Aria The Avvenire

September 9, 2016

Wait a minute. I thought it was over? Too good to let it go? Well, I suppose it was good enough that Aria The Avvenire was produced to celebrate the 10th anniversary since Aria The Animation first broadcasted over the airwaves. Wow. Come to think about it, it has been a long time. Feel so old… Feeling so nostalgic. Ah, I guess that is why this is another reason to bring back up this series for one last time (assuming this would be the last one). Those who have watched the series and loved it would have fond memories of all the miracles, meetings and character bonding the series had to offer. Now we get to relieve it again with its 3 episode specials.

Episode 1
I’m not sure of President Aria’s plan in making friends with seagulls with an equally ugly seagull doll. No wonder he gets pecked! As Ai has been promoted to a Single, she sets out for another practice with Akari. So this sets another flashback as Akari tells to Ai. When Alicia was still active as an Undine, Akari noticed her busy schedule. At this rate she won’t get a moment’s rest. Then she spots Akira outside spying. Seems she is here to give Alicia a present for her faux birthday. Unlike on Man Home (Earth), Aqua (Mars) operates on a year with 24 months. This means everyone has a second ‘fake’ birthday. She doesn’t mind waiting but it seems there is change in the schedule that increases Alicia’s workload. Thus Akari hopes Akira can help her practice during this time. At the end of the day, Akira mentions how pathetic and nostalgic she feels about this. The trio used to be together all the time when they were Singles. When they became Prima, they hardly had time for each other. Times they spent together were precious. She doesn’t want to go back to those days, it is just that she really wants them to get together for today. Then a miracle happens. Alicia is seen rowing in front of them. Making it better is Athena is also in the picture singing. Akira then tosses her present like throwing a baseball. Nice catch. The best present would be their radiant smiles. Ai is encouraged by Akari’s story. She wonders if she could find her own friends like she did and those before her. Of course she can. Because Aqua is the planet of miracles. Even their meeting is a miracle itself.

Episode 2
Ai wants to show Akari a miracle. Flashback to what happened. While Ai and President Aria were rowing their gondola, they spot a mysterious cat shadow in the alley. They think it is Cait Sith and went to go after it. As hard as they follow, it led them to some unknown part of town where they stumble into Azusa B. McLaren of Himeya and Anya Dostoyevskaya of Orange Planet who are looking for the same thing too. They know all about Ai since they researched her since they are curious about the new girl at Aria Company. The trio agree to look for Cait Sith together but to no avail. So as they take a break at plaza, Ai notices the duo are training together so she requests if she could join them. But of course. And that is the miracle that Ai is telling Akari. The miracle of Cait Sith granted her this miraculous meeting. Akari still believes Cait Sith is watching over them. Time for her to tell her experience in meeting Cait Sith for the last time.

When Akari told Aika she couldn’t see Cait Sith anymore, she thinks it is because they are becoming adults so the first step is to stop seeing things they see as children. Then Alice brings them to one of the 7 mysterious of the town. There is an unfortunate stone where everyone avoids stepping. It is believed to bring bad luck. Alice immediately jumps on it and nothing happens. She explains she has been doing this since young. Perhaps it doesn’t work on her. Perhaps this is an experiment to see if it anything would happen to her friends? After Aika and Alice leave for their work, Akari gets curious and steps on it. You know what they say about curiosity and the cat. At first nothing happened but suddenly she drops down into the stone! Then she finds herself free falling from the sky above the town! Also falling with her is Cait Sith. She is happy to see him again and wants to do so in the future. However Cait Sith hints this is the last time they’ll ever see each other. Akari is sad but he points out he will always be in her heart. As long as you remember, right? Akari hopes she will always stay with her in her heart. Cait Sith hugs her as they plunge into the river! I think smashing into the river at this speed is like hitting a brick wall… But when Akari opens her eyes, she is on a gondola with President Aria. In her hand is a pendant from Cait Sith proving she did meet him for one last time. Now Akari shows the pendant to Ai and they believe the lights inside it must be miracles. Akari feels that despite saying goodbye to Cait Sith on that day, she was able to see him again thanks to Ai. Could it be the feelings of love awakened this miracle?

Episode 3
We go back in time to see Alicia putting up a recruitment poster outside. Shortly after, she receives her first applicant. We all know who that is, right? On the phone, Akari was a bundle of nerves. The first time Alicia laid eyes on Akari, she was attracted to her and knew she would be the one. In the present, Ai continues to hang out with Azusa and Anya. They vow to work hard to become a Prima. With the rainy season, they realize the Aqua Alta phenomenon is around the corner. Next morning, Ai is ecstatic to experience her first Aqua Alta as the ankle deep waters flood the area. Akari would love to spend the day with her but it seems Ai has her own plans. Looks like lunch and dinner will be on her own… Ai then meets up with her friends. By noon, Akari receives mail from Ai to meet. It seems the young ones have planned a celebration feast for their seniors. Not only them but the Water Fairies as well. Except Athena couldn’t come. As the celebration goes along, they notice Alicia has fallen asleep. She has been tired from working with the Gondola Association and trying to change things for the better. We see her dream how the association guys visit her numerous times to convince her to join them. At first she declines but their persistence has her curious and interested. Though, she vowed to train someone enough to take over her company. And she wanted to take her time to slowly nurture her. So we have more flashbacks of their time together, the happiness and the sadness of their meeting. When Akari was ready and promoted to a Prima, it was time for Alicia to move on as she can’t stay in the same place forever. Her time that had stopped had begun to move again. Alicia wakes up and tells the rest of her wonderful nostalgic dream. Their discussion turn to Athena whom they lament would have loved to attend this party. Then a miracle happened. They hear her trademark singing. There she is. I guess she could make it after all. What a happy end to the day. Now everyone can look forward to more miracles in the future.

Embarrassing Nostalgia Is Not Allowed!
Sniff, sniff. Yup. It wasn’t anything much except that it played very well on my nostalgia. So well that at times I could feel tears welling up and that squeeze in my heart thinking back about the old scenes (although I have mostly forgotten many of them). This special stays true to its Aria-style of storytelling and doesn’t break the mould. Like I said, it is mostly to play on old fans and viewers’ nostalgia. For newer audiences, they might be bored to death and not understand a thing or what the heck this is all about. But then again, this special was intentionally made with such old audiences in mind.

And yes, it goes without saying that they played again all those cool and easy going BGM soundtracks. From Aqua to Tenki Ame, they are very familiar tracks that would instantly evoke nostalgia for those who heard and love their brand of music (like yours truly). It is nice to hear them once more. Even the opening themes are the familiar Undine, Euphoria and Spirale. Ah yes. More nostalgia at your service. So if you think that the music for all the specials are just rehash of old music, there is a new music for it and that is the ending theme, Piacere by Shiena Nishizawa. Another calm and soothing (read: Beautiful) slow piece that is in line with the Aria songs that you have heard so far. And do I need to mention the awesome backgrounds and scenery? Still breathtaking after all these years.

As for the characters, everyone is the same and kind soul like they are on this planet. Nobody are vicious criminals because if there were, they’d be in the wrong anime! So anyway, this special now gives Ai the focus and introduces a couple of new characters who would no doubt as expected become her friends. I guess there is this trend that Undines have to follow throughout the generations. Uh huh. One budding Undine from each company becomes close friends with each other. We can’t have more than that since Aria Company always and will only have a single apprentice at any given time. For the rest of the Undine veterans, some may feel they lack much screen time but with only 3 episodes to spare and they want to bring the focus to a new generation, I guess I can pretty much forgive that.

Despite the nostalgia hype in this special, there is also a small amount of sadness it brought out. For fans, you would know it is very subtle in Athena’s case. Her seiyuu has passed away many years ago and thus you would notice that her character doesn’t have much appearance and if she does, she does not have lines. Besides, her singing voice (even in the TV series) was done by another singer and the lines you hear in this special are actually taken from the TV series. No new recordings for her. RIP Tomoko Kawakami.

Overall, this series only holds a special place in the hearts of fans who have watched the entire series in the mid-2000’s. Newer generations might not hear of this gem and would just go, “WTF is this piece of boring sh*t” but that is understandable seeing there are too many animes these days and so many just fail to live up to decent expectations. Although there is not much of a story in this special, that is where the miracle of nostalgia starts to weave its magic and work on our senses. That is why even though if the plot offers nothing new and no new direction (despite the constant ‘reminders’ and ‘spamming’ about the wonderful future the characters will have and miracles to meet), the wonderfulness of the TV series of the bygone era was there, still in its effect. It may be so too if they ever make more of such specials in the future. Yes, this is one truly miraculous series that has stand tested throughout time.

All good things must come to an end. For that, I wonder what more amazing and wonderful encounters- “Embarrassing remarks aren’t allowed!”. Eeehhh???!!! I can’t believe I just cut myself off like that. Looks like I’ve caught the ‘disease’ and a little hooked in watching the Aria series and thus just into the final leg (as far as I am concerned) of this series.

Prior to the third season, an OVA called Aria The OVA ~Arietta~ was released way back in 2007. As we know this series is of the calm and soothing space so for those who are expecting something out of the ordinary just because it’s an OVA, well, don’t hope so much. This OVA follows the same recipe and ‘ingredient’ that makes its predecessor seasons well received and serves to whet your appetite for the upcoming season. If you’re an Aria fan, that is.

~Arietta~

As Akari waits for Alicia’s return, she wonders why she hasn’t put on her glove. As Ai pointed out, she has become a Prima. Because of that, Alicia is never coming back. But thank God that was just a dream. However because of that she is seemingly spaced out. After Alicia leaves with a customer, Akari wonders why she was chosen. Then the phone rings. It is Akatsuki and he is not happy she interrupted his “Alicia Time” since he can’t hear her voice message. I didn’t know he was this desperate and nutcase. However seeing her down, he didn’t feel like teasing her. Later as Akari practises with her friends, they talk about their future of being a Prima. Well, they don’t look too satisfied since their seniors are too good. They are after all the Great Water Fairies. Then they meet Al and they ask him about his time being an apprentice. The girls are grateful for having their seniors guide them and for now they’ve got to do their best and follow in their footsteps. Alicia returns with the customers and it seems they have become instant fans of hers. They even want to ‘molest’ President Aria’s flabby belly!

Later Akari tells Alicia about that Prima dream of hers. She felt unconfident when she’s no longer around. This has Alicia narrating her tale. When she became a Prima, she became selfish and didn’t want Grandma to leave because she doesn’t want to be alone. However Grandma said it’s not that she is leaving her, but rather it is Alicia who is leaving Grandma’s nest. Grandma has confidence in her of becoming a Prima and by just looking at her back, Alicia felt calm. Even when Akira and Athena became Primas, Alicia did not have the confidence to coach an apprentice. Akira with Aika as her apprentice comes by and notes Alicia still did not take on an apprentice. She wants her to come with her tomorrow. Akira brings Alicia to meet with Athena at the top of the Campanile tower. They are overwhelmed at the scenery overlooking Neo-Venezia. Akira mentions how the Campanile collapsed many times back at Man Home. Each time that happens, they just rebuilt another one. It’s like the Venezians wanted to leave this scenery behind. So this is also similar to the Undines. Just like the seniors who guided them, the day will come for them to hang up their oars. But if they can relay this feeling of this lovely town to them, the next generation of Undines will be the new Campanile. With Athena’s singing to cheer Alicia up, Alicia starts realizing that she wants to share those feelings she did with Grandma and discover herself with someone although she still lacks confidence. And soon, that’s when Akari came. So why did she choose her? It’s a secret. Teeheehee.

Akari is still worried about her first appearance when she arrived as an apprentice so Alicia suggests climbing Campanile. Now? At this time? Is it open? Well, Alicia had contacted the tower’s administrator so he lets them in via back entrance. Everybody in this town must be her fan. Easier to get favours done. As they walk up the stairs, Akari gets excited of feeling the serene, deep and gentle sounds of the city that she peeks through the windows. Then walking up hand in hand, Alicia notes that when she took Akari as an apprentice, she was worried if she would be a good one to her. But she always followed right behind her and with her pure heart, Akari discovered many things that Alicia never noticed. Thus, Alicia took her courage from her. At the tower top, they see the awesome night lights of Neo-Venezia. Akari narrates that the day for them to part will come. But for now, she wants to stay behind this person whom she cherish and love so much a little longer.

Aria The Origination

The OVA was sure a nice way to have a little peek into the past of the 3 Great Water Fairies. it tells us a lot that even they seem perfect as they are now, back when they first started, they are just like any other apprentices with feelings of nervousness and uncertainty. And as time passes by, they mature into the respectable Prima Undines that they all are known as today.

So basically when I watched the third season, based on the title, I thought this season was going to narrate the origins or the early development of Aqua. Well, you could say it’s a little misleading because it is not a prequel season of any sort but rather a continuation from the second season and OVA. Nevertheless, Aria The Origination is still a nice worthy sequel to watch and a big possibly the final series of the Aria instalment.

Episode 1
As Akari, Aika and Alice practice together, they see an unusual sight of Akatsuki and Al studying together for their promotion exam. Good luck. Back at Aria Company, Woody delivers a gift to Alicia. Turns out to be sakura tea and sakura jam from a customer they had during the Carnivale. They decide to call their friends over for tea. I don’t know what’s with President Aria today. It’s like he’s being clumsy. He nearly choked on lunch, fell off the chair, got his stomach bitten by a crab while fishing and yes, also another bite from President Maa when he tried to appeal to President Hime as a polite waiter. The tea party starts when the girls arrive. They talk about some of their experience with their customers like Alicia’s with the mother and daughter pair that sent her the gift. Aika also relates that Akira is cool. There was a customer who was fooling around, dancing around on the gondola. Akira never raised her voice and her superb control was preventing that idiot from tumbling over while Aika was about to snap. Then it happened. He trips and falls off but Akira shows why she is one of the Great Water Fairies when she not only keeps the gondola steady but pulls the fool up! Amazing! The only thing that fell into the water was his mask. Alice also mentions Athena also had experienced something similar. A kid was pestering his mom to buy ice cream and causing a ruckus when his mom refused. But Athena made some funny stupid faces and the kid started laughing. The juniors note how they have a long way to catch up but as Alicia mentions, they too have a long way to go themselves. What do they mean? Even if they’re at the top, they won’t be satisfied with how much they have progressed. If they ever do, then they won’t move forward and find their own radiance. In other words, they keep improving themselves, right? The juniors are all fired up to do their best so much so their juniors will have something good to say about them. The seniors are excited to wonder what kind of Prima Undines they will become. The kind that they have never seen before and will bring new wonderfulness to Neo-Venezia.

Episode 2
Akari gets a surprise request from a customer to row her around. Talking to her pals about it, Aika has suspicions on the customer and thinks she is someone who loves toying with Singles. Or worse. An inspector on some spot check and if she fails, she’ll be demoted! Next day, the customer, an elderly lady named Amaranta leaves Akari to show the Neo-Venezia that only she can guide her. Alicia and President Aria tag along. I guess Aika and Alice become stalkers, giving excuse that they’re worried about Akari so that they can tail them. As Akari guides her around, it seems Amaranta has been to these places before. I mean, she could even tell a butter potato stall has changed its butter! As their schedule is nearly up, Akari wants to show her one more special place so she agrees. Rowing through the narrow alleys and waterways, they come out to the back of the monastery to see a beautiful garden with colourful flowers. Then as Amaranta suggests, they decide to explore what’s behind that door. Paddling through the dark waterways, they eventually arrived at an area where a wisteria tree is in full bloom even if its blooming season isn’t here yet (something about this place has no wind reaching it or sun hitting it). Akari realized that Amaranta has been to all these lovely places she has showed and apologizes because she thought she had shown her special places to her. However she says her heart is filled with today’s wonderful memories since all the places she has guided were coming from her heart. That is very important since her heart wanted to show her around Neo-Venezia she truly loves. Besides, what she really wanted to see was Akari doing her best to show her around. And she is very assured that the legacy of Aria Company has been passed down successfully. Aika and Alice’s spying is busted so they start ‘accusing’ each other that the other wanted to follow Akari. On their way back, Amaranta explains that there are other people who prefer to ride on a Single’s gondola. There’s a system where one could have cheap rides using Singles which became widespread so everyone could help nurture them into Primas. Alicia says that when she was a single, she used to guide Amaranta around. She too had her fun memories with Akira and Athena then. Amaranta feels like Neo-Venezia has become even more beautiful each time a new Undine is raised. That’s why she rides on Singles’ gondola and it’s her pleasure to see their progress. She gladly accepts Akari’s proposal to guide her around again when she becomes a Prima.

Episode 3
The girls are talking some of the monuments brought from Man Home undergoing maintenance works. Wait a minute. The real monument itself is being brought from Venice to Neo-Venezia?! Why build a replica when you can have the real thing, right? Later as I found out, Venice was submerged in water, the reason for all these monuments to be brought here. They decide to see those places and have tea there. At San Marco Square, they see a patissier, Henri selling chocolates to a bunch of kids queuing up. Aika recognizes him as he is from a hotel that Himeya is associated with as a business partner. A kid trips and breaks his bottle of chocolates. He starts crying as the girls try to comfort him. Henri gives the kid a new bottle and after the girls bought their share, they enter Florian Cafe to admire its original paintings on the wall. When they leave, they don’t see Henri’s stall anymore and wonders if he has closed for business. Over the next few days, they notice Henri’s peculiar behaviour. He is selling his stall at different place and each time he seems to be looking at those monuments. They wonder if he is into building research. On a free day, Akari revisits San Marco Square and sees Henri entering Florian Cafe to admire the paintings. When they meet, he thanks her and wishes for her to meet tomorrow as he has something to give her. Next day, Henri shows her new bottle designs for his chocolates. When Akari showed concern for the chocolates when the bottle broke that time, that’s when he thought he wanted to make his customers smile. It’d be a pity if the chocolate was wasted before the feelings that were put in were delivered. He wonders when he forgot those feelings. Thanks to her, he was able to remember that feeling again. In order to make his customers smile more, he thought of a way to deliver those feelings and realized the need to put various wrapper designs. Thus he was walking around those buildings to draw inspiration or when he can’t think of anything. He gives Akari and President Aria free bottles of chocolates as gratitude. Then he treats them to cafe latte at Florian Cafe. They meet the cafe owner and discuss about the paintings. Then it hit Akari, things made by people contain feelings of people that made them so they become inheritances passed down over time. Cherished, yet natural parts of their surroundings. She feels Henri’s chocolate is also the same, as long as he puts his feelings in it, it’s the same as everyone else and that everyone can smile. Thus if his chocolates become a natural part of this town, it’ll become a wonderful natural belonging. With that, Henri continues to sell his chocolates, putting his feelings in it to make customers smile.

Episode 4
Akari notices Alicia’s busy schedule and wonders if she even has a day off. She is sad that she can’t be of more use to the company. Since her usual pals are busy tomorrow, Alicia suggests her to do a Traghetto tomorrow. Tra what? It’s a bigger gondola used as a ferryboat to ferry people across the Grand Canal. It is operated by 2 Undines, one at the front, the other at the back and there are many crossing points along the canal. Some use it as a means of practice to become an Undine. It’s also a means for Singles to accept customers in the water tourism industry and since different Undines from different companies are paired up, it’s become somewhat of an attraction. But rowing a Traghetto is different since it requires special sense of balance. The customers will all be standing and some may even carry luggage with them. Akari is paired with Atora (I thought she looked like Abel from Trinity Blood) and Anzu from Orange Company and Ayumi (I thought she’s a cross between Akira and Aika) from Himeya. Akari is the only one who is doing it for the first time while the rest are veterans. As they take turns to row across, Akari notices Anzu gloominess. Atora mentions she failed the Prima promotion exam the other day and even so, she keeps challenging herself to go on. She also mentions that their senior who supervised for the exam is very strict. Then from Ayumi, Akari learns that she doesn’t want to be a Prima but rather loves the Traghetto job since one can earn a reasonable income. Plus, seems Singles who failed to become Primas settle for this. Anzu tells Akari about her failure. But Akari notes that she herself isn’t skilled to take on the promotion exam since Alicia has not talk to her about it. Even if the time comes and she fails, she’ll keep pushing on like Anzu.

When it’s Akari’s turn to row with Anzu, the rest are amazed at her amazing rowing skills. At the end of the day as they finish up, they praise Akari for her skills and are glad that they got to train together. Ayumi notes at this rate, she may become a Prima the next time they meet. Oh, Anzu getting a little ‘berserk’ as she congratulates Akari for being a Prima. She’s still an apprentice lah. Atora feels Anzu shouldn’t blame herself since it’s their strict senior’s fault. It’s as though she doesn’t acknowledge their skills nor want them to become Primas. She is starting to get the idea of settling in as a Single specializing in Traghetto but Ayumi says they’re different because Atora really does want to become a Prima. Ayumi wonders why Atora doesn’t challenge herself again since failing her promotion exam a year ago. Atora couldn’t answer but Anzu knows how she feels. It can be painful and scary for one to fail something but once you’ve become stuck like that, you can’t adapt yourself. Thus, if you can’t change others, you can always change yourself. That’s why she wants to become flexible so she can take any shape, absorb anything and do anything. Akari is confident that they can do it as long as they don’t close up themselves. Atora and Anzu get their confidence to give it a try once more. Akari and the rest walks home as she narrates no matter what path one chooses, those who keep moving forward can see it shining brightly somewhere. She hopes to keep going forward no matter how far. I just wonder why Akari, Aika and Alice don’t do this Traghetto for practice sometimes. I thought they need all the practice and experience they can get? Aiming for a Prima so this kind of ‘low-level’ job isn’t in their sights? Nah.

Episode 5
As the junior girls are in town, they see Athena passing by and her singing has everyone stop and listen to her beautiful voice. They witness another extraordinary feat when a girl’s straw hat got blown away with the wind. Alicia gracefully manoeuvres her oar and gondola direction to retrieve and return it to the girl. Again the crowd applauses. During lunch, the girls talk about Alicia and Athena’s natural talent and probably the kind that is only one in a thousand. However this hit Aika very hard as she starts becoming gloomy. Her concern is how Akira felt when she’s among those naturally talented Primas. Looks like her depression season is setting in because she is further gloomy upon seeing Alice’s skilful handling of the gondola and Akari easily making friends. She doesn’t even have the heart to finish her trademark quote! When Aika gets off, she notes to herself how they don’t realize what it means to be a hard worker because these aren’t talents one is gifted with. Walking back to her room, she sees Akira (she is totally unrecognizable in different clothes and her hair tied up!) doing spring cleaning. How long has she been moving? Akira notices Aika more irritable than usual and forces her to help out. Aika sifts through the old photo album and sees a picture of the 3 Great Water Fairies. Then it’s depression time again when she notices Akira is the only Single among the pack. She feels so sad for Akira that she felt mortified. It’s like deja vu when those girls were badmouthing her, eh? Akira says though she lacked special talent and it didn’t took just hard work, that’s why she took a little longer to be a Prima. However she is glad she has them as her friends. But Aika still isn’t happy and wonders how she draws her strength for support.

Looks like it’s story time. That photo was taken when Athena just got promoted to a Prima. Though Akira was happy, however she soon sank into depression. She feels she is no match for them who are naturally gifted. It must really have got to her because she started searching for a four-leaf clover in a bed of ordinary three-leaf clovers. She couldn’t find one and thinks she is those unblessed ones and thus the difference of what makes a Prima and not. Till she meets a very young and happy Aika who notices her searching. She tells still-depressed Akira to give up since there is nothing can be done if there is none to begin with. Well, Aika isn’t being mean. What she meant was if that’s the case, all she needs to do is get what is missing. She puts together a three-leaf clover and a heart-shaped rose petal and makes it into a four-leaf clover. That’s when Akira learnt something important. If there are people naturally talented like her friends, then all she needs to have is a talent that exceeds their own through hard work. Aika is in tears with that story so Akira is relieved she doesn’t remember that meeting. Akira gives her a bookmark with a pattern of three-leaf clover and heart-shaped rose petal. Aika becomes happy and promises to cherish it. Well, if Akira says it’s a charm to become a Prima, why not? She is back to her usual self with Alice and Akari not having a clue what just happened. Aika notes how she has the best person in the world that everyone is proud of. A wonderful miracle born in Neo-Venezia. Then she realizes she said an embarrassing line and goes berserk with her kinshi line on herself!

Episode 5.5
This is the special unaired episode that comes with the DVD. Since Alicia will be out all day, Aria Company temporarily suspends business for the day. Akari and President Aria take a stroll through town. A residential place to be more exact. A place not part of the tour guide so it’s a little different. They get thrilled seeing laundry being hang between the blocks (?!), play some basketball, lie on the park, President Aria dancing a weird dance with the kids (or is he teaching them?), watch their meal made of dough been made freshly via rolling over some wires (see how the flock of birds and pigeons descend on President Aria’s crumbs! The guy next table sure is laughing like mad!). Akatsuki spots them and decides to pull off a prank on her to take his frustration for not being able to see Alicia on his day off. WTF?! Each time he chases after her, he gets lost due to the winding maze-like alleys. Then he sees her staring at a shop window and was in such intense concentration that he was oblivious to Woody. Yeah, he unknowingly agreed to everything he said to RSVP to some school reunion and even gave him his pizza! Man, he didn’t know the pizza was gone when he took a bite from it! Akatsuki is still hot on Akari’s heels, not really giving up as she makes her way back to the crowded tourist square. He sees her up the Campanile tower but was told to take the normal elevator like the public and not use the secret back entrance. Oh my. Good luck queuing at the long line. Well, he doesn’t have to since he spots her in another building. Aika and Alice spot Akatsuki being sneaky and decide to follow him. Seems Akari and President Aria are happily sitting about in a place that only they themselves know. A secret place not even Alicia or their friends know about. Akatsuki is having a hard time finding the stairways when he sees an opening and disregards whether he has authority to go up the dark stairs or not and climbs it. He reaches the balcony to see Akari sleeping. Then he surprises her by yelling a loud “Big Double Sideburns Attack!”. Thank God she didn’t die of heart attack. He learns that she is here to meet a gentlemen whom she secretly come to see him. Oh? Okay, turns out to be a head bust at the corner of the balcony. Haha. Then Akatsuki is shown a grand view of the plaza when he bows his head with the same level as the bust. Akari narrates the reasons why she considers this her wonderful secret place so Akatsuki also says he will make this his secret place too. Then they realize Aika and Alice spying so Akatsuki chases them before they get the wrong idea he ditched Alicia. Ah well, I guess this is everybody’s secret place now.

Episode 6
During practice, I’m not sure if Akari imitating President Aria would constitute some form of training. This has Aika scolding here and prompts if Alicia has ever scolded Akari. Nope. In fact, Akari has never seen her mad before. Yeah, there’s no way Ms Perfect would scold anybody, right? Akari also wonders if Athena scolds Alice. In fact it’s the other way round. Alice scolds Athena for her clumsiness and will never allow herself to get scolded! Wow. Who’s the senior and junior now? Alice still has her reservations so she tries to spy on Alicia and Akari in hopes to catch them in one of those secret moments whereby Alicia loses her cool. Each time, nothing that sort happened, Alice gets busted and gives a lame excuse of what she’s doing. Then Akari breaks Alicia’s favourite tea cup! Jenjenjeng!!! Could this be the moment? Nope. Alicia is glad she is not hurt. Suddenly Akari’s gondola drifts away but Alicia goes to retrieve it. What about now? Nothing either. Besides, it wasn’t really Akari’s fault as the rope was somehow cut by a sharp object. Then Alice starts drawing this weird conclusion: What if Alicia has given up on Akari? Over the next few days, Alice couldn’t find a reason to it all and decides to draw up a plan to have Akari make a genuine mistake to see if Alicia will get mad. While eating parfait at the cafe, fate has an unusual way of intertwining things. Yup, Alicia and President Aria are seated right across her! When they join her, Alice’s mind starts getting paranoid if this is some kind of punishment game and if she knows what she is secretly doing.

Then Alicia asks if she has anything in mind she wants to ask since she has been staring really passionate at her so it made her a little anxious. Now that they’re alone, she doesn’t have to hold back. Oh, she’s on to her! Alice sums up her courage and tells her straight the problem that is bugging her. However Alicia sends President Aria to deliver a sweet to a girl in another table. I don’t know why but he is taking a rather long detour before delivering it. When he comes back, Alicia has him deliver another sweet to a boy in another table. He seems faster this time. Then following Alicia on the stroll, Alice asks why she didn’t point out the mistakes President Aria did when he took a longer time the first round. Alicia replies if she kept saying like “No, not that way”, he might become afraid of making mistakes and eventually won’t be able to move. At least that is her way of doing things. But what happens if the same mistake is made over and over again? Then she will think it over and reflect upon her own lack of knowledge. After all, she is an imperfect human being too. Seeing there are times that won’t go well, it made her realize that teaching and being taught are similar. So all she can do is become one with Akari, face her ordeals and fail with her, and finally share her happiness. They meet up with Akari and Aika so Alicia hopes they can keep this conversation a secret. Why? Because it’s embarrassing. However Alice came out with a somewhat perfect comeback in a deadpan face: She doesn’t need to. Seeing them both so alike is already embarrassing enough! Oh my! How disrespectful? “Please scold me…” Haha! Oh Alice…

Episode 7
Today is the anniversary of Aria Company’s founding so it’s natural that it is closed. Alicia, Akari and President Aria make their way to Burano Island, a fishing village now and back at Man Home to visit Alicia’s senior, Anna. Seems she is happily married to her fisherman husband Albert and has a son, Ahito. She left Aria Company when she got hitched and pregnant with Ahito. But life isn’t a bed of roses as Anna explains. When she first arrived on the island, she was alone, her husband was always out fishing and the villagers treated her coldly. She took up sowing Venetian laces and from there gradually learned to mix around. Anna gets a surprise when her husband comes back. Seems Grandma is with him as he bumped into her and she’s here on Alicia’s invitation. Albert’s sumptuous seafood catch of the day has the ladies making splendid mouth-watering dishes. They talk about being grateful for the company and the encounters that brought them together. But Grandma says that it was President Aria who formed Aria Company instead. It was during a time Grandma was at a loss and was an Undine at Himeya. Back during her younger days (her real name is Akino – and a fine pretty lady too), she was known as the Ace and admired by many. One day she spotted President Aria staring at the ocean and sitting at the same spot. She got fascinated and joined him but no matter how many questions she posed, that cat never answered (duh!) or moved from his spot. As she continued to join him, it made her realized she was too busy to enjoy the many wonderful everyday moments and before she knew it, time flew by. She felt something wrong because President Aria continued to sit at that spot even when it’s raining! Out of sympathy, she sat by him and before she knew it, the clear blue skies of the morning greeted them. Then she understood, thanks to him she realized that she was pushing herself too much. Soon after, she went on to form Aria Company and wanted to see the world reflected in his beautiful blue eyes together. It beats me how President Aria became so playful. But that’s another story. Hey wait. Just how old is President Aria?! Back to our ladies, Grandma is confident that Akari’s own Aria Company will start. They all are excited to see her Aria Company that no one has ever seen before.

Episode 8
Alice eagerly plans for her much awaited picnic with Athena tomorrow. When she returns from bath, she finds a very tired Athena straight in bed sleeping. Next morning, Athena wakes up early and goes out for a job. Of course how would Alice feel? She starts playing picnic in her room when she can’t wait anymore. Then Athena storms back and apologizes. She is able to go on the picnic now but Alice is hurt. She doesn’t want to anymore and storms out although it isn’t Athena’s fault to begin with. In that instant, it’s like some sort of cliche because President Maa is happily munching on the banana, throws away the skin and Athena slips on it. Aria Company gets a frantic panic call from Alice. They head over to see Alice in a loss what to do. What’s wrong? Hmm… Athena seems pretty fine. She’s up and about doing things normally and in a coordinated way. That’s it! She’s not clumsy or dopey! But the actual fact is that she got amnesia when she tripped and fell flat on her face! She can’t remember their names except for President Aria. Then when Alicia goes up to her and smiles, Athena remembers who she is. What magic did she put? No magic. As explained, she just may have temporary memory mix up. Before Alicia leaves for work, she tells the duo to observe her for the day. If things don’t get better, take her to a doctor. They decide to bring her out to her usual places in hopes for her to regain her memories. But Alice starts having this thought: Wouldn’t it be better to have a no-clumsy Athena? Of course not! At the chocolate store, seems Athena only starts remembering President Maa’s name. Alice is pissed off so she decides to return to Orange Planet to have her pick out her favourite oar. Athena does it right and not only that, remembers Akari’s name. This strikes a bad chord in Alice’s books because she starts thinking if she is the only one she doesn’t remember. Going back to Aria Company, Alice sinks into depression so Athena asks her to describe how she was to her. An extremely senior who always caused trouble and worries her. So she hates her? Not exactly… So that means she likes her? Alice says if given a choice, she would choose the latter. Then she starts crying. Alicia tells Athena that it’s already enough. Athena apologizes and says that her amnesia was fake. WHAT?! When Alice stormed out then, she thought Alice was fed up and was really worried. So she wanted to know how she felt and pretended to have amnesia to find out her true feelings about her. A relieved Alice wishes for her to say it straight next time. And it is that part of her that she… HATES!!! Ooohhh. Alice getting mad now and giving Athena a real good lecture! After they leave, Akari wonders how Alicia has known this all along. Well, she knows Athena long enough to know she has been pulling crazy stunts like this for a long time. After all, they’re still simple girls too and will be worried about the feelings of the precious people close to them.

Episode 9
Alice graduates from her school. Yeah, she has got lots of admirers asking for her second button. Aika and Akari greet her as they continue their practice. Now free of school obligations, I guess she has more time to spend practising with them, right? Back home, Athena suggests to go for a picnic tomorrow. For sure. For real this time. But it’s not going to be just an ordinary picnic. Athena also suggests Alice to become an Undine with Athena acting as her customer. Alice is graceful, skilful and perfect handling the gondola as she takes Athena through several places. An exceptional extra-ordinary for a person her age. As they ride through the canal and while waiting for the water to fill the water elevator, Alice tells how she likes singing but is bad at it thus her low confidence. Athena gives the ultimate advice: If you don’t love your own singing, how can you expect others to love it? As they make their way to Hope Hill, Alice is surprise to see Akari, Aika and several higher-ups of Orange Planet standing by the slope. Athena tells that long before water came flowing on this planet’s surface and named Aqua, it was called Orange Planet. Hey, I thought Mars was known as the red planet? Must be that orange glow it gives off during this time of the day? As a final request, Athena wants Alice to sing. Well, I won’t say it’s the best but she’s not bad. At least enough to move Akari to tears. Then it is revealed that this is a test to see if Alice is qualified to become a Single! And she did it with flying colours! Hey wait! Athena is not taking off just 1 glove. She’s taking off the other glove too! OMG! This is unprecedented! Alice has become a Prima Undine! She is valued by the company so much that she is given the nickname Orange Princess! Way to go Alice! It’s tough juggling school life and being a gondolier so she really deserves this. Alice couldn’t contain her emotions and lets loose tears of joy. But it’s a different kind of tears for Akari and Aika when they realize she leapfrogged them! Nevertheless they are happy for her as the friends embrace each other.

Episode 10
It’s Alice’s first day as a Prima and she’s nervous stiff. I think the customer will enjoy it because she’s cute! Alice gets depressed when she finds out Aika and Akari have been spying on her job. For a long while… Akari invites her to go moon-gazing tonight. As the trio share the dumplings while watching the Moon, President Aria tries to share his with President Hime. Of course she ignores him. He tries pushing in his tummy so much so she gives in and shares his dumpling! Could this be it? Alice teases Aika that she was expecting Al to come seeing that she thought it was supposed to be only 3 of them. Embarrassed Aika sets off giving an excuse to find Al. Eventually she does and in her happiness, gets a little ahead of herself and stands on a plank on an unused well. Well, it breaks, she falls in. Al lends a hand to pull her up but he too gets pulled in. It’s either he got no strength or she is too heavy. I think it’s the latter since she admitted it. Yeah, all those dumplings. They try climbing out but each time, sliding back or falling off their balance. Just when they see President Maa as their hope, that little kitten jumps straight down into Aika’s palms! Aika wants him to go on an important mission to bring Alice but can that kitty cat understand what she says? I mean, each time she throws him out (don’t worry, he’s very light and agile), he jumps back in, thinking all this is fun and games. Finally when he is thrown out and doesn’t hop back in, all hope is lost because well, President Maa forgot what he’s supposed to do and wanders off. So the duo has no choice but to sit around till whatever help arrives.

With the Moon’s reflection shining brightly, Al starts his lecture about its forces of attraction and repulsion. Oh God. I don’t want to hear science… Aika notices this close romantic moment but Al had to spoil it with more Moon stories and legends. Better kinshi and forbid him before he starts telling tales of other planets too! It gets a little dark and I don’t know why, Al hinted he’s afraid of it. Don’t Gnomes work underground? Sure they have interior light but this contradicts a very early episode in the previous season whereby Al guided the girls through the dark. Aqua’s second Moon passes by and illuminates the area. Hey, Aika and Al are so close like in hugging position! They’re not embarrassed by it? I’m not sure when Aika said the little Moon got to close and having succumbed to far too much of Aqua’s influence, was she referring to the rocky satellite or Al? I don’t get it too because she slowly backs away and starts crying. Al’s answer of Aqua is under influence of the Moons as well calmed her. I’m sure everyone is waiting for this moment. The moment Aika goes up to him and… Her stomach growled… Ah! Damn it! I can’t believe it ruined the moment. How can she be hungry this fast when she had so many dumplings! As she laments her failure, Akari, Alice and the presidents wonder what was ruined for her. They pull them out and head back to Aria Company so Aika makes a lie that the centrifugal force was ruined. Huh? I don’t get it. Don’t worry. So do they. Then Al takes Aika’s hand as they walk along. He quotes this is the force of attraction. Oh Al… I didn’t know it… Or is it just the effects of the Moon? “Embarrassing remarks aren’t allowed”. And I’m not sure if the Moon is really the one causing strange forces of attraction on Aqua just for this night because President Aria and President Hime are gazing together! You’d never see this scene anywhere before.

Episode 11
Akira is having a tough time trying to figure out a nickname for Aika. Selfish Queen? The Great Princess? Forbidden Princess? Serenade of the Cry-baby? Amazing nicknames, huh? She sure does know her junior well. So is she ready to be a Prima? Yeah, this is going to be a tough choice. She hears nearby girls talking about Alice’s skipping a grade to be a Prima and how Aika must be under great pressure to live up to Himeya’s expectation. Akira seems troubled so much so Aika herself is worried that she may have done something wrong. Since Akira can’t really put it into words, she treats Aika to gelato. She hears Aika singing praises about Alice’s success but won’t lose out as well. But this only serves to depress Akira even further till the point she tells Aika not to worry about it and drop it. However in a role reversal, it is Aika who tells her why she will move forward to open up a future for an Undine. She is grateful to Alice for letting her taste this feeling. Looks like Akira worried for nothing. So this means, she wants Aika to cancel her next free day off shopping with Al to do some special training with her! Gah! Regretting it? Then she hands her the list of nicknames since it’s better to ask the person herself which one sounds better. Aika realizes the meaning of this and in her happiness hugs Akira. After all, everything is for the sake of her Rose Queen. Is that the nickname she picked out? Alice isn’t used to her nickname yet but she’s getting busier by the day with lots of customers streaming in. Though she has more confidence and can row around without breaking a sweat or like a zombie. Her customers are so satisfied that they plan to hire her the next time they come back. Even a little boy appreciates her work and thanks her by giving her a sweet. However, Alice notes that being busy has its pleasures, she feels she doesn’t have free time to meet up with her friends. She feels lonely. She gets a little down and goes back to her room to see Athena, Aika, Akira and the presidents munching bananas like nobody’s business! Don’t talk with your mouths full! And no Alice, you’re not dreaming. Seems her friends are here to share with her some delicious pizza. As they eat and chat, it’s like the good old times but Alice can’t help feel they might never meet again or have this sort of free time chance in the future. She laments she doesn’t have an excuse like this pizza to meet them. But Akira says she has one. In fact, she doesn’t even need one. If it’s Alice, that’s a good enough reason. Alice becomes happy and feels she’ll be fine because she has friends like them.

Episode 12
Akari practises with Aika and notes how it’s lonely without Alice. Nevertheless she’s going to do her best. However Aika is crying and in no mood to joke around. She starts apologizing that they can’t be together anymore. That’s when Akari realizes AIKA HAS BECOME A PRIMA!!! Look, ma! No gloves! Akari congratulates her but she still doesn’t look too happy. Several snippets of Akira undertaking Aika in a Prima promotion exam. She passed in the end and both senior and junior are in tears. Akari relates the happy news to Alicia so the latter mentions how relieved Akira must been because she’s always worried that Aika can’t just be a Prima but one who must carry the name of Himeya. Akari also tells another happy news how Aika is made to be a manager of a newly opened Himeya branch at Santa Lucia station. However she is puzzled why she started crying. I can think of an answer. Alicia drops a surprising news: Akari will have her Prima exam tomorrow. That night she can’t sleep so she takes her gondola out and meets Akatsuki who seems to have lost his wallet. He understands her feelings since he too is going to take a promotional exam soon. Then Woody comes by as his wallet has been found. With all the talk of dropping and falling, Akira must really be a nervous wreck, eh? The word ‘ochiru’ in Japanese though it means drop or fall, it can be synonymous with failing a test. I wonder how many times they said ‘ochiru’ in that sentence! Oh, the word ‘ochitsu’ (calm down) also sounds close enough… Oh Akari, will you be alright? Next morning, it is raining so Alicia suggests postponing the exam to a better day. But Akari insists taking it today since she has waited for this day. If it clears up by afternoon, that is. It does clear up so the exam begins with Akari rowing Alicia as her customer. She passes by several places and meets several other characters throughout the series and friends. As she passes a bridge, Akatsuki and Woody do an embarrassing cheering on pose for Akari (and perhaps Alicia too). But Akari wasn’t so much embarrassed, but a little worried when Woody notes that Akatsuki is nearly falling off. It’s that ‘ochiru’ word again…

The path has Akari rowing through a very tight and narrow waterway she never knew existed. Not even an inch for mistakes! However she doesn’t feel nervous before. Why? Because all those practice with her pals paid off. Reaching out at the end, Alicia is very satisfied and felt the gondola became one with the water. Her final task is to row to wherever she wants to because she must choose what kind of Prima she wants to be. Akari chooses Aria Company because she wants to be like Grandma, Alicia and a Prima of Aria Company itself. In Alicia’s closing statements, she mentions how her world completely changed when she came to Aqua. Her ordinary days began to seem like as if the world was sparkling marvellously like a casted magic spell. It gently wraps Aqua and goes on endlessly like the sky and sea. She is glad to have met her and thanks her Aquamarine. Aqua what? It means the unfathomable blue. Alicia takes off Akari’s glove and congratulates her on becoming a Prima! Hooray! Congratulations! They day she has longed for has finally arrived. All the juniors have graduated into Primas! But Alicia has something important to say. Oh no. Please don’t tell me…

Episode 13
Though Aika and Alice learn Akari became a Prima, the shocking news is not that Alicia is going to retire as an Undine, but getting married! SAY WHAT???!!! Who is that lucky guy?! Oh, the telephone rang. Who could it be? It’s Akatsuki! He’s damn shocked that his beloved Alicia is walking down the aisle. At least we know he isn’t the guy :p. Yes, this is not a dream. See all the customers cheering for her and the flowers she got? That show how much everyone loves her. Actually, she’s not retiring for good as she has been invited to join the Gondola Association and it has been her dream to devote herself to the future of Aqua’s Water Guided Tours Association. I know she’s the Ms Perfect that everyone knows but even so she’s human and not Super Woman so she can’t possibly handle 2 jobs at the same time. Till things at Aria Company settle down, Alicia will live here till her retirement ceremony. However Akari doesn’t seem sad as she goes about doing her daily chores and is busier than ever taking over Alicia’s duties. But is she really going to be alright? There was a document she didn’t understand and called out to Alicia but she isn’t in. It’s getting lonely, isn’t it? Then she starts crying as Alicia comes back. Akari pours out her feelings how everyone loves her because she’s kind and thus everyone doesn’t want her to retire yet. Alicia hugs emotional Akari and tells her the truth that she knew had skills of a Prima for a very long time. She was afraid of losing this precious moment spent with her and had to be strong since she is her senior. She blames her selfishness. Akari has calmed down and says that she has experienced many happy things and deep down in her heart was worried and scared when things changed. Noting how everyone else is walking their own path like how she first came to Aqua, she wants to send her off with a smile. Akari gets Mailman as her first customer. Seems he already is retired and is now doing management work in the office. During rest, Akari notes how it will be really lonely once the retirement ceremony is over tomorrow. Mailman assures her that even if she has inherited Aria Company, she has the entire Neo-Venezia behind her.

The retirement ceremony is soon here as Alicia is guided by Athena and Akira through the procession. Akatsuki can’t stop being a cry-baby. Alicia passes the baton (oar in this case) to Akari as the latter thanks her for everything. Alicia looks back one last time and bows, shedding a tear or two. Next day, Akari sees lingering visions of the gang in Aria Company. I guess the memories are so strong she gets to feel the nostalgia. Then it’s time to open for business. Akari narrates the rest of the friends on how they are doing. Woody continues to send fresh eggs to her and is rearing chickens back on Ukijima. Aika garners respect and is doing well at her new branch but is still the same cry-baby when she’s with Akari. Al has been promoted and it seems the both are going steady (at least this is what I observed). Hey, he’s taller now! Akatsuki is also promoted but sometimes stops by at Aria Company. What’s with the sour face dude?! Yeah, probably he still longs for Alicia or at least what she left behind. A way to show he cares? Don’t worry, time will heal your heart. Like, in 10 years. Haha! Alice also garners lots of admirers but she prioritizes meetings with Akari and Aika or else the world will be destroyed!!! WTF?! What kind of excuse is that?! Athena has retired from being an Undine and made her debut as a diva. Man, her voice rocks! With 2 Great Water Fairies out, I guess this leaves Akira to be the number one Prima Undine in Aqua, right? Alicia is still busy with schedules, meetings and lectures but from time to time, she still stops by Aria Company to visit with Grandma, much to Akari and President Aria’s delight. Best of all, her wonderful warm smile is still there. Ah… Lastly, Akari has taken a junior and my guess is right because she turns out to be Ai! She’s starting out as a Pair. And what’s this? Akari spotting a new hairstyle? She looks more mature too though her trademark sideburns are still hanging there. Oh, her character is starting to resemble Alicia and Ai so much like Akari during her apprentice days. Though it’s a new beginning, feels much like nostalgic history repeating itself, eh? Yeah, Akari is learning to give off a wonderful smile like Alicia too.

Ara, ara. The Owari (End)?
Wow. What else can I say? At first I thought that this series was going to be end on a slightly disappointing note because well, nothing pretty much changes except the fact Akari goes around meeting new people and new encounters. But when Alice becomes a Prima, that’s when the pacing and flow starts to change. This is where it got interesting. Soon, Aika and Akari stepped out of the shadows of their seniors to become Primas themselves. Thus I have mixed feelings when the series ended. I felt sad that Akari and her friends along with many of the other characters could not continue the wonderful times they always had together like before. Well, they had 3 seasons of it already, right? Isn’t that enough? Haha. But on the other hand, I felt happy that everybody has moved on and walking their own path. You can’t stay in your comfort zone forever because sooner or later, things will eventually change. And that time has come, which is a perfect fit and end to this nice and heart-warming series.

The way things are looking, I feel Akari won’t be the airhead or clumsy person anymore. I mean, in that final scene, she was exuding so much confidence, grace and maturity that she seemed like a different person. But I notice that Akari isn’t the kind of person that goes into total shock when she hears shocking news. Like when Alicia retired, got married or even Aika getting promoted, she doesn’t display that incredulous looks like she always did when Aika often used her comebacks on. Instead, she had that calm (in a way it looked a little silly) look on her face. Sometimes it makes me wonder if she really understood the impact and magnitude of what is being conveyed. I was also very curious to see who this guy Alicia got hitched to. I really wanted to. I know that she has many fans and even die-hard ones (like a certain Akari bully), but there were no signs over the seasons to indicate or show that she is even involve with a man or at least a guy whom she takes interest in. It certainly did not occur to me that way. Maybe we’re just overwhelmed by her beautiful smile and grace :). Aika and Alice have also matured and are taking on their responsible roles though they may still be the same people when the friends meet up. Maintaining their friendship is still very much top priority, right?

I don’t know if this is really a tradition of Aria Company but it feels like this small company always (if not for most of the time) will only have 2 employees at a time. I’m sure money isn’t the real issue here. So when the senior retires, the junior gets promoted and steps into her shoes and will take on an apprentice herself. One out, one in. Maybe it has got something to do with that musical term too. Aria also means a long song accompanying a solo voice. That’s why it has to be single. Isn’t it a wonder why Akari sometimes felt lonely when Alicia isn’t around or the thought that she will no longer be around? I know she has her friends and other people of Neo-Venezia but I thought another person in the company would make things livelier. Sure, she has President Aria tagging along wherever she goes but I feel he’s just a pet mascot despite his status of a president. Say, since President Aria has been with the company since its birth and will be with it for many more years to come, doesn’t it make that cat a very, very old feline? Doesn’t look old, but sure looks fat! Haha! Oops, just kidding. But it still attracts President Maa’s biting with many more years of pain still to come… I’m sure with all the mails exchanged, Ai too has grown fond of Neo-Venezia and she will have her first experience of what it’s like to experience those wonderful moments as an Undine and make her own memories and friends. This may be trivial but during the first few episodes of the show, Ai’s voice during the mail exchange narration doesn’t sound like the little Ai I used to hear. What I mean is that she sounded a tinsy bit mature and I thought oh, looks like she’s grown up and won’t be putting on that cute loli voice anymore. Then slowly it’s back to that sweet shrieky voice again.

I’m not saying I’m totally disappointed but I was hoping to see and learn more about Akatsuki and his Ukijima and Al with his underground Gnomes. Sadly, though there may just be an episode with them hogging more screen time than usual, they otherwise do not make much appearance in this series. It would have been nice to know how these different places are related and in turn regulate and keep Aqua and Neo-Venezia afloat. There are some of the other new minor characters whom Akari met, I thought it would be wonderful to see how they come together in the end. For instance that Traghetto trio whom Akari practised with and Henri. Also, Akira and Athena don’t make as much appearance except for the important turning point to make their juniors into Primas. But then again, with the lesser number of episodes this season as compared to the previous, I can see why. And I also noticed that Aika doesn’t say her trademark line as often as she usually does. Maybe Akari has learned to say more graceful words or has Aika learned to appreciate Akari’s expression?

But the one thing that I was relieved that was not present in this season: The supernatural element. I was (and still is) spooked by the unexplained supernatural events in the second season and with this third season around, there is not a single breathe of it. So in a way, can I consider it to be refreshing? Phew. Now I don’t need to have sleepless nights anymore. Probably they want to concentrate on putting a fine finish to the series. Alas, because of this, in a way it still bugs me to wonder if that large Cait Sith cat is still around, still interested in Akari. Should be since she is now a Prima. Maybe he’ll be when he comes back from that Galaxy Railways trip in the previous episode. Speaking of which, maybe that’s why he and the other cats weren’t around this season. They already went to the stars the last time round and who knows when they’ll return. Hmm… Thinking about it, now I think I know why the second season was named as Natural. Supernatural in addition to the natural beauties of Neo-Venezia?

The opening theme for the OVA is Nanairo No Sora Wo by SONOROUS. Though it is another one of those slow and calming tunes, however I felt that the singer’s voice was somewhat a little drowsy or a bit ‘lethargic’ (which is ironic to the name of the band, if you get what I mean). The OVA’s ending theme is Ashita, Yuugure Made by Erino Hazuki. A slow pop ballad that befits the lovely final scene of Akari and Alicia together at the top of Campanile. For the TV series, the opening theme is once again handled by Yui Makino. Entitled Spirale, it feels somewhat similar to the second season’s Euforia. Maybe it’s her way of singing and Choro Club’s trademark playing style in the background. But this season’s ending theme isn’t by Roundtable featuring Nino anymore. Instead, we have Akino Arai doing Kin No Nami Sen No Nami. Though I can consider this piece to fit into the category of a slow and calming piece, however there are choir-like voices and singing here. I’m still wondering if it’s a suitable as an ending theme since I came to expect and was used to Roundtable featuring Nino’s style for this series’ ending songs. And yes, I still have to credit Choro Club for those beautiful background music. I am not sure if there are new ones played but I will never get bored of the favourite old ones even if they played it a million times, over and over again.

So is this really the end? Well, even if everything has to come to an end one day, it’s just a start of another new beginning. So perhaps the title of Origination for this series doesn’t mean a flashback season, but rather the origins of Akari’s new path as a Prima and Aria Company. Perhaps if they are to continue this series, they will continue and focus the story on Akari-Ai pair. If not, a flashback and origins. Either way, I hope I will be able to catch it during that moment and not wait for like half a decade down to road to decide whether to watch it or not. After all, it’s not a bad thing to see and experience the many spectacles, wonders and amazing discoveries that are not only peppered throughout the series but in real life as well. And if you have anything to say about that, hope it’s not “Embarrassing remarks aren’t allowed!”.

Aria The Natural

January 7, 2012

What kind of wonderful encounters await us? What kind of romance will we find in the daily adventures of daily lives as it is about to unfold? Embarrassing remarks aren’t allowed!!! Ehhh???!!! Oh, those familiar words ring a bell to you? Yes, it took me a damn long 5 years to finally decide and start watching the sequel, Aria The Natural. After my stint with the first season way back in 2006 (the first season came out in 2005 and a year later, the second season), I guess it took me too long to decide whether to watch it or not so much so I KIV (Keep In View) it till I almost forgotten about it. So what made me decide to catch this calming and soothing series? After too much mind blowing fanservice, violence and nonsense recently, it’s that time again for me to ‘detoxify’ all that with something neutral. Hence, that’s how Aria popped up in my mind. Well, better late than never.

For those who are not into the slow pace drama, try searching elsewhere as you may fall asleep after a couple of minutes. Thankfully I didn’t. The setting may seem cool. In fact, it is cool. Mars, renamed Aqua is inhabitable in the distant year 2301 with water enveloping the planet so much so a place which the series sets in, Neo-Venezia is somewhat a replica of our Venice. Basically, the series is about the daily lives and encounters and interactions with other people, discovery of new places and phenomena and topping it with reflection and realization. Though it generally focuses on the main character, Akari Mizuhashi as an apprentice Undine (a gondolier-cum-tourist guide) and her encounters, not forgetting the other side characters that will complete her wonderful time at Aqua as she strives to become a Prima (a professional and full Undine).

Episode 1
Ai is staying and helping out at Aria with Akari and Alicia since it is holiday season back at Man Home (new name for Earth). With the Carnival around the corner, President Aria (yes, that funny looking cat) goes off to a mysterious place as he did in previous years like with all the other cats. Later all the A girls (that’s what all the main girls’ name start with) meet up at the Bauta (those Venetian mask) stand and are joined by Woody and Akatsuki (still stammering when near Alicia). A large masked Casanova and his child attendants pass by. He is somewhat a legend from Venice back in Man Home in the 18th century and was sometimes known as a prison escapee, playboy, intellect, adventurer and celebrity. But he is somewhat an idol now. Later as Akari, Ai, Alice and Aika rest, they spot one of Casanova’s attendants and chase after it in hopes of unmasking his true identity. Akari and Ai got separated and end up in an unfamiliar place. They see Casanova and his child attendants. They ask if they have seen the rest. Without speaking, they hand them little bells and a castanet and start dancing and playing their instruments. Akari and Ai dance and follow them throughout the city till they reach the end of the line in which Casanova signals to them they can’t go no further no matter how much they want to. They are given a jasmine flower each as one of the child attendants unmasks and it reveals to be President Aria! Then the look through the opened door, Casanova looks back and unmasks. He turns out to be Cait Sith, the king of cats, supposedly a large black cat in fairy tales. That night, the duo are reunited with Aika, Alice and Alicia along with Al passing by. They spot the jasmine flower in their hands and realize they have met Casanova and want to know if they have find out his identity. Their answer? A fairy.

Episode 2
Akari, Aika and Alice take a practice row down Neo-Venezia since Ai has went back to Man Home. Aika notices a door near a Maria statue and finds a box with a treasure map in it. Initially she thinks the treasure is a fake but after Akari and Alice pester her, she agrees to go on a treasure hunt. Each map contains clues leading them to the next box as the trio enthusiastically read and follow as it leads them through many Calle (Italian for lane) throughout Neo-Venezia. Will they get to the treasure at this rate? While resting at San Marco Square’s cafe, Akari enjoys her cafe latte she never tasted in her life while to duo continue to search nearby. Akari and an elderly man exchange glances before they treat each other to more cups of coffee. Akari is surprised when everybody starts shifting and as explained by the mister, the cafe follows the shadow to keep cool various times a day since they have wine. He joins her and they chat about San Marco back on Man Home and how he spends almost every day at this cafe. Soon he learns she and her friends are on a treasure hunt so he prays they’ll find a good treasure. As they continue, the final leg seemingly is an easy clue but a little baffling because you have to go down to another world in the sky. Rushing down the dark stairways, they come out to see a beautiful scenery overlooking Neo-Venezia. This is the goal, the treasure. Even the final words narrate on the wall “Now you got a treasure in your heart”. The trio decide to put back the maps and boxes in their rightful spots. They notice many box marks and realize that there were many before them who also sought the treasure and put it back for the next one. When they return to San Marco Square, they see Alicia meeting up with that mister. He introduces himself as the manager of this cafe. He is happy they have found a wonderful treasure as Akari notes the person who hid the treasure is an expert of Neo-Venezia. That’s because while she was searching for the treasure, she was caught up in the magic of enjoying Neo-Venezia even more. So a rare case of the journey and destination is both worth it and important. Yeah, the entire Neo-Venezia is a big treasure trove.

Episode 3
While checking out tonight’s temperature, Akari realizes that there is going to be a meteor shower tonight. Because Alice can’t fully explain the effects of gravity, they meet Al who offers to explain over lunch. Hmm… Why is Aika blushing and nervous with this guy? Over the nabe lunch, Al explains how his job as an underground Gnome, keeps the gravity constant on Aqua. He also uses the nabe as an example of gravity and attraction. I guess this is one way to get those hungry people to understand better. As they leave, Aika nervously tries to invite Al to watch the meteor shower tonight. The rest thinks of inviting Akatsuki and Woody but Aika shoots them down thinking one is a kid and the other a loud party-pooper. They conclude she just likes Al. Right on the mark! That night, Akari, Aika and Al (along with their president cats) meet at the square. Alice is passing this one out since she is feeling sleepy. While searching for a nice spot to watch the meteor shower, Al suggests to have a walk around town since his eyes are quite used to dark places. They finally climb onto a roof and mark it as their designated spot to watch the meteor shower. Man, it’s going to be a little hard to get Al to climb up. I take it underground people have fear of heights. He has to go first or else he will be caught seeing their pantsu… They are amaze at the starry sky and as the meteor starts trickling in, Al continues his explanation about the shooting star phenomenon over a warm cup of cafe au lait. Suddenly Akari realizes she is alone with Al (who knows where Akari and the presidents have gone to). Her heart is beating faster each time she thinks about it but is interrupted when the real meteor shower rains down beautifully from the sky. At the end when they prepare to return, Al thanks her for this outing so she gets embarrassed. I wonder how many times she has said that “Embarrassing remarks aren’t allowed” line. And I also wonder how many times President Aria tries to hit and look good in President Hime‘s books. But failed miserably… There’s always another time…

Episode 4
Since Mailman’s boat is sent for repairs, he requests Akari to row him around so that he can do his deliveries. However Alicia notes she is just an apprentice and can’t be allowed to row alone with a customer. Though Mailman is okay to take this as his off day, Alicia notes that if Mailman becomes Akari’s instructor, it’ll be okay. Eh? Like that anybody can be her instructor, right? Akari and President Aria go pick up Mailman at the post office HQ. After that slightly embarrassing warm up (a postman’s job is tough and stamina-needed!), they got pick up mails from mail boxes. Akari is in awe of Mailman’s job and even had a hand herself doing his job, albeit clumsily. Thankfully, no catastrophe. After lunch, they see a boy, Sora who is anxious to deliver a letter now. It is to his teacher Ayano who is getting married at the church at this very moment. He wants to send her a congratulatory letter as well as an apology letter for all the troubles he has caused. They agree to deliver the letter but he must come along. As Ayano and her groom steps out of the church, Mailman delivers the letter. She reads it as tears well up her eyes. Sora’s heart warming and honest words reached her heart. Mailman goes back to the rest waiting at a distance as he tells Sora how happy Ayano was reading his letter. Shortly, Ayano’s boat rows by with Akira and Aika as their Undines. Akari takes his hands as they row close to them. Sora saying his final words to her before they part. As for Mailman and Akari, they continue the rest of the day delivering other letters. At the end of the day, Akari realizes that the entire Neo-Venezia is filled with mail boxes. Yeah, people here are all old-fashioned. No Hotmail, Facebook or Twitter! Can you live with that?! Mailman explains the joy and excitement of writing and sending a letter, comparing it to a form of treasure. Akari concludes that Neo-Venezia is like a little letter because you can always touch the heart of the people who created this place. Next morning, Akari gets a simple thank you letter from Mailman and is very happy about it.

Episode 5
Since it’s a public holiday, Alicia takes Akari and President Aria to a shrine island. After lots of Italian stuff, it’s time for a little Japanese tradition. At the tea shop, the old lady ‘warns’ Akari of the mischievous Okitsune and not to follow him to the other world. As they walk along the shrine paths, Akari felt somebody is following her. Then its starts to sunshower. As they run for cover, Akari and President Aria realize they are separated from Alicia. They walk around to search for her but Akari starts getting this eerie and afraid feeling each them she goes deeper. Suddenly it gets misty and they are caught in some weird procession with a group of masked people and its bride. Though Akari gives way, they stop and look at her! Then a tap on her shoulder! It’s that masked kid who has been following her around. Remembering the old lady’s words on Okitsune, Akari gives him her fried tofu package she bought earlier on so the procession continues. As it disappears, the mist vanishes, the sunshower clears and it’s a sunny day. Akari finds Alicia back at the tea house and tells her what happened. The old lady says Okitsune may have appeared because of her or the fried tofu since it’s its favourite food. Akari orders another package of fried tofu! On the way out, they see the earlier fried tofu package on a fox statue and Akari thinks just wanted some tofu. Then Alicia remembers the old name for sunshower (tenki ame): A fox’s wedding (kitsune no yomeiri). On another public holiday, Alicia offers to take Akari and President Aria to her special spot for picnic as part of their spring plan. While resting in the woods, President Aria must have got distracted chasing an insect. This leads them to an abandoned railway station as they discover railway tracks and follow it. Well, they must have trekked all day but the journey ends when they come upon a huge beautiful sakura tree. Next to it a dilapidated and abandoned coach. With a hole in the ceiling, they get a nice carpet made out of sakura leaves. Akari apologizes for Alicia not being able to show her special place. Alicia tells her a story about a teacher telling his student never to take the wrong path or he’ll never find his goal. Fortunately he veered off and though was in despair, he soon found a world more magnificent than the one he was searching for. What she’s trying to say is, if you don’t make mistakes, there are things you won’t discover. I’ve been wondering why President Aria has been bumming on top of the electric pole the whole time. Then it occurred to me he is stuck and entangled in those electric wires! It’s dangerous! Amazingly there is still current running through it! It’s a miracle he didn’t get electrocuted or else we have a fried cat. Haha! Just kidding. This lights up the coach and they have a wonderful lit up view of the sakura tree.

Episode 6
After practice, Alice invites Akari and Aika to her room. President Aria must still be in fear of President Maa who loves biting his flabby belly! He finds refuge on the bed top since President Maa doesn’t have the strength to climb up. Phew. At this rate, he may have died of heart attack. Athena also has them stay over for the night since she has got the dorm president’s permission. They have a feel of what it’s like to have dinner at Orange Planet’s cafeteria and a walk in the park. Athena puts a flower of Alice’s head to make her look pretty. Then at the mailbox section, Alice receives an invitation to an in-house Pair party. Akari and Aika are excited but Alice instantly circles that she will not attend, much to their surprise. A few Pairs pass by and they seriously and formally greet each other before going their way. As Alice retires to her room, Athena explains it’s not that she isn’t liked in the company but it’s more of the opposite. Everyone here admires here but all those envious looks feel like hostility to her. As they’re taking a bath, Akari tries to persuade Alice to change her mind but she is sticking to her decision and feels everyone hates her. Later as Athena dries Alice’s hair, she mentions how she is having fun with Akari and Aika. She replies that they are different as Aika is open in her speech while Akari is always smiling and having fun. She doesn’t have to worry when she’s with them. Athena says when she feels that everyone hates her, it’s more of like she hates everyone instead. But in Alice’s case, she’s more like afraid. Just like how the mirror reflects you, people will also reflect your heart. She wants Alice to smile more so that other people will smile back at her. As she goes back to her room, she watches in amazement how President Maa tries to bite President Aria once more. The fat cat thinks he’s safe on the bed but President Maa stood up and starts climbing the bed sheet. He reaches the top and finally gets to bite the flabby belly. NO longer a safe haven, eh? Alice is amazed President Maa tried his best and starts thinking that she too needs to do the same. Next morning, Alice wakes everyone up with her morning greeting. She sounds optimistic and lively. And on her invitation card, she circles the ‘will attend’ answer.

Episode 7
As the trio practice, seems Alice didn’t think that party was too bad at all. Plus, her seniors have invited her to practice with them. Though they tease her that her practice is doubled, she hits back that she’ll be a Prima faster than them. This has Aika trying to prove she is serious by manoeuvring the tight alleys. They spot President Aria in a gondola and follow him. He enters a small alley but Alice feels that it’s not a good idea to follow. Plus, she has school so they have to cut short their adventure. Akari tells this to Alicia so she says it must be a legend from Man Home. Something about cats have their own kingdom but humans cannot enter. Though she isn’t sure why, perhaps Cait Sith casts some black magic on it. Next day, Akari and Aika practice together and see President Aria once again in a gondola. This time they follow him into that small alley. The maze-like waterways led them to an abandoned area like as though time has stopped. They enter an old building possibly an immigration facility when Aqua was in the midst of development. As they row forward and deeper, unknown to them, cats are following them in the shadows. Then they realize that they keep coming back to this building and wonder if they’re going around in circles. A few more tries and even taking turns to row, it is starting to get creepy because they eventually come back to the same place! I’m having goosebumps too! Will they ever get out? Aika starts to feel a little freaked out when Akari starts hearing a voice calling her. She rows forward but comes back to the same place again. Now they couldn’t care less about the cat’s meeting and want to go home. Akari reflects on Alicia’s words and thinks this is punishment for trying to enter a forbidden place. As she apologizes, they see President Aria rowing up next to them. To their relief, he points the way out, a waterway they never realized it was there before. Aika, better quickly row your way out now! But President Aria isn’t coming. Well, he’s a cat so he’ll be able to find his own way out. As they row out, Akari looks back and catches a glimpse of a bunch of kitties and Cait Sith bowing to her. Next day when the duo with Alice practice, they pass by the entrance to that small alley and just ignore and row by. Yeah, once bitten twice shy. Curiosity killed the cat, eh?

Episode 8
It’s the season of Aqua Alta (high waters). Akari gets a call from Akatsuki to meet him at Leather Boot Camp on the double. There, she realizes it is Bocolo’s Day since everyone is wearing a red rose. Plus, Akatsuki has a basket of red roses. He plans to give them to Alicia. What else? So a single rose is not enough to express his infinite love? Haha, good luck. So Akari is called so that she can help him carry his basket with her mini gondola. Feel honoured, girl! Along the way, they chance upon Alice who has a rose too. But an obligatory one by the baker. Seems Athena too got lots of them from her young juniors. Alice didn’t give Athena one seeing another rose wouldn’t make a difference. But Akari thinks she’ll be happy to get it anyway. Continuing their journey, they meet Aika. Oh dear. Akatsuki x Aika = Argument + Insults. Pony-man… Gachapen… Akari notices she has a rose and wonders it’s from Al but she blushingly denies and says it’s for Alicia. Noting Akatsuki has a heap of roses, after learning Alicia is at the Gondola Society Meeting, Aika rushes off to give her rose to Alicia first. But Akatsuki is going to win by numbers. Then Woody comes by to deliver the roses Akatsuki orders. Yeah, more roses baby. They notice another box of roses for Akira. Yup, she too has her fair share of fans. Woody is requesting payment but Akatsuki blackmails him to reveal an embarrassing past story if he doesn’t put on his tabs. As Akatsuki haggles to buy more roses at the square, a lady tells Akari the meaning and origins of Bocolo’s Day. It means a flower’s bud and originates from Man Home hundreds of years ago. A lower class nobleman fell in love with a high class girl. To prove his utmost love for her to her father, he went to battle. But he was heavily injured and in his dying breath, picked a white rose and handed it to his comrade to pass it to the girl. When the blood stained rose reached her hand, she knew he had already died. As Akari comments on the tragic love story passed down as a tradition today, Akatsuki’s reply: “Embarrassing comments aren’t allowed”. Looks like there’ll always be someone to say that to her. Aika bumps into all and flusters. He asks about her rose so she nervously says it’s for Alicia. Al then gives her an uncut gem called Eye of the Rose and this has Aika wondering the meaning of his gift even though it’s not a rose, but it looks like one. Akari and Akatsuki are practicing for the latter to hand over the roses to Alicia. Akatsuki is so tense even if this is just practice. Yeah, Akari has full confidence she can imitate Alicia. As they start over, Alicia actually passes by! Her gondola is filled with heaps of roses. Because Akatsuki is in stammering mode, Alicia notices his roses and misinterprets Akari has received them from Akatsuki! Then she goes away thinking she’s interrupting something important! Oh Akatsuki, the heartbreak. He panics and trips, spilling all the roses. But they see the roses floating and Akari thinks it’s like his feelings spreading out further and further just like those old lovers whose heart are being reflected in the hearts of others. Akatsuki gives Akari a rose as reward for accompanying him. She notes this is the first time she receives one from a boy.

Episode 9
Akari is taking on a customer today with Alicia as her instructor. As she rows along and imparts her knowledge, the customer notices a private residence’s garden with beautiful blooming flowers. Alicia explains how such natural plants are rare on Neo-Venezia since it is a man-made and also how the owner uses Barometer to measure his wife’s beauty via growing flowers. Akari feels disappointed that though she travels here every day, she doesn’t notice this garden but is impressed with the customer for noticing it. To serve her customers better, later Akari goes off to find more wonders. She tells this to Aika and Alice and they too decide to show her some of the wonders in Neo-Venezia. Well, Aika and Alice are in some sort of competition to see who can show and explain the wonders of the places and monuments in Neo-Venezia. So much so it just sounds ridiculous. A door that never closes? Stairways that ends halfway? More like faux pax. But Akari is enjoying every wonder they introduce. Then Alicia passes by and learns what they’re doing. Akari plans to continue searching for more wonders tonight. But Alicia mentions it is not possible as this area will have power cut till tomorrow morning. Akari seems a little afraid. Why? That’s because she can’t sleep when it’s pitch black. That night when the power cut is in force, Alicia brings out and lights up all her coloured candles. Having their own little night tea party and since Akari still feels she doesn’t know much, Alicia tells her old story whereby she was a Single. A customer wanted to see some gardenia flowers but because of the rain, the flowers had fallen. She couldn’t forget the look on their disappointed faces so her Grandma brought her a candle that night. She told her to always keep a warm flame inside her heart even if it’s just a small one. If she’s able the way of the flame, she’ll be able to see hidden wonders. After that, she went to see the gardenias again. Though the petals had fallen but due to the dampness, it was exuding lots of sweet fragrance. As they turn in, Akari unknowingly blows out the last candle and she becomes afraid of the dark. Following close to Alicia up to their bedroom, they see a bright light coming out from the room. It turns out to be the bright shining stars in the sky. Alicia notes that she too doesn’t know lots of things but due to this fact, this means there are still many more wonders out there. The chances of meeting these wonders will be plenty and it’ll be tough since they are infinite. And since there is no end to wonders, that itself is wonderful.

Episode 10
Aika and Alice notice Akari knows a lot of the townspeople that well. She even gets a salad dish on the house for helping out with some advice! Must be embarrassing for locals like them, eh? Akari decides to skip afternoon practice to buy stuff on Burano Island. The duo decide to tail her to solve the wonder which is Akari’s mysteriousness and to find out how she makes friends when they’re not around. They follow her take a Vaporetto (slow ferry) and see her easily breaks the ice talking friendly to strangers as they too open up to her. Aika can never get over the ‘bump’ of the Vaporetto each time it docks. Yeah, she starts panicking whenever she hears that thud. Then on a stop, they see a mysterious man with large bags entering. Alice thinks he is the corpse man as his bag can fit a dead body due to the detective novel she just read. To their surprise, they see Akari and that guy have a friendly chat. As they contemplate to intercept to avoid her getting dragged into something dangerous, the Vaporetto docks and knocks them off their balance. They must be hiding behind the door all these while so when customers alight, one of them dropped oranges so they had to help pick up. Once that is done, they realize Akari and that guy is not in their seats and has already gone off. The Vaporetto sets sail so the plan is to get off the next stop and return in the next trip. You know how slow this ferry is, right? Yeah, I don’t know how much time has passed when they finally got back there. They hear President Aria’s voice and follow it till they reach a square. They see Akari along with many children around that guy. He opens his bags to reveal a music box and string puppets. Aika and Alice have a feeling they have seen him before. As he starts playing the music and dances the dolls, he invites Akari to do the same. She tries out as President Aria dances along much to the delight of the kids. Then Aika and Alice remember. He is a puppet show traveller and have seen him put up his performance when they’re young. They note if Akari hadn’t been friendly with him, they would never have remembered those lost memories. The add if you look through the ‘Akari’ filter, you see things that you never see before. Things that seem ordinary will start to shine brightly. Then in sync, they both tell each other off “Embarrassing remarks aren’t allowed”. Haha. At the end of the performance, Akari spots the duo and goes to them. They wave goodbye to the puppeteer and return. Oh, Akari forgot her shopping.

Episode 11
Akatsuki’s big brother of the Foreign Trade, pays Akari a visit and he has a request: He is nominating her for a job not as a tourist guide but to transport the fragile Venetian Glass. Apparently he took up Akatsuki’s ‘advice’ seeing his comments that Akari’s gondola is number one in Neo-Venezia for being ‘so damn slow you almost go to sleep’. Haha! That’s a compliment, right? Next day as Akari and Alicia arrive at Murano Island, the go see the Maestro to get the transported goods. He also has an observer for the delivery. However he is being unfriendly and rude to the Undines. He doesn’t want them to even carry the box of glasses in fear that they would say something bad! Maestro tells him off not to be rude to their guests. Along the way, Akari manages to break the ice with him so he opens up and tells them how Venetian Glasses are made. During the break, he is amazed an apprentice like her is nominated for this job. He reveals he wants to be a glass craftsman but there are prejudices of people wanting traditional craftsmen. Though Venetian Glass tradition originated back on Man Home, there was a break in tradition when Venice was submerged underwater. Those craftsmen were scattered throughout the world and when Neo-Venezia was created, they tried to revive this tradition. In the end, they have to start everything from scratch. Suddenly a dozing boatman threatens to hit Akari’s gondola. Akari uses her quick instincts and reflex to get her gondola out of harm’s way and save the glasses from being shattered. Continuing the journey, the observer apologizes for his earlier rudeness because recently there are many comments that Neo-Venezia is just an imitation of Venice. However Akari says those feelings reflect that he loves this place. Though Neo-Venezia is copied after Venice but due to the difference in its built and people, it creates a different feel. Fake or not, Akari still loves Neo-Venezia. True to Akatsuki’s title, Akari reached her destination at sunset. Akatsuki’s brother praises her for a professional job well done even if she’s just an apprentice. As the Undines carry the box of glasses, big brother teases the little afro observer for staring at them and wonders if he has become a fan of Akari. Blushingly he says those who think of them as wonderful Undines do exist here and now.

Episode 12
In the hottest summer on Neo-Venezia, Akari is surprised to see buildings over the ocean. As pointed out by Alicia, they are mirages created by the simmering heat. As Akari and President Aria take a walk, the heat must have caused Akari to start seeing illusions. For instance, there is nobody around and there are stalls selling nightshine chimes. Seeing President Aria running around, she decides to follow him since remembering Alicia said cats probably knows the coolest place in town. She ends up in a cafe and is being treated by the bartender to ice milk. As she relates her daydream-like visions, he tells her those are heat waves. The more you chase after it, the further it gets. But what happens if you manage to catch up after it? It gets a little creepy seeing the way the bartender talks and the sudden appearance of lots of cats appearing behind. He assures her this special place of theirs will always be the coolest. A gentleman in a trenchcoat treats her to another iced milk as the bartender says humans shouldn’t be in this place and once she finishes, she has to leave. Akari follows President Aria out and sees the gentleman to be Cait Sith as he takes off his hat. After she thanks them for the treat, she returns to reality and the bar is actually an abandoned place. Later, Akari goes to the stall to look for nightshine chimes and meets Aika and Alice. They browse and bought their respective chimes before returning to Akari’s place for some cool watermelons. Akari has an idea. Every night since, she takes President Aria out on her gondola with the chime to have their secret tea party. This goes on till the chime’s stone that gives out light starts to flicker. An indication its lifespan is near its end. To give it a proper farewell, it has become a tradition for people to let its stone drop off into the ocean while saying Tante Grazie (literally means thanks for everything). When Akari’s dropped, she realizes a crystal sticking in place of the stone. Alicia is amazed to see such a phenomenon for the first time. Akari feels that the chime doesn’t want to part with her as tears start streaming down her cheeks even if she doesn’t know why. She continues to hang the chime on her gondola.

Episode 13
Fans of Alice should love this episode since this is predominantly on her. Alice nearly knocks into another gondola during practice and thinks it’s because she failed to clear her resolution yesterday. What resolution? To walk home from school by only stepping in shadows! With some rules she set, she bounce her way from one dark spot to another. What about wide opened areas with no shadow? Thankfully, passing things like the airship counts because, a shadow is casted, right? However on the home stretch, she fails and steps into the bright spot. She becomes depress as Athena rowing a gondola with customers spots her and starts singing to lift her spirits. Next day, Alice continues to succeed her resolution and continues her shadow hopping challenge. Along the way she meets Athena (apparently her meeting was cancelled) who happily follows and observes her on challenge. As she hops, President Maa got excited and runs alongside her, causing Alice to lose her footing. Athena saves her by propping her up before her foot could touch the ground. However Alice isn’t happy she got help and decides to redo that part. Then at an open area where there are no shadows, Athena offers to cast her own shadow as a stepping spot. But Alice refuses and gets upset. She is going to redo from the part she met Athena and doesn’t want her following. Hopping along, she thinks Athena should fix her clumsiness first before helping others. By that time, the sunset glow has cast long shadows so it’s a little easier, eh? Alice reaches the bridge and sees Athena, Akari, President Aria and Aika in a gondola nearby waving at her. She is resolved to finish this last big obstacle and starts her hopping. But since her heart is disturbed, she losses her balance. Athena swiftly moves her gondola so that she could cast her shadow as Alice’s landing spot. Alice is still not happy and wonders why she is doing so. She replies she is an ally of Alice. Thus Alice decides to add a new rule that Athena can help since she isn’t just anyone. Athena starts singing and Alice realizes she was singing for her that time. Athena has always been her ally. Continuing her remaining journey, Alice puts on the happiest and most natural smile.

Episode 14
As the morning is unusually cool, Akari and President Aria wake up earlier and row around nearby. She describes the various wooden poles sticking out of the water and its purpose like to tie gondolas and as signs. When she goes back, she asks Alicia why their company doesn’t have its own Palina (painted poles). Well, it was like that when she first came here. Akari suggests making one so Alicia agrees. However she leaves it up to Akari to design it. That’s a big responsibility. Can she do it? Anything is fine as long as it’s the way she sees it. To draw inspiration, Akari takes out the old photo albums and sees a very young Grandma and President Aria. She sees a sketch of Palina in between the pages. Grandma happens to drop by so Akari takes this chance to ask her about the unfinished Palina. Something about they both couldn’t see the colour yet. Since Aria Company was just formed and they were busy, they left it for another day till they totally forgot about it. Alicia returns and is overjoyed to see Grandma. As Akari continues to ponder the kind of person her senpai is, she asks President Aria to describe her. I’m not sure if anybody can understand that clumsy dance because heck, even Akari can’t comprehend! Akari continues to burn the midnight oil to come up with the Palina’s design. Then she got it and starts work, designing and painting on a real one. Yeah, she’s really into it. It’s a one (wo)man show. Finally when it’s up, their Palina is a simple design like the ones on their uniform. As celebration, they have dinner by it. Alicia commends a job well done but Akari feels she wasn’t alone. She felt that her senpai she never knew was there all along while she worked. Alicia adds that when she’s retired, she’ll be here with her junior she’ll never meet. Akari feels scared if she will change then. Alicia assures her that the Palina will remain the same then and thus she will remain the same as then. This painted Palina will always be the Aria Company and even after she’s long gone, it is undeniable proof of days she spent here. It will never change as it represents her right now. Akari deduces that if you come to see this painted Palina far in the future, you’ll be able to ‘meet’ them now as they are.

Episode 15
Akari is having lunch on her own since her pals are busy. She is joined by Akira on her break. Soon by Akatsuki (what’s with that “Embarrassing remarks aren’t allowed” sneak attack?!). Noticing Akatsuki hungry, Akari tries to offer and feed him her fried shrimp. Since he is hesitating, Akira bites it first. Yeah, so Akatsuki and Akira also are always in arguing mode. Al joins them and mentions how Akatsuki hasn’t changed. Flashback time. As Al is born and grew up on Ukijima, he is a year older than Woody and Akatsuki and often looked after them. I’m not sure about Akatsuki’s Aqua-peace-protecting training by sliding down a giant slide. Woody is sure chicken, though. Then on some training on a swing, they are joined by a very tomboyish Akira and very polite Alicia on a school excursion (they sneak away). Daredevil Akira shows she has more guts than the guys as she swings further than Akatsuki. He challenges her to a slide duel. Yeah, Akira has got more balls than the guys, sliding down at high speed without fear. Akatsuki starts knowing the meaning of fear for the first time and was going to back out if not for Woody’s encouragement. He sums up his courage and slides. However when he is in the air, he did several somersaults and landed on his face. He started crying over his pathetic attempt but Akira gives him a hand and says he won instead. As the kids reconcile, Akatsuki was sure it was Akira’s win and was going to leave the protection of Aqua to her but she refuses. She thinks he misunderstood and that she’s not here for Aqua, but Aqua is here for her! Oh wow! Akatsuki wants her to be his big brother but she vehemently refuses. Back in present time, Akatsuki remembers those nostalgic memories and wonders what that ‘boy’ has gone because he has never seen ‘him’ ever since. Err… He never realized it was her? Alicia pops up surprising Akatsuki as she too remembers the nostalgia of being on Ukijima for the first time. It was then Akatsuki realized Akira was the ‘boy’! Akira doesn’t remember much. Akatsuki is devastated that his ‘brother’ has turned into a sissy cross-dressing man!!! Then he proclaims he has been a fan of Alicia then but was teased that he isn’t worthy of being one since he just realized that girl back then was Alicia. Akari starts noting this big circle in Aqua where people meet, pass and part. As time passes, things change but the big circle never and engulf the people in it. She laments she is from Man Home and not part of that circle. But the rest says she has been in their circle and right in the middle since everyone starts gathering around her without realizing it.

Episode 16
Alicia and Akari send their gondola for inspection but were told by the craftsmen its days are numbered and it’s better to get a new one. Akari is reluctant to part with it but he says using it will be rude to the customers. What about using for own practice? Well, that will be a pity to the gondola. Alicia suggests Akari have a farewell tour tomorrow with the gondola, going around Neo-Venezia and taking pictures with it. The next day after Akari and President Aria leave, Alicia puts on a sad expression. First time we’ve seen her like this? Along the way, Akari remembers the first time she became an Undine. She was a panicky and clumsy apprentice. First she picks up Akatsuki for the tour since he was his first customer. She remembers how she was slow and was late to send him but he gave her confidence that he could only pay the rate of an apprentice. Even if she’s an apprentice, she’s still an Undine. Yeah, that guy’s not bad at all. After dropping him off at the Ropeway Station, it is Alice and Aika’s turn. They row to the cape where they first met and reminiscence the good old times. Next, she goes around meeting other people like Mailman and Woody. The final destination is a canal where all apprentices undertake a test to become Singles. Remembering the time how Alicia passed her to become one at the top called Hope Hill, a hill overlooking the entire Neo-Venezia. On the way down, Akari enters like a dream world and sees an old customer requesting her to row on. As they take the slow ride, she wonders why he picked her gondola, so he says it may be fate. After a while, the old man disappears. Though not mentioned, we know he is the gondola’s spirit. Akari goes back to Alicia and finds it hard to hold back her tears.

Episode 17
The duo have a farewell-cum-thank-you dinner on the gondola. Alicia reminisces the times she was an apprentice and bumped into things, thus the scar on the side. Also the fun times cleaning, waxing and scrubbing barnacles off its bottom (believe it, it was fun). They are joined by Aika, Akira, Athena and Alice. Akari got the honours to do a farewell speech and toast. Then they see the photos Akari took with it and spot the one with Akari, Aika and Alice in it. Seems the seniors had one exactly like that too with this gondola. Just about the time Alicia became a Prima, she had to use a new white gondola. She is sad to leave this gondola so they took a group photo of it. The gondola was temporarily put away till she had confidence to be an instructor of an apprentice. That’s you Akari. After everyone parts, Akari decides to stay a little longer on the gondola. Maybe much longer because it starts drizzling and she doesn’t mind lying close to it, reliving all those precious memories once more. It’s sad but emotions got the better of her. To many, it may just be a boat but this shows how much she cares and respects it. So much so the gondola spirit is touched by her kindness and puts an umbrella over her. Next morning, the gondola is taken away. Few days later, they go and get their new gondola as Akari is amazed by it. Alicia says she is the first one who will use it. Akari is nervous rowing around town. Then they spot their old gondola passing by because of the marks and scars. Seems it is being used to transport goods. With that, Akari is able to move on and hopes to work together with the new gondola.

Episode 18
The girls are having a BBQ party. Aika is the last to arrive as Akari notices her new beautiful hairstyle. Aika flaunts it and is even happier when Alicia praises it. She also prays her hair will grow longer but Akira tells her if she has time to pray, she should make up for that by refining her skills. Party pooper. As they enjoy the food, they smell a funny burnt smell. No, it’s not some overcooked food. IT’S AIKA’S HAIR ON FIRE!!! Akira swiftly uses the table cloth to put it out. Then the dreaded moment… What are a few broken plates compared to a broken pride? Seems a part of Aika’s hair has become afro! Looks more like a tumour. Yeah, see all their Pac-man faces… Though she tries to remain positive, eventually she runs away. Akari and Alice run after her. Aika runs through the streets teary-eyed and with the cloth covering her head. Akari and Alice finally find her sobbing alone. Back at her place, they decide to give Akari a haircut. Before they can do anything, the afro part falls off! President Hime loves playing with it? Akari proceeds to cut her hair semi-long approximately to her shoulders. Aika tells them she was praying for long hair so that she can be like Alicia. However Akira pops up and says it’s impossible for her to be like Alicia. Those words don’t sit well with Aika and she’s about to hate when Akira insists on repeating it to get it to her head. Then Akira puts her foot down and tells her what she meant that she can’t be Alicia because she’s not. She can’t even be like Athena or imitate any others. Alicia is Alicia. Aika is Aika. Just be the best Undine in Neo-Venezia. This brings tears of realization to Aika’s eyes. Next day, the girls have another BBQ. They are surprised to see Aika’s new hairstyle: An even shorter cut. Akari starts praising so… Embarrassing remarks aren’t allowed! But it’s a different case for Alicia as she praises how it suits her so Aika is back to her happy self.

Episode 19
Aika catches a cold and will have to stay in bed. Well, 3 days straight cooped up in your room, who wouldn’t want to go out? She sneaks out and happily goes shopping with a gelato in hand, avoiding being seen by Akira. But then she seems something horrifying and runs away. Later Akari and Alice visit her but find her crying in her room. She reveals what she did today till the point she spot the duo practising together. Then it hit her how they’re doing fine without her and felt scared and uneasy. That’s when she ran away. Akari understands her feelings but Alice is all question marks. Then Aika would have them leave and wants to return to sleep. But they have bought some pudding with fresh cream so it’s going to be hard to pass up this chance. As they eat together, Aika narrates though she felt pathetic showing her cry-baby side, she felt happy they came to visit. Two days later, she is back to normal. She puts on her newly bought hairpins but starts feeling nervous. She tries to take her mind off it as she practises with Akari and Alice. To the extent of even mentioning how she keeps the gang intact due to Alice’s scary quiet face and Akari’s airhead and tendency to get easily distracted. The duo notice her cute hairpins and to top it off, passing Alicia also mentions how cute it is. So I guess she can’t hold it any longer and tells her buddies of her anxiousness. Seems she hasn’t show Al her new hairstyle ever since but can’t seem to find a reason to go see him. They allow her to go see Al while they continue the training themselves. As Aika takes the lift down to the underground world, her heart is getting more anxious. She sees Al’s superior Apa and was told Al is having early dinner due to his late shift. Aika can’t bring herself to say that she’s here to see Al so she just passes the puddings she bought to Apa to give it to him. She rides the lift up and out but changes her mind and goes down. I don’t know how many flights of stairs she has been walking but it’s getting tiring. And the nervousness in her heart too. Then she comes into Al and starts panicking. But Al is surprised to see her new haircut and approves the new look. To add icing to the cake, he also says the cute hairpin suits her. Ah, those magic words she long to hear. Aika narrates she wonders why she is so anxious all day just to hear those words but she’s somewhat happy now. It’s called fear of rejection.

Episode 20
It’s President Aria’s turn to catch a cold. As Akari wait for her friends, she spots a lady in a black mourning dress sitting by the pillar. Such a dress in this swelling hot summer? She decides not to stare as it’s considered rude. When Aika arrives, she decides to tell a ghost story to beat the heat. Akari is weak of those things… Anyway back in the old days of Venice, a woman was to be publicly executed. She begged to be buried on San Michele Island, an island filled with graveyards. But it was full and thus her request was never met after her execution. Soon strange things began to happen. She would appear out of nowhere near a pillar and requests to be taken to San Michele. However one must never go with her because you’ll be spirited away. Ooohh… Goosebumps coming out… But that’s a Man Home legend right? Well, apparently she too happens to appear in Neo-Venezia! Oh dear… As the trio continue their practice, they note Akari attracts mysterious phenomena easily and advice her to take precautions. Like don’t run up to everything and say “Wonderful!” or not approaching something dangerous. At the end of the day as they part, Akari is returning from an errand when the lady in black wants to hitch her ride on her gondola. Though Akari says she’s an apprentice and not allowed to take customers alone, there is no rule saying she can’t take a friend. Yeah, when did she uncover such a loophole? The lady is touched by her kindness. So where to? San Michele Island. Gulp… After Akari rows her there and is about to leave, the lady suddenly grabs her hand and takes her running deeper into the island. Zooming pass by the tombstones till stunned Akari can’t run no more. The lady says she is a good girl and wants to be with her forever. They’ll be alright since they’re friends. The wind blows off her veil and F*CK!!! SHE’S HEADLESS!!! OH SH*T!!! Suddenly Cait Sith appears behind her. The headless lady lets go and runs away. Cait Sith puts his paws on her face as she collapses into his arms in relief. Next thing Akari knew, she wakes up back at Aria Company. It can’t be a dream because there is a flower petal from the graveyard in her hand! Oh sh*t… Worried Alicia has been looking for her. She tells what happened and embraces her in her fear-cum-relief. Next day, she tells this to Aika and Alice. Aika starts shivering in fear upon hearing. It gets even worse when she shows the petal. It must be real! But Alice says there’s more to the ghost story. Apparently there is no such records of executed people requesting to be buried anywhere back in Venice or Man Home. Plus, that ghost story didn’t exist at all on Man Home! It was made up by someone in this city when Aqua was settled. So it’s a rumour made up in Neo-Venezia? But why does a ghost from the past in a made up story exist in the future and in this city? Well, that’s what makes it scary. EEEKK!!! Shriek all you want girls!

Episode 21
Akari hears sound of the train at night. Galaxy Railways? She tells this to her pals and now it seems Aika is starting to be weak against ghost stories because Alice mentions it’s a ride to the graveyard and you shouldn’t hop on board… Oh Alice… That night, Akari receives a letter with a large cat paw on it. It’s got to be Cait Sith, right? Inside, a one day ticket to Calle Tram tomorrow. Akari is in a dilemma whether to go or not so much so she’s spacing out. Her pals wonder what’s wrong with her so she starts talking. They misinterpreted that she may have found a guy she loves. Till Akari starts describing his coat of fur and tail… Uhh… As Akari is still contemplating (not because she’s afraid, but the unfathomable mysteries that she has encountered), Alicia says that just like her who wants to discover Aqua, perhaps Aqua wants to learn about her too. That night, Akari and President Aria wait at Calle Tram and as expected it turns up. All the other passengers are cats. Then a large conductor appears to stamp their tickets. There can only be somebody this big, right? A kitten throws a tantrum when he doesn’t have his ticket as the conductor prohibits him from stepping aboard. Akari gives her ticket to him, much to his happiness and is grateful. Then she knows the conductor is Cait Sith and thanks him for inviting her and for saving her the other night. He pats her head and puts his paws over her cheeks. She wonders who he is, where he comes from, how long he has been on Aqua and why he is appearing before and watching over her. In the end, he stamps both their foreheads. As the train departs, Akari and President Aria did not board and watch it takes off into the sky. Wow. It’s really like the Galaxy Railways. The conductor takes off his hat and it’s no surprise he is Cait Sith. He bows to Akari. Next morning when Akari wakes up, she is very happy that last night wasn’t a dream because the stamp is still on her forehead. Relating this to Alicia, she wonders if Cait Sith is really the heart of Aqua, then she is really amazed by just that.

Episode 22
Akari talks about the possibilities of different paths and future and stuff called the other parallel world. President Aria must be curious about it and took up Akari’s suggestion by trying to squeeze himself through the narrow openings between the stairs. Kids, don’t try this anywhere. It’s amazing that fat cat manages to squeeze through but that joy is short-lived because he bangs his head on the wall. Did he get amnesia? Nope. Apparently he got his wish of venturing to the parallel world. But he doesn’t like it because the genders of the characters are switched! Akari, Alice and Aika are boys?! Akatsuki and Al girls?! Though President Maa hates him, President Hime takes a liking for President Aria. Hey, at least this isn’t so bad, right? Till he finds out President Hime is male… Oh sh*t! I HATE THIS WORLD! I guess he can’t stomach kind Akatsuki feeding him so he rushes back thinking if he squeezes through that stairs once more, he’ll return to his own world. Too bad, Alicia, Akira and Athena (yes, they’re guys alright) interrupt and decide to cheer him up by throwing him high in the air. He’s not enjoying it. Then mama-like Woody was passing by and takes the honour of bringing him up really high in the air and then tossing him upwards. Woody fails to catch President Aria. OMG! He’s going to crash! Don’t worry, cats are pretty agile and know how to re-land on their feet. Oops, I take that back since it’s President Aria we’re talking about. CRASH! Don’t worry too. Cats have nine lives. Much to President Aria’s relief, he is back in the original world and clings on to Alicia in his relief. I guess he must be seeing too many things because he saw himself as a girl in the reflection! It’s just your own imagination… But good to be back, eh? Later, Akatsuki’s brother commends Aria Company for another fine job. I suppose as extra reward he decide to tell them past embarrassing stories of Akatsuki. You see, when Akatsuki was a bratty kid, he thinks he is the protector of Aqua and an artificial human! Each time he thinks mom is kidnapped by evil aliens and being replaced, he always asked her this question of his true identity to ascertain she’s not a fake. Maybe the temptation to tease him was too great (or rather he got sick of hearing the same thing day in day out) so big brother pretends he is an evil alien. Akatsuki got so frightened that he ran away from home in fear. I guess only mom can calm him and make a crying kid happy again. That’s why mothers know best. President Aria is taken in with the story and wants to hear more so big brother teaches him Akatsuki’s favourite signature pose. Yeah, he’s doing it pretty well. Akari spots Akatsuki while she is rowing and calls out to him. He is disheartened President Aria is doing his signature pose. Then he finds out how they’ve heard his story, he just ‘died’. And President Aria remained in that pose throughout the journey. Oh man…

Episode 23
Alicia and Akari guide an old couple celebrating their wedding anniversary around Neo-Venezia. Though the wife is positive and sporting, the husband is grumpy, He may not show it but notice each time he gets embarrassed, his ears while go bright red. The husband doesn’t want to continue to tour so the wife continues hers alone but wants to meet up later. Later Akari, Aika and Alice spot that old guy in a gondola shop and reprimanding the staff for not being able to meet his demands. Eventually he cancels it. Seems he wants a gondola to use for the Wedding to the Sea but the one prepared isn’t up to his expectations. Soon, the trio find him apologizing to a band of musicians (I later found out they are Senoo and Choro Club – the group responsible for this series’ lovely background music – making their cameo appearance!). They learn he was busy with work and hardly had time to take her travelling. She once mentioned she wanted to have the Wedding to the Sea so he thought this opportunity would be a good idea. Akari suggests using her gondola and since she’s saying how much she loves Neo-Venezia and its people, the old geezer has to accept, right? Aika and Alice help decorate the gondola while the old guy waits by playing President Aria’s flabby belly… He wonders why they can do so much for someone else so Alicia replies they must’ve been motivated by a customer who is trying hard for his wife. That evening as everything is prepared, his wife is surprised to see all this but nevertheless happy. Alicia, Akira and Athena brought their own customers who also want to witness this wedding. The earlier band members are happy to provide music. As the procession starts, the husband realizes he must have left his ring behind. Don’t fret, the wife coincidentally bought one earlier because she too had thoughts on this wedding. He is grateful for his wife for always saving him and how Aqua is a planet that can’t live with the help of the sea and that Neo-Venezia will always have everlasting love of the sea. Then they exchange vows and their eternal love for each other while the rest applaud.

Episode 24
On a rainy day, Akari and Alice head to Aika’s place for a study session to achieve their goal to become Primas. As usual, Aika fawns over the great Alicia even knowing her as the youngest Prima at the age of 15 while Grandma was the oldest and longest serving Prima to retire. Then they decide to give monikers and great ones to their seniors like The White Fairy (Alicia), Siren (Athena) and Crimson Rose (Akira). However it wasn’t good ones among themselves. Akari? Pigtails… Any better ones? Really Long Pigtails… Akira? The Wonderful Cry-baby (Embarrassing monikers aren’t allowed!) or Gachapen! KINSHI! KINSHI! KINSHI!!! Because the girls weren’t really studying, Akira comes in to give them do some filing work, much to Aika’s dismay. Once done, as Aika leaves to return the files to Akira, she passes by a group of girls whispering to themselves. Thinking they’re talking and admiring her, she decides to eavesdrop. But it didn’t turn out what she wanted to hear. So shock that she dropped the files and the girls excuse themselves. Aika heads back to the room and is visibly upset. She is upset that the girls weren’t talking about her but about Akira. What’s so bad about that? They’re badmouthing her. A visibly distraught Aika cries how it would be okay to badmouth her since she’s the heir to Himeya but shouldn’t do it to Akira since she got where she is now from scratch with her own strength. Akira has heard Aika’s words and tells her about the hard facts of reality that not everyone can be a Prima and the competition is fierce. Still, Aika still couldn’t accept nor tolerate their rudeness. Though she may be strict, there is kindness in her words Akira tells a story about a perfect grand wedding of a bride and a groom. Everything was wonderful till the bride tripped and fell face first into the cake. That incident became the talk of the town and only what the people remembered. The point is, we quickly become used to happy things as natural and yet even if just one bad thing happens, we take it seriously. And people make the bad things even more serious many times fold. She thanks Aika for crying for her but wants her not to worry because after all, it’s all part of give and take that she accepts because she’s a Prima Undine. As the sky clears up, the trio vow to get stronger and return to their happy selves.

Episode 25
Akari is worried since she hasn’t been receiving mails from Ai lately. It may be because her grandmother is unwell or busy with school. The Redentore Festival (some midnight party) is coming up next week as they talk about what they did for last year’s party. Going back to Aria Company, though Aika is happy to see Alicia, she starts having a bad feeling when Akira and Athena pop up. Seems the seniors want them to host this year’s Redentore. They will be in charge of food, decoration and programme. Yeah, they’ve rented a boathouse for their sake too. Consider this as special training. The girls get to work right away with Alice making invitation cards. Since the boathouse can fit 12 people, besides themselves and their seniors, they think of inviting Mailman, Grandma, Woody, Akatsuki and Al. Akari thinks to invite Ai for the last spot but isn’t sure if she can make it but sends her an invitation nevertheless. Next, the girls go shopping for food, cooking and get down with the decorations. Redentore night is here as everyone arrives and boards the boat. But Akari is worried if Ai will come since she hasn’t replied her mail. They can’t wait any longer and start rowing the boathouse. Fortunately, Ai makes it in time so they u-turn to get her. Apparently she is brought along with her sister’s husband who is on a business trip, the reason they’re late. Also, Ai didn’t reply because she wanted to surprise Akari. Thankfully her grandmother is recovering well. Akari, Aika and Alice serve the guests with wonderful food and later Ai and President Aria put up some sideshow in which Athena joins them. They find it wonderful? I find it plain weird. At perfect timing, the girls dim the lights so everyone could watch the magnificent fireworks display. Alicia thanks the trio for organizing this Redentore very well and inviting them to this enjoyable event. If not for them, everyone here would never have met and see each other. So bottoms up everybody!

Episode 26
The snow blankets Neo-Venezia. While Akari is out training with her pals, she is so deep in thought that she has no reaction to Aika’s trademark punch line. She asks them what they wanted to be when they’re young. Since the conversation has too much Alicia in it, I guess it’s natural to wonder what Alicia wanted to be when she was young. Akari gets that chance when she, Alicia and President Aria take a stroll through town. However she didn’t answer but starts making and rolling a snowball. She tries asking once more but was seemingly ignored. As they push the growing snowball, they meet several people who gladly help to their little bit to roll to make it bigger. Big enough to have trouble going over a little slope. But on the way down, I hope President Aria didn’t turn from a fat cat to a flat cat! See his marks on the ground! Thankfully, he’s still alive. Then they reach a dead-end but the residents there are amazed of the giant snowball and are excited to offer to make any one and invite them for outdoor tea. They turn it into a giant snowman complete with pretty decorations. This even attracts a passing-by ferry loads of passengers watching in awe. At the end of the day, everyone is satisfied of their achievement as the Undines leave. When Akari notes how it was fun and she has come to love this town more and more, Alicia tells her when she was young, she used to play in the snow and make snowballs when it snowed. Whenever she did that, somebody will appear out of nowhere to help make it bigger. In the end, everyone goes home satisfied. That was when she thought, this is what she wants to be when she grows up. Alicia puts on the prettiest smile that was worth waiting for. Have you become a fan of Alicia now? Akari thanks her for meeting her so she too feels the same. The snippets show the various people they’ve met, the other supporting characters and various places they’ve been to throughout the series. Finally Alicia asks what Akari wanted to be when she grows up. Her reply is a fairy. Alicia is confident she’ll soon turn into one. I’m very sure it means it’s Akari’s time to become a Prima on par with the Water Fairies of Neo-Venezia.

Naturally Good…
Oh yes. I was a very good thing I caught this sequel. There is a third season and I am planning to watch and complete my Aria series real soon. I may not have remembered much about the first season nor do I have any intentions of rewatching it, once again, watching sequels after a long time brings back very nostalgic memories. Each of the episodes may be following the same formula. Akari discovering and realizing something new, but this recipe never gets tire or boring (maybe once in a while I will be yawning but it’s nothing compared to the overall grandeur) because each time you’ll be interested to see what kind of discovery Akari unearths each day. Some of the words are heart-warming and make you realize that you should not take life for granted and also not to zoom pass as quickly as possible, but take time to stop and smell the roses. I hope I can take time off from my hectic anime pace to do that. Can I? To top it off, at the end of each episode just like in the first season, a touching mail narration and reply between Akari and Ai about the magical wonders she has discovered.

Even if over a hundred years has passed since the development of Aqua, life on this planet is slow, calming and soothing. It’s better this way, right? Why would you want to build another jam-packed, pollution-filled metropolitan city when you have the power to make a different one? But sometimes I do wonder about the technology here. It’s a blend between old and new ones. Notice how everyone does not own a handphone? There is none by the way! As far as I can see for this form of communication, it is those diallers (if you are old enough, you’ll know what I mean and remember how fixed telephones looked like) but with a pinch of technology in the sense that a hologram of the person’s face on the other end of the line appears when you take up the receiver. Also, I don’t really see any computers in Neo-Venezia. Not that I can remember. This means I am wondering how long does Akari and Ai take to trade mails. Can’t be using snail mail, right? So it has to be emails. I guess you won’t take days because I did a little research that it takes around 10-20 minutes for radio frequencies to reach Mars from Earth. Perhaps it’s not feasible to plant fibre optic high speed internet line between both planets, eh? And assuming Ai visits Aqua once a year, how long does it take to travel from Earth to Mars? Approximately 214 days as of today’s calculation! This means Ai will be a year older when she reaches Aqua and then another grade when she returns to Man Home! Haha. And Mars takes almost twice as long to make 1 revolution around the Sun. So people in Aqua live twice as long or short? Hmm… I shouldn’t be bothering about the details.

Because of the calming and soothing pace of the series and practically Neo-Venezia, notice that there are no criminal activities around? Hence no policemen? Everybody here lives in peace and tranquillity. This is what humans living among each other should be about. No fear of getting mugged at the next turn of the corner. If we could do this right here on Earth, I guarantee the world will be a much better place. The pace and the character development for this season may not have anything dramatically changed. But Akari along with Aika and Alice are working hard to achieve their goals to become a Prima. They may have learned and discover lots of things together but I feel that they and everyone else remains the same people as they are like as we know them. We are given a few insights of other characters but nothing too deep. Like the dark underground put that the Gnomes are accustomed in working and what it’s like being on top of Ukijima. Al makes more appearance here than he did in the previous season (if my memory serves me well, he only made once and that was the final episode) and he has this penchant to make jokes via puns. I don’t know if this kind of habit is only reserves for old folks as Aika always points out when he does so. For once, Akatsuki isn’t a totally obnoxious and arrogant person as I once thought of him. Maybe it’s just his pride. He still cares for his friends and is able to put the right words and encouragement if ever needed. But I really don’t see him a suitable match with Alicia :). Aika is definitely the lively one among the bunch and her trademark line isn’t just confined to her only but others use it as well, such as Akatsuki. Not only that, it may not be just embarrassing lines, but any other embarrassing words spout like monikers. Yeah, this is the trademark quote of the series.

However, there are some unexplained supernatural stuffs which really caught me off guard. For a very long time, I was really, really spooked. Especially the headless woman episode. I’m having goosebumps even as I am writing this. I was happily accepting this series as a calm and soothing one and not expecting such supernatural substance so when it really comes, I was definitely frightened out of my daylights. So is that spirit for real? I don’t want to find out! And what about Cait Sith? Who is really this large black cat? Is he some sort of guardian on Aqua? Or is this what Martians really look like? Cait Sith seems to take a liking for Akari and I guess it is her friendly and cheerful nature which makes her get along not only with humans and animals, but just about any other things. Because of that, I can say that Akari is saved from several supernatural events that ordinary humans would never have survived. Oddly after that Galaxy Railways episode, we don’t see him anymore. I thought he would at least make an appearance in the final episode. But like they say, some things are better left unexplained. Speaking of the other cats, though President Aria still longs for President Hime, it’s still a one-sided love. That fat blob is annoyingly cute and being the president of Aria Company, it is funny to see him bum around, having fun and eating like a glutton. Is it a wonder how his flabby belly comes about? And I notice President Maa don’t pounce on President Aria’s flabby belly every time they are together like before. Maybe that’s because President Maa has got a doll of President Aria to satisfy his cravings!

I have to admit that another reason why I came back watching this series is the beautiful soundtrack and music. They are all present and it brings back wonderful memories when I was listening to them. And up till today, I still enjoy those calm guitar pickings and soothing strings of the cello. Because of this, I finally took up my guitar and in the midst of mastering the background music of Aqua! Yes, a few more practice and I will be a master! This song is now my number 1 guitar picking and has overthrown Bleach’s Going Home which has been occupying that spot for years! I love this song and now even more so. You can expect all the themes and insert songs to be soothing and relaxing. It makes you want to really lie down, close your eyes and relax. The opening theme is definitely a masterpiece that suits the pace of this show. It is Euforia by Yui Makino and I can’t help but sing each time when the opening sequence is played. Mainly because there is no fixed animation so you’ll get to see the nice sceneries and the people of Neo-Venezia passing by. I thought there was a second opening theme when they decided to use the first season’s Undine theme also by Yui Makino. But it just lasted for 2 episodes and I think it is as a tribute to say goodbye to Alicia and Akari’s old gondola. Just when I thought I have memorized the lyrics for Euforia, they changed the lyrics but maintained the same song. Sheesh. Of course the final episode’s Euforia is a breathy and slow piano solo version. For the ending theme, the first one is Natsumachi by Round Table featuring Nino and if you have heard her style of singing, you can’t miss her. The second ending theme is Smile Again by Erino Hazuki. Each time the animation ends with a picture of starts making up to be President Aria’s face, I am tempted to say, “There is no President Aria constellation!”. Haha! Of course the final episode, they used the first season’s ending theme, Rainbow by Round Table featuring Nino and it brought back more nostalgic memories. As for the drawing and art, they might not be the best but the scenic picturesque compliments the quiet and slow pace of the series so in addition to the beautiful music, you may want to look around at the various sceneries, monuments and places.

It may not be any exotic places or dream locations. It could be your own backyard where you have been living for almost your entire life to discover something wonderful and life-changing. This show makes us appreciate the little every day wonders and miracles that tend to slip by because we are too busy engrossed with our lives to even notice it. If we can find just that simplest form of little wonder or show and share it to others, it will be very fulfilling and possibly the happiest experience ever made. Am I saying it right? Well, embarrassing remarks aren’t allowed!

Woah! How long has it been since I blogged a soundtrack? If my memory serves me right, this is just the second anime soundtrack blog in my entire blogging life. Yeah, this category must have somehow slipped my mind. This time, I’m gonna blog a little on one of my all-time favourite anime soundtracks, which is Aria The Animation.
 
In my opinion, the thing which stands out most from this anime is the background music, which I feel is a strong point of the series. There are lots of them and many are slow and easy, which of course suits the theme and mood of the series. At first, the background music may sound like those lounge music. You know, those kind of music that you usually hear playing like in the hotel lobby and such. When you close your eyes and listen to the music, it really does make you feel all relaxed. Soothing therapy for the soul?
 
The band responsible of producing such greatly calming and soothing tunes is Choro Club, a 3 member band which have a Brazilian sound and touch as their playing style. Though the music instruments of the band members consists only of an acoustic guitar, a bandoline and a bass, the anime’s soundtrack isn’t just filled with the sounds of only these 3 instruments. Of course there are some mix of drums and strings but ultimately after hearing the soundtrack, I can say that their signature playing style and sound is still evident in each piece. The album also features another artist Takeshi Senou as part of their collaboration on the pieces.
 
There are 25 tracks in this album and not all of them are instrumentals. Out of the 25, 5 of the tracks have vocals, in which Choro Club performs with vocalists like Yui Makino (Undine – Forest Mix), Eri Kawai (Barcolle – Athena No Uta), and Round Table featuring Nino (Rainbow – Acoustic Version). But for me, I didn’t find these vocal songs as appealing as the background music. Even so, I did not find all of the background musics suitable to my taste. So listed below are my favourites ones in alphabetical order:
 
1) Adria No Umibe
2) Aqua
3) Aqua -Reprise-
4) Aqua Alta Hiyori
5) Gondola No Yume
6) Hoshikage No Gondola
7) Koi To Wa Donna Mono 
8) Mizu No Kagami
9) Natsu Tayori
10) Orange No Hibi
11) Shourou No Patri ~Neo Venezia~
12) Tenki Ame
 
At first those guitaring parts may sound simple and even though I tried to copy and imitate them, it doesn’t sound satisfying at all. Probably it’s because there is a need for other background instruments to sound perfect. Yeah, it does kinda sound like a ‘deafening silence’. Plus, since my guitar isn’t optimumly tuned, I guess in a way it does sound a little ‘off’ too. Haih… Maybe it’ll be better for me to just listen and appreciate the original players.
 
Besides the original soundtrack album, there are also the usual opening and ending albums of the soundtrack, each featuring the full length version of the song as well as an instrumental version of it. And if you really really like the series, there are several drama and character CDs to add to the collection. Though I’ve never listened to any one of them before, but due to my ‘bad habit’, I never actually looked forward to such albums. Yeah, I’m always like sticking with the soundtrack and the opening and ending albums only.
 
So whenever I think back about this anime, its excellent and gentle soundtrack will definitely bring back some nostalgic memories of the series. Now, that’s what I call music to my ears. However, after such a long time, I still couldn’t bring myself to watch the second season of the series. Yeah, I found out there’s a soundtrack too for the second season but that’s another story. Probably more soothing and gentle melodies. By the way, there’s a third season coming soon. Is this series that popular? Well, my guess it would be the background music, for those who actually listen to it while watching the series.
 
Aria The Animation

Aria The Animation

October 28, 2006

I have this mixed feelings when I watched Aria The Animation. Firstly, I felt that this anime is kinda slow and boring but at the same time it is quite calming and soothing. So which is it? Knda both of them actually. This anime series doesn’t have that mindless gore and violence nor that overly-done humourous slapsticks, but rather explores the interaction between human emotions and bondings, at least from that 1 girl’s point of view.
 
Before I begin, I’d like to mention that there’re quite a few terminologies in used here, mostly Italian terms or terms which are somewhat adapted from it. So it was quite confusing for me at first trying to figure what in the world they mean by that. Luckily, there’re those fansub notes which helps me to understand a little.
 
The series takes place in a distant future where the planet Mars has been renamed as Aqua and planet Earth, Man Home. Yup, Aqua now is no longer that red dusty uninhabitable planet but a planet overflowing with water, thus popping up lots of islands here and there. So we have this city on Aqua, Neo-Venezia, where the story is focused on. You’d notice why the city is named as such is because it’s just like Venice in Italy. Water water everywhere and the main mode of transport are gondolas. I guess that’s why the producers decided to use several Italian terms. Maybe he/she liked that place so much and it inspired him/her for this anime.
 
As the first episode begins, we are introduced to an apprentice undinese, Akari Mizunashi. By the way, what’s an undinese? It’s a term for a person who works as and rows a gondola. Ah… As there are 3 undinese companies in Aqua, Akari works for the Aria Company, with her full-fledged professional undinese, Alicia Florence. And there’s that weird looking creature named President Aria, who’s actually… the president of Aria Company…?!
 
What the?! I thought that funny creature was a Martian at first, then I thought it was a dog. Later on, I found out it was actually a cat. A cat??!! Doesn’t look like it. Plus, it goes something like "punyo, punyo". Doesn’t sound very cat-like. To save time, somewhere later in the series, wel’ll find out that for an undinese company to prosper, be successful and for stability, they need to have a blue eye cat as its president. Weird custom. So basically this President Aria, does nothing but hang around and follows Akari or Alicia. Hey, if he’s the president, you don’t have to lift a finger, right? But good thing is Akari and Alicia takes good care of him (well, he IS the company’s president).
 
Back to our storyline. Akari picks up a phone call from a customer (some little girl who’s too short to be seen through that phone video) who’s requesting for Alicia to ber her undinese. However, Alicia isn’t around at the moment and that girl then said anybody would be okay then (meaning Akari has to do it lah). But Akari was reluctant because she’s still an apprentice and may not satisfy the customer. Unfortunately, the girl just hanged up the phone. Uh-oh, Akari’s getting worried. It must be something big.
 
As Akari heads out of her headquarters, she found a little girl in the boat. She immediately asked (seems more like she commanded her) for Akari to boat her around. As the polite and soft spoken Akari tries to refuse (yeah, saying something like company policy this and that), the little girl threatens her. Well I suppose Akari has to give in then. At least she could say that she’s taking a friend around. Like that will help much.
 
As the 2 head off, they meet Aika Granzchesta, Akari’s friend but working for a different undinese company, Himeya. Yup, she’s suppose to be the heir to that company. So the 3, along with President Aria, embarked on some adventure of their own, some chatting here and there. At this point, Akari then found out that the little girl’s name is Ai and she’s the one who made the phone call earlier on.
 
Later on, as they stopped for a break, they noticed that President Aria is missing. Oh no! He’s being set adrift to the middle of the river. Akari tries to row fast to reach him but some ship is approaching President Aria. Will she make it in time? Then, like out from nowhere, with a graceful swing of the paddle, Alicia flips President Aria into safety. Phew! Saved.
 
As Ai watched we find out the reason for her wanting to request for Alicia so badly in the first place. Her elder sister who recently got married, honeymooned at Neo-Venezia and Alicia was her undinese. When she got back, she boasted how good Alicia was. This made Ai jealous and hated her sister and wanted to see it for herself if it’s true. Yeah, she ran away from home just to experience this. Haih… this girl. Soon Ai realized her mistake and eventually didn’t hate her sister anymore. As the gang made their way back to Aria Company’s headquarters, Ai’s parents were there to take her back, apologizing for any inconvenience caused. Of course, the undineses said they wouldn’t mind. Before they part, Ai gives that usual words of encouragement to Akari and how she’d come back someday and request for Akari to be her undinese. Aww…
 
So it’s like this for the rest of the episodes. In the beginning, Akari narrates about something relating to the current episode, then some adventures here and there, at the end, Akari and Ai exchanges e-mails over what happened during that particular episode like good pen pals and there’s some lessons in life, moral of the story and human bonding thingy we all learn in the end.
 
Episode 2 starts with Akari waking up and realizing that their headquarters is partially flooded. Well, nearly the whole of Neo-Venezia is. Yeah, some occurence of some Acqua Alta phenomena thingy. Didn’t understand. Basically, this episode focuses a little more on Aika. Also, it introduces her full-fledged professional undinese, Akira Ferrari, who is just somewhat like Alicia but more contrasting in character. Uh-huh, Aika seems to nicknamed her ‘demon instructor’ due to her harsh and strict training. And you’ll start to notice that Alicia’s favourite word is "Ara, ara" (My, my).
 
Also we get to see President Hime of Himeya. Now this cat looks like a cat. And President Aria seems to try and want to court her at times but is always ignored and brushed off, much to President Aria’s dismay and disappointment. Yeah, who would want to go out with such a weird looking cat like that. And you’ll see President Aria’s futile attempt in most of the episodes. So sad.
 
Anyway, in this episode, Aika is fed-up of Akira’s nagging and decides to ‘run away’. Well, actually she decided to work at Aria Company and stayed with Akari. Aika seems to be fed-up with all that hierarchy thingy as well since she’s the heir to the company and I guess that’s why Akira is training her real hard from a ‘single’ (indicates that an undinese is an apprentice wearing only 1 glove) to a ‘pair‘ (a full-fledged professional undinese with a pair of gloves as an indication). So Aika challenges Akira to some competition whereby if she wins, she’ll get to work at Aria Company, or else she’ll go back to Himeya with Akira.
 
But during the competition, Aika gave up. I guess she must have realized something. But in the end, it was all good for them. Hey, at least they still get to see each other, right? Oh, by the way. You’ll also notice that whenever Akari says something which is thought to be something emotional or self-realizing, Aika would quickly interupt and say "Embarrassing remarks aren’t allowed". Quote of the series. Then Akari would go "Hehh!!!". And also Akari will have that ‘what?!’ kinda chibi face. Yeah, this will happen at least once in every episode.
 
Episode 3 introduces another upcoming single undinese, Alice Carroll. During Akari and Aika’s training, they meet Alice, who’s talented rowing and manoevering of the gondola impressed them. Yup, she’s just a 14 year old from the 3rd undinese company, Orange Planet, and probably the largest company in Neo-Venezia. But Alice isn’t that friendly kind at first, quite stone-faced and doesn’t really open up.
 
Not until when Akari is stopped by a guy named Akatsuki Izumo. He’s some annoying guy who isn’t impressed with what Akari does (actually he has a crush on Alicia) and calls her ‘pigtails’ though Akari doesn’t have one. And you’ll find that Akatsuki’s job is a ‘salamander‘. What’s that? It’s actually some job where they control the weather on Aqua through some floating island called Ukijima…?!
 
Akatsuki’s actually waiting for someone but since that person’s running late and Akatsuki doesn’t want to waste time, he might as well go sight seeing first. I’m not sure how and why, but Alice seems to be tagged along too. So along the trip, Akari gets teased and mocked by Akatsuki. Yeah, he’s just like a backseat driver. Alice isn’t too impressed by all this and wonders how can Akari tolerate all this.
 
Well, a job of an undinese isn’t just to row a customer from point A to B. They have to also be able to tell the customer what, where, and why all those special monuments and places of interests. Think something like a tourist guide and a historian put into 1. And it seems Akari isn’t too good at it. But anyway, Akatsuki had to stop his yapping when Alice put on a tough face and said something like how she’ll report him to the tourist society for being rude to an undinese. Yeah, serves him right.
 
Anyway, their trip ended and the person Akatsuki’s waiting for has arrived, and is actually his brother. Some chatting here and there (Hah… Akatsuki’s being teased by his brother) and in the end Akatsuki gave them 2 residential tickets to visit Ukijima as appreciation for their efforts. He isn’t such a bad guy after all. And finally, Alice begins to open up and smile more because of Akari. Good for her.
 
Basically, episode 4 is about Akari trying to send some letter from a mysterious little girl to some obsolete place. And we are introduced to another type of job, the ‘sylphs‘. It’s some kind of a wind messenger. The way I look at it, looks like some delivery boy on some hi-tech floating bike machine. There’s that old-fashioned postman too but with that slow moving gondola, you wonder can he deliver all those letters in time?
 
To save time, Akari enlists the help of Woody, a sylph to send the message to some faraway island. I figure out that the mysterious girl who send the letter is actually a ghost. So right I was. Anyway the video message letter was quite touching, though I didn’t remember much of it.
 
You might have guessed that Akari, Aika and Alice could be the 3 stooges of Aqua, since they’ve always been and doing things together. Well, maybe not the stooges part. But at least those 3 are great friends. Thus in episode 5, the 3 received some special invitation letter to Neverland. Actually, it’s some scheme that their superiors came up for their intensive training. Not surprisingly, those 3 singles weren’t too happy about it at first since well, the invitation card sounded like fun-the-whole-day kinda programme.
 
However only 2 of the 3 Legendary Water Fairies were present. What Water Fairies? Actually, it’s some nickname given to the greatest undinese at the current time and Alicia and Akira are 2 of them. So who’s the third one? A pair by the name of Athena is. But Akira mentioned that she got lost somehow. Yeah, got lost. So you won’t be able to see her in this episode. Too bad.
 
So some funny moments here and there, some weird training methods like balancing on some log. But in the end, they all manage to have some fun and relaxation after all that ‘gruelling’ training. And we see a little bit of Akari’s flashback about some ribbon and some swimming pool. Didn’t remember that part clearly. Also a lot of that reflection of life that makes you think deeply (also couldn’t remember. Darn). But I’m glad they all had a good time together.
 
Okay, finally that elusive Athena makes her appearance in episode 6. Akari secretly went to stay with Alice for a while at Orange Planet Academy. Since Akari stuck out like a sore thumb, Alice had to borrow her some of her clothes and uniform to blend in. Remember, it isn’t official, you know. And imagine what will the Orange Planet staffs think to have another rival company within their walls.
 
Also we find out that Alice is secretly keeping a cat called Maa (because that’s what it sounds like). Oh wait. Is that a cat. It looked like a minature panda. Oh well, if Alice says it’s a cat then it must be a cat. No more arguments. Alice is secretly keeping Maa because she’s afraid that her senior, Athena Glory wouldn’t allow her and may even throw it out.
 
But don’t be surprised by Athena’s serious looks. She’s actually dopey! Yup. A dopey person. She can even fall asleep while pouring a glass of water. And Alice isn’t too happy about this when she found out that her senior, someone she thought she respected turned out to be something like this. Much to her disappointment. Anyway it’s fun to see Athena’s dopiness. So funny.
 
One day, Maa was gone from the closet Alice hid him in. So Alice frantically went on a search for him with Akari. Alice was worried that Athena may have found out about Maa and have reported to the company. But in the end, Athena’s singing (she’s got a nice singing voice for a dopey person) help to bring back Maa. I guess that cat loves to hear her singing too, huh? And Alice realized that Athena wasn’t really against her having Maa as her pet. And before you know it, Maa is officially the president of Orange Planet. Oh yeah, and Maa seems to love bitting President Aria’s belly, much to the latter’s dismay. Yeah, President Aria becomes afraid whenever Maa is nearby. Hehehe.
 
So do we see some pattern here? Each of the 3 singles from different undinese companies have their terror skilled superiors and their cat presidents. One from each. Hmm…
 
Episode 7 is more on Akira. Yeah, the 3 singles get to view first hand how Akira goes about doing her job. Well, what do you know, even the ‘demon instructor’ has her soft side. She seems very professional and gentle to her customers. Basically, she took a young couple on some tour. That lady looked so over enthusiastic. Anyway as their tour ends, they wanted to stay on and see how Akira train the singles. Not bad idea. So some bloopers here and there as the trio take turns handling the gondola over Akira’s watchful eye. Some trouble here and there, they got lost but manage to find their way out. In the end, everybody had a get-together and enjoy the moment.
 
President Aria gets his 1 episode worth of spotlight in episode 8. Divided into 2 parts, the first part sees President Aria running away from home because he felt he was useless and unwanted. You see, Akari and Alicia were doing some chores in Aria headquarters. So he couldn’t stand it anymore and pack his bags containing an onigiri and a stuff doll. Is that really enough?
 
But President Aria then realized that he has really nowhere to go to. I mean, you see him bumping here and there. He even tried to make friends with some bird but the bird stole his onigiri! Aww… too bad. In the end, he returns to Aria Company (maybe because he ran out of food). As Alicia and Akari tries to find him, they notice him on the rooftop and though he was stucked up there. Actually, he’s crying because of all those disappointments. But his sadness is over when they bring him down and they have dinner.
 
The second part is when President Aria decides to become some super hero after being inspired by some comic books he recently read. So he puts on his weird costume and off he goes trying to help anyone in need. However, whenever he bumps into familiar faces, those people seem to recognize him, much to his fears. Then there’s 1 funny part where President Himeya actually starts to fall head over heels over President Aria as he’s flexing his muscles, but when Akari mentioned what President Aria’s doing, suddenly his identity is busted and President Himeya realized that she’s been duped and shruggs him off. Hahaha. So close yet so far. Oh well, try again.
 
But President Aria’s true moment of glory came when he tried to return a little girl’s lost doll. It wasn’t all smooth sailing as he had to go through various obstacles. In the end, eventhough the girl got back her doll, she didn’t know who did it, but thanked that hero. President Aria is all smiles as he heads back happily.
 
Episode 9 is where the 3 singles decided to visit Aria Company’s founder (let’s call her grandma) to get some answers how to become a good undinese. Well, it seems that Aqua still has a large land base, since they took a train to some remote area with mountains in the background.
 
Well, in no time grandma sent the trio to do some chores like planting seeds and collecting fruits among them. They thought it was some metaphor to being a good undinese but the chores they did was actually just that. Bummer. Well, they had a good feast by the end of the day.
 
It’s during that night when the trio who couldn’t sleep watched the beautiful night sky which made them realized. Grandma notices them and proceeds over to talk to them. She mentions something like one should enjoy everything no matter happy or sad. And when she finally asked are they happy with being an undinese, and they replied yes, grandma said that there’s nothing else she could teach them. Ahh…
 
Hey, there’s one funny part here. It’s the part where Akari said something then a slight moment of silence. Then Alice said to Aika something like "Hey, you let an embarrassing remark slipped by". Hahaha. I guess if Aika’s not there to do it, Alice is her backup. Didn’t see that one coming.
 
Well, more of that bonding among the 3 singles and their superiors in episode 10. All of them decided to take a trip to some hot spring. What else could you expect from a hot spring episode. The girls soaking themselves in the hot springs (don’t  worry, no nude or graphic scenes here), some chatting here and there, then after the hot springs, they go have a feast, played a few indoor games.
 
I liked the part where the 6 of them gather at some abandoned and quiet section. It’s quite a lovely scenery here plus with the fireflies flying about. This scene actually turned this ‘slow’ episode into a worthwhile one. Yup, I’m glad I was able to catch it all in the end, though I didn’t remember what all the earlier chatting was about.
 
Episode 11 is the flashback episode. We see how similar or rather deja vu the lives of the 3 Legendary Water Fairies to the lives of the current 3 singles. Yup, a flashback of Alicia, Akira and Athena. Alicia and Akira who’re singles and best friends at that time, heard rumours about some upcoming talented single. Later on, they befriended a dopey Athena and to their shock and horror (at least to Akira’s) that Athena’s that person. Well, you can hear another of those ‘nice’ singing from Athena, which even made the whole surrounding area to a stand still, just to hear her sing.
 
So the 3 of them are still together, only thing that they rarely meet like they used to during their younger days because of their jobs. And Akari realized that the moment that she’s experiencing now with her other 2 pals wouldn’t stay like this forever. That last scene where she cried waving goodbye nearly moved me. I also thought about the same thing about myself. Oh well, like she says, one shouldn’t be stucked to the past or else one wouldn’t be able to enjoy the present.
 
It’s Akari’s day off in episode 12 and she decides to explore beyond some old bridge. As she walked through, it’s like she’s been transported to a different place. It wasn’t snowing as it should like before the bridge. Plus this town looked obsolete as compared to the futuristic Neo-Venezia. And there she made friends with a school teacher-cum-photographer named Akiko Hoshino, who also share many characteristic similarities with Akari. Like her clumsiness.
 
Mainly this episodes adventure besides the 2 bonding together was the day where the people in this area is anticipating some water flowing through their water way. And the people were happy once the water starts flowing. And some lesson about how water connects others from one another. And I’m starting to think that the producer is also a cat lover. Yeah Akiko said something like how cats were like mediums connecting the past and the future. Since I’m not a cat lover I’m not sure if that’s true or not. Maybe it’s made up just for this series.
 
The final episode 13 is like one big reunion. Yup, all the characters that Akari met, gathered at some square to celebrate New Years Day. Well, since it’s Aqua it isn’t actually a 12 month makes a year thing. It’s actually 24 months to a year. Hey, what do you know, Ai and her family are there too. And she’s repeating out loud all those people Akari met (that she described through her emails), much to Akari’s embarrassment.
 
And there’s that Al the ‘gnome’ guy. I don’t remember seeing him in any of the previous episodes. Really. When Akari meets him there, it’s like she knows him. But how come I can’t remember, ah? Anyway, what’s a gnome you ask? People who live underground and regulate the gravity on Aqua. Another one of those uniquely weird jobs like salamander and sylphs, huh?
 
I didn’t get that part where Akari and Ai wondered off to some desolated alley and found several cats there. Then the scene disappears. Huh? Anyway, the 2 then head back just in time for the countdown. And when that time approaches, everybody throws their hats in the air and shouts "Auguri, Buon Anno". Must be Italian for something like good wishes or happy new year thing.
 
Finally the gang gathered near some shore and watched the sunrise. Akari realized a lot of things (and I hope you do too. Unfortunately, I can’t remember them). How she promised and vowed that she would work even harder and try her best just like everyone else to be a better undinese. A suitable and soothing end to the series, I’d say.
 
Overall, this is quite a refreshing anime for me after watching too much of those violence and nonsensical jokes. It may be slow paced at times, but it soothes you and makes you think about the lives that we live in. Plus, I like the sceneries in this series, Although it isn’t that beautiful but it’s enough to make me feel so.
 
Another thing I liked about this anime is the background music. Yeah, there’re plenty of classical lounge type guitar pluckings. Some easy listening and some fast paced. All of them perfectly suited for the atmosphere and mood of each scenery. Now that’s what I call music to my ears. Also the opening and ending themes are quite soothing too. Oh, the opening credits isn’t that fixed video, meaning that we see some beautiful scenaries as the opening theme is played in the background. So don’t just simply skip the opening themes.
 
Hey, did you notice that many of the main characters have their names start with the letter ‘A’? Maybe the producers love that alphabet. Might have got lots of them during his school days. Except for that Woody guy. Perhaps they wanted a little variety, huh?
 
Also, each of the undinese have their unique chibi facial expressions when they get mad, upset, discontent, in shock, or in a surprise. Yeah, they all remind me of pac-man. Hehehe. Except for Alicia’s. I’ve never seen her in that form. Perhaps she’s such a casual and happy person she doesn’t need one.
 
As for the terminologies, it isn’t so bad once you’ve got the hang of it. Surprisingly, I wasn’t that confused about what is what in the end and have a general idea what they are. But I’m still contemplating whether I should watch the second season. After all, I’m guessing it’s gonna be more of the same thing as the first season. Ah, but those sceneries, background musics and life lessons, they’re all quite tempting. Hmm… Still can’t decide. Maybe I should watch a little more violence, blood, gore, and nonsensical slapstick comedies first. Then I’ll come back and think about it.