What an entrance for a new character!
The fact that someone has just made an appearance then instantly got development in the second half of an episode doesn’t work out well every time since it may cause some confusion and feel rushed, and of course, a bit of pretense.
Fortunately, this episode doesn’t fall into that case. If anything, it far surpassed my expectation for the show ever since I set foot on this magical land of Aria.
At first glance, Alice appeared to be adept at rowing Gondola, despite her status as being a pair. For one thing, perhaps the most common tropes of introducing a genius character is “with great talent comes great arrogance”, and Alice is no exception.
With that said, while Alice, objectively speaking, seems to be disrespecting her seniors through her attitude, I think there’s no problem with that.
You can’t force your opinion on someone, she has the right to do what she wants, and she has always been ready to pay the price: being a loner, isolated.
In hindsight, she doesn’t want to befriend and earn respect for being humble, as it feels forced and fake. Furthermore, she is fully aware of her circumstance, yet decided to stay true to herself.
That said, Alice does possess some intriguing traits like being skeptical of many things around her, like how she didn’t fall for Akari’s smile.
And just as I thought Alice was going to remain like this for the rest of the show, she immediately cast a new light on me.
After her first encounter with Akari, Alice must have been suspicious of such otherworldly carefree and cheerful nature.
I meant, even I feel like Akari was feigning joyfulness all the time, but it turned out to be something entirely on the opposite and, perhaps, a wonderful “gift” for Alice.
As the episode progresses, Alice begins to doubt her own opinion on Akari, thus developing a curiosity towards Akari’s smile.
To be more specific, she thought Akari’s politeness was an act to appear friendly to Akatsuki after being teased, but the truth is far simpler than she thought.
Since Alice is the type who refuses to let up and strongly voices back her opinion, disregarding the awkwardness it might cause to others (as well as damaging her own reputation), she can’t understand Akari that easily.
Step by step, she gradually unraveled the secret behind the female protagonist of the show, what makes her so cheerful all the time, why she never feels irritated.
Thus forth, the young girl discovered a new lesson in life: that is to follow the current, become one with the wind, and you can practically enjoy everything in the world (and this is perhaps one of the main themes of Aria as well).
I really love the moment when the bell from the church rang as Alice realized the true value of Akari’s smile.
It’s simple but so endearing: a wake-up call, indirectly from Akari, and directly from Neo-Venezia as well, telling her to stop getting so dubious of life and hop on the optimistic train as Akari did.
What really hit home here is, through the process of deciphering Akari’s personality, an elegant seed of friendship between her and Akari was sown.
To many people, this is but another ordinary activity in life. Nonetheless, to Alice, this is a major step for her to take since it would lead her toward a “healthier” path.
And to conclude the episode, Hal Film Maker gave us a sublime view of Neo-Venezia from the very top, through the perspective of the two maidens of Aria.
For real, this can’t get any better.
Not only do we get a new character and her development, but we also get a more polished and extended look at the world setting, thus enhancing the show as a whole.
To sum up, this episode is a splendid introduction to a new character but not without some excellent “explorations”.
The pacing is spectacular as usual, slow yet effectively taken care of by the breathtaking landscape, enriched dialogue, and subtle character interactions. The use of sound and music are well-timed and fitting as ever, I just can’t get enough of the chill and relaxing atmosphere from this.
If there’s anything to complain is perhaps it ended too soon…