Aria the Avvenire
As the newest company undine, Ai-chan dwells on what is expected of her as an undine and a part of Aria company. She also meets up -- quite coincidentally -- with two trainees, one from Himeya and one from Orange Planet, named Azusa B. McLaren and Anya Dostoyevskaya respectively.
I once said -- a statement I still stand by -- that Aria couldn't have had a better ending, and that much as I'd miss it, there would be no need to make more Aria. And so, Aria the Avvenire seems to stand here at my doorstep to challenge that notion. Were I going to turn down the opportunity to see the people I loved so much in the show I cared for more than any other anime I'd ever seen? Of course not!
The art and animation went through a few phases in the original TV show, but apart from some reused footage in the third episode, all of the footage in Avvenire is original... which makes some amount of sense, since Hal Film Maker isn't the team behind this OAV. TYO Animations still does a pretty decent job with Avvenire, though. Anything to do with boats -- gondolas and otherwise -- still look a bit awkward, but I'm going to cut this OAV some slack since animating things interacting with water is probably no small challenge, and the world of Aria literally evolves around that particular element. The music is mostly recycled tracks from the original TV series, but that's fine. It would probably be a little bit over the top to create a whole new soundtrack for these three episodes. The episodes also recycles Undine, Euphoria and Spirale for each of the episodes' opening themes, but we are getting a very nice new ending theme.
Another thing I worried about regarding this show was how they were going to deal with the character of Athena, mostly because both her speaking and singing voice had passed away in the time since Origination was made. Perhaps not surprisingly, the team behind the show decided not to find her new voice actors. She has no spoken lines in Avvenire; instead, she spends all her appearances singing, and even there, the show had a pleasant, if heavily melancholy surprise in store for me. (Here's a hint: "Himawari".)
Let's not broke any argument about this: it is good to see these people again. It makes me feel all warm inside to see the first episode open with Akari taking Ai-chan training. It makes me happy to see and know that Ai-chan is not any slower than Akari to pick up new friends while doing her best in Neo-Venezia. This is the seed that all three seasons of Aria and the OAV planted inside me, that still continues to grow to this day... if you'll permit me this one embarrassing line. This show is doing things to me, I swear. Delightfully horrible things.
But, and therein lies the rub; Aria the Avvenire is still somewhat unnecessary. Because more than anything else, it's a love letter, both to its past and its future -- hence the name, I suppose. It's a love letter to its future, because Ai-chan and her two new friends makes just as much an appearance as Akari and her mentors and friends. It's also a love letter to the past, because the two first episodes also serves as a chance to include two manga chapters that were left unanimated in the earlier shows; the first episode centered around the concept of reverse birthdays (due to the Aquan year having 24 months instead of 12) and the second episode took up the mantle of concluding the Cait Sith saga.
The bottom line is; unlike the earlier seasons (except maybe Origination), you could probably jump in anywhere and not feel any more lost than if you started the show at the beginning. Which is not to say the original shows didn't have a particular timeline and that it isn't best to start at the beginning, but its experiences were not centered around having to follow a story from beginning to end, but rather serving you bit-sized pieces of enjoyment for you to dwell on at your own leisure after each episode were done. Compared to that, Aria the Avvenire is more of a trip of nostalgia. It doesn't help that the other two trainees are a bit too much like their... uh, idols, I guess. Azusa is an open and forthcoming girl much like Aika was, and Anya is a soft-spoken girl with a weird sense of bluntness, much like Alice. And unlike Ai-chan, who has had three full seasons to present her growth as a character, even if most of that was through her audio-only chats with Akari, both Azusa and Anya feel more like they've been made in the image of their seniors. Even Atora, Anzu and Ayumi from episode 4 of Aria the Origination got more personal development in their single-episode appearance than Azusa and Anya did.
If I'm sounding uncharacteristically negative about this -- or, more importantly, about Aria -- then you can chalk that up to the fact that, after watching this OAV, I'm still not sure how I feel about it. Like I mentioned, I'm really happy about getting to see all of them again. I'm happy to see that Akari has grown up while still not completely leaving behind that endearing light airheadedness of hers (which would've basically have turned her into Alicia.) I'm happy to see Ai-chan all grown up and following in Akari's footsteps. I'm happy to get to see the people she made friends with, even if we won't be getting to know them personally. I'm a little sad that this three-episode OAVs chose to dwell on the past instead of looking towards its future. On the upside, I did appreciate that they finalized the Cait Sith saga, and for all the nostalgia the show splashed around in; in a weird way, it did look into the future... of the original cast, so I can't really be too strict on Aria the Avvenire
More than anything, Avvenire is a celebration to the fact that it's been ten years since Aria the Animation was made. It was made, and then it proceeded to steal the hearts of enough people around the world that the whole TV series was released in full, not only in North America -- which opened it up for anyone in English-speaking nations -- but I also happen to know for a fact that it was also released in Italy, Italian dub and all, which is weirdly appropriate. (The manga was also released in France, Germany and Italy as well.)
Mildly unnecessary, but still very, very nice. Do not under any circumstances watch this without watching everything else under the Aria franchise, though. — Stig Høgset
Recommended Audience: Nothing inappropriate whatsoever. Absolutely nothing. The "worst" thing that happens is the character talking about unprofessional behavior having negative consequences for people. That's about it.
Version(s) Viewed: Digital Source
Review Status: Full (3/3)
Aria the Avvenire © 2016 Kozue Amano / MAG Garden / ARIA Company
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