By Kozue Amano
Released in the US by TokyoPop
Slugline: A story the flows as gently and as calming as the waters it takes place on.
Aqua is the new name for Mars, for after 150 years of terraforming the entire planet is 90% covered with water (I can't imagine just how many comets they needed to slam into the planet to pull that off...) with a city based on Venice called Neo-Venezia that includes gondoliers. AkariMizunashi has travelled from Man-Home (presumably Earth) to become an Undine, the elite of the gondoliers who give tours of the city. Aqua is about her training and getting used to the planet and people.
Okay, I mean this in a good way, but if you ever need to lower your blood pressure, read Aqua. It is a nice gentle slice of life story. While Akari wants to become an Undine, she doesn't want to become the best... Undine... EVER...! She is talented, but still has to work and practice to become better (she is very good going backwards, but that's not how they do it on Aqua. So in a pinch, she can be very good by reversing direction, but most of the time she is struggling.) The art is very evocative. I think the best story is Kingdom of Cats, in which we see the still waters of old Mars and experience touch of mystery of the martian cats. Just a little bit of strangeness rather than something sinister. It telegraphs itself a little, I could tell the end of the last story as it was coming, but that is okay. I may not want to read too many volumes in a single sitting, but if you are looking for slice of life, this is one of the better ones I have read.
Aqua is a prequel to Aria (available from Amazon), yet another manga that I haven't read. Considering the stacks of manga that surround me, stuff we have yet to review and titles that we have, I am always a little surprised when yet there is another one I have no idea of the storyline. That is why I love Jason Thompson Manga: The Complete Guide (available from Amazon and RightStuf.com). Gratuitous plugging is over.
Aqua, vol. 1 is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.