This is another episode which fuses two manga chapters, though it does so more naturally than episode 8. This is an episode which focuses on last episode’s lesson: enjoying everything. In particular, it focuses on enjoying nature and winter.
Aqua’s winters are incredibly cold. This is particularly true in places like Neo-Venezia, where life is mostly lived without major technology, like heaters and other things which would help give refuge from the cold. For this reason Akari initially has a hard time finding anything to enjoy about the winter, but this is quick to change.
Early on Akari finds snowflies while gathering firewood. On Aqua, snowflies are said to bring the beginning of winter when they burrow themselves underground, and they’re quite close to doing so. One of them quickly takes a liking to Akari, and as always, she quickly becomes friends with it. The snowfly spends the rest of the episode with her, and it becomes quite clear that Akari greatly values it.
Since it’s a day off, Alicia recommends that everyone goes to a hot spring, and everyone is quick to accept this idea. By this point Manhome has no more naturally occurring hot springs, so Akari has never been in a public bath, making her both nervous and eager to experience it.
The aesthetics of the hot spring are worth pointing out. It’s in a derelict mansion, emphasizing the fact that nature has, in some ways, overtaken man-made constructions. It’s also very spacious, reflect quite well in the sound design. Any talking in the mansion comes with a well done, but subtle echo effect. This is something most shows wouldn’t bother with, but it adds a lot to the feeling of the hot spring.
As Akari spends time in the hot spring she comes to enjoy the cold just a little bit more. She might prefer when it’s a bit warmer, and who can blame her, but she’s always the optimist, and she enjoys the hot spring experience so much that she’s willing to credit the winter for it, thus finding something of value in the winter.
As much as she enjoys it, Akari expresses doubt as to whether or not she should be spending her time relaxing in the hot spring. As a Single, she feels like she should be practicing more. In this reflect she seems somewhat like Aika, except unlike Aika, she can still enjoy the moment even if she does feel like she should be training. Alicia is quick to make it clear to her that she doesn’t need to be training and that the hot spring is supposed to make her enjoy herself this much. Alicia is always ready to make it clear to Akari that all she needs to do in order to get better is to just keep enjoying herself. If she enjoys what she does, she’ll be sure to get better as an undine.
However, everything has to come to an end. As the day is winding down, Akari notices a group of snowflies through the window. As she walks out to look at them, she’s told by Alicia that it’s time for them to depart, bringing winter with them. This is an excellent example of mono-no-aware, as Akari finds herself saddened by this, while at the same time finding herself marveling at the beauty that is the departing snowflies.
Fortunately for Akari, snowflies live long lives, and she can wait to see the one she’s grown so fond of next winter. This is the culmination of this and last episode’s moral, because it’s this that makes Akari ultimately find winter enjoyable. The hot spring was fun, but it was just a result. Now, with the promise of meeting that snowfly again, Akari has found winter not only enjoyable but something to look forward to. Ultimately, every episode in the show is aimed at making it clear how important it is to enjoy everything, and this one does a good job at it.