Episode 3 isn’t the last episode to introduce important new characters, but it is the last to introduce one of the main three girls, this time by introducing Alice as well as Akatsuki. Like Aika, Alice serves an important role in the series as a contrast to Akari, though in a totally different way.
As this episode shows, Alice functions as someone who’s a lot more socially awkward than Akari. Alice has a hard time faking a smile for customers, which leads her to assume that everyone else who smiles to those around them is faking it as well. Akari disproves this of course, and this interaction makes Alice’s role abundantly clear. Alice is there to contrast Akari’s outgoing and always happy personality with someone who’s less of a social butterfly.
To a large extent Alice reflects the viewer’s feelings in this episode. Obviously we saw in the last two episodes how much Akari loves everything, but I know that my first time around I assumed she wasn’t as optimistic as she presented herself to be. Alice feels the same, but as Akari ultimately shows this episode, it’s not a facade at all. Akari is simply the perfect extrovert, someone who truly does find joy in everything. It’s hard to believe at first, which is why Alice has just as hard a time believing it as any viewer does.
From a more personal standpoint, I have to say I’m a big fan of Alice. I’m somewhat socially awkward, and while I’ve gotten better over time, I still have trouble reaching out to new people or even speaking to them at times. I really like her short journey towards being more optimistic and positive this episode, because in a lot of ways it mirrors the way Akari has affected me.
Since watching Aria for the first time, I’ve become a much more positive person. I used to be kind of cynical and a lot meaner than I am now, and while I can’t credit Aria for all of this, it did play a major role in shifting my perspective. Alice goes through the same thing here, though in a condensed fashion, which is something that draws me to her. Outside of Akari, Alice is my favorite character, and while many of the reasons why will be seen in the future, the seeds of that are planted this episode.
We also get introduced to Akatsuki this episode. To a large extent Akatsuki is just a comedy character. His love for Alicia is often used as nothing more than a joke, and he doesn’t get nearly as much time as any of the undines. This episode gives him some actual character though, and it’s character which will be important later.
Akatsuki is established as someone who likes to tease Akari and as a bit of a slacker, but it’s clear that, much like Akari, he cares a lot about his job. A big part of Akatsuki’s role is being there to allow for further world-building, since he works a job very relevant to the actual function of Neo-Venezia, though as with most world-building in this series, it’s very subtle and is usually in the backseat.
Lastly, I’d like to touch on one other thing introduced about Alice this episode. All three main girls want to become Prima undines, but they all have specific issues. Akari just isn’t skilled enough — in terms of interactions she’s fine, though as this episode shows she doesn’t have all the knowledge she needs either. In other words, for Akari becoming a Prima is simply a matter of time.
For Aika and Alice though, they have to conquer specific difficulties. Aika needs to overcome her lack of self-confidence. Alice on the other hand has to overcome her social anxiety. These are both things that Akari doesn’t struggle with in the slightest, and yet they’re major factors for these two. The reason for this — other than just making them unique characters — is because Aika and Alice need to learn to love. Aria is a series which is very much about love, and so they have to learn to love more in order to become Prima undines. Aika must learn to love herself, and Alice must learn to love others, but they must learn from Akari how to love everything in order to become the undines they want to be.
If I were to sum up this episode, I’d say that it both introduced Alice while also proving to us how much Akari really does love everything. These are both very important to the show’s ethos in the future, and I think they were introduced pretty well here.