Those Orange Days...
If Aria: The Animation were a novel, it would be difficult to fit in an interlude with the pasts of Alicia, Akira, and Athena. It would disrupt the flow of the story. The same goal as it pertains to the current Singles could be reached without flashing back in time. It’s funny how a series such as this can take something that would be unnecessary, out-of-place, excessive in a novel, and turn the whole conception upside-down into a worthwhile inclusion.
A lot of animated series (and manga, I’m sure) will put time into a flashback episode. In the second series of Janggeum’s Dream, it’s shown Suro and Jeong-ho came to meet and train as soldiers. The first series had no room for this, instead having dialogue here and there hinting about their past. The Tower of Druaga has an episode looking into Ahmey’s past, but it really does nothing for the series, other than try to infodump information on things which have no relevance to the story at present. The flashbacks in A Little Snow Fairy Sugar are extremely brief, revealing bits and pieces of one single event from Saga’s past, which ties strongly in with the story by the end.
With Aria: The Animation, the story is about three Undine Singles, not about the Great Fairies who were Undines before them. However, looking into the bonding and friendships of the youths of yesterday gives an insight into what likely will become of the youths of today. Not just for the cast of Aria: The Animation, but for everyone, everywhere. This is simply the event where it becomes clear to Alice, to Aika, and to Akari.
Were this a novel, looking at the Single days of the Great Fairies would have to exist as references scattered about, building up until Akari and her friends realize, “Hey, this’ll happen to us one day, too…” From there, it would certainly work its way into the girls realizing that they are much like the Great Fairies once were, that they really do have a chance to be Great Fairies one day. Of course, looking at Athena, it’s a wonder not everyone is a Great Fairy by now.
Looking at Athena, it seems her only good quality when she joined Orange Company was her singing ability. She had zero skill with the oar or with people. Either someone at Orange Company saw in Athena a great potential, or they hoped to capitalize on her singing to attract customers. “If you ever visit Aqua, be sure to stop by Orange Compay and ride on a gondola. Ask for Athena. The ride will be a bit bumpy, but she makes up for it with the most beautiful moonlight serenade.”
Likewise, Alice isn’t really a people-person, and she’s a bit timid. Her perception of people and her comfort level being around others is conveyed clearly at the end of the episode when she says Aika and Akari are being too noisy. Still, consindering her being the first to react when they were all indoors and she realized she wouldn’t be spending time with everyone forever, it shows she’s changing as a person. She still has trust issues, and may fear being “abandoned”, but she’s already come a long way. Even if the change is so little, there has been a change in Alice over time. I’m sure even Athena ducks under bridges by now. It just takes a little getting used to it…
Final thought: Wide-eyed Alicia when Athena first starts singing and longing Akari standing in the snow near the episode’s end. Both very cute.