Aria, Episode-by-Episode: The Animation, Episode 8

This is a weird episode, for a number of reasons. The first is that it’s a two-part episode. These aren’t non-existent in Aria, but they are rare, as the anime tends to adapt one chapter per episode. The second and main reason it’s weird though, is the focus on President Aria. President Aria is a fun side-character and a good vessel for comedy, but due to his rather limited vocal range and small stature, he’s rarely treated as a serious character. This episode tries to do something with him, and I don’t think it works perfectly, though it isn’t a total failure either.

The first half of the episode focuses on President Aria’s feelings of being unneeded. This half, while not perfect, has a nice message to it. While Akari and Alicia ask him to get out of the way while they’re cleaning, it’s clear that they find value in him, even if he can’t do a lot of handiwork around the company.

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The second half of the episode focuses on President Aria just, trying to be a superhero or something? There’s no real message here, other than that President Aria already has good intentions in his actions. The comedy here is unfortunately somewhat more repetitive and less interesting than in the first half, but it isn’t awful.

While the messages in this episode are nice, if not on the same level as those in the other episodes so far, this episode has a lot of issues. To be clear, I like this episode quite a bit, and in an ordinary slice of life I’d think this was a good episode of the series. But in my favorite anime, an episode like this is an unfortunate step down, and I need to go into why.

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The first issue is just that it focuses on President Aria. He’s not a character who really needs a lot of pathos or depth. Aria works fine as a character who is there solely to serve as a comedic side-character, and occasionally as a plot device. When an episode totally focuses on him it gets boring, especially because he can’t speak.

This episode also just lacked the magical feeling that the show usually captures so easily, ironic given that it focused on a humanly intelligent cat. The sense of being a storybook just isn’t here, and when that crucial part of the atmosphere falls apart, the show takes a large drop in quality.

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Complaints about the show being preachy or telling you the moral too often are prominent, but for me they only serve to help the idea that Aria is a picture book, or a fantastical dream world. I understand complaints with them, but they’ve never bothered me, and the fact that this episode mostly lacked that hurt it.

From here on I don’t remember any episodes that focused on President Aria and ignored the humans, which I have to say is a good thing. This episode doesn’t really do much to flesh out the President while also coming through with an atmosphere which is less well executed than it usually is. It’s not bad, in fact it’s still a good episode out of context, but it’s the worst episode of the show so far.

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