The definition of “aria” is rooted in the Greek or Latin “aer” for atmosphere, and the Italian meaning of “air.” Surely I am not the first to bring this up within the context of Aria the Animation – along with its successors in the franchise: Aria the Natural and Aria the Origination – so I’ll humbly beg for your forgiveness in treading familiar waters. In music, an aria has come to mean an expressive piece for a single voice that is only one portion of a larger presentation.
In August of this past year, I decided to accept a new position at my job; one that required nearly all of my time, whether I was physically at work or at home. I had vaguely prepared for the loss of private time – knowing that this accompanies every holiday season – but I had not fully grasped to what extent I would have to be available for this position. On the days that I supposedly had to myself, away from work, I was still on call if any situations arose, as they inevitably did. This isn’t to say that I begrudged the position, was ill-prepared for it, or resented it; however, it resulted in me budgeting my time tightly. Every moment not at work was precious, and could not be wasted.
Along with this sudden obsession with time came a mountain of anxiety. I would wake up at random, scribbling down various, work-related thoughts to be perused in the morning when I could do something about them. When I was able to sleep, it was fitful, interrupted, and full of nightmares about my job.
One night, not too long ago – and with the anime secret santa deadline looming – I again found myself unable to sleep. After making the poor decision to catch up on the currently-airing, and energetic, Kill la Kill, I nervously realized that still had Aria the Animation waiting for me. It was a series that I had wanted to watch for a while, but had never made the time for.
When I made that decision to watch it, I was not going into the series with the best mindset. I simply found myself with the time – time that was supposed to have been spent asleep – and presumed that it would be better spent doing something productive than staring at the ceiling and wishing for sleep to magically descend. What I found was something not productive, but far more precious.
Watching Aria the Animation instantly relaxed me. (Go on, you can insert your “Aria puts people to sleep” jokes here, I’ll allow it.) My mind slowed down and focused on the goings-on of Akari Mizunashi and her training to be an undine (gondolier) at the Aria Company. Akari’s life is but one piece of the entire city of Neo-Venezia, and Aria shows the viewer through its simple presentation of space – found both in the sky and sea – along with music and ambient noise. It was relaxing to watch Aria, during a time in my life where very few things were able to relax me. I spent every night after that with Akari, Aika, and Alice, thoroughly enjoying my time with them.
Therefore, to whoever recommended that I watch Aria the Animation this year, I thank you. It truly was a wonderful gift, the gift of time.
As an aside, I did also watch Place Promised in Our Early Days and enjoyed it, although it is not my favorite Makoto Shinkai movie in comparison to works like Voices of a Distant Star (which I believe to tell a similar story in a tighter manner) or Garden of Words (which affected me on a deeply personal level).
The entire list of secret santa reviewers/reviewees can be found here.