AQUA was first published in 2001 by mangaka Kozue Amano and holds a very special place in my heart as one of my favourite mangas of all time, since I first read it in 2007. It originally consisted of 2 volumes, but got a sequel called ARIA in 2002 and the whole franchise was changed to the name ARIA.
Serialization completed in April 2008. In all, the 70 serialized chapters of Aqua and Aria were collected in 14 tankōbon volumes, each volume containing five chapters covering a season of the year. Each volume is called a “voyage” and each chapter a “navigation.” The whole franchise is just about the be published as ‘Aria: The Masterpiece’ in the upcoming months.
Whats it’s about: On the planet Aqua, a world once known as Mars, Akari Mizunashi has just made her home in the town of Neo-Venezia, a futuristic imitation of the ancient city of Venice. In pursuit of her dream to become an Undine, a gondolier who leads high-end tours around the city, Akari joins as a trainee with the Aria Company, one of the three most prestigious water-guide companies in Neo-Venezia. There, she explores the beauty of the city and the world along with other trainees from Aria and rival companies, working hard for her dreams and making new friends along the way.
You’ll get: Stunning illustrations (!). PERIOD. This manga really understands the power of world building and wide-angle-illustations. The characters are super lovely and Akari (protagonist) is very relateable, because you experience through her eyes what it’s like to move to a unkown country/city/planet and how you can find adventure, when you only keep your eyes open for them. This makes AQUA/ARIA much more than an average coming-of age story. This manga also gives you some actual historical facts about Venice!
I would recommend this if: you are interested in european history and architecture and/or science-fiction with an unusual twist of combining history with futuristic elements. It is also absolutely amazing for people who need to relief stress and/or anxiety, since it doesn’t have any emotional drama in it and is just wholesome. BUT also if you are a cat lover! There are cats literally everywhere because they are actually the bosses of the water-guide companies and follow their employees everywhere they go. (Sounds creepy but is actually super cute). Director Aria is especially cute…..
Where to buy: This leaves me in a little bit of a wonder…the original hard copy versions of AQUA and ARIA (that I bought in Germany in 2007 and 2010) seem to be no longer available (?). There is a remake, which is now called ARIA: The Masterpiece and is a collective volume of AQUA and ARIA, so the first volume should feature AQUA 1 & 2. So starting with Aria: The Masterpiece seems right to me, even though it is only available in english. Maybe check rebuy and ebay for the original german version, but make sure that you always start with the two AQUA volumes and then read the sequel ARIA.
Rating: 9/10 would recommend