As with everything in life good things come to and end. And ARIA the Origination brings to a conclusion the story line started by ARIA the Animation and ARIA the Natural. Yet again we are transported to the planet Aqua for the third (and probably final) encounter with the pink haired Akari and her friends.
ARIA the Origination goes back to a 13 ep format. Well, its actually 14 as there is a '.5' OVA ep stuffed in as well. Yet again Nozomi have done a good job with the English version, my only complaint being that the box is just slightly too small and getting the DVDs out is a struggle. The box contains the series on 3 discs, a disc of extras and an additional DVD for the 'Aretta' OVA. The release is sub only and as ever region 1.
One nice thing is this that both Origination and Aretta are in WIDESCREEN. The first two series were both in 4:3.
WARNING: This review contains a LOT of spoilers, you have been warned!
The Aretta OVA really fits in between Natural and Origination. Akari has a dream that she is finally a Prima Undine and that Alicia has left the ARIA company. This frightens Akari slightly and she tells Alicia about her dream. Alicia then recalls the time when she became a Prima and how she'd been left on her own to look after the ARIA company. She also tells Akari how Akira and Athena had convinced her to take on an apprentice, which turned out to be Akari. Akari's fears are soothed as she realises that Alicia had to face the same problems that she will eventually have to face and that it will soon be Akari's turn to pass on her knowledge to a new apprentice. When Akari asks why Alicia chose her she just says 'its a secret *giggle*'.
I'm lead to believe the Aqua manga reveals some more of the background, just waiting on Mr Postman to deliver it.
The Origination story picks up with the continued speculation by Akari, Aika and Alice as to who will become a Prima Undine first. Alice is still a bit miffed as she is STILL a pair and thinks she will always lag behind the other two. Akari is also worried as she doesn't think she will ever have Alicia's skills and will never be good enough to be a Prima.
Akari decides to work extra hard and decides to have a go on the traghetto. A gondola crewed by two undines where singles can work without the supervision of a Prima. We're also introduced to three new 'single' undines, albeit briefly.
Left to right: Anzu, Akari, Ayumi and Atora.
Akira is worried that she won't be any good and the others take her under their wing. But when Akari finally gets her turn on the traghetto they are all amazed by her skills and say that she will soon become a Prima.
Meanwhile Aika is having a crisis of confidence. She doesn't think that she is anything special when compared to Akari or Alice and is worried that she will never become a Prima. She is further upset when she discovers that her mentor Akira was the last of the 'three water fairies' to become Prima. Aika can't understand how Akira dealt with being the last to be promoted. Akira assures her that she will make a good Prima.
Alice is also having her own crisis. She sees Akira constantly scolding Aika for making mistakes but Athena never scolds Alice. Maybe its because Alice just isn't as good? Alice also wonders why every time Akari makes a mistake Alicia just goes 'my my *giggle*'. She finally asks Alicia why Akari never gets scolded and Alicia explains that its often better to tell someone they are doing well rather than telling them they are doing badly. This puts Alice's mind to rest.
At the end of the last series Athena told Alice that they should go on a picnic together. Athena finally gets around to inviting Alice for a picnic and Akari and Aika get very excited as they are sure it means Alice is finally going to be promoted to a single.
But as often happens with Athena things go wrong and the picnic doesn't happen. Alice is very upset and Athena starts to think that she hates her.
The picnic finally takes place and Athena takes Alice up Hope Hill. Much to Alice's surprise Akari, Aika and representatives from the gondola Association are waiting for them at the top. Athena removes Alice's left glove as expected but then announces that Alice isn't going to be a single and removes her other glove, promoting her to Prima Undine.
Akira is worried that the promotion of Alice will have upset Aika, but Aika is more motivated than ever. Akira tells Aika that her promotion exam will be soon.
As winter sets in Akari tells Aika that practice has become a bit lonely since Alice became a Prima. Aika has to confess to Akari that she can't take part in the practice any more either as she has just been promoted to Prima too.
Not long after Alicia announces that its time for Akari to take the promotion exam and Alicia finally promotes Akari to Prima.
But the news of Akari's promotion is overshadowed by Alicia's retirement. Akari is saddened by the thought that Alicia will be leaving her and the ARIA company and Alicia admits that she has been unfair to Akari and should have promoted her much sooner.
Again ARIA the Origination had a hard act to follow. But personally I think this is the best of the bunch. The visuals and music are probably the best of the three as well. The very first series will always be special though.
It covers a lot of ground in quite a short space but is never rushed. In terms of story time line Origination covers about the same time as Natural but in half the eps. This doesn't mean Natural was too long or Origination too short. They are both just right. And Origination will bring a tear to the eye of even the most hardened mecha-moe-ecchi-scifi anime fan.
I give ARIA the Origination 5 kitties
And to finish it off a picture of a grown up Ai in her undine uniform from the very end:
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