Volume 5 of Kozue Amano’s Utopian manga Aria sees Akari into her second autumn on Aqua, the water-covered world once known as Mars. She seems no closer to graduating from apprentice Undine to full Undine than she was in the last few volumes; the delay has consequences in this volume.
Navigation 21: Mr. Postman
Bereft of his boat while it is being repaired, the local postman turns to the Undines. Alas, all of the actual Undines are booked and as a trainee, Akari cannot take on customers unsupervised. There is, of course, a solution.
The solution is to work for free. I think this loophole turned up in the Bridge of Sighs chapter. It seems like the sort of loophole the Undines should patch; I can see all kinds of unpleasant failure modes. Trainees could be reduced to servile intern status 1; accidents may be more likely.
Mr. Postman loves his job. Aqua is the sort of planet where people generally do enjoy what they do for a living. (Akatsuki is a possible exception — but it’s not clear he enjoys anything.)
Navigation 22: Canzone
Alice becomes convinced that her left hand is betraying her; it’s clumsy, it’s useless! Similarly, her mentor and roommate Athena does not appear to be helping. Alice may be too close to the situation to see what is truly going on, but Akari is not.
This was one manic episode away from being a horror story terminated by dismemberment.
Navigation 23: An Evening of Meteor Showers
Akari joins her friends to watch what promises to be a spectacular meteor shower. They soon encounter one of Neo-Venezia’s few notable flaws: seemingly inescapable light pollution.
At one point Al (whose name I thought was Ai last time round: blame my terrible eyesight) the Gnome explains meteor showers to the girls. I cannot stress how dramatic an effect on one’s crush one can make with an unrequested exposition on commonplace subjects. Try it yourself and be amazed at the results!
Akari seems to be shipping Al and a particular person. She’s willing to orchestrate events to get the results she wants, although not skilfully enough to overcome her subjects’ awkwardness.
Navigation 24: Margherita
Left to the tender mercies of Akira, trainees Akari, Aika, and Alice are subjected to test after test of their skills, tests they fail over and over again. What grim punishments await such deplorable students?
That’s a car tire in the water, isn’t it?
Why is there a car tire in the water? How is there a car tire in the water? Where in Neo-Venezia would one drive a car?
Navigation 25: Following the Shadow
Waiting at a cafe, Akari catches the attention of a curiously well-informed older man.
There is an innocent reason why the fellow turns into Mr Exposition and why it is that he’s so interested in local history.
There are twelve volumes to Aria and each one seems to cover about one season (or six months Earth time). Add in Aqua’s two volumes and that’s what, at least seven Earth-years spent training as Undine? Although we have not seen anyone flunk out, the Undines are supposed to be elite. Therefore it must be possible to fail. Will Akari fail? Will she ever shed that last glove to become a full-time Undine? Take heart. This is a genial series and the author will not want to ruin the mood.
Aria, Volume 5, is available here.
- I have no idea if Akari is paid, come to think of it.