Manga Review: Aqua Volume One

Aqua Volume 1 is a manga with the story and art by Kozue Amano; it is also a prequel series to the Aria manga. Tokyopop had the North American rights to distribute the manga; however, since Tokyopop went out of business, Aqua is currently out of print. This English adaptation, which is presented as an “unflipped” release, was adapted by Barbara Randall Kesel; the translation was done by Alethea and Athena Nibley. Aqua is rated “T” for teens age 13 and up.

Aqua Volume 1
Written by: Kozue Amano
Publisher: Mag Garden
English Publisher Tokyopop
Release Date: October 9, 2007

Aqua takes place on the planet Aqua, which was one the planet Mars; at the time this story is set, it has been 150 years since Mars underwent terraforming. The ice from the polar caps melted more than initially anticipated, and water now covers more than ninety percent of the surface of the planet. The main character of the series is Akari Mizunashi, and she is coming to Neo-Venezia, a city on the planet Aqua, to train to become an undine; an undine is a female gondolier. Akari is training at the Aria Company, and it is there she meets the president of the Aria Company (who is a cat), Alicia, and Aika. The stories in this volume revolve around Akari’s training and events that take place at the Aria Company.

Prior to reading this manga volume, I had seen the first episode of the Aria anime series, and found it to be quite boring. Unfortunately, this volume of Aqua was no better than what I had seen in Aria. There’s really no kind of tension or stress in the story to keep a reader interested in Akari’s training. The few times that there was even a hint of minor tension or stress, there happened to be convenient ways to get rid of the problem or the characters just seem to shrug it off. The characters are just a little too “happy-go-lucky.” Also, by the time I finished this volume, I really didn’t feel as if I’d witnessed any kind of character development for any of the characters. Personally, I don’t see any compelling reason to be in any big hurry to continue reading this series. However, this would be due to the writing of the original story by Amano; those responsible for the English adaptation and translation did the best job they could with the material they were given.

When it comes to Amano’s art style, the characters tend to be rather simplistic looking. Also, I felt Amano relied a little too much on having the characters being embarrassed and using lines on the face to show the embarrassment. While I understand these lines are a trope used in manga to show this emotion, I felt it was overused and called too much attention to itself. Also, I think the design for the cat present of the Aria Company just looks weird , especially since another cat appears later in the volume and that cat has a much more likable design.

I can only truly recommend Aqua to readers who enjoy reading manga with shallow characters and stories.

I wrote this review after reading a copy of this manga volume that my older daughter checked out through the King County Library System.

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