I love “Aria,” and even after 37 episodes I really want to see more.
The second half of season two is surprisingly charming, with a smorgasboard of touching scenes and reunions.
Aria’s 37 episodes of over 15 hours of relaxing gondola drama and comedy might seem a little long-winded. However, the series mixes things up with some big tearjerkers. The first tearjerker takes place in the 15th and 16th episodes in a long farewall story arc to Akari’s gondola.
The memories are priceless. The flashback clips in these episodes include precious moments of Akari when she first starts paddling backwards on her gondola. Among the memories is the first time the gondoleer passes her first exam on a course.
As the series moves on, it becomes more and more difficult to pick a favorite character, because each one has a special moment in part two. Aika has an especially emotional moment when she finds the hairstyle she likes, rather than copying Alicia all the time. Her best moment takes place when she takes the time to visit her boyfriend, Edward, just to see if he likes her hair.
Unlike season one, there are moments of compelling suspense. Episode 20 takes Akari on a journey to transport a ghost, who is rumored to have “spirited away” anyone who takes her to San Marco Island on a gondola. This is an episode based almost entirely on visuals and moods, but the ending is a touching tribute to “My Neighbor Totoro.”
Even though the theme of spreading happiness is repeated throughout the series, “Aria” never gets old. Somehow, director Junichi Sato finds ways of showing messages of thankfulness without getting too overbearing. Unlike Ghost in the Shell or Fullmetal Alchemist, “Aria” focuses on the beauty of a city. Everything, from the urban legends to the warm parties, is a portrayal of childlike playfulness.
Even the joke episodes are completely over-the-top with humorous twists. Akari talks with her cat, President Aria about alternate universes and says that maybe if he slips in the little space between th,e stairs, he’ll enter an world with different types of characters. The curious president decides to slip through the stairs, but the new world is a lot more frightening than anyone might expect.
The series ends with a Redentore festival in the fall, to celebrate the passing of the old season and the start of the new. However, the series doesn’t end with the classic new year’s day celebration. Instead, Episode 37 focuses on Alicia, Akari’s mysterious mentor. When Akari asks Alicia what kind of person she wanted to be when she was a child. Oddly enough, Alicia starts rolling a snowball without answering Akari. Other people soon start helping the two women roll the snowball to make a humongous snowman.
Alicia’s response at the end of the episode is a lovely conclusion that sums up the entire message of “Aria” in a few simple words. Even if “Aria” is still a big fluffy collection of sweet, cotton candy stories, it is a wonderful series nonetheless.