

Besides reading YA and other books, I also read manga. I started reading & collecting manga last year and now I’m obsessed with it. However buying manga is not just, kind of pricey (since they come in volumes like comic books & other graphic novels) but also time consuming. Also I made a list of some manga series I want to read & collect at some point as well. If you’re interested in manga like I am and don’t see a book mentioned on here that you think I should check out, please comment down below! I would love to get some recommendations! 🙂


Currently Reading / TBR

These are series that I have already started and/or have begun collecting. So for all of these I am not finished with them. Also all of these are still in publication, being translated from Japanese to English. Some series are more behind than others in terms of translations, but I’m going by the English translations.

The Ancient Magus Bride (Mahoutsukai no Yome) – Kore Yamazaki
Genres / Themes: Shounen / Fantasy / Magic
No. of Volumes Published in English: 8
Finished / Ongoing?: Ongoing
Volumes Owned: 1, 2
Anime?: YES / SEEN


Yona of the Dawn (Akatsuki no Yona) by Mizuho Kusanagi
Genres / Themes: Shoujo / Fantasy
No. of Volumes Published in English: 11
Finished / Ongoing?: Ongoing
Volumes Owned: 3
Anime?: YES / SEEN


Dorohedoro by Q Hayashida
Genres / Themes: Seinen / Horror
No of Volumes Published in English: 20
Finished / Ongoing?: Ongoing
Volumes Owned: 1
Anime?: NO


Golden Kamuy by Satoru Noda
Genres / Themes: Seinen / Action / Adventure / Comedy
No. of Volumes Published in English: 4
Finished / Ongoing?: Ongoing
Volumes Owned: 1, 2, 3, 4
Anime?: YES / Airs on April 9 + plan on watching


Delicious in Dungeon (Dungeon Meshi) by Ryoko Kui
Genres / Themes: Seinen / Fantasy / RPG-esque / Cooking
No. of Volumes Published in English: 4
Finished / Ongoing?: Ongoing
Volumes Owned: 1
Anime?: NO


Land of the Lustrous (Houseki no Kuni) by Haruko Ichikawa
Genres / Themes: Shounen / Fantasy / Sci-Fi
No. of Volumes Published in ENG: 5
Finished / Ongoing?: Ongoing
Volumes Owned: 1, 2
Anime?: YES / SEEN


The Girl from the Other Side (Totsukuni no Shoujo) by Nagabe
Genres / Themes: Shounen / Fantasy / Magic
No. of Volumes Published in ENG: 4
Finished / Ongoing?: Ongoing
Volumes Own: 1,2
Anime?: NO


Want to Read

This is basically my list of the manga series I definitely want to read. All of them are still currently being published with the exceptions of 20th Century Boys, Fullmetal Alchemist & Pluto. So those will be much easier for me to find. I won’t go into too much detail for these as I don’t really know much except for genres. But I will include the synposis for each of these which I got from Goodreads and few of my own thoughts for why I want to read them.

Yotsuba by Kiyohiko Arima

Presents the story of the new kid in town – little Yotsuba, a green-haired and wide-eyed girl who doesn’t have a clue… about anything! With no knowledge of the world around her, and an unnatural fear of air conditioners, Yotsuba has her new neighbors’ heads spinning. This book is written by Kyohiko Azuma, creator of Azumanga Daioh.

So this is a slice of life / comedy about a little girl and growing. Pretty simple concept but I’ve heard a lot of great things about the story and the art.


20th Century Boys by Naoki Urasawa

Mankind would not have made the new age, encountering the crisis at the end of the last century, that almost wiped them out… if it weren’t for “them”. In 1969, “they” who were still in their youth, created a symbol. In 1997, as the footsteps of the disaster slowly starts to show out, the symbol revives. This is the story about several boys, that save the world.

This is an acclaimed manga series and it sounds super interesting and mysterious. I know that there is a cult involved in this. There’s sci-fi elements too.


Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa

Alchemy: the mystical power to alter the natural world; something between magic, art and science. When two brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric, dabbled in this power to grant their dearest wish, one of them lost an arm and a leg…and the other became nothing but a soul locked into a body of living steel. Now Edward is an agent of the government, a slave of the military-alchemical complex, using his unique powers to obey orders…even to kill. Except his powers aren’t unique. The world has been ravaged by the abuse of alchemy. And in pursuit of the ultimate alchemical treasure, the Philosopher’s Stone, their enemies are even more ruthless than they are… 

I know the anime adaptation is super popular and really good and I haven’t seen that yet either but I feel like I want to read the manga series first. This has fantasy and magical elements in it. It’s also known as one of the best manga series ever so I’m really anticipating collecting & reading this series.


Pluto by Naoki Urasawa x Osamu Tezuka

In a distant future where sentient humanoid robots pass for human, someone or some thing is out to destroy the seven great robots of the world. Europol’s top detective Gesicht is assigned to investigate these mysterious robot serial murders; the only catch is that he himself is one of the seven targets.

This is another accalaimed series. I’ve heard that the story and characters are well written and the art is amazing.


A Bride’s Story by Kaoru Mori

Acclaimed creator Kaoru Mori (Emma, Shirley) brings the nineteenth-century Silk Road to lavish life, chronicling the story of Amir Halgal, a young woman from a nomadic tribe betrothed to a twelve-year-old boy eight years her junior. Coping with cultural differences, blossoming feelings for her new husband, and expectations from both her adoptive and birth families, Amir strives to find her role as she settles into a new life and a new home in a society quick to define that role for her.

I saw this series from a Twitter user who recommends a lot of great manga and anime, where I also discovered The Ancient Magus Bride & Delicious in Dungeon. They also recommended this series which takes place in 19th century Asia. From the scans I’m seen from it, the art is beautifully detailed. So much so that these are hardcovers and a lot more expensive than the typical manga volume.


My Hero Academia by Kohei Horikoshi

What would the world be like if 80 percent of the population manifested superpowers called “Quirks” at age four? Heroes and villains would be battling it out everywhere! Being a hero would mean learning to use your power, but where would you go to study? The Hero Academy of course! But what would you do if you were one of the 20 percent who were born Quirkless?

Middle school student Izuku Midoriya wants to be a hero more than anything, but he hasn’t got an ounce of power in him. With no chance of ever getting into the prestigious U.A. High School for budding heroes, his life is looking more and more like a dead end. Then an encounter with All Might, the greatest hero of them all, gives him a chance to change his destiny…

So I’m a big fan of the anime series, which reminds me that the 3rd season is airing very very soon and I can’t wait. But I really want to catch up to where the manga is at some point.


Horimiya by Hero x Daisuke Hagiwara

Hori may seem like a normal teenage girl, but she’s a completely different person after school. In her workaholic parents’ absence, Hori has been like a parent for her little brother since she was young herself. Between taking care of her brother, feeding them both, and housework, she doesn’t have much time for a usual teenage social life. 

One day, she meets someone else who does not present his true self at school: a quiet, glasses-wearing boy called Miyamura. She’d assumed he was bookish, and possibly an otaku, but Hori couldn’t have been more wrong. Outside of school, Miyamura is a friendly guy with many piercings, and he’s not very good at academics. Now the two of them have someone with whom they can share both halves of their lives!

This is another one that I’ve seen someone on the internet read and recommend. This is a romance manga which I haven’t really read much of yet and I honestly don’t know too much about it expect that the two characters are opposites and I always love opposites attract romances.


Thanks for reading this super long post lol!

Sav