The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials


Title: Air aka Air TV
Genre: Drama/Romance
Company: Kyoto Animation
Format: 12 episodes
Dates: 6 Jan 2005 – 31 Mar 2005

Synopsis: Kunisaki Yukito, a wandering puppeteer, is on a mission to find the mystical winged girl described to him by his mother when he was young. Hungry and penniless, he falls unconscious on the beach front, only to wake up with a girl peering at him. Could this enigmatic child be the one he has been seeking all this time?

The Highlights
Animation: Excellent quality.
Plot: Original, but questionably executed.
Pacing: Erratic.
Consistency: Lacking.

When I began watching Air TV, I feared that it would fall into the formulaic quandary of countless other anime based on visual novels. From the beginning, a ditzy, childish blonde girl comes across an aloof man with spiky hair… this is intrinsically a recipe for disaster. However, Air should be treated somewhat differently: the series manages not to fall too far into the depths of stereotype, yet explores an abundance of issues in its quest to maintain originality.

As far as production values are concerned, Air manages to pull off some amazing visuals with crisp, bright art and realistic lighting effects. Detailed backgrounds and settings also contribute to the atmosphere of the series, and the music remains unobtrusive and complementary throughout each episode. While the presentation of the anime is top notch, the execution of the story marks the point where the series slowly progresses into mediocrity.

Air initially follows a typical plot progression that remains safe, yet also conventional. The first few episodes serve as traditional primers, maintaining a slow pace and introducing various characters in condensed subplots. This would be fine if not for the series’ limited span of twelve episodes. At around the halfway mark, however, the series suddenly takes a downward spiral in a flurry of haste and eccentricity. Abruptly, the series changes in both tone and setting, and a back-story set in medieval Japan becomes the temporary focal point of the anime. From here, while it tries to create a parallelism between the current events and those of the feudal past, it simply runs out of time to do so effectively.

Contradictory to the burdens that Air previously made, it then settles into its original easygoing mood and generally wastes time. Episodes that could have been utilized to increase coherency and flesh out the complex plot are instead squandered on recap episodes. The characters that were introduced in the beginning of the anime are soon forgotten and not mentioned at all in the latter episodes, and atop all of this, the main protagonist literally disappears. The result of this haphazardly designed episode sequence ultimately leads to a convoluted mess that explains and answers little.

While Air deserves recognition for attempting to bring an original plot line to life, it fails to overcome the stigma of its limited time.  In essence this is a 26-episode anime condensed to merely 12. The series fluctuates rapidly, and can’t seem to find a comfortable niche to remain in. With the execution lacking to such an extent, Air has all the ingredients for success, but without the finesse to carry them through.

The Rating: 5

Reviewed by: royal crown

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