Tuesday, June 10 2008

Aria: Full Circle

It is fitting that the last episode of Aria: the Origination, "To that new beginning...", should begin with a flashback to the very beginning of the story. http://dorkside.mee.nu/images/ariae6e7/Aria13i01.jpgAkari Mizunashi, Aria company's new trainee Pair Undine, wearing her new uniform, sits down to her first breakfast in Neo-Venezia and the beginning of her new life, with Alicia Florence, her new mentor, gazing on.http://dorkside.mee.nu/images/ariae6e7/Aria13i02.jpg
(Ironically enough, due to the changeover in production of the manga series from Aqua to Aria, which I understand is a change in production and not in story, the first episode of the actual anime takes place some time later than Akari's first day.  The actual first day is presented some time later as a flashback.  I also can't be the only one that contemplated that Alicia's interest in Akari might not seem entirely professional if some of the stills from this episode are taken out of context...)

When we last saw our protagonists, Akari had finally completed her apprenticeship and had been promoted to Prima.  Afterwards, Alicia had something important to tell her, but all we see is Akari's shocked reaction before the episode ends.  This episode, after being confronted by Alice and Aika, Akari tells them and us what's going on.  Alicia wasn't training a partner, she was training a replacement.  Alicia plans to retire, get married, and take a job at the Gondola Association.  There are surprises in anime, and there this is beyond them.  No hint of any of this until the final episode.  The intro gives us a glimpse of a lot of the significant locations in the series, plus a sense of the massive outpouring of well-wishing that accompanies Alicia's announcement.  Akari outwardly seems calm at her change of situation as she awaits the future.

But, we get the sense that under the perennially bright facade, Akari hasn't yet admitted to herself that her world is about to change.

Finally, with waterworks in full blast, she admits her sadness and fear to Alicia, who provides comfort and admits that she held off promoting Akari because she too was afraid of change.



Akari recovers by remembering how everyone has grown and changed,http://dorkside.mee.nu/images/ariae6e7/Aria13i08.jpg

and all the happy experiences she's had since she came to Aqua...

...and envisioning the wonderful future that they're all headed in to.  (Come on, Akari's got one of the biggest pairs of rose-colored glasses in anime, and it's the last episode!  Of course it's going to be sappy!)

Anyways, the whole episode is another wonderful treat.  From the wonderful scenery to the smallest details changed just for the final episode, the animators went all out.  Aria company has always had a photo of its Prima Undine on the reception desk.  As we see our first scene of Prima Akari with client, we get to see that they've put her picture on the desk in the corner of the image.http://dorkside.mee.nu/images/ariae6e7/Aria13i11.jpg

Her client is the mailman, who's name is revealed to be Anno.  He's shown up in a number of episodes.  More importantly from the standpoint of looking at this episode as the conclusion, he's the one that gave Akari her first gondola ride in Neo-Venezia and delivered her to Aria company.  Fitting that he should be Akari's first seen customer.The image “http://dorkside.mee.nu/images/ariae6e7/Aria13i12.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Finally, it's time for Alicia's retirement ceremony.

Escorted by Akira and Athena, the other two legendary Undines who trained alongside her, Alicia takes out her gondola for the last time as an Undine, with Akari and President Aria as passengers.


Waiting near the dock at San Marco Piazza are probably just about every other gondola Orange Planet and Himeya can put in the water. 

Why would the other two Undine companies go to such lengths?  In addition to the fact that the companies seem to be on very friendly terms to start with, they must be ecstatic at the fact that the current reigning top Undine is retiring, and since she's taking a position with the gondola regulatory body, being on good terms with her as she leaves is probably a good thing.

A decent crowd of spectators turns out, including the Usual Suspects, Al, Akatsuki, and Woody.http://dorkside.mee.nu/images/ariae6e7/Aria13i17.jpg

Alice and Aika have good positions in the ceremony as well.The image “http://dorkside.mee.nu/images/ariae6e7/Aria13i18.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.


Interestingly enough, the gondola animations are one of the few places in the series where the use of CG is obvious in the animations.  It does slightly spoil the moment.

Finally, the oar is passed to the next generation.http://dorkside.mee.nu/images/ariae6e7/Aria13i21.jpg

Afterwards, Akari returns to the office, to reminisce about the past and look forward to the future, which she is now able to accept will be filled with more good memories.http://dorkside.mee.nu/images/ariae6e7/Aria13i22.jpg

We get to see the near future, with Aika and Al in a relationship, Alice continuing to grow and hold her friendships together, Athena retiring to join the opera, and Akira left to reign as the remaining great Undine of her generation.

Oh, and so as not to leave anyone out...
Alicia with glasses for the win!

Alicia and Grandma are fine, too.

The series then jumps a bit into the future one last time.  Akari is older, and has changed her hairstyle (it's a detail for the series that all three of the older characters in the series changed their hairstyles since they became Primas.)

Furthermore, she has an trainee Pair of her own, Ai, her penpal from Earth that took a gondola ride with her in the first episode of the series.  Ai stopped by to visit several times in the course of the series, so this wasn't entirely unexpected.  Still, her appearance is used to demonstrate that the Kozue Amano knew how to write the series meaningfully and beautifully, as we watch Ai, Aria company's new trainee Pair Undine, wearing her new uniform, sits down to her first breakfast in Neo-Venezia and the beginning of her new life, with Akari, her new mentor, gazing on...http://dorkside.mee.nu/images/ariae6e7/Aria13i28.jpg


Posted by: Civilis at 09: 05 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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