My opinion on the first two volumes

For this and my next video I’m going to be taking a look at a couple of Tokyopop translated books. Following Tokyopop’s fall they’re pretty much out of print now, but you still might be able to get them second-hand or from your library, so I think it’s still worth me going through them.

First up is Aqua (which is also known as Aria due to a licensing issue).

After 150 years of terraforming, Aqua, the planet formerly known as Mars, now has more than 90 percent of its surface covered in water. A young girl named Akari Mizunashi arrives at the city of Neo-Venezia, an exact replica of the old Italian city of Venice, hoping to become an Undine, the most coveted job on Aqua.

Hold on tight and follow Akari’s adventures as she discovers the wonders of Aria!

This has a sci-fi setting, and is set in a future where Mankind has melted the polar ice-caps on Mars and then colonised the planet. (By the way, someone should do this in real life. I’m looking at you, the European Space Agency. NASA seems to be skint now, so it’s got to be either you or the Chinese.)

The comic stars Akari, who moves from Earth to Mars (both of which have been given appropriately sci-fi renames in the story) to work in the tourism industry on the newly colonised planet.

For anyone who is interested in a plot I’m afraid I must fuss up and tell you that I’ve just gone and spoiled all of it there; that’s all there is to it. Aqua is extremely episodic, and apart from a few character introductions most of the chapters could really be read in any order.

But the lack of a plot shouldn’t really be taken as a criticism though, as Aqua isn’t aiming to have one. It’s mostly a comic that revolves around showing the reader another world. This is mainly a feelgood comic. Nothing exciting really happens in any of the stories; the main draws are reading about Akari’s nice, laid-back new life and finding out more about the fictional future Mars.

If you’re a busy person, working nine-to-five or longer trying to make ends meet, but don’t want to be busy and would like a laid-back and quiet life, then this is probably a book for you. The main characters have a relaxing life working as tour-guides, smile a lot and generally have a nice time. In a similar way to how someone who is forever-alone might fantasise over photos of models in swimwear, it’s almost as if Aqua is some kind of relaxment-porn for busy people.

Any drawbacks? Well, as I said above, I won’t fault Aqua for not having a gripping plot or exciting action sequences, because that’s just not what it’s aiming to do. I’m not going to fault it for lacking any sense of suspense either, because it’s supposed to be a relaxing read.

However some fair criticism that I will throw at it is that Aqua is supposed to be about sci-fi and Akari’s exploration of a foreign world; but there are a couple of elements that fall back on pseudo-science or supernatural elements. As the series was supposed to be scientific these seem a little off and not particularly well implemented.

I doubt you’ll be able to buy Aqua new now as it’s more or less out of print, but if you are browsing your library and see a copy then it’s worth a read.