Monday, 28 July 2008

The Vaporetto

ARIA the Natural Ep10 involved the extensive use of the Vaporetto, known in English as a "Water Bus". I personally found them to be a slow and relaxing way to travel. The docking/disembarking/boarding procedure at each stop was far quicker than I imagined.

Alice buys the tickets and tells Aika it's the same price wherever you go. That is indeed true - for 75 minutes! Each one-way ticket is valid for as many rides as you want, as long as it's within 75 minutes of it being stamped with a machine (pre-stamped in the ARIA scenario). This ticket is called the Corsa Semplice and is incredibly bad value for money at tourist rates of approx €7! Go get a 12/24 hour valid ticket instead (€14/€16 in April 2008) and ride, ride, and ride some more! Venetian residents actually have far cheaper rates.

My tickets. The red one is for the bus while the blue and white one bearing remarkable resemblance in ARIA is the Vaporetto.


Vaporetto scene comparison. Yes I'm aware the Traghetto is in the way for my picture, and no I don't have a better picture. Pretty sad but oh well!

All the Vaporettos I went on had typical European plastic seats and they were all forward facing. Nowhere near as cosy as the interior of the ARIA vaporettos - until I accidently stumbled upon a picture of a "historic motoscafi". The motoscafi is a water bus but of a smaller size of what we know as a Vaporetto. The modern motoscafi interior is similar to a modern vaporetto. I'd hazard a guess and assume they were also similar in the past!

Retrieved 28th July, 2008 from Terminal Fusina - Venezia - Fleet

One blooper I noticed in ARIA, the Vaporettos board and deboard at the front and rear which would be the only way to create a scenario such that Aika and Alice loses Akari in that episode. The real-life Vaporettos only board/deboard efficiently at the front!

Last thing I have to say is - ACTV (the transport company) is rather dull! The newer Vaporettos (circa 1990) have no seating right at the front. This renders a panoramic cruise up and down Venice's famed Grand Canal impossible in the far future (unless you take a Gondola/Water taxi). I was incredibly lucky to get the older models on all my rides.

Friday, 25 July 2008

The messages of ARIA (part 2)

My slow re-watching of ARIA continues and I've finally finished ARIA the Natural. The Natural was a lot of pure slice-of-life with many episodes focussing on the "experience" of the characters rather than carrying particular "messages".

Navigation 01: その カーニバルの出逢いは…/That Meeting At The Carnival...

There are times when courage is necessary but if you open your arms, you may have new encounters in the most unexpected places.

Navigation 04: その ネオ・ベネツィア色の心は…/That Neo-Venezia Coloured Heart...

Many attempts at achieving an objective may fail but one must always remember that you will succeed in the end.

Navigation 05: その 春の日にみつけたものは…/その 雨の日の素敵は…
The Things We Found On That Spring Day.../That Rainy Day's Honesty...

The discovering of certain things/experiences is not possible without failure.

What one discovers after failure may be of greater value than the original objective.

Navigation 06: その 鏡にうつる笑顔は…/That Smile Reflected In The Mirror...

Just like how mirrors reflect your own image, other people whom you interact with reflect your own heart.

Navigation 13: その いちばん新しい想い出に…/That Newest Memory...

You can meet past people and feel their emotions by seeing what they leave behind.

Navigation 18: その 新しい自分に…/That New Me...

You can only be yourself. It is impossible to completely emulate and “become” another person.

Navigation 23:
その 海と恋と想いと…/That Sea, Love And Thoughts....

Any encounter you have is possibly a miracle (well, with the laws of probability, it is!).

Important feelings are something which you grow and nurture over time.

Navigation 24:
その 明日のウンディーネに…/That Tomorrow's Undine...

People have a tendency to magnify the bad things in life, and end up making it far worse than it actually is.

Good moments and bad moments cannot be taken for granted

Just for fun, I also tried rating individual episodes of the Natural to come out with an average.
6 = Average
7 = Good
8 = Very good
9 = Excellent

Came out with an average of 7.27 and comes out slightly lower than The Animation (7.46). The Natural didn't really have a huge "WOW" episode but was consistently good throughout.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

The Caffe Florian

I've finally found the settings for commenting.
As of July 20, NO registration is required to comment.

I shall attempt to make up for my lack of updates with a mega-post which I've been withholding ever since this blog began.

Piazza San Marco boasts three Coffee Houses: The Quadri, The Lavena, and The Florian. The Quadri is in fact the oldest of the three, followed by the Florian, then the Lavena. The Quadri boasts grand rooms and chandeliers but in my opinion, the artwork plastered around the Florian has a higher uniqueness factor.

The animated series of ARIA used the Caffe Florian several times during its run, most prominently in the Origination Episode 03. Only God knows how much the ARIA crew actually paid them.

We start with the exterior. I took my picture just as a storm was coming in thus the lighting.

This is what Hahi-chan would be facing as she comes in through the entrance.

The interior of the Caffe is just as depicted in ARIA except it looks older and more like a royal family place because of the laminated wood which is rather hard to draw in anime (thus ARIA used an ordinary shade of brown). Look in the corner and you'll see the statue, as depicted in ARIA. Absolutely stunning artwork on all corners of the walls...

...and even the ceiling. Yes, this is the ceiling!

The archways linking the different rooms. I did not realise my lens cap had got into the way until I was a long way away from Venice. :/

The Alfresco dining experience is an option (with surcharge) but I've always preferred indoor dining and with artwork like the Florian it was a no-brainer.

Something to avoid. The orchestra comes in the afternoon and you will get an automatic surcharge of €10 when they're around. That is no good when you could just sit nearby to listen to them for free which is what I exactly did in the midst of a thunderstorm! Besides, the Violin was so grossly out of tune that evening which is totally unacceptable for such a posh place. Definately the worst rendition of Andrea Bocelli's "Con Te Partiro'" I'll hear in a very long time! The other 2 Caffes also have their own bands.

The indoor rooms are equipped with Bose speakers playing Italian music at a low volume. I had my food while listening to the likes of Vivaldi which was simply great.

Time to bust an ARIA myth. No, the alfresco dining areas do not follow the shadow of the Campanile. With 3 Caffes competing, the Florian does not have the God-given right to occupy the whole Piazza San Marco!

Enough babbling, and it's time to actually see the food!

The coffee counter and the outrageously priced Tiramisu cake.

Easily the most expensive breakfast and coffee I'll have in my life. A cup of Caffe Latte costs around €10 by itself which is extremely steep. My mum decided to work out value-for-money and decided to go for the breakfast which costs €31 and includes a Coffee of your choice, which I of course picked the Latte!

The food was simply fantastic, and it is an unforgettable once in a lifetime experience. I had felt Venice was rather dull but this food made me see the light, seriously! The coffee had a deep aftertaste which you don't experience at all in the sugar-filled places which we call Starbucks. The whole experience is in a completely different league.

My mood was the same as Hahi-chan. I was very uneasy and nervous!

The bill.

With such a memorable experience, I surely needed souvenirs! I therefore took the courtesy of taking away the 3 bottles of jam which came unopened with the breakfast, 2x paper napkins and sugar satchets with the crest of the Florian. I also sneakily took away my cloth napkin! Some are on show here and there's a blog spoiler in this shot as well.

What a post, and it took me 2 hours to put this together!

Tuesday, 15 July 2008



Everyone changes gradually.

The myriad of events which have taught me,

The people I have met up to this day,

With my emotions filled with gratitude I say

"Thank You"

But since this is a blog, I'm not at all embarassed to write this!

My studies have drawn to a close in Quirksville, Europe and my parents have come a long way here to celebrate graduation with me.

Now, I've never really liked Quirksville very much so far but with my dad's "filter" (ala the Akari filter quoted in ARIA the Natural), I've come to appreciate Quirksville much more than ever before.

I'm a rather cynical person but it's amazing what positive thinking (ala ARIA) can do to your life!

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

ARIA the Origination Ep5.5 - Sestiere di Castello

The DVD-only episode of ARIA the Origination came out last week and it covered one of my favourate areas of Venice - Sestiere di Castello. Akari goes for a stroll in that area.

One of the first visible landmarks is this bridge.

Photo by YP, Retrieved 8th July, 2008

There is then a fork in the road. Akari decides to stick to the coastal promonade and takes the right fork. She soon arrives at the Giardini Pubblici.

Image retrieved from

Akari also goes laundry hunting.

We catch a glimpse of the towers at the Arsenale - the naval station. The Arsenale towers also feature in the cover of ARIA vol 5 manga.

Tiny alleys...

Akari at a shop. I only saw one canal boasting some sense of "busy-ness" to have all these shops so I incude a photo of it. There is a continuity error on part of the producers as when Akari comes out of the shop, the canal has magically vanished!

The end of the Castello segment, featuring the fortress-like walls of the Arsenale.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

The hunt for Orange Planet

While I was in Venice, I was hunting down various "key" buildings on my walks and planned routes to take me through the most likely locations. One of the buildings I was hoping to find was Orange Planet. ARIA did not give any definate geographical clues for this one.

Clue 1: An imposing archway with a canal underneath.

Clue 2: A castle wall.

Clue 3: A causeway across water. This made me route my walk along the northernmost shore of Venice.

Clue 4: Orange Planet is in a tight, built-up area. This actually made me go around Rialto a bit.

Clue 5: In the unaired Epiphania navigation, Alice chases Athena across Venice at night, meaning no Vaporettos come into play, which means Orange Planet is on the main Island.

I came up empty. I have to conclude that the Orange Planet building is pretty much a complete work of fiction. I simply had to post this though, because of the effort involved while I was at Venice.

The closest building in Venice (and it's not even close) to resemble Orange Planet is the old Molino Stucky factory, now restored as the Hilton hotel.

This is easily the most imposing structure I've seen in the whole of Venice (clue 1) and looks a bit like a castle. The jagged design at the top of the building reminds me of the wall shown in ARIA (clue 2). I did not see this kind of design in other parts of Venice.