This volume is just more of the same from last volume, which I still really like at this point. Akari learns a lot of things in this volume, including how to deal with her first customer, about the tradition of wind chimes in summer, and how the climate in Neo-Venezia is controlled. There’s also a couple chapters about the feline president of the company, and another chapter about Akari’s friend Aika.
The chapter about the wind chimes was probably my favorite. In addition to going into the beauty of wind chimes and their sound in summer at length, it also explains what I assume are the real-life traditions behind wind chimes (they preface this bit by explaining that these were things that were thought of “a long time ago,” which is why I assume it’s true), and then it adds a new twist on windchimes for the story. Of course Akari really gets into them, and of course the entire chapter is just lovely to look at and extremely well-told.
The stories about Aria the cat are pretty cute, but the better one was the second, where he dresses up like a super hero and makes several attempts to deliver a doll to a little girl who hadn’t realized she’d lost it.
What else… a character that I read about in the first volume of Aqua is introduced here, once as Akari’s first customer and again to explain how the climate works and show the characters around the island that floats in the sky. He’s kind of weird, but I think I’ll need to see him in action a little more before he grows on me. At this point, I can’t figure out if he’s maybe possibly supposed to be an eventual love interest, or I’ve just read too much shoujo manga.
I finished this volume and wanted to read more to find out what happens to the characters. That’s kind of hard for me to believe, especially considering the plot is almost non-existent and nothing much happens in the meandering stories in these volumes, but yes, I really, really like it, and it goes down well between more fast-paced or over-the-top volumes.
I actually read Aria before I read this, but since Aria is from last week it’s further down on the stack. I’ve got to talk about… Dragon Head and GetBackers and Walkin’ Butterfly and Voices of Love before I get to that one. I was actually kind of surprised that Tokyopop didn’t wait to release both volumes of Aqua before Aria, but this is the sort of series where you can jump in anywhere. I was actually surprised with how much work went into setting things up in this volume. I jumped right into Aria without knowing anything beforehand, and it was pretty easy to figure everything out. Here they do explain things to you, but it’s not tedious or obvious, it sort of happens as Akari’s introduction to Mars.
In this volume, I get the impression that Aria, the gondola company, is inhabited only by Akari, her teacher, and the cat. Maybe I missed something, but it just doesn’t seem like anyone else was introduced from Aria. But maybe that’s how it works, that each company has a master and apprentice. I suppose it’s best not to over-analyze things.
While there was lots of gliding around in a boat, each chapter was a cool kind of new adventure. There was a chapter where Akari walked around in a flood. Another chapter had Akari and a friend silently following a cat through the city ruins as he went to a cat gathering. The only thing of consequence that happens is at the end of the volume, after a long, picturesque ride through a system of locks. I don’t really want much to happen though. I was kind of surprised by the lack of direction, but on the other hand, I loved watching the main character stop and smell the roses.