Towards the Miraculous Future: Aria the Avvenire OVA Episode Three Review and Reflection
July 24, 2016
Posted by on
“There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle.” —Albert Einstein
The finale to the Aria the Avvenire OVA series follows Ai, Anya and Azusa as they create their own miracle to bring everyone together after learning that their seniors are exceptionally busy with their Undine work and will miss Athena’s musical performance. Taking advantage of the Acqua Alta event (Italian for “High Water”) that results in all their day’s duties being cancelled, Ai capitalises on the time to plan a party with Anya and Azusa for their seniors. Exhausted from her work, Alicia falls asleep and recalls when she first met Akari. It seems that Alicia has aspirations to bring change to the existing Undine Pair system that assigns Singles to a Prima and improve the existing system to encourage Singles to complete their training and become Prima themselves. As a long-established system, this is no trivial task. However, it was Akari’s presence at the Aria Company that eventually moves Alicia to pursue her wishes. Later in the evening, Athena’s singing reaches everyone, prompting Akari, Alice and Aika to recall the days they became Prima and wonder whether or not their paths will separate in the future.
Miracles form the basis for the last of the OVA’s themes yet again, except this time, Ai, Anya and Azusa’s planning of a party for their seniors to capitalise on an Acqua Alta event and bring everyone together illustrates that while there are some miracles that truly are spectacular and cannot be easily produced, miracles can take all forms and hold tremendous value even if it is as subtle as bringing friends together to share tea and pastry under the evening sun. The value of this gesture allows Alicia to remember her own dynamics with Akari. This suggests that just as seniors can leave a powerful impact on juniors, the reverse is true, as well; presumably, to encourage more Singles to complete their training and connect with their seniors more, Alicia chooses to pursue the goal of improving the Undine system for everyone’s sake. However, the true miracle of this party is seen at the very end: besides having brought everyone together, it manages to give everyone an unexpected but welcomed opportunity for listening to Athena’s musical performance.
Screenshots and Commentary
- Released on June 24, I neither have the earliest nor greatest collection of screenshots for the last of the Avvenire OVAs: my review is given the customary twenty screenshots. I acknowledge that anyone who’s read the manga and/or seen the original animated forms of Aria will have considerably greater background than myself and therefore, consider this review to be that of a scrub’s. However, because of my lack of background, I can also offer insights on Aria that differ than those of anyone who’s seen the main series or manga.
- Ai, Anya and Azusa spend a few moments in a new part of Aqua that I’ve not seen before: I have not begun watching my way through the three seasons of Aria as of yet. These wind turbines are reminiscent of those found near Pincher Creek: the wind farm there is visible from Highway 3 en route to Waterton and was Canada’s first wind farm, but the operation has become uneconomical and was dismantled during April 2016.
- Ai, Anya and Azusa manouver their gondolas through the canals of Neo-Venezia while discussing how with everyone’s schedules look, there will be no opportunity to watch Athena’s musical performance later on despite how much everyone’s been looking forwards to things. Anya and Azusa are new characters to the Avvenire OVAs, so once I go back and begin watching the anime proper, I imagine I won’t see them around.
- One of the joys in Aria is how even inconveniences such as floods can be turned into miracles for the characters: it’s a matter of perspective, and Ai rejoices at the six inches or so of water that’s accumulated in their quarters. She’s now afforded time to carry out her own plans in response to everyone’s busy schedules now that it’s flooded, and here, she tells Akari how they won’t be able to spend the day together.
- The phenomenon of Acqua Alta is responsible for the minor flooding seen earlier, and in Venice, occurs when high tide coincides with sirocco winds that push water into the Venetian lagoon. In Venice, these events are common enough so that Venetians have built their city to accommodate it, storing things of importance above the water level and using wooden platforms to traverse the area. However, Mars’ moons, Phobos and Deimos, are so small they would not have a substantial tidal impact on Mars, so the Acqua Alta event is unlikely to occur.
- With this in mind, I will yield that allowing the Acqua Alta to occur in Aria is intended to drive the story of the last OVA forwards and so, it’s not something to lose sleep over. As the afternoon wears on, Akari receives a message from Ai and the others, inviting her over for tea. The deep blue skies of Neo-Venezia give way to the warmer oranges and purples of evening.
- Through their efforts, Ai, Anya and Azusa succeed in gathering Aika, Alice, Akari, Akira and Alicia, as well as Akino (known as “grandma”, she’s a well-known and masterful Prima Undine who trained Alicia to take over the Aria Company) for an evening party. Ever appreciative of miracles, Akari mentions that having a party on an ordinary day makes it feel all the more special.
- After crossing the Bow River, we hiked up the cliff side and reached the Nordic Centre, before returning to the Canmore town centre to browse some of the shops. We stopped for a tea at the Communitea Tea House (where I ordered a chilled mint green tea) before ending the day. Such outings are relatively simple to organise and might just become a yearly tradition for us. Back in Aria, Akari is promoted to a Single: I’ve not been keeping track until now, but Pairs (Undine in basic training) wear two gloves, and Singles wear one glove.
- A fully qualified Undine, a Prima, has no gloves: this observation will be useful for ascertaining each character’s rank once I begin watching the TV series. Here, Alicia messes with both Akari and President Aria with a wind chime: in a gentle and humours moment, both seem to be reacting as cats would to stimuli.
- Because they were released this year, the Avvenire OVAs have exceptional artwork and animation; the finale is no different, making extensive use of lighting and colouring to convey a particular mood. After she falls asleep, Alicia dreams of a more nostalgic time when Akari was still in training. Her dialogue suggests that Akari had a substantial impact on Alicia right from the start, leaving a powerful and profound impression on her when they’d first met.
- Earlier, I noted that the Acqua Alta phenomenon would not be plausible given Mars’ lack of a substantial natural satellite, but this image, captured as Akari and Alicia quietly sail the surface of the waters, overtly depicts a natural satellite complete with maria (basaltic plains that characterises the Earth’s moon). This raises questions as to whether or not in Aria, the moon or a similar celestial body was moved to Mars in order to facilitate the terraforming processes.
- While such an endeavour would seem optimistic to the point of foolishness, it turns out that humanity can theoretically move celestial bodies as large as the moon using scaled-up mechanisms presently being proposed to move asteroid trajectories. Aria is set in the 24th century, and since they’ve already succeeding in terraforming Mars to the point where it is inhabitable for long periods, they might also have the technologies to move lunar-sized celestial bodies.
- Introducing change into a well-established system is never easy, and Alicia becomes exhausted from the efforts. However, she’s motivated strongly by Akari, enough to continue in her pursuits regardless of how difficult it may seem. One of the youngest to become a Prima Undine, Alicia is married to an unspecified gentleman but delays her retirement and entry into an administrative role in order to spend more time with Akari, forming the basis for her internal conflict.
- By the events of Avvenire, it seems that she’s managed to move forwards, knowing that Akari will be a fine Prima Undine. This is a natural reaction: transitioning from one stage to another (in my case, school to real-world) is indeed scary, but it is also necessary to do so such that one can continue to contribute to society and allow the new generations a chance to explore their opportunities, as well.
- Alicia wakes up shortly, and from my end, the last of the OVAs was also the most tricky to follow. I went through this one twice to make certain that I could follow what was going on and therefore, could extract the themes and ideas from the OVA. I would think that the main theme here is a bit more substantial beyond merely being “cathartic”: while an anime could probably get by simply for being relaxing, I imagine that there is much more to Aria as a whole, given that it’s been met with critical acclaim and can capture the audiences’ hearts as effectively as it does.
- Athena performs “Lumis Eterne”, a song originally performed for Aria The Origination as the final OVA’s miracle. The song’s lyrics are composed in Esperanto, an auxiliary language created in the 1870s by L.L. Zamenhof with the aim of unifying humanity under a common tongue, and it’s supposed to be easier to learn than English. I’ve heard that Athena’s voice actor, Kawai Eri, passed away from cancer and it would have been difficult to re-cast her, hence her minimal presence in the OVAs.
- Thus, while seemingly missing the one thing everyone was looking forwards to, it turns out that Ai, Anya and Azusa’s idea to host a small party gathering everyone together also allowed everyone to enjoy Athena’s performance. This speaks to the unpredictability of miracles; even though the original goal was simply to bring people together, events result in everyone experiencing a far greater time than they had expected.
- The final moments of the OVA ends with another beautiful sunset as the day draws to a close. We’re very nearly reaching the end of this post, as well: this means that the last of my discussions on Aria is approaching an end, as well. With all three OVAs under my belt, it seems appropriate to now go backwards and watch the whole of Aria and see for myself what about Aria makes it a timeless anime: surely, it can’t just be “catharsis” on its own.
- Because my schedule over the next few weeks will be unpredictable, I cannot say for sure what I’ll be writing, when, but I will try to have a talk about Amanchu! after three episodes out before the month is over. I also will be taking a look at New Game! as time permits (there seem to be a lot of misconceptions out there, ranging from the idea that they’re using Dell Inspirion desktops for game development, to the idea that the anime is glorifying overwork, and I’d like to see for myself whether these opinions have any weight). In August, I will aim to roll out a talk on Yuuki Yuuna is a Hero and my second experience with Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.
Besides miracles, the other theme for the finale deals with is a parting of the ways, and how the associated sorrow demonstrates the strength of bonds amongst friends. Happiness cannot exist without sorrow, and sorrow can be seen as a sign that people care. This is a fitting theme for the last of the Aria the Avvenire episodes, reminding the viewers that their own feelings as the Avvenire OVAs draw to a close are a reminder that they genuinely enjoyed the anime. The Avvenire OVA series is plainly intended for audiences familiar with Aria as a whole, and in speaking quite openly about endings and the value of memories that are created over time with those around one, this finale suggests that the Avvenire OVAs might be the last animated incarnation of the Aria manga for the foreseeable future. With the OVAs now over, I’m presently looking to begin the series proper now such that I may explore the world of Aqua in greater detail: the only question that remains is when I will actually do so.