Monday, March 17 2008

Aria: The Undine Suspects

Now that the convention is finished, I've finished my post on Aria: Episode 8 "Within that precious person's memories...".  I've also managed to hold off watching Episode 9 until after I get this finished.

Episode 8 is Alice vs. Athena, as opposed to Episode 6, which was Alice vs. Alicia.  As Alicia won the last round of mind games, Alice is stuck in a battle of wits with the notoriously dopey Athena...

The episode opens with Alice discussing going on a picnic with Athena.  This gets Akari and Aika excited, as the 'picnic' excuse is normally used a cover for the promotion test to Single, which for Alice is long overdue.  The excitement of the pair fades when Alice mentions that she's the one who came up with the picnic idea.  (I'm still curious as to what code of Omerta the Undines have that the whole 'picnic on Hope Hill / single promotion test' hasn't been exposed yet.)

Alice returns to the apartment she shares with Athena at the lavish Orange Planet citadel, where she makes elaborate trip plans and prepares lunch, during which it is revealed that President Maa likes to eat bananas (see previous post).  It's a pleasure to see her genuinely happy for once, and the fun of the character is that we've seen her ability to express emotions has developed as the series has progressed.  She returns from taking the least fan-servicey bath in anime history (unless you're an ankle fetishist) to find Athena asleep.  Alice leaves a copy of her itinerary for Athena.

Alice wakes up to find Athena gone on what was supposed to be her day off.  She broods angrily in her room until Athena returns unexpectedly and out of breath.

Athena apologizes for the sudden call to duty, and Alice makes a half-hearted attempt to accept the apology before stalking off angrily.  Athena attempts to follow, but fate... or President Maa... intervenes.

President Maa... in the Bedroom... with the Banana Peel.

A frantic call to Aria company ensues, and Akari and Alicia arrive to find a distraught Alice and a seemingly normal Athena, and not a normal-for-Athena Athena, but a coordinated, quick-witted, alert Athena.  The downside of the new Athena is that she's also lost her memory.

Athena's memory slowly returns as Alice spends the day trying to prod Athena's memory back into shape.  Athena eventually remembers everything but Alice, which saddens Alice to no end.

Athena asks Alice what kind of a mentor she had been, and a sobbing Alice is forced to admit that she likes Athena.  Then Alicia intervenes, forcing Athena to give up her trick;  she'd been faking the amnesia to get Alice to open up.

Poor Alice.  This is the second time she's been completely outwitted in the past three episodes.

The fake Amnesia plot is pretty standard fare, but Athena's ability to turn off the clumsiness and dull-wittedness she normally displays is rather impressive.  She claims that it takes most of her attention to act normal, of course, but it's tempting to compare the usual Athena to Verbal Kint, Keven Spacey's character from The Usual Suspects.

Posted by: Civilis at 08: 00 PM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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...and for those unfamiliar with the series, the fourth picture is about all the fanservice you'll ever get in ARIA.

Alice became my favorite of the characters sometime in series 2, these recent episodes have just consolidated that opinion.

Posted by: Wonderduck at Mar 19 09 36 (5bdEI)

2 I still consider Akira my favorite character, just because we've seen the most of her overall history, and she has such a fun personality.  Alice has been a close second, and these episodes have only narrowed the gap.

It's not that the other characters aren't likable.  All the characters in Aria are good solid characters.  Despite my harping on Alicia's sweetness and light and Akari's permanent rose-colored glasses, the characters are not so sappy as to be nauseating and are deep enough to be interesting.  If anything, the Origination has deepened my liking for all the characters.

Posted by: Civilis at Mar 19 19 57 (7MZJh)

3 I pretty much agree with Civilis with his sentiments for the ARIA characters, especially with his faves. But don't be surprised if Episode 9 is wonderful for you. Or more wonderful than before.

Posted by: TheBigN at Mar 21 10 04 (0gYAY)

4 Episode 9 was indeed wonderful.  And it was completely well done;  everything: plot, characters, and setting all together made one of the best shows I've ever seen.

Posted by: Civilis at Mar 22 11 37 (Ak2oi)

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