The series has been adapted as an anime television series, with a first season broadcast in 2005, a second season in 2006, an OVA released September 2007, and a third season in 2008 that ended around the same time as the manga serialization.
The anime is licensed in North America by The Right Stuf International, which released all three seasons a box sets under its Nozomi Entertainment imprint between 30 September 2008 and 2 March 2010.
The series is set in the 24th century on a terraformed Mars, now named Aqua, and follows a young woman named Akari Mizunashi as she trains as an apprentice gondolier (known as Undines). The series has been praised for its calm pacing, optimistic worldview, beautiful art, and, for the anime, the quality of the soundtrack. A new OVA, called Aria the Avvenire, was released in the 10th anniversary Blu-Ray Box sets of the anime series between 24 December 2015 and 24 June 2016.
- Akari Mizunashi
- Voiced by: Erino Hazuki
- A native of Japan on Manhome (Earth) who immigrates to Aqua when she is 15 to become an undine. While not as skillful at rowing a gondola as Alice nor as familiar with the history of her adopted city as Aika, Akari makes friends quickly and easily converses with customers and other strangers. She is depicted as optimistic and cheerful, finding enjoyment in things or events that others think humdrum and mundane, for which Aika and Alice call her “mysterious”; in the anime, Aika and Alice separately comment that Akari seems to attract mysterious phenomena to her. Akari often says Hohe or Hahi, which is her short version of “wow.” When Akari used gondola simulations on Manhome, she accidentally learned how to row backwards and has to relearn the proper method when she starts at Aria Company; however, as Alicia puts it, “When rowing backward, Akari-chan is unrivaled!”
- Most chapters of the manga and episodes of the anime are framed with narration taken from e-mails written by Akari. In the anime, the recipient is a young girl named Ai, a customer in the first episode who becomes Akari’s pen pal, but in the manga the recipient is someone she does not name and is referred to as zenryaku but has never seen.
- At the start of Aqua, Akari arrives on Aqua as a new Pair (apprentice) at Aria Company. In chapter 5 of Aqua, when Aika is promoted to Single (journeyman), Alicia tests and promotes Akari as well. Later, in chapter 58 of Aria and episode 12 of Aria the Origination, after Aika is promoted to Prima (full undine), Alicia gives Akari the test for Prima. When Akari passes, she is given the title “Aquamarine” (遙かなる蒼 Harukanaru Ao, lit. “Distant Blue”).
- Alicia Florence
- Voiced by: Sayaka Ohara
- The only other undine with Aria Company, Alicia is one of the Three Water Fairies of Neo-Venezia, known by the title “Snow White”. At the start of the series, she is 19 years old and the most popular undine in the city, noted especially for her graceful rowing style. She was promoted to Prima at 15, the youngest ever to do so. Like Akari, she is relaxed and easy-going, but she also likes to tease others, especially her childhood friend Akira. Her favorite phrase is ara ara (“Well Well”) and she frequently giggles, to Akira’s annoyance. According to Grandma Akino, she is an excellent undine because of her ability to enjoy everything.
- At the end of the series, Alicia announces her upcoming marriage (though to whom is never stated) and retirement to take an administrative position with the Gondola Association. She tells Akari she had put off her Prima exam because she had been planning to retire after that, and did not want to leave her student and friend. According to issue No. 6 of Monthly Undine, after her retirement, “Snow White” is designated the 8th “honored appellation” by the Gondola Association, as an undine who made great contributions to the industry.
- Aika S. Granzchesta
- Voiced by: Chiwa Saitō
- The first friend Akari makes on Aqua, Aika is 16 when they meet. Aika is a Pair and then Single at Himeya Company. She is the only daughter and heir of Himeya Company’s owners, but does not enjoy the distinction as she feels the company’s employees fawned on her too much. Aika speaks bluntly and often responds to Akari’s idealistic comments with “Embarrassing remarks are not allowed!”. Despite their contrasting personalities, she gets along well with Akari and Alice, but frequently squabbles with her mentor, Akira, whom she resembles. Aika considers herself reliable, especially compared to distractible Akari and antisocial Alice, but both her friends call her a crybaby for her tendency to tear up when emotional. She is proud of her gondola skill as an undine, and can be very competitive about it. She also greatly admires Alicia, and finds any excuse to visit Aria Company—and once tells Akari that if not for her family obligations, she would have joined Aria Company. Over the course of the series, Aika develops feelings for Al.
- In chapter 58, Aika becomes a Prima, taking the title “Rosen Queen”. She takes charge of a newly opened Himeya branch office, in preparation for one day taking on the whole company.
- Akira E. Ferrari
- Voiced by: Junko Minagawa
- One of Neo-Venezia’s Three Water Fairies, and a native of Aqua. As a Prima undine, Akira is called the “Crimson Rose” (真紅の薔薇 Shinku no Bara) and is famed for her conversational skills. She has many admirers among her customers, especially her female ones, but she considers herself very feminine. In flashbacks, Akira is shown as very tomboyish when young, to the point of using a male pronoun for “I”and being mistaken for a boy by Akatsuki. Akira is mentor to Aika, who calls her the Demon Instructor for her strictness and her loud, brusque personality. Akira is particularly harsh with Aika because she believes there is potential in her, and Aika admits that it is only due to Akira’s strictness and honesty that she has become a good undine.
- Akira and Alicia are childhood friends, and their relationship mirrors Aika and Akari’s, though Alicia teases Akira far more than Akari does Aika. Akira still resents that Alicia became a Prima before her. Upon Alicia’s retirement at the end of the series, Akira becomes the undisputed top undine in Neo-Venezia.
- Alice Carroll
- Voiced by: Ryō Hirohashi
- Alice is a 14-year-old undine for Orange Planet. She first appears (in volume 3 of Aria/episode 3 of Aria the Animation) as a standoffish, detached girl. Aika later describes her as anti-social and complains about her tendency to put on a grim face and speak in a quiet voice. Alice speaks in a deadpan manner, though she frequently uses dekkai as an intensifier. Although initially only a Pair, her rowing already surpasses both Aika and Akari’s—for which skill she was scouted by Orange Planet despite her young age. Despite working for rival companies, Alice, Akari, and Aika often practice together, and Alice sincerely enjoys the others’ company, though this does not stop her from telling them to be quiet when they argue. Because of her age and lower status, Aika often addresses her as “kōhai-chan”. Through her friendship with Akari and Aika, Alice lightens up as the series progresses, though she still struggles with her detachment.
- For a long time, Alice was not confident in her singing skills, until Athena advises her simply enjoy what she sings and not worry about her performance. In volume 11 of Aria, after Alice graduates from middle school, she is promoted to Prima straight from Pair, the first undine to do so, and is given the title “Orange Princess”. Her name comes from Lewis Carroll, author of Alice in Wonderland.
- Athena Glory
- Voiced by: Tomoko Kawakami
- One of Neo-Venezia’s Three Water Fairies, known by the title “Siren” for her beautiful singing voice. She is Alice’s mentor at Orange Planet. She is quiet most of the time and often appears to be an airhead who does not pay attention to her surroundings (in the anime, she is shown more than once forgetting to duck while rowing under a bridge), but she genuinely cares about Alice. Athena has a strange laugh that comes out sounding as though she is angry. She was a trainee undine with Alicia and Akira, and joined them in joint practice sessions much like Akari, Aika, and Alice do now. At the conclusion of the series, Athena semi-retires from being an undine in order to debut as an opera singer.