Aria, Episode-by-Episode: The Animation, Episode 2

If episode 1 focuses on introducing Akari and Neo-Venezia, episode 2 focuses on making us further connected to the city, as well as to Aika. Aika got some screen time last episode, and she got to hear her catchphrase, but outside of that we didn’t get any deep insight into her character. This episode manages to introduce her in a way that makes her purpose within the show clear, while also further fleshing out the city as a whole.

Neo-Venezia was presented as a beautiful city of miracles last episode, but it’s unlikely that any viewer would be love it in just after that. This episode begins to show the many sides and features of the city, beginning with the Acqua Alta. By lightly flooding the city, the Acqua Alta manages to create a totally different atmosphere, but it’s one which still feels unique to Neo-Venezia(and I suppose the real Venice as well).

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The Acqua Alta also helps in building an attraction to the city by simply making it more visually appealing. It just looks fun to walk around in a city where the streets are flooded, especially since it’s already a city built around canals. There’s a real kind of beauty which emerges from this natural introduction to a human creation which is just aesthetically pleasing. The scene from near the end of the episode with the flooded image of the tree at Saint Mark’s Square is the best example of this: as the characters note, it’s just a beautfiul sight to behold, and the anime’s hand-painted backgrounds convey that well.

More than anything though, the Acqua Alta gives us a reason to see more of Aika. Aika is very important to the show’s structure, mainly because she has the most flaws of any character. Akari has minor flaws in that she knows less about the city and can be a little dumb at times, but these are either endearing or help her to serve as a better viewpoint character. She’s not a character who needs flaws, but her main role is to be in love with the city and find wonder in everything. She does this very well, but no show can support itself with just that type of character.

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Aika on the other hand is full of flaws. She easily gets jealous, she has pretty low self-confidence in spite of her attempts to seem confident, and she sometimes has a hard time finding the beauty in everything like Akari. Aika serves as an important counterweight for Akari, managing to add the potential for episodes focused on her internal conflicts.

This is one of those episodes. It’s a relatively simple one, mostly due to a need to introduce Akira as well, but it’s quite effective. This episode makes it clear how easily Aika can get into fights with others and how willing she is to overlook her true feelings. This comes up constantly for her, and it can cause her to do impulsive things like what she does here. However it also makes it clear where some of her feelings come from. She feels like a pampered kid who’s been treated with kiddy gloves her whole life, and this leads her to expect kindness while at the same time hating the lack of genuine respect towards her.

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Basically, Aika is really created as a character in this episode. She existed in the last one, but there she was simply a set of lines for Akari to bounce off of. Here we start to see how she thinks and why she’s in the story. Her role is major in creating the atmosphere and delivering the messages, and this episode makes it abundantly clear how she’ll be used from here on out.

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