Well... I guess Aria is still not my thing. After the disappointment of the first two episodes, I tried the 3rd and 4th, and while I have enjoyed them more, as more or less I know the weak spots of each character and what the series is meant to create, there are still scenes I can't come to love.
I liked, to a point, the inner conflict of Alice, but then again the whole wording about the smiles and happiness somehow manages to take me away from the tone of the episodes... It seems I'm enjoying this show more in its quiet moments than when the characters interact. Specially with Akari, yes she's happy and positive, but hearing why she's happy and positive from her own mouth implies tons of cringeworthy metaphors and cheesy talking that, instead of reinforcing the feelings of the show, in some way damage them. And I guess I'll have this problem for the whole series.
This one gets 6.5 points. The other more or less 7, because of a more interesting and evocative story; so they are both an improvement on the first two. But I'm still waiting to see what makes this series specially good.
Your mean should be an even bell curve only if you watch every show that comes out. Having a high-slung mean doesn't mean you're rating improperly. It can also mean you're selecting shows well to watch mostly things you enjoy.
I'm am being pleasantly surprised with every episode so far. The word "relax" seems to really resonate with fans regarding this show, and I agree. Alice seems like a lovely character who I would really like to see more of.
That preview was very interesting in the idea that something climactic might occur. That's cool, as long I feel relaxed by the end of it.
It's time for some more gratuitous "analysis" no one asked for!
I hope Akari can become just a little more assertive later. It could be argued that her being kind of a pushover might make her a good undine in some ways, but it can't be healthy. On the other hand, Alice provides an interesting interpretation on how Akari's smile is really genuine, comparing Akari's personality to her style of rowing. One could also argue that Akari doesn't really mind his teasing, and that she only corrects him when he calls her "Pigtails" because it's part of their routine banter.
Akatsuki might be compensating for his perceived inferiority to his big brother by being an ass to Akari. But it's also possible that Akatsuki truly believes that his behavior towards Akari is a normal way of showing affection, as his big brother seems to treat him in a rough way as well, which may have become the Akatsuki's template for expressing affection as he grew up.
I like Alice, as I usually enjoy the defrosting ice queen trope. She also has a very strong sense of justice, and wasted no time to make sure Akari was okay, which is very cool. She is a loner, but she has a sweet side, too. What I'm hoping for is that while Akari's optimism and kind disposition rubs off on Alice, Akari is inspired by Alice in turn, and learns how to stand up for herself. Might never happen, though.
This episode also provided some more exposition on the world, with the Floating Islands, the Salamanders and various other structures in the city. This show has some really pretty locations.