I’m horrifically, hilariously late to the Aria the ORIGINATION post-party, as per usual, so I’m pretty sure that everything I say will have been said before, but that never stopped me before. I feel like Ai-chan in the picture above (who wears the Aria Company outfit quite nicely, I must say–but maybe it’s the Pair gloves and/or hair ribbon and/or final episode super-budget injection), nevertheless.
Starting ORIGINATION, I had the constant wondering thought of “why did they call the final season ORIGINATION?” I never quite got NATURAL either, and ANIMATION was a rather silly subtitle for the first season (surely, in retrospect, they should have given it something more exciting), but, as in most things, actually watching the series provided the answer.
ORIGINATION is, indeed, the culmination of the story of Akari, Aika, and Alice, the Undine trainees–as they, one by one, are promoted to full Prima status, there’s a tangible sense of acheivement, of success–but it’s not “the end.” Alice skips the Single grade straight to Prima in episode 9, and is shown being horribly nervous on her first day as a Prima the next episode. Aika, too, earns Prima–rather subtly, as the audience didn’t realize it until we’d seen her hiding her ungloved hands from Akari–yet she, too, has her own set of responsibilties to undertake as heir to the Himeya company. And Akari earns Prima last, but at the same time must assume the responsibility of running Aria Company almost immediately, as Alicia is retiring.
They’ve all earned the ungloved status of Prima, and the responsibility that comes with it, but there isn’t really a “happily ever after” feeling. In fact, even though they’ve attained what they’ve worked towards for the past 52 episodes, they feel as if they haven’t really changed. And yet they have, in that intangible sense, where, even if Akari is the same old persistently cheery girl, even if Aika still has her klutzy moments, and even if Alice is still a confounding mix of external confidence and internal insecurity, they’ve still changed in how they view themselves. They’ve admitted that they’re imperfect, compared with their allegedly perfect mentors–but by admitting they’re imperfect, however unspoken the admission might be, they abandon their quest for perfection, and so, attain Prima status. Perfection cannot be had, but acknowledging and living with one’s own imperfections draws one closer to the ideal. And their mentors are themselves imperfect, yet are viewed as perfect for how they handle their imperfections.
It’s deliberate, too, that there isn’t much closure to the series; with closure, we have finality, and Aria is very much not about “finality.” Finality imples that the story is over, done with, and even though the “plot” of training to be Prima has been completed, there’s still more to come. A stage in their life has passed, and there’s that feeling that although the sorts of days and fun times they’ve had up to this point are over with, and impossible to return to, there’s a host of new experiences yet to come, some good, some bad, but new nonetheless. Acheivement of a goal is not the end, but a beginning, and a continuation of what transpired before.
It’s that distinctively mono no aware feeling, where change happens, and its passing is always poignant; but the same change opens up new paths even as it closes others. If there’s one thing I’ve noticed about life while living it, it’s that it has a funny way of working itself out in sometimes ironic and amusingly unexpected ways. There’s some situations where, no matter how firmly you grasp, never seem to be in your control; surrendering control completely can often bring about the desired effect as nature takes its course and rebalances itself. The only thing you can reliably change for certain is yourself; digging your heels in tends to only make you more miserable, worsens your situation, and negatively affect the rest of your life as well.
I am starting to feel somewhat like Akari, and no doubt you are beginning to feel like Aika,
In sum: Is Aria a series for hopelessly romantic INFP idealists such as myself? Certainly it is, but that’s not a problem as far as I’m concerned. We could all use a bit of mono no aware in our own lives, I think. But I’m feeling kind of hazukashii-serifu’d out here, and when I spend more post-writing time being introspective rather than actually putting pen to parchment, and in the process coming up with far more to say than I can struggle to put into words that are merely going to be inadequate anyway, it’s probably time to stop.
But only temporarily. Completeing one post leaves room for another to come!