Posted by psgels on 3 July 2008 with categories: Anime Reviews

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.

Storytelling: 9/10
Characters: 10/10
Production-Values: 9/10
Setting: 8/10

16 Responses

  1. Radhabinod says:

    If you liked Air you are going to love the After Story of Clannad.

  2. AG says:

    You should be sure to check out the Air in Summer special episodes, they provide some nice comic relief ;)

  3. Tess says:

    Yeah, AIR is one of Kyoani’s better works. I became a fan of Kyoani because it was their first series I had seen, back when it came out. I really don’t like Kanon, so it’s funny how different the two are. CLANNAD, on the other hand makes me happy because it’s like a Kanon+AIR mix.

    The only other series I genuinely enjoyed by them other than AIR and Clannad, was FMP: The Second Raid. : / I also wait patiently for the day they work on something new. (ie not Haruhi, Key, Lucky Star) Not including FMP cause I’m waiting desperately for another series D:

  4. kdp says:

    Strange. I hated Air and loved Kanon. I think it’s because Air was tragedy with a message of hopelessness (was anyone better off in the end?!?), whereas Kanon was a harem series with a message of hope (to the point of being cheesy about it).

    Well, KyoAni makes great anime. I like that they can have all these different styles, so that everyone can have at least one show to like. :-)

  5. chris says:

    I think that the reason I like shows like Kanon, Air, and Clannad is for strictly male reasons of emotional escapism. To long to go into here but if you would like to read my reasoning for why I like these shows please read my review of Clannad 10. link provided

  6. Bruno says:

    Man, watched this anime long time ago, cried in the last epi too. But if you liked the anime you will like the movie better.
    Not that there is something new, but the story is better told in the movie, at less for me.


  7. Bruno says:

    Man, watched this anime long time ago, cried in the last epi too. But if you liked the anime you will like the movie better.
    Not that there is something new, but the story is better told in the movie, at less for me.


  8. CherylHew says:

    Spoilers wahahaha

    Wow, you watched AIR ^_^ I can easily say AIR is my favourite anime series of all time and well, of course I love it when people like it too LOL This was the show that introduced me to KyoAni and Key. I watched Kanon 2002 after AIR and got “Meh”, then Kanon 2006 came and it was more “Meh” >_>

    I don’t know, for me, the magic system in AIR just flowed smoothly for me, every magical thing finally related back to Kanna, her curse and her feathers and damn, her fate 1000 years ago was cruel ;_; When I watched AIR, I didn’t really get into Kanna’s arc because it was so short and flew by so fast I couldn’t really feel much for the characters, but the Summer OVA fixed that up nicely ^^ I myself don’t have the “KYOANI IS GOD” mindset, I only cheer when they announce they’re doing another Key title because I know it won’t be butchered XD More of a Key fan, now hoping for a KyoAni adaptaion of Key’s kinetic novel, Planetarian. If it comes out, do watch it, I bet my life on it that it’ll be good ^^


  9. Solaris says:

    Well… this is not a single anime but three really different animes pasted together.
    I didn’t like the sudden break the last arc added to the story, bringing the well developed pacing to a path of desperation an depression. The subplots developed within the frst arc are tied toghether in the second arc and we learn the happenings of 1k years before. In the third arc you’d long for a conclusion and some continuity, but everithing is changed into depression and sadness.
    Everything was developed before, was discarted and you’re left with three episode showing Misuzu slow and unevitable fall. The main lead char also disappears suddenly at the end of the second arc! Desperate, boring and depressing IMHO.
    Only the first 2 arcs deserve a full 90/100, but the last ruined it all! I rated it 70/100 Here

  10. Eonir says:

    I’ve been waiting for you to review this awesome series. You’re right – it’s love or hate, and it’s somehow special.

    It’s also one of the few anime that made me cry.
    I also don’t like it when some people are disappointed by the last arc. Just because it was puzzling, depressing, and all, it needs more attention and thought. More than just perception and emotion that is.

  11. Wyrdwad says:

    Wow, you summed up my own thoughts on Air perfectly. I honestly wasn’t expecting you to like this series, but I’m glad you did, as it really is deserving of all the praise it gets… it’s beautiful, it’s moving, and it does have the most mysterious, yet somehow believable magic of any anime I’ve seen.

    I disagree with Bruno, though: the Air movie was not very good IMHO. They dropped almost all of the supernatural elements, and turned the plot of this series into more of a typical tragic love story. The only thing that makes the movie worthwhile is its highly unique art style, with its whispy over-lit backgrounds.

    Also, before I forget to say something in the other topic: yes, the first season of Someday’s Dreamers was also very good, and I highly recommend checking it out sometime, as I can virtually guarantee you would absolutely love it. It has psgels written all over it. (:


    • Dinesh says:

      From what I notice, Gundam 00 doesn’t have any 5.1 audio atoeciassd with its episodes on its , so I doubt it has to do with 5.1 audio mixing. It is possible though, that the HD Editing role is only shown when the actual footage was HD to begin with, and any SD broadcasts that were intended to be SD have it omitted. It doesn’t explain Haruhi’s predicament though, and my guess is that they got lazy and left that role in. We will have to see what K-ON’s Blu-ray release looks like to make a final judgment though.Should also note that doesn’t have 5.1 audio either.

  12. ryvrdrgn14 says:

    Your images vanished D:

  13. psgels psgels says:

    Crap, make that four image-hosts in a row to crash on me. From now on, I’m just going to stick to imageshack…

  14. Firechick says:

    I first found this series when I was looking for episodes of Harukanaru Toki no Naka de (have you watched it? I saw it and it’s good!). I downloaded the first episode on a whim without really much information. But I saw it and I was roped it! I really liked it, and I have all the DVDs plus the movie (though I REALLY need to finish the dub)! It’s not one of my top 20 anime, but I’m glad to say that I really liked it and am glad that I gave it a chance.

  15. DrEpicFail says:

    Apart from everything you had mentioned, the violin version of the opening(Tori No Uta) is a masterpiece.

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  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Oct 6. 2015 09:02 PM)
    One-Punch Man’s pilot was almost adapted flawlessly. It straight up uses the manga panels as it’s main storyboard, but added just enough new touches to improve the action instead of ruining it. Now let’s see how they animate the mosquitos and all the lasers for the next episode.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Oct 6. 2015 08:57 PM)
    And that’s why Madhouse is one of the few respectable studios left. I thought that they will be seriously diminished after Masao Maruyama took some of its key members and funded MAPPA, but One-Punch Man showed that they are still one of the best in the business.
  • k-off
    (Tuesday, Oct 6. 2015 08:51 PM)
    @Kaiser The anime industry isn’t advanced enough in CG to make it look good, is all it is.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Tuesday, Oct 6. 2015 05:51 PM)
    @K-off: Your not wrong, it certainly looks poor but some of the old gonzo animated stuff was far more woeful looking. Stellvia, which was done by xebec was another example of old anime cgi which was quite ugly to look at. Just as I prefer traditional effects in film I also prefer traditional animation techniques to cg.
  • k-off
    (Tuesday, Oct 6. 2015 05:42 PM)
    Lately, the use of badly integrated cgi have been making my eyes sore,from the obviously cgi background characters in Asterisk to the overly fluid mech movements in Aldnoah. I still remember the shitty cgi piano hands in Kimi no Uso.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Oct 6. 2015 12:04 AM)
    On the note of good balance between humor and drama- I think BoJack Horseman is an example of a show that executed that almost perfectly in both seasons. You are laughing one minute and amused by the hijinks and silliness and the next minute you are actually moved and shocked by the honest introspection. Too be honest BoJack is more a tragic character then a goofy one, and his struggles are deeper and more existential than they have any business being in a show with anthropomorphic animals.
  • Bam
    (Monday, Oct 5. 2015 11:56 PM)
    The changes in the setting actually made me more excited for season 3 then what I felt the past few weeks, since now the plot needs to move forward from the cliffhanger and hopefully this translates to more cohesion and refocusing on what mad the show great in the first place. I’m pretty sure S3 will also be a blend of episodic and arch story elements tho. Overall a few ups and downs but still a great show.
  • Bam
    (Monday, Oct 5. 2015 11:52 PM)
    The finale also had some of the most overall arch story elements featured in the season. Earth joining the Galactic Federation is a big deal story-wise from now on. Also the use of a cover of Johnny Cash’s “Hurt” (not the Nine Inch Nails one clearly) was a nice fitting yet surprising touch. The throwback to Mr. PB after the credits was a good idea, but felt flat in it’s actual execution.
  • Bam
    (Monday, Oct 5. 2015 11:49 PM)
    I thought R&M had a pretty good finale. The episode achieved what was missing from most of season 2, and that was a balance of randomness and meaningful bits. What made Rick Potion #9 and the previous season’s finale and general tone great was a sense of humor that was combined with more sincere drama and character developments; a sort of sweet melancholy.
  • AidanAK47
    (Monday, Oct 5. 2015 09:51 PM)
    @K-off, not having too much trouble with the interface but I still cannot create categories.

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