This is another two-part episode, this time exploring two separate areas of Aria, away from Neo-Venezia. As I said in the past, The Natural is heavily focused on world-building, and this episode is particularly strong at it. The two locations they go to are totally different and carry different messages with them, but both are beautiful, leading to this being one of my favorite episodes in the series.
This is another episode that focuses on Neo-Venezia, though it does so in a different way than the previous few. While past episodes focused a lot more on showing you parts of the City, thus giving you a better sense of what it’s like, this episode focuses more on the spirit of the city. It also brings back the beauty of letters, touched on in episode 4 of the Animation.
This episode is a bit weird, because it’s an introduction for a character who’s already shown up multiple times. By this point in the show Al is fairly well-established as part of the cast, but none of the chapters introducing him had been adapted, so while the gang knows him, we don’t really have a real gauge on his personality.
If I were to describe the seasons of Aria I would do it like so. The Animation is the introduction, and it primarily focuses on getting us used to the characters. The Natural on the other hand has introduced all of the important characters, and so it focuses on expanding the world. Lastly, the Origination focuses mainly on wrapping up the show’s themes and character arcs. The Animation’s decision to focus mainly on characters was smart, but it left Aqua itself underdeveloped, and considering how important the planet is to the show’s tone, it was something that needed to be rectified.
As we return to Aria for a second season, Ai-chan returns to Neo-Venezia to participate in Carnival. Carnival is a big event in Neo-Venezia, and the episode certainly knows how to use that to its advantage. This premiere focuses on re-acquainting us with the main cast while introducing one new key character: The King of the Cats, Cait Sith.
New Year’s is a time when we look back fondly on the last year while looking forward to the next one, and that’s what this episode of Aria really does. As another mostly original episode, the freedom is available to look back on what’s happened this season, and the show manages to do that without coming across as a recap or filler episode. This episode manages to serve as an excellent ending while still leaving ample room for more of the series, room which is, of course, quickly filled.
This is a totally anime-original episode, but it’s anything but filler. This episode adds some really meaningful detail to Aqua’s past, and it’s detail that only enhances the show’s themes. The last three episodes of the Animation are its best, and Episode 12 picks up from 11 perfectly, satisfying in its worldbuilding, its emotions, its relaxation, and its thematic depth.
During my first watch of this show, I already liked it by this point. The world and characters were all enchanting, and as someone who was already a fan of slice of life series, I thought Aria was great. It was this episode that really made me fall in love with it though, and it’s due to deeply personal reasons.
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.
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.