Its time for another series of probably the most relaxing anime I've ever watched!
ARIA the Natural follows on from where ARIA the Animation left off. We return to the world of Aqua once again to follow the every day goings on of the pink haired Akari and her friends Aika and Alice as they continue their training to become Prima Undines.
ARIA the Natural is a 26 episode series compared to only 13 for the first. For some reason Nozomi ended up spanning it across 8 discs, with 2 extras discs all packaged up in 2 boxes. Never mind! The DVDs are sub only and still sadly only available from the USA.
This series focuses more on the lives of the characters and slightly less on the gondola training. Building up some of the characters backgrounds and what they get up to when they are not training.
Of course it mostly follows Akari and some fairly trippy encounters I know Exelion didn't much like the stories about Casanova/Cait Sith and I agree they do go on a bit but they were quite amusing!
Akari and Ai encounter Casanova after the carnivale.
Cait Sith, the cat king.
The second series also sees 'No sappy lines allowed' Aika showing her softer side as she attempts to get Al (one of only 3 main male characters) to notice her. She and Al get separated from the others during a meteor shower party.
Akari continues her silly adventures with a day helping Mr Postman when his gondola is in for repair. As she is still an apprentice she cannot take paying customers on her own so they call it practice instead.
When Akari's training gondola goes in for repair the repairman says its too worn out and its time for a new one. Being the sentimental types, Akari and Alicia decide to take the gondola on a fairwell tour of Neo-Venezia. Together they recall all the palinas, walls and bridges that the gondola has been bashed into. Alicia suggests that they go up to 'Hope Hill', so known as its where pairs (the first stage of training) are taken to be promoted to singles (what Akari is now), as a final goodbye. While enjoying a picnic overlooking the city they remember the last time the two of them where there and the moment Alicia promoted Akari to a single.
In Aika's never ending attempt to impress Alicia she decides to show off her new hair style at a BBQ organised by Alicia, Akira and Athena.
Everyone is very impressed with Aika's beautiful and shiny hair but it doesn't last long. Akira smells something burning and quickly grabs Aika and wraps her head in a towel. Aika is devastated by the loss of her long hair and runs off to cry in her room.
Now I know I've missed out Alice, she does feature in this series, just not as much as the others. Alice is miffed that she is still a pair and is always trying to do better so she can get promoted. At the end of the series Athena tells Alice that they should go on a picnic together in the spring. Hmm.. where could they be going? Hope Hill? Well, thats for the next series!
Again its another no-nonsense series. If you enjoyed the first you will enjoy this. And as with the first DO NOT SKIP the opening credits. ARIA has to be one of my all time fave non-scifi series. Yes the pace can be a bit slow but its no bad thing!
In terms of artwork and story the first ARIA series was going to be hard to beat. ARIA the Natural does well to keep up especially given the fact its twice the length. There are a couple of places where they've stretched things a bit but you could never call it filler.
I give ARIA the Natural 5 kitties
Next, to get some screencaps from the third series and the OVA.
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