A utopian science fantasy manga by Kozue Amano. The series was originally titled Aqua (アクア?) 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. The series has been adapted as an anime television series, with a first season broadcast in 2005, a second season in 2006, an OVA released September 2007, and a third season in 2008 that ended around the same time as the manga serialization. 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. The anime is licensed in North America by The Right Stuf International, which released all three seasons a box sets under its Nozomi Entertainment imprint between 30 September 2008 and 2 March 2010. The series is set in the 24th century on a terraformed Mars, now named Aqua, and follows a young woman named Akari Mizunashi as she trains as an apprentice gondolier (known as Undines). The series has been praised for its calm pacing, optimistic worldview, beautiful art, and, for the anime, the quality of the soundtrack.
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 ago. 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 (see Terms below). As she trains, Akari befriends her mentor Alicia, trainees and seniors from rival companies – Aika, Alice, Akira and Athena and others characters 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.
qua and Aria were adapted by Hal Film Maker as a 54-episode anime television series comprising two seasons titled Aria the Animation and Aria the Natural, an original video animation (OVA) titled Aria the OVA: Arietta, and a third season titled Aria the Origination. The series was directed by Jun'ichi Satō with character designs by Makoto Koga, and broadcast on the TV Tokyo Network between 2005 and 2008. All three seasons have been released on DVD in Japan. The series broadcast in Italy on the Rai 4, and in Philippine on QTV 11. The series is licensed in North America by The Right Stuf International. A DVD box set of the English subtitled first season was released on 30 September 2008 under its Nozomi Entertainment imprint. The second season was released in two box sets on 29 January and 24 March 2009. The third season box set, including the Arietta OVA and the bonus episode numbered 5.5, was released on 2 March 2010. The series is licensed in Korea by Animax Asia, in Taiwan by Muse Communications, in France by Kaze, and in Italy by Yamato Video.