This is another episode which focuses on exploring the beauty of Neo-Venezia. The episode centers training and a tour in order to give justification to the exploration as well as to serve an important point about perspective, but ultimately it’s an episode for world-building, and it does a great job at it. These episodes become more and more common as the show goes on now that we’ve got an established cast, and every one of them manages to add something new to the show.
Something I really appreciated in this episode was the specific way in which the couple was introduced to Neo-Venezia. Much like Ai-chan they were used as a device in order to make the viewers more familiar with the city, but this time there was no real resistance to it. Outside of a brief moral that you should experience the world itself instead of just reading about it, the couple was never against exploring the city.
This is really good, because at this point in the series the viewer is eager to see more of the city, assuming they like the show. Ai-chan had an attitude, but at that point we knew nothing of the city and cared about none of the characters. That’s all changed, so the actual dynamics have had to change, and with that the type of customers being serviced have changed.
The episode also touches pretty heavily on the value of being taught as well as criticized. Akira has been critical since we met her in episode 2, but in this episode she’s particularly so. The entire narrative of this episode is focused around Akira dishing out chastisement to the three main girls the entire time. However as we see by the end of this episode, she does this because she wants them to truly become better undines. Her method might not be perfect at all times or for everyone, but it works out in this case and clearly shows her love.
Ultimately though, it is an episode which is about the beauty of Neo-Venezia. This stands out most clearly in two major scenes: the statue of Maria scene, and the dark tunnel scene.
The Maria statue scene explores the idea I talked about previously: the belief that experiencing the world itself is important. The male tourist has an issue with reading a magazine the entire time, so Akira takes him to a small spot which is too unimportant to be on a map, but it’s still as beautiful as any other part of the city. This conveys the depth of Neo-Venezia’s beauty.
On the other hand, the dark tunnel conveys the opposite. It’s not particularly beautiful, if only because nothing can be seen, and it’s full of trash and totally abandoned. In spite of them, it’s a tunnel to the light they needed, an escape from the canals that they were desperately searching for. On its own it doesn’t have a ton of value, but even these seemingly useless and ugly parts of the city can have their own beauty and worth at times.
All these things are kind of sappy, but you can easily say that about the show itself. If it weren’t for the magical realism and the show’s tone, it would come off as preachy and overly sentimental, but by presenting a world that isn’t quite real, it manages to get away with it, ending up as beautiful as the city it so lovingly devotes itself to.