Air (TV) – Anime Review

The Essentials

AirName: Air
Genre: Drama, Supernatural
Episodes: 15 (12 for series proper, 1 recap, and 2 Air in Summer episodes)
Released: January 6, 2005 – March 31, 2005; August 28, 2005 – September 4, 2005 (Air in Summer)
Based On: Air dating sim by Key
Director: Tatsuya Ishihara
Produced By: Kyoto Animation
US Distribution By: Funimation (previously ADV Films)

Major Japanese Cast

Yukito Kunisaki: Daisuke Ono
Misuzu Kamio: Tomoko Kawakami
Haruko Kamio: Aya Hisakawa
Kano Kirishima: Asami Okamoto
Minagi Tohno: Ryoka Yuzuki
Hijiri Kirishima: Yumi Touma
Michiru: Yukari Tamura
Kannabi-no-Mikoto: Chinami Nishimura
Ryūya: Nobutoshi Canna
Uraha: Kikuko Inoue
Potato: Hiromi Konno

Major English Cast

Yukito Kunisaki: Vic Mignogna
Misuzu Kamio: Monica Rial
Haruko Kamio: Luci Christian
Kano Kirishima: Stephanie Wittels
Minagi Tohno: Kira Vincent-Davis
Hijiri Kirishima: Christine Auten
Michiru: Serena Varghese
Kannabi-no-Mikoto: Cynthia Martinez
Ryūya: Jay Hickman
Uraha: Allison Sumrall
Potato: Tiffany Grant

Scores

Animation: 10/10 (x 4 = 40 pts)
Story: 8/10 (x 4 = 32 pts)
Music: 10/10 (x 4 = 40 pts)
Coherence/Story Arc: 8/10 (x 2 = 16 pts)
English Dubs: 8/10 (x 1 = 8 pts)
Gut Score: 8/10 (x 5 = 40 pts)

Total: 176/200 (88%)

Review

Air is about a traveling puppeteer – Yukito – who is searching for the “girl in the sky” which his mother told him about when he was younger and which his ancestors have been searching for for 1000 years. Over the summer he stops in a small town and attempts to earn money by performing a stringless puppet show, but doesn’t have much luck. Soon he runs into Misuzu who allows him to stay at her house with her adoptive mother and aunt Haruko. Yukito also meets Kano, a young girl with a ribbon on her wrist who says she can perform magic once she takes her ribbon off when she grows up, and her older sister and doctor Hijiri, as well as another girl, Minagi, and her friend Michiru.

As Yukito spends time in the town, he starts unraveling the mystery behind each of the girls in the belief that one of the girls may be the reincarnation of the “girl in the sky” whom he is looking for, as well as the connection that they – and he – may have with an old legend connected to the town. In Air in Summer episodes, the show explores the adventures of the characters from the old legend beyond what we see in the main show.

Air is a rather well put together show, with several levels of complexity to each of the main girl’s story arcs. However, the most depth is reserved for the final girl – Misuzu’s – arc as the march towards a conclusion slowly draws one into the realization that there may not necessarily be a happy ending. However, the complexity of the story – especially in the concluding episodes – can start to get confusing as one tries to figure out exactly what is happening and where on the time line we’re currently at. What ultimately happens in the end is not necessarily obvious either. However, this doesn’t necessarily take away from the power of the show’s final arc.

My other issue with this series is that the first two arcs don’t seem to really fit in with the rest of the story. Yukito does his thing in the first two arcs, and then those girls are essentially removed from the series for the duration. One could have probably done the story without dealing with their arcs at all, even if they were interesting in their own right.

As is typical of Kyoto Animation works, the animation and music are stellar, and the dub in the US release is also good, though not great.

Overall, if you don’t mind a well-told sad story there is a good chance that you’ll like Air.

First Watched: August 2007 – March 2008
Do I Own: Yes
Do I Recommend: Yes

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