Friday, 30 May 2008

Burano, the lace island

The island of Burano features in ARIA the Origination Ep07. This island is pretty far from the main island of Venice and takes approximately an hour on the Vaporetto (water bus). In ARIA though, we see Akari rowing a gondola and a very rough speed estimate calculation gives an estimate of 4 hours.

Burano is linked by a bridge to the island of Mazzorbo and from my observations, the production crew included elements of Mazzorbo into episode 7 as well as Burano. An example is the below picture this scene is unique to Mazzorbo and not found in Burano.

Although I have no suitable picture, Peorth's Anna's bungalow house is also in the style you'd find on Mazzorbo, with its fenced gardens. Burano itself is as densely built as Venice and you'll be hard-pressed to find a house like that.

Most houses in Burano are in good condition, exterior wise because of the colourful pastels. A lot of buildings in Venice are in a state of semi-disrepair with the old, faded pastels falling away revealing the brickwork below, but not in Burano!

When it comes to laces, there are a countless number of shops selling lace merchandise. Even in a relatively isolated place like Burano, it still gets plenty of tourists. The below picture shows the intricate details which the ARIA crew paid attention to, from the poles sticking out of the water to the cloth covering the doorways.

Stuff on sale can range from simple handkerchiefs from €1 to more elaborate designs, with ARIA giving a taste of what is on offer.

Unfortunately though, the art of lace-making is a dying breed. Lace-making began from as far back as the 14th Century with the Doge's wife (I think the Doge was mentioned somewhere in ARIA). Although Napoleon's invasion halted the lace-making for a while, it was ressurected with a lace-making school opening in 1872. It has since then closed in 1970 and the number of women still practicing lace-making is dwindling fast (Simonis 2008, p166).


Simonis, D. (2008), Venice & The Veneto: City Guide, Lonely Planet Publications: London

Saturday, 24 May 2008

The messages of ARIA (part 1)

Most episodes of ARIA cerry important messages and lessons in life. We could say Amano-sensei is the real-life optimist much like Akari.

Having just finished re-watching ARIA the Animation, I've compiled the messages which each episode carried. The exception is the ARIA-shachou mini episodes which I couldn't really derive one.

Navigation 1: その 素敵な奇跡を・・・/That Lovely Miracle...

It takes effort to like what you dislike but if it is done, what you previously disliked may become something very important to you.

Navigation 2: その 特別な日に・・・/On That Special Day...

When ordinary scenes are seen differently, one may see something important that is not seen normally.

Navigation 3: その 透明な少女と・・・/With That Transparent Girl...

One should go with the flow rather than against it as it is far more comfortable to do so.

Navigation 4: その 届かない手紙は・・・/That Undeliverable Letter...

A letter can overcome time and place to deliver your heart.

Navigation 5: その あるはずのない島へ・・・/To That Impossibly Existing Island...

Memories can be forgotten but are not discarded. They are tucked away deep down in your heart and can be brought back by triggers.

“A world looks wonderful, from the eyes of a wonderful person” – The way you see the world decides how wonderful (or not) the world is.

Navigation 6: その 守りたいものに・・・/Things That We Want to Protect...

We may be supported by something/someone without even realising.

Navigation 7: その 素敵なお仕事・・・/That Wonderful Job...

A person close to you may keep telling you off because that person truly cares for you.

Navigation 9: その 星のような妖精は・・・/That Star-like Fairy...

You control your own thoughts. By changing your life’s attitude, you can enjoy anything in life, even obstacles.

Navigation 10: その ほかほかな休日は・・・/During That Warm Holiday...

A little relaxation is necessary in order to overcome harsh conditions.

Navigation 11: その オレンジの日々を・・・/On Those Orange Days...

Time is something that changes everything, sometimes in a kind way, sometimes cruelly.

It would be a waste to be caught up with the fun of the past, to not realise the fun of the present.

It is not “It was fun back then” but it is “It was fun back then too”

Events that are truly fun/enjoyable cannot be compared with each other.

Fun is born and disappears constantly. If you can catch every one of them, you will never run out of fun.

If you find something fun right now, it is something which you can enjoy the most right now.

Things change with the flow of time, but there are some things which never change.

Things that are precious because it changes over time and things that are precious because it stays the same – both are equally precious.

Navigation 12: その やわらかな願いは・・・/That Gentle Wish...

Doing things yourself is fun!

Navigation 13: その まっしろな朝を・・・/That White Morning...

The New Year gives a clean white sheet. You decide on the colours!

I tried giving objective (non-fanboy influenced) ratings on The Animation and came up with an average of 7.46.

6 = Average
7 = Good
8 = Very Good
9 = Excellent
10 = Perfect

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo

The Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo is rather unique in Venice with its spiral staircase, which reminds you of the leaning tower of Pisa.

This building features in "The melanchony of President Aria" in ARIA the Animation ep08 and also Navigation



Well, this is the real thing, taken on a horrid evening right after a thunderstorm.

A little extra. Later on in episode 8, do we see a Keroro lookalike?

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Speed Limits

A rather scary-looking Akira from ARIA the Animation Episode 7. Aika has exceeded the speed limit (yet again). Her fear of her old habits doesn't go away as it is revisited at Origination ep11.

Now the canals of Venice and the channels all have various speed limits, depending on how close to land (or island) the navigation channel is. The small canals have a 5km/h speed limit which Aika exceeded.

I have also seen speed limits of 7, 11 and 20km/h and there are probably more. Here is Mona Lisa on a Vaporetto in a 20 zone!

Why all these speed limits? Time for my trusty Lonely Planet book again.

The blatent disrespect of motorboat drivers for lagoon speed limits causes moto ondoso (wave motion), the damaging waves that eat away at Venice's buildings but also destroy the barene (mud banks) that help keep the lagoon alive. (Simonis 2008, p31)

Nor wonder the ever-great Akira-sama was mad! To be fair to Aika, a small motor boat doing 5km/h produces far more waves than a gondola. Vaporettos tend to respect these speed limits while private craft and the water taxis don't. My experiences:

1. A private craft left the navigation channel and cut inside at high speed of our boat while we were excecuting a 150 degree left turn at a "junction".

2. On my way to Burano, a water taxi overtook my Vaporetto at what must be twice our speed (we were at full cruise speed which would be the 20km/h limit).

There's more:

Giant cruise ships also cause wave damage. Huge sums are spent on preserving the barene - but little is done to bring the boat drivers to heel (Simonis 2008, p31).

The Norwegian Jade docked at Venice. This ship passes right in front of Piazza San Marco on the way in!

The Norwegian Jade is huge. I've been on the Norwegian Spirit which was massive - the Jade is even bigger, but to be fair the ship was being towed at walking speed meaning the Vaporettos were actually producing more waves!

Huge cruise ships (apart from creating problems for city foundations with massive waves) create an enormous problem with sulphur emissions that are literally eating away the city's stonework (Simonis 2008, p20)

More commonly known as Acid rain, but there is also "dry deposition".

Akira's little outburst in Animation therefore uncovers far deeper issues that the real Venice contends with. If you really love Venice, don't use a water taxi and don't arrive on a cruise ship!


Simmons, D. (2008), Venice & The Veneto: City Guide, Lonely Planet Publications: London

Sunday, 11 May 2008

The Hill of Hope

The "Hill of Hope", the endpoint of the pair-to-single exam and in my opinion, where the most moving moment in the whole of ARIA took place.

However, a detour first. Origination skipped the manga's Navigation 53 but on their coverage of Navigation 51, used one picture seen in 53. You can see from the red circled parts that a chunk of Venice has been taken out, while the manga kept that chunk accurately (Thanks to Will for spotting this.)! Another error is that, there are seven bridges instead of the real-life four spanning the Grand Canal.

The reason for the above detour is I have another use for the same picture. In the real-world Venice, there is a causeway linking the island to the mainland. This causeway is also included in ARIA and is presumably the only way to the hill of hope, which seemingly is on the "mainland". While ARIA boasts an elevated canal causeway with wind turbines, the real-life causeway is a gigantic 4 lanes of road and 4 tracks rail.

Let us now familiarise ourselves with the Geography of the Hill of Hope. A green hill overlooking Neo-Venezia. The ever so lovely dekkai-chan included as a bonus.

Now I shall have to tell you this location is fiction, because in real life the city of Mestre occupies the spot. To top it off, the city is flat as a pancake! No picture unfortunately as I found Mestre to be fairly "ordinary".

So, the Hill of Hope is busted as 100% fiction? Not quite as the fiction is only 95%. In Origination, Alice guided us through:

"From here a garden scene continues for a while. This differs from the better-known port scene so please enjoy the different face of Neo Venezia"

So here we go...

I took my picture in the open areas of the eastern part of Venice. Although the trees are missing leaves (first week of April, too early), the shape and placement of the trees bear great resemblance to the Origination. The "East End" of Venice is truly a "different face" of Venice. You cannot find such an open space with so much greenery anywhere else. Add to that the lack of lemmings *whoops* tourists excluding myself!

Therefore the 5% reality of the Hill of Hope is found here, in the East Castello region. Definately far more worth it for me than a certain graffitied top-heavy bridge full of lemmings!

Friday, 9 May 2008

Walnut bread!

A short, simple post for today.

The great Akira-sama loves walnut bread as first seen in Animation ep02.

Well, it is indeed possible to get Walnut bread in Venice. Here's a slice of one which I got very cheap. It's very crunchy and something great to have on the move - while saving €€€ on food in an expensive city like Venice!

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

The meaning of the ARIA logo colours?

All credit to this goes to Solais on the Animesuki forums for noticing and posting (click me) on this subject. So read it before proceeding any further!

I was not meaning to make a post today, and was trawling through the ARIA thread in animesuki as usual when I came across that post which seemed perfectly plausible.

The deep blue logo of season 1, ARIA the Animation. The colour of the water in the soft rays of morning sunlight.

The light blue logo of season 2, ARIA the Natural. The colour of the water in the strong afternoon sun.

The logo of the DVD-only Aria the OVA ~ ARIETTA ~, the colour of the water under the setting/twilight sun.

Season 3, ARIA the Origination logo with a mix of blue and purple. The kind of colour you get in a clear night with a full moon.

The beginning, middle, near-end and the end of the day covered through different colours. A hidden reference at the different beginning, middle and end stages of the story of ARIA?

This idea seems to make complete sense! Many thanks to Solais for noticing this.

Sunday, 4 May 2008

San Marco's Campanile

San Marco's Campanile, something you cannot miss if you're looking through pictures of Venetian landmarks. ARIA the OVA ~ ARIETTA does a highly detailed coverage of this landmark.

Everything has an entrance (duh) and the entrance to the Campanile is art in itself. It is highly decorated and some moments to appreciate it is needed before entering. A very close look at the statues reveals ARIETTA has accurately portrayed them exactly. The clutter of what look like tables in my picture are actually wooden planks for people to walk on when the place gets flooded during acqua alta. It is the lowest elevation point in Venice.

Now for ordinary folk, the entrance fee to go up is a mind-boggling €8 (as of April 2008). Everyone also goes up the elevator which ironically is manufactured by SCAM (yes, I'm being serious). I did indeed feel getting duped by a scam paying that fee.

Thank goodness Hahi-chan has Alicia in tow, as they actually go in through the exit!

They then go up the stairs which in ARIETTA was absolutely magnificent. Unfortunately, the jolly public is not allowed to go up the stairs, and this is implied with the metal gate and the "no entry" sign. The gate in real life is of identical construction of the one in ARIA with the passageway taking a 90 degree left turn - accurately portrayed. No pictures as it's really not something a person would take a picture of so you'll have to take my word for it.

Alicia and Akari sure must have strong legs from gondola rowing, as the Campanile is at least 10 storeys high! They emerge at the top from a trapdoor. Now, this metal trapdoor really exists and I saw no other viable location of where the stairs would come out. The trapdoor has a souvenir kiosk very slightly covering the edge. This didn't escape the eye of the ARIETTA producers as can be seen below.

One of Hahi-chan's first remarks was "Sugoi, sugoi!" and it really is that fantastic, and dare I say a prohibited embarassing statement, magical. The view is simply breathtaking and you really see an unusual view of Venice. I was simply speechless.

The €8 fee suddenly felt worthwhile, since people my age burn that amount of cash to get pissed. If you ever go to Venice, cough up the money and go up. It's well worth it.

A comparison of the view of the Piazza San Marco, and you can see the accuracy of the patterns on the ground.

Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute with the island of Giudecca in the background. The art of ARIETTA is very geographically accurate.

Here, we see that they have properly included the Il Redentore in Giudecca in the background. Thank goodness for my 10x zoom! You can see two small islands behind Giudecca in my picture. ARIETTA also has them included very accurately. Guess what? Even the position of the setting sun is accurate.

Looking eastwards along the coastline, the angle in ARIETTA bears remarkable resemblance to the picture I took. Every detail was drawn - even the shape of the lit windows correctly. The lights in the water are for navigation purposes - there are set channels to navigate as most of the Venetian lagoon is shallow.

We also saw Alicia, Akira and Athena earlier, getting deafened from the bells. The bells are literally right above your heads and you can touch them if you jump.

This video by thiruvai shows that you can indeed become deaf up there! When you compare the sounds of the real bells with ARIETTA, they are exactly the same. 100% accuracy.

For the real eagle-eyed nerds, skip over to 18:07 of ARIETTA and you can see that the elevator doors are precisely drawn, much like the real thing as seen in the Youtube video.

Last but not least, the interior of the Campanile. Every detail has been drawn in ARIETTA, from the pillars, the pattern of the flooring, and even the railings to enable people waiting for the elevator going down had been done with 100% accuracy.

So what can we say about the work of the ARIETTA crew in their representation of the Campanile? Well, it's not as spacious up there as portrayed - it's actually quite tight! Also Piazza San Marco being devoid of people and with no clutter at all? No, this place always has people around, and the clutter of the alfresco dining tables from the likes of Cafe Florian!

The above in my view is fairly trivial though, and I think the accuracy is mindblowing but as always, you're the final judge!

P.s. Hahi-chan says "This is the direction which faces ARIA Company isn't it?" near the end. She is facing East. I will come back to this sometime in the future!

Friday, 2 May 2008

The elusive white gondola.

Something very basic and fundamental to start off - ARIA is all about gondolas, gondolas and more gondolas!

We immediately notice that the Primas are all using gondolas that are white, while the rest of the gondolas are a more conventional brown/black. The question is, how accurate is this portrayal?


The rest

Now unfortunately in Venice, there are only black gondolas.

So the myth of the white gondola is busted and therefore, Amano-sensei pulled off a complete work of fiction!

The above statement is, curiously false. According to my Lonely Planet guide:

Gondola owners used to paint their vessels every colour of the rainbow, and those with money to spare went to enormous lengths to bedeck them with every imaginable form of decoration. Finally, the Senato decided in 1630 that this was getting out of hand and decreed that gondoliers could paint their vessels any colour they wanted as long as it was black. (Simonis 2008, p33)

So, the highly decorated gondola of the primas in ARIA is actually not a "mistake" and stays faithful to the history of the original Venice!


Simonis, D. (2008), Venice & The Veneto: City Guide, Lonely Planet Publications: London


I shall keep this brief. In a nutshell, I was very impressed with the Japanese manga and anime series called ARIA. So impressed that I actually visited Venice, where the story is set in. A self-confessed ARIA-pilgrimage. Sounds daft but was well worth it and since I'm studying nearby, Easyjet didn't kill my wallet. I was planning a vacation anyway.

The purpose of this blog...well I'm going to try, (note - *try*) to dig up similarities and differences of the real Venice to ARIA and see how they both match (or not!). Maybe the reader will even learn a thing or two about Venice! I've got over 200 photos from Venice and I shall use them together with screencaps from ARIA.

I hope this garners sufficient interest so please do leave comments or else I'll just abandon this project as it is actually extremely time consuming.

The video below is what I've already made and you should be able to find some references already!