Alternate Title: Air TV
Aired: January 07, 2005 to April 01, 2005
Director: Tatsuya Ishihara
Studio: Kyoto Animation
OP: “Tori no Uta (鳥の詩)” by LIA
ED: “Farewell Song” by LIA, “Tori no Uta (鳥の詩)” by LIA
Yukito Kunisaki is on a journey in search of the Winged Maiden who was bound to the sky centuries ago, after hearing an old childhood tale from his mother. As Yukito shows his puppet show to people in an attempt to make some money, he finds himself in a small town in which he did not expect to stay very long. However, when he meets an unusual girl named Misuzu, things take a drastic turn as he is invited to stay with her.
By staying in the quaint town, Yukito soon becomes friends with the locals. As he gets to know them better, he learns of their problems and decides to help, putting his search for the Winged Maiden on hold. With his search on hold, and his growing attachment to Misuzu and the small town, will Yukito ever find the Winged Maiden, or is she closer than he thought?
This anime was based off an eroge visual novel game created by Key & VisualArt’s and was originally released on September 08, 2000 for the PC. It was later released for the Dreamcast, Playstation 2, Playstation Portable. Later, it was released on the Android and iOS. There was a manga, released from August 10, 2004 and February 10, 2006, written by Key, illustrated by Yukimaru Katsura, and published by Kadokawa Shoten. There were two additional OVAs released on August 28, 2005 to September 04, 2005 as well as a film (which was released on February 05, 2005).
Despite the visual novel itself being an eroge, there’s actually nothing like that in the anime itself. The story is perfectly paced and mostly set in the modern times in the course of one summer. The music fits in perfectly with the tone of the story or what’s going on and the voice actors certainly can carry their own, besides some flubs here and there.
Granted, this is one of the first Key games to be animated so the art in the anime is questionable at best. When it counts, it shines through, but honestly, a lot of people are put off so much by the initial art that one can’t honestly blame them for it. The art is very, very awkward and it’s trying really hard to find that middle ground where the art is decent.
When the art is bad, it’s really bad. When the art is good, it’s gorgeous. There are a lot of moments in the anime itself where it shows its age really badly, especially in terms of the actual animation aspect but it doesn’t derive too much from the actual plot. The anime itself has all the routes from the game within it’s really tight time limit (added to it that it’s the 1,000th summer).
Some stories are definitely weaker than others but it overall doesn’t overshadow the main story. The main story itself covers the second half of the anime but it doesn’t completely throw away the secondary characters. They’re still around – just not the main focus.
The relationships the characters have with each other, especially their mothers, is so important for this series with how Yukito can find the Winged Maiden and understand her story better. It’s so important how it ties to the main story and Misuzu’s own personal plight especially during the last three episodes. The last three episodes have some of the best art but for very good reason. The ending does not feel like it’s rushed and, again, perfectly paced. There is a certain tension to it but there is a reason for it.
As for the ending itself, well, it’s open to interpretation. There are many obviously different ways to interpret the ending, as well as the consequences of Yukito’s actions which makes this series an interesting one and to really put your own beliefs to the test after witnessing the events in the anime.
The music, though, fits absolutely perfectly with the anime, especially the opening, “Tori no Uta” by LIA. There’s a certain sadness and hope that comes with the song that perfectly encapsulates the anime, story, as a whole. The side characters can also fit in with the opening as well as they talk about flying and having wings.
This anime is mostly a drama, so prepare the tissues for this anime if you do so choose to watch it despite the art and the aged animation.
When people talk about Key and early Kyoto Animation productions, they usually ignore this or use this as an example of not what to do in terms of animation. However, the story clearly outweighs it all. The music outweighs it all. The characters outweigh this all. More people tend to lean towards “Kanon” or “Clannad” as the ultimate tearjerker from Key works. “AIR” really is a hidden gem that more people should take a chance on, despite it’s awkward art.