Aria, Episode-by-Episode: The Animation, Episode 9

I may have been a bit disappointed with episode 8, but that certainly isn’t the case here. This episode introduced Grandma, the former top undine for 30 years, and uses her to look deeper into both Aika’s insecurities as well as the ethos of Aria Company itself.

Grandma is introduced this episode as the greatest undine of all time. The founder of Aria Company, she was the top undine in Neo-Venezia for 30 years before retiring after Alicia’s promotion.

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Due to Aika’s general feelings of inadequacy, she feels as if she — and by extension Akari and Alice — are progressing towards becoming Primas at too slow of a rate, and because of that she seeks Grandma’s help for training.

Aika quickly becomes dismayed upon actually meeting Grandma and being given no training at all. The three are given small tasks to do in order to help her prepare food, and though Aika tries to read methods of training into them, it’s clear that she’s just trying to convince herself that her actions have a purpose directly relating to her training as an undine.

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This focus on training hurts Aika’s experience a great deal. While Alice and Akari are having a fun time on the tasks, Aika looks at them as work, and because of that she doesn’t enjoy them at all.

This all comes down to Aika’s main character flaw, which I talked about previously: her total lack of self-confidence. Aika only embarked on this trip in the first place because she was needlessly worried about the rate she was progressing at, and this attitude continues throughout their trip to Grandma’s. Upon realizing they aren’t being given any training at all, Aika assumes to herself that the reason is that they’re all too awful to even deserve it. Aika constantly projects the idea that she’s proud of herself, but this always hides her anxieties over her rate of improvement and general skill as an undine.

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Fortunately, Grandma is there to make it clear to Aika that she’s wrong about the reason they aren’t getting training. Grandma explains that Alicia — the one Aika looks up to more than anyone — is as skilled an undine as she is because she truly loves being an undine, and she loves everything else as well. She can find enjoyment in anything, even the negative feelings in life, and as Grandma says, her attitude is one that allows her to love living everyday.

This approach shouldn’t be unheard of if you’ve read any of my previous posts on the show. Alicia’s outlook is the exact same as Akari’s. Both of them gain derive enjoyment from everything they do, and thus they don’t have to bear with pain in order to do what they want. Grandma too has reflects this ideal attitude, showing that this isn’t some coincidence, but is actually the embodiment of Aria Company. While the other undine companies may just be places where people can work as undine, Aria Company has its own sense of self, and that self loves everything in the world.

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After Grandma explains this, it becomes clear that they actually were given training, in a sense. The training was meant to make them enjoy doing little things in life that don’t matter much. Aika wasn’t able to succeed at this while the others were, but fortunately there’s no punishment for not getting it. Aika is able to apply her newfound knowledge of why Aria Company is so successful to herself, allowing her to enjoy herself more and become a better undine for it.

As Grandma says at the end, your dreams are totally reachable if you’re willing to believe in yourself and the world at large. Ai-chan reflects Grandma’s remarks, saying that Akari is just as wonderful as Alicia or Grandma. All three of them embody Aria Company, and therefore embody the ethos of this anime in general. As I’ve said before, Aria stresses the importance of enjoying everything about the world, including its worse aspects, and taking a positive, optimistic attitude towards everything. Aika and the viewers likely aren’t able to do so to the extent of Aria Company’s members, but ideals are worth striving for, even if we won’t quite make it.

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