ARIA: Finding Joy

That weird thing she's holding is a Martian cat...Yes, I know, they are very strange-looking cats.(credit goes to カムイ)

Psalm 118:24 – “This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

When I read my first slice-of-life manga, I was shocked. I had always thought that one of the most important things about manga was having a good, complex plot. It is important, but not always necessary.

ARIA is about a girl named Akari Mizunashi, who hundreds of years into the future travels to Mars, which has been terra-formed and re-named Aqua, to become a female gondolier in the city of Neo-Vanezia. From the first chapter, I was captivated.   Everything was so peaceful and calm. It was almost as if I was right there, amid the bright-red leaves of autumn, rowing a gondola. The conflicts were minor, the action was trivial, but it all seemed so real, so peaceful, and so beautiful I couldn’t stop reading it. Part of what makes this possible is the heroine of the manga, Akari.

In the story, Earth, (or “Man Home”, as the Martians call it) has very advanced technology and has changed to the point where it is devoid of nature. Akari has never swam in the ocean or had to do things by hand. Everything that happens on Aqua is new and interesting to her, even things that would normally bore me (like cleaning). She is able to find beauty and fun in everything she does, to the point where she rarely does anything quickly or carelessly. Even though Akari’s life is busy, she still finds moments to enjoy the small things, and when the big, hard things come, she somehow manages to enjoy them too.  The people around her are pulled into this mindset, and it’s honestly not hard to be absorbed in it.

(credit goes to ちずら)

There are so many things that are wonderful about each and every day.  It’s easy to love things when they’re in a beautifully drawn manga, not so much in real life. Especially in modern times, when there are so many opportunities, we’re always dreaming bigger, reaching higher, trying to squeeze as many things into our limited 24 hours as is possible. That’s when I think we begin to forget what a beautiful world we live in.  We begin to neglect the people around us, and how much fun it is to spend time with them. However, even on the days that it seems like there is absolutely nothing good (and everyone has been there) and there is no way possible to be joyful,  it is still important to remember that God has blessed us with a lot in life, and we just can’t ignore them. Many of us are so busy trying to make sure that things turn out all right, and that we get everything done. Sometimes it’s necessary, but sometimes we are so afraid that things won’t go well, we overwork ourselves. I don’t believe that that’s what God wants for us.

Having joy isn’t something easy to do, of course. As much as I love to feel the rain on my face, as much as I love to watch sunsets, and as much as I like to look at the stars, there’s always something in the way.  There’s always the worry that I wont be able to get things done if I don’t hurry, as well as the logic that trying to enjoy doing things doesn’t matter as much as getting them done. These things are often true, but they shouldn’t stop us from being happy. Even through drudgery and anxiety, sometimes how much fun something is determined by how we look at it.

Of course, there are times that are especially hard, when something sad or horrible happens, and life seems empty of all joy. In fact, it seems almost wrong to be joyful and happy when there are people who are suffering. But even though the sad things are important too, they shouldn’t make us forget that there are still things to be joyful about. When life seems devoid of blessings, it’s just that we focus so much on everything that brings us down and forget what lifts us up.  Life can be so frustrating and all of our problems seem so big that we forget the little things that make life beautiful.

God has made a wonderful world for us to live in, and yet we don’t enjoy it. Isn’t that strange? Finding joy in the little things makes life happier, and more interesting. It adds color to life.

Someday, things will change, and the things that bring us joy right now will be different. They’ll change to other things, and while those things will be equally as important, some things will be lost. Some times are more joyful than others, and they won’t last forever. That’s why we need to find the joyful things while we can, before the hard times come.

That’s why joy is important. Because without the joyful things in life, we wouldn’t have the strength to make it through the things that bring us down.

Murasaki Lynna

Stories have always fascinated Lynna, whether they are told in books, anime, music, or doodles in the margins of her accounting homework. She hails from Canada, and when she isn’t busy with life or obsessing over some anime or webcomic, she is working on writing her own stories, so that she might one day unleash them upon the world.

11 thoughts on “ARIA: Finding Joy

  1. This sort of… really reminds me of the article I just read. Some retailers are opening on Thansgiving in order to get Black Friday Sales. All I can think is that one of the things that we have and should be enjoying are times with our families. Getting in front of a store at 5 PM on Thankgiving… is not doing that, nor is it letting the people who work there enjoy time with their families, either.

    We forget that people have lives and families, and instead of rushing to get that new game, we should be enjoying our time with the people who love us. One of those simple things in life, right?

    1. That’s a great comparison – I’ve been keeping track of that story as well. I worked retailed for a few weeks and I hated coming in on Christmas Eve to work – it felt so wrong to be apart from family. How much more so on the actual day of a major holiday itself.

      But I think it definitely speaks to our culture (and to what Lynna is addressing) – people will rush out to these sales (admittedly, I’ve got my eye on one store, too). If the money is coming in, the stores will respond.

    2. That’s an interesting observation. I live in Canada, so we don’t have Black Friday, and our Thanksgiving is in early October. However, it has always annoyed me that despite the fact that Thanksgiving comes before hand, the stores are all masquerading Halloween decorations before even Thanksgiving. Not that I have an overall problem with Halloween(I like it actually) but I think family and thankfulness should come before candy XD

  2. Ditto, Marow. I absolutely, absolutely love ARIA, if that isn’t already apparent from my blog and my gravatar ^_^

    ARIA falls into a category of slice-of-life that many people like to refer to as “healing” anime. Watching it calms you, makes you smile, and you really do feel a strange sense of relief after each episode. And there’s three gorgeous seasons of it, all available for DVD purchase ^_^

    I guess I’m lucky that my part-time job is run by a family, so they understand the importance of spending time with loved ones.

    Thanks for this post!

    1. You know, I’ve only seen the first half-dozen or so episodes of Aria (and I haven’t read the manga at all). But I totally get what you and others say about it. To me, I compare it to my old Sarah McLachlan CDs – they’re both soporific (at least to me they are), but in a good way – they dreamily sweep me away to a different and wonderful place.

      Contrast K-On!, which to me was also sleep-inducing…but with no other redeeming quality (except for the catchy music of course).

    2. Nice gravatar ^_^
      I totally agree about ARIA, although I’ve only read the manga. It always makes me feel so happy ^_^ I really hope it’ll be re-picked up soon by another English company. Thank You for the comment!

      1. actually, I thought it was Amu from Shugo Chara at first. Pink hair can be very confusing XD

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