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!

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