In the past few days before the holidays I have been taking a trip down memory lane by re-watching much of Aria. Though I’ve seen the series several times, the simplicity and sentimentalism of the stories have not lost their magic. The series is full of strong episodes, but one that I’m particularly fond of is the OVA that takes place between The Natural and The Origination.
The OVA starts off with Akari dreaming of when she is promoted to prima. It is the position that she has been working towards the entire series, but with Alicia gone and a new pair for her to teach, Akari feels afraid for when that day finally arrives. There’s a large responsibility that will come with being promoted to Prima, and Akari’s worries are something that many (if not all) of us can relate to that come from the big steps in our own lives.
“I found out that I still have a long way to go to become like you”
It is easy to view the three water faeries, Alicia, Akira, and Athena, as seemingly flawless characters in their own ways. Alicia especially, who is Akari’s mentor, appears to represent this perfect ideal of kindness, confidence, and patience. We see Alicia through Akari’s eyes as this radiant figure that is high above her, but that is, in fact, only one side of her character. Aria the OVA: Arrieta treats viewers to a different image of Alicia’s character by taking a trip into the past to catch a glimpse of an Alicia who is insecure. It seems completely contrary to Alicia’s character, but what makes Arietta especially good is that it adds a layer of depth to Alicia’s character underneath her seemingly perfect facade.
Akari’s concern is that she will not be able to handle everything by herself as well as Alicia can, but Alicia confides in her about the time when she took over Aria Company and her own insecurities at the time. It was something that Akari possibly never considered, that Alicia could have the same concerns that she has now. But it was true, even the most talented Undine in Neo-Venizia has her worries like everyone else. She, after all, is just human.
Aria the OVA: Arietta is ultimately about the passing down from generation to generation, but there is also a gentle reminder that even the seemingly perfect have their insecurities, and of the way we can help them. Though she did not even realize it, Akari was supporting Alicia the whole time. Even while she is the student in the relationship, Akari’s open-hearted love for the people around her and for life in general inspired the confidence in Alicia that makes her seem so perfect.
“You always stuck right behind me. With your pure heart, you found many wonders I hadn’t noticed. You gave me my confidence.”
The most beautiful thing about the way Akari supports Alicia, though, is that it is done completely indirectly. Akari’s enjoyment of life affects all those around her (including the audience) and I’m sure she has inspired many others aside from Alicia. In a series full of simple, but impactful, messages, Aria The OVA: Arietta has one of my favorites.