All right, one more moe-series before I’m going to dive into some of the more obscure stuff again. When Air starts, it’s typical Kyoani: there’s the sarcastic male lead without any responsibilities, there’s the shy girl without any friends, the sick girl, the smart girl, the spunky parent, lots of physical comedy is used during the lighter conversations, the females have overly large eyes, strange magical things happen, etc, etc. But damn; it’s such a sweet story.
Like Clannad, Air starts out predictably: there are three main girls, and the lead guy hops from one girl to the other and watches her story unfold, only to become something completely different with the second half. Clannad decided to drop the supernatural stuff and focus on its characters and slice of life instead, and as it turns out, Air did the complete opposite: the side-characters get dropped completely, and instead it develops into tear-jerking mystery-series. There’s one particular plot-twist that really sets this series apart from every other dating-sim adaptation, though. It involves the lead guy, but I’ll refrain from mentioning it for the sake of spoilers.
Let me just say that Air is the perfect choice if you’re looking for a sappy drama as well. I personally couldn’t stop crying in the final two episodes, even though a similar set-up in Kanon left me completely bored. Simply said: Air has been the best eroge adaptation and Kyoani-series I’ve seen, and successfully removed some of the bias I had towards both the genre and the animation studio.
Peculiar in this series is the magic system. Like Clannad, it’s never really explained properly. Things just happen and get blamed on the magic that happens to be there, and the creators just leave it to the imagination of the viewer to try and make sense of it. Somehow, it works: the things that aren’t explained aren’t of the kind that really needs to be explained, but if you like your anime to be complete, then you will end up disappointed.
Overall, I think that Air is a series that you’ll either love or hate. The final episode is also a recap, which in a way is the best place for such a thing: you can just skip it, without needing to worry about that possible two minutes at the end of it that might or might not contain new important footage, since the story already finished anyway. My only real problem lies within the first episode, I guess. The male lead sure happens to walk into and befriend the right people, but there have been so many series that made the same mistake that I’m not going to hold this against this series.
I think that my biggest beef with Kyoto Animation was that when I was seriously trying to give them a chance, despite their huge hype, it rewarded my patience with Kanon’s Makoto-arc and Lucky Star, which both bored me to tears. As it turns out, those were just the worst works of the studio (in my opinion, at least), just how every animation company has its good and bad series.
Overall, Air is more than just a story and characters. It’s got something surreal added to it that makes it special, along with a terrific cast of characters for a 12-episode series. It’s got the best male lead of any harem I’ve seen thus far, and despite the number of plot-holes, I loved watching it. It’s series like this one that show the power that 12-episoded series can have, and thinks beyond the box. The first half keeps the viewer nicely busy with random stories, only for the second half of the series to develop into something really special.