It struck me that though Aria seems slow-paced and gentle, ultimately it mimics an often-mimicked pattern identified by Joseph Campbell as “the Hero’s Journey.” It’s what made mythology survive and it’s what made Star Wars a “saga.” When I think “heroes” and “journeys” I think Lord of the Rings for whatever reason, and I don’t think I’m alone in that: the word conjures the old, the sword-and-spell fantasy, the mythological and grand, the legendary. And yet, after much thought, I have discovered that Aria follows the same pattern. That Akari is a hero. That her time on Aqua, her time that spans three years (seventy-two months) and fifty-two episodes, is a journey.
Aria as Hero’s Journey
~the adventures of Mizunashi Akari~
Akari decides she wants to be a professional gondolier and sets out to achieve this goal.
Joining Akari in her quest are Aika and, later, Alice. Providing guidance are the Three Water Fairies and Those Warm People‚Ñ¢ (includes Cait Sith and Grandma).
Akari arrives on Aqua, joins the Aria Company, begins basic learning stuffs and practice routine.
Crossing the Threshold of Adventure
Akari takes on her first customer, Akatsuki.
Road of Trials
Aria the Animation 1-13, Aria the Natural 1-26, Aria the OVA, and Aria the Origination 1-8. Akari goes about her training, seeks out more knowledge/power, overcomes obstacles, learns valuable lessons, and becomes more and more wonderful with every passing frame. Also, she befriends new allies as she overcomes obstacles.
The Belly of the Beast
Aria the Origination 9-11. Akari is falling behind her allies as they go on ahead and pass through the gates of victory before she is able to. Suddenly she is ‘alone.’ Though she is too wonderful to actually be down about it, it’s a downing experience—it is a dire period.
Aria the Origination 12-13. Akari becomes a professional, accomplishing her quest’s goals.
Akari is no longer the incapable darling we remember from Aria the Animation. Alicia leaves the Aria Company, leaving Akari to fend for herself. Akari matures as a person and learns her final—and most important—lesson: that nothing lasts forever, and that change is whatever you make of it.
Akari returns to her friends as a caring and mature professional. Also, she has attained a new level in life: she has become an expert of wonderfulness.
Sharing the Gift