It has actually been a couple of weeks since I finally watched the second Aria the Avvenire, but the images and emotions still resonate even now thinking back on it. “That Warm Goodbye…” follows a central figure, Neo Venezia’s Cait Sith. Also know as Carnival’s “Casanova,” conductor of the Galaxy Express, and the spirit of Aqua, he is a mysterious presence very few people have seen, much less communicated with. Akari is one of the special few. Perhaps Ai will be next?
Once again, this story is broken into two parts that feature present and past. An interesting twist is that the present of this second episode actually takes place chronologically before the present of the first. Ai knows of Cait Sith through Akari’s letters from when she was still in training, as well as the Carnival where the two girls danced the night away with Casanova and his musicians.
The opening scene follows Ai in gondola practice. Much like with Akari, the locals know Ai and have no hesitation in engaging her in conversation. A surprise alley and mysterious shadow lead her and Aria-shachou on a winding chase, where she eventually bumps into her two eventual best friends for the first time, Anya of Orange Planet and Azusa of Himeya. While their hunt for Cait Sith is unfruitful, Ai is delighted to have found something even more miraculous: true friendship. When she shares this story with Akari, we are then transported back in time.
It is clear from their gloves that Akari, Aika, and Alice are still in training. We learn of a special stone along a pathway in Neo Venezia that most people avoid stepping on. Of course, Akari can’t help but test the myth despite having seen Alice fail at triggering any kind of reaction. Anyone who is a fan of Aria knows that Akari frequently opens doors others don’t even see. It came as no surprise that she alone falls through the stone and somehow ends up in the sky high above the city. Here, she gives her final farewell to Cait Sith.
This scene actually surprised me, since I had taken the Natural episode with the Galaxy Express as the final goodbye. Her decision to not step onto the train was more open-ended, but I sensed that she would no longer see him in the same capacity. “The Warm Goodbye…” makes the separation much more explicit, and I resent it in a way for taking away the possibility for Akari and Cait Sith to meet again.
Who is Cait Sith? What does he represent?
Aqua is a planet heavily populated by cats, and Cait Sith is represented as overseeing them almost like a king. Whenever we see glowing eyes and twitching tails, there is an immediate sense of other-worldliness. Time and place are distorted; Akari’s eyes take on a dreaminess that teeters on the edge of sleepiness. Clearly he is known enough by the residents for stories to abound, but we only see Akari, then later Ai in Akari’s presence, interact with him. It’s as if Neo Venezia’s Aquamarine had something others didn’t that made her the exception. With her good bye, I wonder just exactly what she lost, or perhaps gained. Perhaps it was time, or some kind of innocence (damn you, Akatsuki!).
Whatever the reason, the torch has been passed on to Ai. Aria Company looks to have a knack for hand picking girls nearest and dearest to the planet’s heart. I am overjoyed to have received Avvenire after all this time, but loathe to see its end this summer.
Until next we meet!