As always, the hidden gem of the season arrives unexpectedly. I thought it gotta be the mermaids, bro, to borrow from Nova. And mermaids are pretty good, no doubt, but AIURA is in a different class entirely. The only thing that lets it down is the 4-minute format.
Not sure if this is the format, but bloggers generally have nothing too extensive to say about AIURA. Dusk tried, but eh... "The voices of the main characters sounds uniquely fresh and raw, because they are new seiyuus with literally no other project to their names" -- Really? Every time Kanaka opens her mouth I hear Karen Iwata, and I thought her voice was distinctive. But actually, it's a newcomer, Yui Nakajima. Anyway, stalwarts like Nova and Kuro did not even try as much, and basically picture-spam with heavy spoilers.
And it's understandable. For me, the excellence of AIURA is in hitting all the notes right, likeable characters, soft setting, etc. But the art just jumps out at the viewer immediately. It looks as if an immense budget was expended on the backgrounds alone, and the animation is simply amazing. When Kanaka receives the news of her nickname, the slight motions were at the level of Lucky Star and Kanata clapping her feet. Essentially the whole thing is an advertisement for the capabilities of LINDEN FILMS, which probably explains why it's so short.