September 1, 2008
This volume was winter-themed, and I liked the tidbit the author mentioned at the end where she gets so caught up in portraying the seasons that she’s not exactly sure what season it is in real life anymore. She does a wonderful job in pinning down the nuances of the seasons in this series though, so I would say it’s a job well done.
I want to talk about my favorite stories in this volume, but all of them were pretty notable in their own ways. There’s a story about a little snow bug that Akari befriends and then has to say goodbye to before the first snowfall of the season. There’s a chapter where the characters go to a hotspring that I thought I was going to hate, but the trip was portrayed so vividly and in such minute, enjoyable detail that it made me wish I was at a hotspring. There’s a chapter that goes over the underground systems used to control the gravity on Mars and the people that work it, and I think the boy that gives them the tour is going to be a recurring character. Aika was kind of a jerk in this story, weirdly, and throughout the volume I lost the friendly vibe that her and Akari had and it seemed like it was starting to imply that Aika was sometimes trying to avoid Akari and didn’t really like hanging out with her. Huh. Anyway, there’s a chapter dedicated to the New Year’s customs in Neo-Venezia, along with the rockin’ party they have until dawn on New Year’s Day, and then that was immediately followed by a chapter on Carnivale.
The focus on this volume was not so much on Akari’s training as an Undine and more her learning the customs in Neo-Venezia in every chapter. Being an Undine came up surprisingly rarely in this volume, and other than a few references to training and a free trip she gave one of the gnomes (the people that maintain the gravity), most of the volume was just her enjoying some time off. That’s fine too, it’s wintertime and the end of the year, and I’m sure the nuber of people she’s giving gondola rides to has gone down.
Cait Sith was back in this volume. It was immediately obvious that he was going to come up again because the characters discussed him beforehand, but I was tickled pink to see him again. He’s king of the cats, it’s hard not to like him.
The fact that this has been the only acceptable occurrence of the hot spring episode in any series in the ten years that I’ve been reading manga is reason enough for me to continue reading. Also, next time it seems like a new main character is going to be introduced. That will be nice, because if there’s one criticism I have, it’s that as curious and friendly as Akari is, there are weirdly few people she seems to interact with on a regular basis. Even more incidental characters like the mailman that she just says hi to would be great.