Those Really Self-Imposed Rules
For every episode to open peacefully as the theme plays goes to show just what kind of series Aria is. I never really thought about it during the first season, but watching the kids following the cat really underscores it.
This is a good episode because it shows Alice’s determination — even if her rules are a bit silly. She’s trying to push herself to do things she hasn’t done before, to prove to herself what she’s capable of.
It’s nice to take a break from the world building and the magic for one episode. Athena’s offer of a shadow was foreseeable, but it’s good to see her manners of help backfired. There’s no reason for it to be so easy. In the end, however, Athena’s help is what gets Alice through, no matter how easy the course may be. It’s all right for her to depend on someone, and Athena is there for her.
No matter how much Athena spaces out and klutzes out because of it, she’s always there for Alice, watching Alice grow, watching Alice overcome limits, watching Alice try new things, watching Alice enjoy her time with her friends.
The letter at the end from Ai really seems to be setting up a future for her and Akari to be much like Alice and Athena. There’s something special about Akari where she’s able to speak with Ai on the same level without dumbing down her speech like is common with adults talking to children.