OP: 「七色の空を」 (Nanairo no Sora wo) by SONOROUS
ED: 「明日、夕暮れまで」 (Ashita, Yuugure Made) by 葉月絵理乃 (Hazuki Erino)
“Where could Alicia-san be?” asks a familiar voice. A calm opening song sweeps through like a warm breeze, as we see images of an evening in Neo-Venezia. Akari brings out Aria-shachou’s dinner, then gazes at her gloveless hand as if she was still new to the idea – yes, she’s become a Prima. Ai-chan walks down the stairs as an unfamiliar figure walks through the door: “Sorry I’m late, Akari-san! Was too into practicing so I lost track of time!”
“Oh, that’s right… I’ve become a Prima. That means… Alicia-san won’t be coming back here…”
This morning, like so many mornings before it, Akari was awakened by the sunshine gleaming through her attic window. A dream. Peeking into the kitchen to reassure herself, Akari saw Alicia-san standing there, as always, preparing breakfast. Woody-san with the morning delivery of fresh eggs. Everything is as it should be, and yet, the memory of the dream still weighed heavily on Akari.
“Dear Ai-chan, this morning was like any other morning at Aria Company. It was the beginning of any other day. Doing things as usual is of course wonderful in itself, but because of my dream last night, I couldn’t help but think about when those days would end. I don’t know when that will happen, but when it does, I’ll welcome it with a smile!”
After the morning customer and an unexpected call from Akatsuki, Akari heads off to practice with Aika and Alice. After a chat about their future as Prima and the senpai they are succeeding, they meet up with Al-kun and talk with him about Apa-jiisan, and how Al feels about learning under him. Akari heads back to welcome Alicia-san back from her afternoon booking.
That evening, over a cup of iced tea and warabimochi, Akari tells Alicia-san about her dream. “You weren’t there, Alicia-san. Even though I had a new junior to look after, I didn’t have any confidence at all. I guess I still have a long way to go before I become like Alicia-san!”
“When I first became a Prima, and Grandma was leaving, I made a selfish request. I asked for her to stay,” Alicia replies. She then goes on to recount her early experiences as a Prima. Having Akira and Athena there by her side was a huge source of support, as Alicia didn’t pick a new Pair to bring into Aria Company immediately. One particular evening, Akira and Athena brought Alicia to the top of the clock tower, overlooking all of Neo-Venezia. “This is… the town that we live in! It’s our job as undines to show visitors how wonderful this place is!”
“And then, you came, Akari.”
Alicia takes Akari to that same clock tower, with Akari making embarrassing remarks the whole way and nobody to stop her. Hand in hand, they head to the top. “When I first chose you, I was unsure… nervous if I could be a good senpai to you. But when I saw how straightforwardly you followed me, how pure your heart was, and all the little wonderful things about you, I gained some confidence in myself.”
“Hehe, it feels a little ticklish inside…” Embarrassing comments are prohibited!
“There will come a day when we will have to go our separate ways. But until that day comes, what’s wrong with following the ones precious to us?”
You remember that time they went to the hidden beach on the island? Alicia said something to Akari that has stayed with me the whole time: “it’s because you’re such a wonderful person that you’re able to see all the beauty in this world.”
Indeed. And the same could be said about people that enjoy watching this show – which is to say, pretty much everybody who’s seen a few episodes or read a few chapters of the incredible manga. Aria brings out that beautiful side of the human soul, the kind that makes you want to help the grandma across the street or give your little brother the bigger piece of the pie, if for no other reason but to see a smile on their face. And while this OVA was distinctively different from the TV series in length, animation, and overall production quality, that same Aria spirit shone through clearly.
For those who haven’t had the blessing of enjoying Aria – well, there’s not much to say about it besides that it’s more of an experience than anything. It’s about a group of undines (gondola-rowers) on the planet of Aqua, and their various experiences with each other, the mysteries of the planet, their past, present, and everything in between. While some episodes are more successful than others, each one is guaranteed to give you that sigh of soothing satisfaction.
While the OVA had by far the best production quality of any Aria episode to date, it was a bit odd to see the characters in their new high-res forms. Then again, the transition from manga to anime was slightly odd too – which reminds me, if you haven’t checked out the Aria manga (and the prequel Aqua), do it! The art is fabulous, the pacing every bit as relaxingly addictive as the anime. Anyways, it’s not the best episode I can recall, but it was definitely an important one in further developing Akari and Alicia both as individuals and together in their unique teacher-student relationship.
Fans of Aria, don’t miss this; newcomers to Aria, time to get started – you got a couple months before season 3 airs!