Aria does not speed through the years as quickly as did YKK. Still, by the time volume three of Kozue Amano’s Aria opens, a full (Martian) year has passed since Akari first arrived on the no-longer-Red Planet. It is Aquan spring once more. What grim sights and anguished travails await our unfortunate heroine?
Navigation 11: The First Gale of Spring
While out practising, Akari and Aika encounter Alice, an Undine so junior she still has two gloves. When Alice has the effrontery not to bend her knee to the clearly superior Aika, the two seniors challenge the young girl to a race.
When vindictively attempting to humiliate another person, it is a good idea to make sure you are not dependent on someone with a bad case of “Ooh, shiny!” For that matter, Aika has failed to take into account that Akari is basically too nice a person to successfully carry out a vendetta.
Navigation 12: Under Cherry Blossoms in Full Bloom
Alicia’s attempt to lead Akari to a very special place could have been used to underline the importance of proper maps. Instead, it provides a memorable lesson in the value of serendipity.
It is important not to let the fact that you’ve failed spectacularly at your primary goal to blind you to unanticipated success.
Navigation 13: Town Treasure
What dread treasure awaits at the end of the trail of clues left across Neo-Venezia?
Is a paper-chase plot as inevitable as a “two characters who don’t care for each other get locked in a closet together” plot?
Navigation 14: Three Major Fairies
Aika flees her judgmental mentor Akira, taking refuge in the relative laxness of the Aria company. Akira follows Aika. This leads to some very interesting revelations about the previous generation of Undines, not to mention Aika herself.
Each Undine finds like-minded apprentices who can be moulded into someone just like their mentor. That sounds commonplace, if not entirely nice to the occasional oddball apprentice. I do wonder how long this has been going on, and how long the Undines can keep it up. There’s something to be said for allowing enough variation that change can be accommodated.
The disturbing revelation is that prickly, judgmental Aika’s parents are the owners of the Himeya company. In a few years, the thin-skinned Undine will be boss at what is now one of Aqua’s largest companies.
Navigation 15: Festa del Bocolo
Custom dictates that men give the women they love a single rose during Festa del Bocolo. Akatsuki is determined to outdo this by presenting Alicia, with whom he is inarticulately smitten, an entire basket of roses! What could go wrong?
You know what would have worked even better? If Akatsuki had arranged for some handsome intermediary to see if Alicia liked Akatsuki back.
While the cyclic nature of the Undine society was interesting, and the fact that some unfortunate Undines will some day have Aika as their boss was somewhat horrifying, the bit that fascinated me is that President Aria’s lack of thumbs in no way prevented him from being a dab hand with high voltage electrical work. It is just as well that none of my cats are reading this. Especially Eddie.
Aria Volume 3 is available here.