Even as I watched Arietta, the Aria OAV, I boggled at the sharp upswing in Alicia x Akari coupledom it provided. By the end, one can’t call it subtext at all.
As I am a diehard Alicia x Akira fan, I was less thrilled than some, I imagine.
The OAV begins as Akari dreams of herself as the Prima of Aria Company. She should be happy, but then she remembers that Alicia is gone and won’t be coming back. She wakes to find that Alicia is safely still there and she’s a lot more relieved than she expected. When Akari asks Alicia about when she became Prima, Alicia bares her soul to Akari just long enough to express how sad and lonely she was when Grandma left Aria Company.
We learn a little more about Alicia’s past, and get to spend some time with the three fairies of the water as young trainees, as they bond and plan for the future. My favorite scene of the anime, as Akira drags Alicia out on an obvious date, even if it ends up with the three of them together at the end. Young Athena was especially adorable, I thought. To recreate that moment of joy with Akari and bond a little closer with her trainee, Alicia leads the girl up to the tower above St. Mark’s Square to view the city at night. It’s an undeniably romantic scene – and Akari reacts as one might expect, charmed and attracted by her charming and attractive senior. When she expresses a wish that her time with this woman, her important person and the person she loves, will continue for some time, we’re all nodding. Of course.
Several times through this OAV, we get full-on “scenery porn” as Sean Gaffney puts it so accurately. The entire OAV has excellent animation, with a softer, more gentle focus that fits the general tone of the story perfectly.
Yuri aside, this is a lovely example of why I enjoy this anime. Every episode is a slow ride along the canals of Neo-Venezia, with no destination in mind. It really doesn’t matter whether we’ve been past this same square ten times, we’re just glad to see it again in this light, in this season, as opposed to some other. (I’m reading a book right now that basically says that that’s what Venice does to some people – just captivates them and makes them obsess, in a relaxed way, about the quality of the light and the view. So it all works for me.)
As for the Yuri, well, I’m happy for the Akari x Alica fans, but I’m sulking here in the corner for my own fave couple, thanks. ^_^
Art – 9
Story – 8 (I like when we get glimpses of the Primas as youth.)
Character – 8
Yuri – 7
Service – 1
Overall – 8
Aria is still not Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou, but it edged just a little closer during this OAV.