The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Air Movie

Title: Air Movie aka Air
Genre: Drama/Romance
Company: Toei Animation
Format: Movie; 91 minutes.
Dates: 5 Feb 2005

Synopsis: Yukito Kunisaki, a wanderer with the unique ability of mentally manipulating puppets, arrives in a small rural town with the intent of amassing money at the local festival. While hunting for food and lodging he stumbles upon a small child carrying out a research project for her school. Astoundingly, their paths cross similarly to a mysterious event that occurred a thousand years ago.

The Highlights
Story: Original, but refrains from being too outlandish.
Characters: Quality over quantity.
Progression: Far more stable than its TV counterpart.
Animation: Wonderfully detailed.

By the end of the Air Movie, I was left dumbfounded. I started watching the movie with somewhat pallid expectations, assuming that the movie would simply be a rehashing of the series and thus be generally boring. While the movie is indeed very similar to Air TV, it takes an entirely new direction in execution, and thus shatters a ceiling that the series failed to overcome.

The animation of the Air Movie is somewhat similar to the series; however the production values have been upped a little bit. While the animation of the series never felt poor by any means, the movie’s backgrounds are much more detailed and lush – the music remained relatively similar, with beautifully somber tunes that never overwhelmed what happened on screen.

While the animation and art style remain relatively close in comparison to the Air TV series, the story is where the movie takes a departure. Whereas the cast in Air TV contains many characters that are halfheartedly introduced and later completely forgotten, the movie takes a much more condensed focus, narrowing the cast down to the three essential characters for almost the entire story. Surprisingly, the compact cast never feels claustrophobic, but rather gives the series a much more intimate feel – despite the length of the movie, the characters actually become more developed in the movie than they ever do in the series.

Cutting the cast short also allows the anime to focus more on the story, which remains the crux for both the series and movie. Where the Air TV anime contains many deus ex machinas, the movie takes a more realistic approach, forgoing many of the supernatural themes of the series to take a more subtle approach. Bereft of the mystical interlude found in its sibling, the Air Movie instead incorporates small vignettes of the ancient back-story into the progression of the story. Both of these factors lead to a much more convincing parallelism that manages to work far more effectively.

The plot development remains consistent throughout the length of the movie, the pacing being somewhat fast, but not unpleasant. This congruency makes itself evident by the end of the story, which both fills in the necessary gaps and finishes with a very poignant and beautiful ending, with but a small glimmer of hope at the end of the anime. In this sense, the originality of the plot of the anime becomes far more prominent, and exemplifies the finesse achieved by the movie.

Where Air TV fumbled with plot holes, detached characters, and a general convolution, the Air Movie fixes all of these problems and adds its own flair above and beyond that of the series. While the Air Movie does follow the same path as the series, it does so in a more fluent manner, and has a finesse that far exceeds the execution of the anime. While the two remain intrinsically attached, the movie takes off where the series could not – and the potential Air TV had transmutes into a fantastic movie.

The Rating: 9

Reviewed by: royal crown

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