“I will never forget about you. Never ever.”
I had to sit and think for a while after I watched this through. It’s always a strange mixture of emotions with me and Avvenire it seems – on the one hand there’s happiness at finally getting to experience just a little bit more of a series I revere so much, but at the same time there’s also a transient sadness knowing that this will all be over in just a couple of months. I’ve of course long come to terms with the fact that Aria is over, given how many years it’s been – so another part of me is just treating all this as a fleeting miracle that should be appreciated while it lasts. I didn’t cry this time though, which is a little odd because Euforia is my favourite OP and Akari’s farewell to Cait Sith is exactly what I want to say to Aria as a series. As with last time, I loved reminiscing with the montage of locations in the ED – they really chose well, all of them were episodes I remember very clearly from Natural. And they were some of the best too, from the snowball episode and the second Acqua Alta (‘Akatsuki-san, it’s like your love for Alicia-san is spreading out over the water!’) to the times where Aika cut off her hair and when Alicia slept over and lit up all of Aria Company with candles at night. I was a little surprised there was nothing referencing Akari’s gondola retirement though, they spent a whole two episodes on that and it seemed like an important memory for her.
By the way, I have a feeling that Aika stole President Hime away to become the mascot for whatever branch she’s managing, and so the Himeya head office have been forced to look for another cat. I do like the next generation girls, I was surprised we had segments focusing both on them and on the original trio. Ai’s enthusiasm is particularly infectious. And we finally learned that her full name is Aino Ai! It’s hard to form a strong opinion on them though, given how little screen time they’ve had – and overall, the current Singles trio just seem to take after Akari, Aika and Alice to a surprising extent. Not that Akari and Aika didn’t end up becoming a lot like Alicia and Akira, that is. It’s a real pity we’ll never get to properly know Ai, Azusa and Anya – I would definitely watch an Aria sequel featuring them and their time as Singles, although the sentimentalist in me would say that it doesn’t feel the same. And they’ve gone to all the trouble of creating a new set of character designs, right? I have no idea how Aria fared in commercial terms, but regardless of sales its existence alone is a blessing and a gift to the industry. For the record, although I like Ai the best amongst the three for her personality, Anya is the cutest in terms of looks. I guess she takes after dekkai best girl, huh.
I wonder whether Cait Sith and his final goodbye to Akari is supposed to be an extended metaphor for growing up and and all the struggles associated with becoming an adult. It would fit in with what Aika said about graduating from seeing things only children can see. All this time Cait Sith has exposed Akari to magical experiences and looked out for her, helping her out during her times of need – and now that she’s growing up, he has to say his goodbyes and leave Akari to fend for her own even if things get hard or painful. In fact, I’ve just realized that a lot of the supernatural elements in Aria have been the closest we’ve been to seeing Akari get into real danger on Neo-Venezia, and each time it’s Cait Sith who shields her from it all. The ghost woman under the veil attempting to spirit her away immediately comes to mind. And there’s no guarantee that either the cat bar or the cat association meetup would have been as lenient to Akari as they were if Cait Sith or President Aria were not around. At the same time, it’s not like they’re necessarily a bad experience – she’s gotten to see a lot of amazing things, for one, and most importantly I suspect that they only ever happened to her because she genuinely believed they could. Aika retorts whenever Akari says something embarrassing, but Akari can only say it all with such a straight face because she genuinely does have that boundless optimism, wonder and love for Neo-Venezia. It might even be why Cait Sith took such an interest in her especially – because she does really believe in miracles.
And along those lines, it might be why nothing’s ever happened to Alice even though she’s been stepping on the ‘unfortunate stone’ ever since she was little. Alice is dekkai childish in her own way (like that episode where she plays the ‘stepping only on shadows as she walks home’ game) but she’s also very down-to-earth and would probably take a sensible stance towards anything supernatural. I don’t think she truly believes in the unfortunate stone, and would regard any bad luck that comes after stepping on it to be a coincidence – and so when she stepped on it nothing happened. I have to admit that I didn’t think anything would happen either (i.e. I’m not suteki enough) let alone Akari somehow falling out of the sky after being teleported high above Neo-Venezia. Maybe it’s not that something crazy like that would usually happen, but rather that Cait Sith made it happen just this once so he could say goodbye to Akari. As I said above, what Akari said to him is exactly what I wanted to say to the Aria series as a whole and, by extension, Amano Kozue. Akari’s final smile was particularly Amano-like in art style. I didn’t cry, but my heart ached.
Only a single OVA remains now. The time is nigh. In light of the impending farewell we’ll have to say to Aria yet again, I don’t think there’s any better time or place than now to talk more about the upcoming Amanchu! adaptation this summer. Anime Japan 2016 has rewarded us with a PV and new key visual, and both are honestly beautiful. I was worried when I initially heard it was going to be produced by J.C. Staff, but it looks like I don’t really have to worry – it’s surprisingly high-quality for J.C. I guess they are stronger with slice-of-life after all. And Satou Junichi will be overseeing it all so we’re in the best of hands, really. A few seiyuu were announced too, most notably Kayano Ai as Dotty and Suzuki Eri as Pikari. Kayano is a staple so I’m not worried there, but I haven’t heard much of Suzuki Eri other than her role as Soleil in Fire Emblem Fates. I was hoping Saito Chiwa would voice someone, especially since she’s a friend of Amano, but I guess relying on that alone is a little too much to ask. It should be good, it looks really solid. All it needs is a Makino Yui OP and for Round Table (feat. Nino) to come back out of hiatus to do the ED and we’ll be set.
I can’t stop thinking about how much this PV reminds me of Aria. If Amanchu! isn’t its spiritual successor then I don’t know what is.