On That Special Day...
Something I noticed when watching the first episode was how everyone has an A-name. Akari, Ai, Aika, Alicia, Akamatsu. This continues with Akira and Athena.
The world-building of Aqua continues with the Acqua Alta, the yearly flood which is followed by the coming of summer. Add in a mention of the Neo-Adriatic, and adds to the feel of this truly being another world, a complete place which exists, and houses these characters and the events of their daily lives. (Do they really have to call locations Neo-this and Neo-that? It must be a desire to reuse the names from Manhome, to continue a culture.)
The threat to world-building is the info-dump. Episode one has its info-dump by Akari the Tour Guide. In episode two, it’s Aika the Quizmaster, working hard to ensure the viewer knows why each of the three gondola companies has a blue-eyed cat president. The 30-characters-or-less explanation adds to the world-building, but being in an info-dump makes it less of something to take in slowly and keep with you, and more of something to learn quickly and try not to forget.
Even though President Aria continues to have something to as his role (in the first episode showing the rocking of the boat, and introducing Alicia and Ai; this episode requiring Akari to go shopping, leading up to her being there possibly pushing Aika to do as Akira suggests), he still seems to be very much a “look at me, as I do various things” type of character. I don’t expect him to suddenly go around saving the day, and I do agree that he’s been both the subject and instigator of plot points, so I don’t know why I continue to feel his presence is lacking. Even though he’s the blue-eyed cat owned by the gondola company, representing the ship-protecting Aquamarine, something still bugs me.
As scenery goes, the Acqua Alta presents many new, wonderful views. There’s the scene where Akari notices there’s no way to tell where ground meets water, and then there’s the reflection of the tree and lights and the lights turn on, for two examples. Considering this happens yearly, all the structures and items seen submerged beneath the water must be designed to support this one-day-a-year event. My question is: Salt water or fresh water? My guess is fresh water all around the planet. What would the need for salt water be? Then again, it’s possible that there’s salt in the ground on Mars.
World-building aside, a flawed manner of character-building enters in full force as it’s explained why Aika admires Alicia so much. It must be because of the low episode count that they’re already dropping such an amount of information on a character we don’t even know yet. The only thing we learn about from her from episode one is that she’ll allow “no sappy lines”. In episode two, we learn where she works, and the kind of person she works for, and why she admires Alicia. And…isn’t that it? It’s good to see where she works and who she works for, but to suddenly drop drama and character history onto the viewer’s lap is going a bit fast. Why should the viewer care about the trouble Aika has at work (which is probably home for her as well)? Why should the viewer care about why Aika admires Alicia? Just who is this Aika? What is her personality, other than being quick to anger and not allowing sappy lines?
An example of good building (in this case, world-building again) begins when Akira goes off to the Gondola Association. Later, there’s talk of Athena from the Orange Planet, and how she, Alicia, and Akira are the “Three Great Water Fairies”, a title probably held by the company head for each of the city’s gondola companies. As for who originally decided on giving such a title, there’s no reason to know this.
Akira represents the last of her company, save for Aika. If it weren’t for Akira, Aika might become soft, as the rest of the company treats her delicately. Akira knows Aika must be tough to become the future head of the Himeya company.
Considering Akira’s conditioning Aika, where does this leave Alicia with Akari? How reliable is Alicia, regardless of her easygoing nature? How would Akari be in her position?
Akari, Akira, Aika, Ai… It isn’t easy keeping track of theses names when tying them all out. Even Alicia has an “l”, which is similar to an “r”, and a “c” which can sound like a “k” in other uses.
The exaggerated face expressions still feel out of place to me. They show up a lot near the end of this episode, so they really stood out. Will I be used to them by the end of the final episode? Since it’s a personal distaste for this style and how it distruptes the flow of otherwise smooth animation, I should probably refrain from commenting on it further.
The English credits add Aika and Akira for this episode, with Akira voiced by Junko Minagawa (Sasazuka, Strawberry Marshmallow). Outside of the excluding of some major and all minor voice acting roles, the only complaint I have for the English credits is the volume. The music is a lot louder than the episode and its original credits, something very noticeable when listening using noise-isolating headphones. Otherwise, I like the idea and presentation of these “separate” credits, while leaving the original ending in-tact. As a random after-thought, I complain about the lack of listing various voice actors, but not I wonder how many other positions are missing from the English credits, and I wonder how it was decided which to include and which to exclude.