Volume seven of Kozue Amano’s Aria brings the calendar around to spring once more. With warm weather come unexpected revelations, not least of which is that a surprising number of Aquans struggle with doubt and paranoia.
Navigation 31: Goddess of Spring
The spring barbecue gives Aika the chance to show off her luxurious new hairdo, grown out during the long winter months. Alas, long, beautiful locks and open flames don’t mix. It’s up to her friends to salvage the situation, each in their own way.
Or maybe fire and long, beautiful locks mix all too well. But Aika doesn’t die, which I can tell you is always a possibility where cook-fires are concerned. And she does not run out of the room before Akira can finish making a rhetorical point, which is also good.
Navigation 32: Blackout
A routine blackout allows the girls to appreciate aspects of their world they had previously overlooked.
It is interesting that Neo-Venezia’s maintenance system requires rolling blackouts … but even more interesting that the Undines decide to fill a room with candles, given that one of them had set herself on fire in a previous episode.
Navigation 33: Mirror
A party at Orange Planet reveals that Alice is miserable because she believes that she is a social outcast and that all the other Orange Planet Undines envy and hate her.
Of course, her mentor suggests that Alice might be the problem, not the other Undines.
Navigation 34: Vaporetto
Akari’s friends stalk Akari in an attempt to discover how it is Akari has so many friends. The grim truth is horrifying.
Akari is a friendly, cheerful person who thinks nothing of talking to strangers.
Navigation 35: Hair, Hairpin and Me
Aika, who prides herself on being the normal, reliable member of the trio, is undone by a pretty hairpin she buys. Or rather by the fact that it reminds her that she still has not revealed to Al, of whom she is quite fond, her new hairstyle. What if he doesn’t like it?
Utopia means more time to focus on crippling self-doubt.
Special Navigation: Artificial Human
In a flashback to Akatsuki’s childhood, we see that he was convinced that he was an artificial person. He was also worried that aliens might have kidnapped and replaced his mother. Curiously, his older brother’s observation that their mother might not be the only one kidnapped and replaced by aliens does not help matters.
I have no idea why Akatsuki wasn’t reassured.
Given that this volume’s stories are about doubt, alienation, and being on fire, it was surprisingly upbeat. The Aquan natives seem to be more prone to anxiety than more recent immigrants, which makes me think maybe Earth isn’t so bad. At least Akari feels comfortable talking to strangers and she isn’t worried she has gears inside.
Of course, we’ve never seen an X‑ray of Akari. And if aliens wanted to infiltrate Aqua, they could do worse than sending a cheerful robot to befriend everyone.…
This does not appear to be available from my usual sources.