Anime Recommendations: AIR

AIR

AIR

Title: AIR
Alternate Title: Air TV
Type: TV
Episodes: 13
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

Synopsis:

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.

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6 comments

  1. >they usually ignore this or use this as an example of not what to do in terms of animation

    The animation is the least of Air TV’s problems. Granted, it’s relatively old, and therefore can be forgiven some of its faults, but it gets ignored because it simply isn’t a very good adaptation (and the visual novel isn’t exactly one of Key’s finest either).

    >The story is perfectly paced

    Perfect? I’d say Air’s pacing is one of its chief flaws. Calling it “uneven” would be overly generous. Most of the time I was wishing something interesting would happen, and in the rest I was wondering what the heck was going on. And don’t get me wrong, I wanted to enjoy it. I do love a good slow-burn melodrama and certain “boring” iyashikei series are some of my favorites, but it was trying to get through the broad stretches of hokey tedium to get to the bizarre or melodramatic moments in Air TV.

    1. From what I could tell from the actual story line, they merely took out the eroge scenes from it and kept the story. I would say one of the weaker stories is “Clannad” because it takes all of a second to explain everything. Plus, there’s no real attachment to the secondary characters besides Fuuka other than “Yeah, let’s fill up our sad quota”.

      It’s understandable if it’s not to your tastes, it’s just not to your tastes. I honestly didn’t think it was rushed or confusing at all. AIR’s side stories doesn’t really need that much focus as much as the main story. The jump from modern day to the past is the explanation of the childhood story Yukito’s family passed down, though, in case that much can be explained.

      1. Well, if you want to discuss Clannad’s many flaws, sure, but all I meant was that Air isn’t exactly Key’s magnum opus. The story itself is fine, I just think it’s not done justice by the anime (but then to be fair I don’t think the film or VN do it justice either).

        I also can’t really sweep it under the rug as a matter of taste. I can see the story potential here, and I have a brain so I can of course figure things out as well as the story lets me (and like it when a story tries to make me use my brain), but the pacing here didn’t keep me engaged for as much of the viewing time as a “perfectly” paced story should.

        Basically, I’ve learned over the years that if you’re going to recommend an anime, words like “perfect” don’t really belong unless you qualify why something is perfect. Does it seem perfect in comparison to other anime, or perhaps other Key works? That sort of thing. But anyway, I’m not out to cut you apart or anything, just to be a pedantic snob for a bit :)

      2. If it makes it any better, I actually do believe that if the series was given a chance for a reboot, it could do a better job in the hands of a better company (maybe Madhouse or JC Staff) – maybe with better pacing and better art, the story can finally shine like the gem that it is.

        There are a lot of subtleties that I managed to pick up throughout the series and maybe that’s why I enjoyed it more so than others and why I believe it’s “perfect” pacing. For me, it doesn’t have to necessarily be in the viewer’s face or the symbolism doesn’t have to be as obvious as, say, “Utena” for example.

        It’s fine. :) Honestly, recommendations are usually pretty opinion based anyway and I’m learning as I go along how to write better and better reviews. Every bit helps~!

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