Kunisaki Yukito is searching for a girl. A girl with wings.
On his travels, he ends up in a town where he meets Kamio Misuzu, a girl who experiences strange dreams. And the town itself seems to be quite the melting pot for strange events.
The fact that AIR is a game-based anime was the main reason for us to choose this title for THEM's own brand of MST-ing, the synchro sessions. To be honest, I wasn't quite sure what to expect from this series, though I was sure it wouldn't be pretty.
Speaking of "not pretty", the character designs took some time getting used to. While not being downright ugly, I don't think I've ever seen anime characters where their facial features have been so oddly placed, the girls' eyes in particular. In fact, the girls' eyes were so far apart, I immediately started wondering what kind of alien species this was. The backgrounds were notably atmospheric and beautiful, though.
It was only after the first episode was done that we noticed that something was missing. For one thing, we couldn't come up with a single reason why we didn't like the show. Sure, it was silly and weird, with lots of oddness to point out and comment on, but given the fact that we were devouring and ripping apart crap like W Wish and Final Approach at the time, I was wondering just what it was about this show that didn't set off any warning bells with us, despite the cast making up a single adult male in a town full of dating game subjects; young girls.
First and foremost we have Misuzu. She was almost unbearable silly and rather unrealistically clumsy. The girl could hardly walk ten steps without falling flat on her face, and she was also prone to cutesy talk at times. ("Gao~~~~~~") Unsurprisingly, she attended school in the same town, but seemed strangely short on friends.
Yukito, our travelling puppet master and entertainer, presented us with one of the very, very few males in this title. Upon entering the town, he quickly meets up with Misuzu, who promptly takes him home with her. Much to my surprise (you're gonna see me say this a lot, so bear with me here) there was no romantic pressure to be had from this -- which seems to be the staple of a lot of game based or dating based anime shows. And while Misuzu, as noted, may very well be the clumsiest girl to ever appear in any anime title, there was no accidental panty shots, breast grabs or ANYTHING of naughtier nature. Even the introduction of a few more characters in this show changed little of the general dating game impact we expected, and by the time the first episode finished, we noticed that -- much to our surprise -- we found the show rather intriguing. The show had broken too many standard dating game/hentai anime rules. Hell, even the dog was downright hilarious during every second of its screen time.
As the episodes flew by, the plot thickened. Even now, I'm at a loss for how to explain AIR in suitable terms. The show seemed to go for more of a mystical angle, with just about every of the main characters having issues of some sort loosely based on the element of supernatural divinity hanging over the seaside town itself, which occationally returned the topic of conversation to the angel rumored to be flying above the clouds in a constant state of sadness. (Or so the legend went.) New angles were presented via the various women around the city. The token "brat" of the show even had a bit of a surprise in store for me in the episode centering around her, and by that time, I was really getting into the show. Dating games, hentai games or whatever be damned, I was enjoying this. By the forces above, I was damn well GONNA enjoy this. Even when the flashback episodes came by, introducing us to a new set of characters for a couple of episodes, I was adamant towards liking this show. And I did.
Sadly, as soon as the plot moved back to the present, that's when AIR started putting too much on its plate. The... er... transformation I could deal with, but later on, the show started putting odd twists to the story. Right out of nowhere, we get amnesia with some added parental issues thrown in for what I felt was no good reason -- no reason at all, in fact. Also, things got so metaphorically out of hand towards the end, I couldn't help but feel cheated about the whole thing. Not because I couldn't catch what was going on, but it was more because of the roundabout way they were ending the show. It's hard to put to words, but the ending ruined a lot of the impact of the show itself.
And that's a crying shame too. I really, really enjoyed the show up until the last few episodes. It broke a lot of rules usually pertaining to shows like these, and the show just.... worked on a visceral level. NONE of the characters were annoying or wore out their welcome in any way, but actually played their parts for the benefit of the story. The show is absolutely worth your time, and I actually hope it gets liscensed and released. It's just.... ARGH! That ending!
So CLOSE to a four star. If they had ended the show a lot better, this would be a SOLID title. It still is in a sense, but you're most likely gonna feel a lot of dissatisfaction about how they chose to end the show) — Stig Høgset
Recommended Audience: During the flashback/historical episodes, there's some pretty bad violence. People get hurt and die in rather bloody ways. Outside of that, the show isn't all that bad. Slapsticky violence, little to no fanservice.... it's suitable for most people, though the plot will go over the heads of the younger ones.
Version(s) Viewed: R1 DVD, bilingual
Review Status: Full (13/13)
Air TV © 2005 TBS / Mubik / Pony Canyon / Kyoto Animation
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