The oxidized dirt is just gone, then?

So with my break in full swing, tons of work to do, and crappy weather all around, I decided to finally start Aria.  I thought I would include my thoughts on it here, at least until I have enough thoughts for a proper post on the subject (re: I’m writing a paper and full-length SF.c posts are kinda rough right now).

ep1:

My first thought as pigtails comes flying into the city — this was Mars, once.  Now it’s just gentrified.  Terraforming is a destructive process — see Star Trek II.

Stealth customer!

Oh, that’s a bad callback to a Delany book…  Someone stows away in a boat in City of a Thousand Suns…  But the grenade…  Yeah…  Bad thoughts.

Creative networking skills.  Blackmail is probably a better tool than we know.  Wait, Kare Kano.  So we knew about it already.  Done.

So, you can’t cook your own food back on Earth?  Hmmm…  Tension in the setting.  It’s interesting that a very old-world setting (Venice) has been transposed into the place of the new-world “frontier” (not in the wild west sense, but in the boundless possibility sense — I guess not so much “new world” as “1800-early 1900s America).

It’s also interesting to be watching a show about terraforming Mars now — as there’s speculation cropping up that the last Mars lander might have destroyed evidence of microbiological life when it landed.

This terraforming job would be immense.  I read Red Mars, I know the speculative effort that would have gone into it.  The sky’s blue, even, just like Earth.

POTATO NOM!

Sigh.  It’s pretty typical in anime, but I dislike it when someone puts in a lot of effort, would succeed, and some random happenstance puts the better, more awesome (supposedly) person in the position to invalidate all the effort.

Also, yay for moralizing?

endnotes:  interesting.  the first episode introduces characters, the setting, and a lot of uncomfortable glosses about the planet that hints at a disconcerting underbelly.  Unfortunately, I know from Pontifus’ posts they won’t go too far into that directly.  Oh well.

ep2:

Oh god no, the windmills!  They’ll destroy us all!

I think, traditionally, this super-high tide is due to both the sun and the moon pulling in the same place?  The sun’s impact on the tides is minimal, given its distance, but it does stack with the moon’s pull.

On second thought, of course, no.  That should happen once a day.  My Achilles Heel, when it comes to astronomy, is that I have trouble visualizing things.  Also, I ran into what Scalzi described at D*C as the “math wall.”

Sailor hats make everything better.

Okay, not everything.

And the foot fetishists explode.  BOOOOM!

I will never remember anyone’s name…  they all sound the same.  Assonance for the…  uh…  ?

There’s something generally interesting about watching people do their stuff.  What I mean by that is, at a job that’s not quite mundane — as compared to office clerk, fry jockey — we derive a kind of pleasure from seeing a skilled or learning person go about their job.  It’s usually much more interesting than writing about writers, or filming actors.  Curious, as I certainly don’t aspire to be an oarsman anywhere.

Though my GF is currently wafting down a river on her way to dry dock her family’s barge.  Huh.  Guess this was a good day to start Aria.

Yesterday I experimented, and came up with the best teriyaki pork…  damn it was good.  I learned recently that meat, in the cooling process, will absorb fluid surrounding it, as the cells swell up again.  Good time to add the teriyaki.  SCIENCE!

“Orange Planet?”  Venus?

That’s good old fashioned family sexism.

Also:  character development is DEVELOPING.

It’s interesting that Aika’s (I guess) motivation is to better herself, but she’s not going off to school, or reading philosophy.  She’s learning a job that fits with what she’s looking for.  I mean, the whole show’s a bildungs-roman to begin with, but still, it’s neat.

Aika’s faces please me.

Much better end on this one.

endnotes:  Fun times.  The theme of altered settings reflecting altered behavior calls back to the change in scenery both Akari and Ai went through in coming to Aqua, as well as the changed scenery/behavior of the terraforming itself.

Dunno if I’ll do more of these blow-by-blow posts.  I’ll probably come up with something in the next handful of days — at any rate, I think I’m a few days away from finishing my paper, at least.

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12 Comments

  1. Episodic non-summary… I think I’ll comment this way too.

    ep. 01

    My first thought is that cuchlann is getting pretty lazy. Why am I hypersensitive to laziness? I even wrote a post [->]

    Uh-oh, cuchlann compensates by demonstrating SF erudition. Is he portraying his subject as unoriginal? Maybe he’s just remembering love for the books he read. But is it at the expense of the subject?

    I read the Stanley-Robinson trilogy; it’s pretty damn good. Now I know who to bug about writing about Aria from a Robinsonian framework (I had already deleted my draft; it’s been staring at me accusingly for six months).

    While I’m very familiar with the episode, enough to get “POTATO NOM” cuchlann’s conclusion-ish statements are hard to contxtualize. Is he being ironic about “Yay for moralizing?”

    Endnotes show cuchlann’s wishes and he anticipates them being unfulfilled. There isn’t really much to get out of the 1st ep – judging by my own experience. Oh well.

    ep. 02

    Cuchlann goes waist-deep talking about the (absent) science in the fiction of Neo Venezia’s waters. I pretty much let it go (because I read the Mars Trilogy; to invoke a mere fraction of the science of this would mean a dangerous amount of exposition for this show).

    He starts having trouble remembering names. If he really starts liking it he’ll probably end up knowing the full names of half of the characters with speaking roles kekekekeke.

    Watching skilled people do work, is very enjoyable; but for the most part we enjoy watching physical activities. Watching Cuchlann write would probably yield a lot of furrowed brows, beard scratching, and flipping through references. Not exactly the most gripping stuff.

    Orange Planet is Mars. Mars is red the same way the clay in the French Open (Roland Garros Tennis Championships) is called red clay. They’re both orange.

    I like it when people like Aika. I can’t explain without invoking spoilers.

    Interesting endnote on changing behavior to adjust to altered setting. I suppose this comment is proof positive of this idea. SYMMETRY!

    I don’t think I can comment this way ever again. It’s actually quite involving and work-ish. Cuchlann should finish the first 13 eps (he should relate to Aria as a 50 episode anime, cut asymmetrically) and bring some terraforming speculations and explorations into the post.

    Reply
    • Cuchlann

       /  4 June 2009

      Sigh. I think I may be the only person in the world who genuinely likes this format. Or at any rate, it always seems to mislead people when I do it. I did like it, quite a bit; I’m not totally in love with it, but it’s rare for first episodes to do that for me (TTGL, Ouran, and Soul Eater spring to mind as exceptions).

      The references are just really what I thought of. I really like Mars science — I have a book (unread, as of yet) called A Traveler’s Guide to Mars.

      Admittedly based entirely on Pontifus’ posts, I feel like the show missed an opportunity to do even more with the setting than it did (will? talking about shows already-completed that one will see in the future leads to tense confusion like a time traveler, yo).

      RE: Orange Planet. I see. I guess I’m used to “Red Mars” ; ) Something in the way she stated that made it sound like one of the Undines was from another place.

      I knew it was longer than 13, but I didn’t know it was 50 episodes. I cut myself a decent summer project, it looks like… Oh boy.

      But short version: I liked it. I think about weird stuff as I watch anime. That is all. :D

      Reply
      • Perhaps the weakness of this post format is that it is raw and prone to misinterpretation. Did I seem like I was being snarky or disrespectful? Chalk that up to the format. I’m actually a fan of yours and your SF erudition, among other things ^_^/

      • Cuchlann

         /  4 June 2009

        I don’t want to abandon it though — I genuinely like it, it’s a lot of fun. Maybe restructuring, with the “endnotes” moved to the beginning — a short “real” post that provides context.

      • You might want to sprinkle in a few images or screencaps to help contextualize the thoughts – that might work better than trying to do some sort of summary, and perhaps break up the text a little.

  2. Pontifus

     /  4 June 2009

    I like to withhold commenting on these kinds of things until they’re further along. Still, fuckwin picture is fuckwin.

    Oh, one thing.

    the first episode introduces characters, the setting, and a lot of uncomfortable glosses about the planet that hints at a disconcerting underbelly. Unfortunately, I know from Pontifus’ posts they won’t go too far into that directly. Oh well.

    Remember that I’ve still only seen 13 episodes (and read two manga volumes) so there may yet be some more overt underbelly disconcertion further on. Really, I should stop saving it for a rainy day or something and get on with the damn show, I suppose.

    Reply
    • Cuchlann

       /  5 June 2009

      Yes. What if I beat you to the end? You’d never live it down. And by that, I mean I’d never let you.

      Reply
      • Pontifus

         /  5 June 2009

        IT SHALL NOT BE, I SAY…honestly I’m just worried that finishing Aria will give me a tremendous backlog of posts to write.

  3. gwern

     /  3 July 2010

    My general impression, after watching most of the _Aria_ anime, is that the SF aspects are basically useless – hollow. There’s nothing there.

    You could rewrite Aria to put it back on Earth, replace the flying cars with regular cars (or broomsticks…), and have ancillary characters work in a public utility – and it would all work pretty much as well. That Neo-Venezia is on Mars, that Mars was terraformed, that the original Venice is gone – these are all largely useless or the merest allusion.

    (It is a little disappointing if you hoped to find SF in _Aria_. Obviously no one expects it to be anything like _Red Mars_ and sequelae, but one hopes for a little bit.
    So far the best I’ve been able to do is to devise an interpretation that what we see is actually the post-Singularity, where humans have been reduced to utter irrelevance and live off of Singularity-generated technomagic which they can only operate and not actually create or develop, that lets them pursue a happy, if meaningless, life. It explains the antigravity, perfect terraforming, lack of industrialization, and giant intelligent cats, anyway.)

    Reply
    • I see what you mean, but I think it must be viewed as SF — if for no other reason than that it is. It would evoke different feelings if it were on Earth, despite the fact that it technically could be a realistic piece.

      The best practical example I can think of is that the people who come as tourists would be like our tourists in a realistic setting — but they’re not, in Aria. At least, early on the show sets up a worry in the characters, especially with someone like the little girl who becomes our Earth-contact penpal for the rest of the show. Earth is pretty terrible, and Mars is pretty good. Mars is the place where people can act and feel the way we code as normal — freer than on the almost-dystopic Earth, with more free space and room to move around in. In fact, there’s almost a sense that no one fixes Earth because they can always go somewhere else.

      Generally speaking, the mood would be different, and Aria is predicated by its mood as much as anything else.

      Reply
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