「その 暖かなさよならは…」 (Sono Atataka na Sayonara wa…)
“That Warm Goodbye…”
Firstly, an apology. The month of April was a hectic one for me, even pushing its way into May, and I totally missed the second episode of ARIA The Avvenire getting subbed. Completely mea culpa on that one. But, I thought, better late than never, and decided to write something for it anyway, if only for completeness’ sake. Somebody poke me in June so that I will cover the last episode in a timely fashion.
Like with To You Whom I Wanted to Meet, That Warm Goodbye… is a tale of two halves, featuring both the old guard and the new, though I think that there’s more time devoted to the newbies compared to the first episode—as it should be, as the next generation needs time to come into their own, or at least get a proper introduction. Meet Azusa B. McLaren (Nakahara Mai) and Anya Dostoyevskaya (Kayano Ai), both of whom have too much name to actually remember (‘Aino Ai’ is much better). At least their names follow the proud tradition of also starting with ‘A’ (which probably actually makes things harder to remember). That’s not the only trend they continue, too; I enjoyed how they obviously take certain traits from their senpai, but also have small bits of their own characters, including their own set of super-deformed faces. And, of course, the most common trait between all ARIA characters is that they’re unfailingly friendly. It’s good to see the positivity continue.
While it’s great to see more of the new Singles after just a glimpse of them last time, since it lets us pretend that there’s a new ARIA sequel going on, the main attraction of the episode and the thing I really wanted to talk about was Cait Sith. Cait Sith is interpreted slightly differently in the anime compared to the manga. For starters, in the manga he was (spoiler warning) revealed to be Akari’s pen pal, while that role was fulfilled by Ai in the anime, so the relationship between the two is a bit less personal here. I’m not going to discuss the difference too much though, because director Satou Junichi has been excellent and I stand by all his adaptation decisions, and because I think Cait Sith in either version was, above all, about magic.
In the post about the first episode of The AVVENIRE I talked about how one of the abiding qualities of ARIA was nostalgia. I would say that ‘magic’ is another one. I often describe ARIA as ‘magical’ as a form of superlative, but this time I refer to a different matter, to a certain level of fantasy that is woven into its setting. Since That Warm Goodbye… is the ‘NATURAL‘ edition of The AVVENIRE (bundled with The NATURAL, uses Euphoria as its OP), it’s quite appropriate for it to send off Cait Sith (adapting one of the later manga chapters), since The NATURAL probably deals with the supernatural (get it?) of Aqua as one of its primary foci. The magic ties well with the nostalgia in ARIA, because they come from the same source—childhood. Only children can see faeries, and Akari had held on to her inner child longer than most. It’s not just about being able to see the mythical king of cats, but also in being able to see the magic in everything. The magic of Aqua is interwoven into the city itself, where the narrow alleys are not dangers, but explorations, where there are no strangers, only new friends, where there are cats everywhere. It’s a fairy tale, sure, but it feels real because this is how the world should be. It’s the childlike sense of wonder that seems to be lost as one gets older and more cautious, cynical, and busy. Even Akari must bid farewell to Cait Sith. It’s not only the world that changes, but also worldview. We are not Peter Pan, but Wendy. But that doesn’t mean we can’t hold onto a fragment of that joy and wonder, or else what are we passing to the next generation?
I think this magic is why ARIA is so special to me as an anime fan. To me, ARIA is anime. As a child, I watched anime. As an adult, I watch anime. One can never be too old for a bit of magic in their lives. It’s never too late for ARIA.
ED: 「ピアチェーレ」 (Placere) by 西沢幸奏 (Nishizawa Shiena)