The days pass pleasantly in Neo-Venezia. There’s always a lot to learn for Akari and the other gondoliers-in-training. In Aria, Volume 10, we get a little taste of past and present with, perhaps, a glimpse into the future; the whole volume feels as if we’re being led by the hand around the city along with Akari, Alice and Aika.
Alice gets a lot of screen time this volume. It allows us to see the more vulnerable, childish side of her – the chapter where Athena makes her Epiphany wish come true was very lovely. We learn a little more about Alicia, when Alice asks her why she never scolds or punishes Akari. And we get to see Akari develop her skills by working as a ferry gondolier, which makes me think that this series is moving a little further towards Akari’s eventual graduation to Prima status.
But as nice as all those chapters are, the one that wins is the first chapter of the volume, in which Athena and Akira stop by Aria Company to give Alicia a birthday present. Alicia, who was expected back shortly, calls to say that the is unavoidably delayed by an important job. Athena says she must return to her company, but Akira, who was really looking forward to the three of them getting together, stays. She tells Akari about the days when they three of them spent all their time together as trainees. Now that they are the “three fairies” they have so little free time and she had really hoped to get together today. Akari, in a characteristic move, asks Akira to accompany her for some practice – and they can, you know, look for Alicia as they tool around.
The day is ending and they decide to return to Aria Company, when they run into Athena. As she greets them, Akari cries out and points – there, miraculously, is Alicia looking very much like something out of a fairytale. And the next panels make the whole volume worth reading. No one, no one, no one, can tell me that the look on Akira’s face doesn’t say it all. She has that “stricken by a sudden vision of the person I love” look. Ah-HAH! we all cry happily. Knew it all along, we chortle. Three friends, sure, but Akira’s feelings for Alicia are more than friendship.
The next panel, drawn from below the water line, would make a brilliant poster. Akira wings the present across the rio and into Alicia’s surprised hands. And, so, all three friends are together for the present giving, after all. Metadashi, metadashi. Great chapter.
The only downside? The already repulsive Aria-shachou has now begun wearing “cute” hats with other animals on them. If you think this kind of thing is cute, you absolutely NEED to visit this site. Me, I side with the cats there, who are looking hate at their owners and plotting to suffocate them in their sleep. Poor little bastards.
Aside from this volume’s subtle fragrance of lilies, it’s mostly more of the same pleasant time spent with pleasant people pleasantly. It’d kill me in real life, but for the time it takes to read a volume of manga, it’s perfect. ^_^
Art – 9 (I seriously think it’s getting more and more lovely)
Story – 7
Characters – 8
Yuri – 4
Service – 1
Overall – 8
Now I know that the author sees the same thing between Akira and Alicia I do – and it makes me happy. ^_^