Manga Monday- Aria

Aria is a utopian science fantasy manga by Kozue Amano. The series was originally titled Aqua when it was published by Enix in the magazine Monthly Stencil, being retitled when it moved to Mag Garden’s magazine Comic Blade. Aqua was serialized in Stencil from 2001 to 2002 and collected in two tankōbon volumes. Aria was serialized in Comic Blade from November 2002 to April 2008 and collected in twelve volumes.

ADV Manga released English translations of the first three volumes of Aria in 2004, before dropping the license. Tokyopop then acquired the English-language rights to Aqua as well as Aria. Tokyopop released the two volumes of Aqua on October 2007 and February 2008, and six volumes of Aria between January 2008 and December 2010.

Story

Aqua and Aria take place in the early 24th century, starting in 2301 AD, in the city of Neo-Venezia on the planet Aqua—formerly Mars, which was renamed after being terraformed into a habitable planet covered in oceans around 150 years beforehand. Neo-Venezia, based on Venice in both architecture and atmosphere, is a harbor city of narrow canals instead of streets, traveled by unmotorized gondolas.

At the start of Aqua, a young woman named Akari arrives from Manhome (formerly Earth) to become a trainee gondolier with Aria Company, one of the three most prestigious water-guide companies in the city. Her dream is to become an undine, a gondolier who acts as a tour guide. As she trains, Akari befriends her mentor Alicia, trainees and seniors from rival companies – Aika, Alice, Akira and Athena and others in the Neo-Venezia city. Aqua covers Akari’s arrival on Aqua and her early training as a Pair, or apprentice, while Aria continues her training as a Single, or journeyman, culminating in the graduation of her, Aika, and Alice as full Prima undines.

Each chapter is a slice of life episode of Akari’s exploration of the worlds of gondoliering, Neo-Venezia, and Aqua itself. Amano frequently uses several pages of lush art to depict an environment, showing the wonder of both everyday activities as well as one-of-a-kind events. It has been described by reviewers as very similar in tone and effect to Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō.

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