Not Long Before the End
Aria, volume 11
By Kozue Amano
[Due to a technical problem, this is an early draft only]
Volume 11 of Kozue Amano’s Utopian manga Aria! The penultimate volume! Will Akari graduate? I cannot say. But someone will.…
“Navigation 51: Clover”:
Poor Aika: her friend Alice rows with superlative skill and Akari is legendarily personable but Aika has no special talent, no inborn ability with which to stand out. How to cope? Akira, who enjoyed the same status with respect to her friends Athena and Alice, has some advice.…
Why is this Utopian slice of life manga filled with tales of doubt and depression? But at least there is hope. So I guess that’s pretty Utopian.
“Navigation 52: Marriage with the Sea”:
Every year, the Undines gather in a great festival to honour the city’s relationship to the sea. The ceremony ends with the Undines casting ceremonial wedding rings into the sea. But from who will each Undine acquire their ring?
It’s an opportunity for Akatsuki to reveal to Alicia his deep and abiding affection for her. Failure is unthinkable!
Failure is, of course, absolutely assured. But perhaps it’s not failure but foreshadowing…
(Akari can do better than Akatsuki)
“Navigation 53: Cait Sith”
Akari has met Cait Sith, King of the Cats, five times. Each meeting took place at one of Venice’s seven wonders. Legend says that something terrible happens to anyone who experiences all seven of the wonders, which really makes one question the wisdom of her Akari’s friends when they show her the sixth wonder.
Particularly since Cait Sith himself is the seventh wonder, meaning Akari has completed the set.
What the legend does not dwell on is that avoiding all seven wonders won’t save you from the something terrible. The something terrible happens to everyone.
“Navigation 54: A Day Off”:
There is nothing quite as relaxing as a simple day off spent with one’s friends.
“Navigation 55: At the Time of Twilight”:
For what dread purpose does Alice lure young Alice up the ominously named Hill of Hope?
Aria is Utopian in that nobody has to worry about the bottom two runs of Maslow’s Hierarchy.
That still leaves romance and fellowship, esteem and self-actualization for the Undines and their friends to fret about and they do. That’s how you get a plot out of a utopian setting.
One more volume. I am eager to find out how it all ends.