First, it was Neo Venezia… It’s a challenge for me to rewatch Aria the Origination now (even worse is Aria the Animation) because Aquarion Evol illustrated and animated a Neo Venezia that looks so stupefyingly pretty compared to anything Aria did with all its poignant silences, mood music, and sighing moé girls. I was actually incredulous when I read that the city was actually supposed to be based on Hong Kong.
After this episode, I’m convinced. The skyline is unmistakable. That ferry is unmistakable. You see I never got out of Southeast Asia. Outside my archipelago I’ve only been to Hong Kong, Macau, Kuala Lumpur, and Singapore. I love Hong Kong more, and by far. Kawamori Shoji used Macross Frontier Sayonara no Tsubasa – level production values to depict the backgrounds for a TV anime. This is crazy.
No, Mobile Fighter G Gundam did NOT depict a Neo Hong Kong in a pretty way. It was butt ugly, but that’s fine. That show did not bank on looks to be its primary value. Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight also has a sequence in Hong Kong, albeit focusing more on the skyscrapers than any actual immersion or exploration of the city. In any case, Aquarion EVOL’s ridiculous fifth episode succeeded in one thing, at the very least: it made me want to come back and visit.
In Hong Kong you see building rise up from the hills and mountainsides. If you live near the top you open your window to the very face of the mountain amidst the fogs. It’s quite a thrill to take the tram up Victoria’s Peak and look out the window and see living rooms and kitchens as you go up the mountain.
Aquarion as a franchise is distinguished by a level of cheese in its love triangles, mecha dynamics, fanservice, comedic hijinks, and hippie environmentalism far beyond Macross. It makes Macross look GRIMDARK SERIOUS in comparison. I can only take so much of it, but so far the outright prettiness of Aquarion EVOL makes it easier for me to take.