Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Air The Complete Series|
Genres: Drama, Anime & Manga, Animation
Yukito is a traveling performer. He moves through this world with only the clothes on his back ? driven onward by stories of ?The Girl in the Sky?. Not knowing when or if he will find her, Yukito wanders, clinging to fleet... more »
Emotionally Driven Anime Tragedy
ONENEO | Buffalo, NY | 04/20/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Thanks to a very deliberate effort to avoid any form of spoiler (or even editorial review), I was able to dive into Air The Complete Series completely and utterly unaware of what to expect. The stills and screen captures have always had a crisp, clean and unmistakably "anime" quality to them and thus hinted toward a story that would succeed on multiple levels. As such I have found in the past that expectations on either side of the coin can go a long way in deteriorating this type of dramatic series. Thankfully my mission was a success as it allowed me to journey into this emotionally saturated tale completely non-jaded. Here's what I discovered.
Spread across 3 discs, Air the Complete Series consists of 12 episodes on the first two plus a pair of specials on the third disc. Packaging, much to Funimation's credit, is every bit as intriguing and beautiful as the actual series art. Within the stunning cardboard slip box are two thin packs, the first of which contains the two series discs (6 episodes on each) and the second pack houses the third (bonus) disc. In all the series spans 340 minutes and is rated TV 14.
The story goes something like this: A mysterious traveler finds himself in a seemingly parentless town somewhere along Japan's coast (modern day). With little more than the clothes on his back, he attempts to make a living as a puppeteer only unlike say, Jim Henson, our traveler is able to manipulate his puppet via telekinesis. While his performances are quite entertaining, he quickly discovers that audiences of unappreciative (and broke) children aren't particularly generous in the tipping department.
Sleeping on a concrete wall on the beach, our traveler Yukito meets an odd schoolgirl named Misuzu who, with an abundance of wide-eyed innocence, manages to break down his defenses. Now I could go on (and on) with the development of the complex and often-times intricate plot but as you already know, wouldn't want to ruin this type of tale for you either.
Keeping that in mind, let me just say that Air is an emotionally driven story with a slight bend on the supernatural. Yukito is driven by tales of a winged "girl in the sky" while Misuzu is haunted by dreams so taxing that her health is literally failing. The connection runs deeper than even I expected and flows along a path of mysticism, reincarnation, and the thin veil between reality and dreams.
In all, the story could best be described as a tragedy though wrapped in enough mystery to hide the fact initially. The pacing is a bit erratic but rewards viewers with enough patience to accept the fact that a lot of the questions presented early on will eventually be answered. While the early portion of the show sets up the viewer to believe this is Yukito's story, in truth he is only a minor player in the mystery surrounding Misuzu.
Back to the pacing, however: The first disc and beginning portion of the second crawl along at times with a near day by day chronicling of Yukito and Misuzu's lives. Just as the viewer begins to get accustomed to the monotony of the pacing, things take a rapid and unexpected twist in the form of a flashback to the year 994 A.D. in episode 7 (Dream). This sequence not only really starts to answer some of the nagging questions that will have begun piling up but it also offers an entirely different pacing from that in the core of the story. Far more action laden, the flashback segment is even rife with humorous interactions. So monumental (and unique) is this part of the story that both of the special episodes mentioned above (on the third disc) serve as almost "deleted scenes" from this particular sequence. Obviously trimmed down for time restraints and perhaps continuity issues, the episodes are presented in their full humorous glory as a treat to viewers once the main tale concludes.
Unfortunately, after the flashback does conclude, we're taken back to modern day Japan in a more despondent tone that never really ceases right up until the show's rather sad conclusion. The fragility of Misuzu comes to fruition shortly after the ancient connection between she and Yukito is finally established.
I'm big on isolating a show's most memorable attribute in my reviews and in the case of Air The Complete Series, that honor goes to the stunning background art showcased throughout the entire duration of the program. The skies, the clouds, the lighting, the ambiance is all second to none. There is no shortage of moments throughout the series where a double take is required just to make sure some actual footage wasn't imported behind the character models. The characters themselves are of the giant, perpetually watery-eyed variety with near non-existent mouths. It's a form that seems to be either loved or hated but certainly takes nothing away from the stunning background artwork incorporated throughout.
Soundtrack work is above average and, like all Funimation dubs I've encountered thus far; the English acting is right on the money.
In all Air The Complete Series is an interesting psychological drama with an abundance of bright, wide-eyed innocence used as tool to convey a deeper tragedy that transcends time and space. It's certainly the type of show that demands multiple viewings to fully grasp the mystery (and more importantly, the clues) presented along the way. It's artwork, presentation, and style are enough to distinguish it from its classmates while its subdued emotional qualities ensure that it will gather little dust on the shelves it graces."
An enchanting and magical series that is worth watching!
Dennis A. Amith (kndy) | California | 05/19/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Over a thousand years ago, people born with wings were used by people as weapons in war, some were used for the protection of the world. A mother and her daughter were the last remaining people with wings. Those who feared the winged beings were able to kill the mother but as for the young daughter, a deadly curse would be put on every reincarnated winged person and the person that she was close to.
In an effort to break the curse, the young winged girl's best friend and her bodyguard decided to have an offspring in an effort that one day, a descendant with the bloodline will be able to find the girl with wing in their current time period and break that terrible curse.
A thousand years later, Yukito Kunisaki, a descendant in search for the winged girl, believes he finally found her.
Welcome to the whimsical and magical storyline of "AIR", a popular 2005 anime series is based on a visual novel by the Japanese software company Key back in 2000.
The original visual novel for the PC was an adult game but was later released without the adult content for the PC, Sega Dreamcast and Sony PlayStation 2. And not long ago for the Sony PSP and cell phones. The visual novel also branched out into manga and also an animated film.
Both the animated series and the film were originally released by ADV Films in 2007 but the license for the animation was transferred to FUNimation Entertainment and both have been re-released as a complete series box set (the 12-episode series and the two specials) and the film in 2009.
The series was directed by Tatsuya Ishihara ("K-ON!", "The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya", "Tenchi Universe", etc.) and features original character design by Itaru Hinoue ("Kanon", "Clannad", etc.) and character designs and key animation by Tomoe Aratani ("Munto", "Lucky Star", "The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya", "Clannad", etc.).
"AIR" is one of those animated series that is quite difficult to explain and also having to be careful without spoiling any of the storylines.
Unlike your typical anime series and following the standard style of storytelling, the storyline is fragmented by its multiple storyline arc that revolve around main character Yukito Kunisaki's search for the "girl in the sky" and Misuzu Kamio who has dreams that she is a girl flying in the sky.
Each arc is self-contained and where major characters are typically seen throughout the anime series, not for "AIR". But do not let that push you away from watching this series because "AIR" is an anime series that deserves to be watched but also an anime series that will no doubt captivate you but also will make you want to cry.
The main characters for the anime series are:
Yukito Kunisaki - Yukito wanders around the country looking for the "Girl in the Sky", a story passed down to him from his mother and her family in the last thousand years. He makes his living by using telekinesis and controlling a puppet . His life of living in the streets change when he meets Misuzu Kamio.
Misuzu Kamio - The first of the female characters that Yukito believes may be the girl with wings. She is a girl who has no friends and since her mother died, her father left her with her aunt Haruko Kamio. She tends to say "Gao" when she is about to cry or nervous and she loves dinosaurs and baby chicks. She also tends to have these dreams of her flying in the sky. She becomes close with Yukito and invites him to live with her temporarily.
Haruko Kamio - The aunt of Misuzu who looks quite young for her age. A bit brash, she has taken care of Misuzu for ten years at the request of Misuzu's father. Haruko has not gotten too close to Misuzu because she couldn't bare the thought of losing her. So, she never bought her things or celebrated her birthday, she kept herself distant.
Kano Kirishima - The second girl that Yukito believes that may be the girl with wings. She is an energetic girl who loves taking care of animals and with her dog Potato. She lives with her sister Hijiri, the town's doctor and wears a yellow scarf on her wrist. She is told by her sister that once she is ready, she could remove the yellow scarf to use magic. But she also dreams of flying in the sky. Her sister Hijiri hires Yukito to do some custodian work at her clinic.
Minagi Tohno - The third girl that Yukito meets but is surprised to learn of the secret that she is keeping. A top student in school and quite shy, she hangs out with a girl named Michiru. Minagi has a major secret in her life that she has been hiding for years. Meanwhile, her friend Michiru also has a secret.
The first two discs include six episodes each. Included are:
* EPISODE 1: Kaze (~Breeze~) - Yukito Kunisaki is trying to make ends meet in a new town that he has arrived in and meets a strange and happy girl named Misuzu Kamio that brings her home and a place to live.
* EPISODE 2: Machi (~Town~) - Yukito is doing a puppet show but a dog named Potato takes the puppet and runs off, Yukito goes after Potato and meets Kano Kirishima and her sister Hijri who offers Yukito a job.
* EPISODE 3: Koe (~Whisper~) - Yukito and Misuzu see a transformation with Kano, meanwhile Yukito goes to the clinic and hears Hijiri talking to Kano and learns that there is more than meets the eye with Kano.
* EPISODE 4: Hane (~Plume~) - Kano who is in a magical trance tries to choke Yukito. We then learn the history about Hijiri and her sister Kano.
* EPISODE 5: Tsubasa (~Wing~) - Yukito hangs out with Minagi and Michiru. And when he brings Minagi back home, her mother acts as if she doesn't have a daughter. We learn from Hijiri of Minagi and her mother's secret.
* EPISODE 6: Hoshi (~Star~) - Yukito learns the secret about Minagi's friend Michiru.
* EPISODE 7: Yume (~Dream~) - We see flashbacks of Yukito's life and the stories told to him by his mother. Yukito now feels that Misuzu is the reincarnation of the winged girl Kanna but also knows the fate of those who are Kanna reincarnations and the one person who is close to them.
* EPISODE 8: Natsu (~Summer~) - A thousand years in the past, we are shown the storyline of Kanna, the winged girl and her friend Uraha and her bodyguard Ryuya.
* EPISODE 9: Tsuki (~Moon~) - The second part of the story of Kanna and how she became cursed and the fate of Ryuya.
* EPISODE 10: Hikari (~Light~) - We are then taken into the storyline of what had happened to Misuzu who feels that she is now alone in her life. The perspective is through the eyes of a crow which she named Sora.
* EPISODE 11: Umi (~Sea~) - Misuzu's condition is getting worse. Haruko decides that she wants to be the mother that she had wanted to be. Meanwhile, Misuzu's father comes back and wants her back.
* EPISODE 12: Sora (~Air~) - Haruko will do what she can to be a mother for Misuzu, no matter how difficult her condition worsens.
DISC 3: The third disc includes the two specials titled "Air in Summer".
* SPECIAL EPISODE 1: Yamamichi (~Mountain path~) - An extended version of episode 8, the Summer arc in regards to the adventures of Kanna, the winged girl, Uraha and Ryuya.
* SPECIAL EPISODE 2: Ametsuchi (~Universe~) - Part 2 of the Summer Arc featuring the relationship between Kanna, Uraha and Ryuya.
AUDIO & VIDEO:
"AIR" features a vibrant and colorful animation style for the backgrounds but for the main characters, parts are well animated and shaded while some parts are quite basic in presentation. A lot of details in the eyes and the hair and clothing but it's the use of color to show the town that looks absolute beautiful. From the sunsets and everything around the scenery in amber to the colorful beach scenes, the background animation work was well done and helped enhance the character design. Overall, picture quality is vibrant, bright and colorful.
"AIR" features both the Japanese and English dub work and are well done. English dub is featured in 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound. Japanese dub work is also featured in 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound. Only the OAV specials were featured in English and Japanese 2.0.
The Japanese voice work is actually quite exciting as the series showcases popular Japanese voice actresses Aya Hisakawa ("Ah! My Goddess", "Bubblegum Crisis", "Devil Hunter Yohko", etc.), Kikuko Inoue ("Ranma 1/2, "Ah! My Goddess", "El Hazard", etc.), Daisuke Ono ("Blood+", "Eyeshield 21, etc.), Tomomi Kawakami ("Bleach", "Fushigi Yugi", etc.) and Yumi Touma.
Meanwhile, the English version has talents Vic Mignogna, Monica Rial, Luci Christian and Alison Sumrall and many more.
I watched the series with both languages and both are quite solid. Main difference is that for the character of Misuzu, the Japanese version features her character with a childish, high pitched voice. But overall, the voice work was well-done for this series.
Subtitles featured are only in English.
Disc 3 for "AIR - The Complete Series" features the clean opening and ending themes which features no text or credits. Included also are FUNimation Entertainment trailers.
"AIR" is a heartwarming but yet tragic anime series. From it's interesting and enjoyable characters to the vibrant animation, I found the actual pacing of each episode to be quite interesting and different compared to any anime series I have seen. In a way, you can see "AIR" as an anime television series, although 12 episodes long, are broken into different story arcs.
The first seven episodes are used to feature Yukito and his searched for "The Winged Girl" and building on character development of how he meets three girls who have the potential to be reincarnations of Kanna.
Episode 8 and 9 features the back story of how "The Winged Girl" became a story that would be passed down to generations but how her curse has continued on for all these years.
Episode 10-12 primarily features the relationship of Haruko and her niece Misuzu and the two finding comfort with each other and making the steps necessary to grow as individuals.
The series is enchanting and magical but it all boils down to a thousand years of stories passed down from generation to generation in hopes that the descendants of the bloodline will continue in telling the stories but most of all, hope for that descendant to find a way to end the curse.
I felt the characters were enjoyable to watch but to see how the characters were all woven together and having some sort of connection with one another but I did feel that this buildup of learning of these characters would have something to do with the final episodes but they don't. Each episode arc is pretty much contained. Most anime series are not this way and because of that, I was more open to see where this anime was taking me.
Needless to say, by the end of the series, you can't help but cry. How the series ends is quite heartwarming but tragic.
Without spoiling the series, I will say that "AIR" is one of those rare animated series that presents itself unlike any normal anime series when it comes to storytelling. In fact, because it does something quite different, may be thought of creative and exciting while others may find the storyline to be disjointed and even perhaps, maybe frustrating. For me, I felt that the storytelling and pacing of the arcs was well-done. The staff behind the anime series seem to have wanted to think outside of the box and do something that wasn't so "typical" and do something different and I feel they succeeded.
But the good news for those who want an unfragmented story arcs, especially focusing on the characters of Yukito and Misuzu, will want to pick up the "AIR - The Motion Picture" DVD which was released simultaneously by FUNimation Entertainment. The film features none of the extra characters but solely on Yukito, Misuzu and Haruko.
"AIR" is highly recommended!"
If you don't mind fighting with your tears
Tiberius | Cyberspace | 08/07/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Before buying a whole season of an anime, I always watch some episodes online. The first scene of "Air" convinced me that this would be a good buy, so I ordered not only the series but also Air: The Motion Picture. After the first day of watching them, I never watch more than four episodes a day, the tune of the theme song went on constant repetition in my head for days. What I want to say is that this composition is very suggestive, though not for thoughts but for emotions. During the last episode of the second disc, the third has only two alternative episodes to a subplot, you are bound to cry or at least to fight back your tears, or else you would have stopped watching it earlier.
"Air" has a dream-like world and story-line. There is some magical reality in it and also some sentimentality. It's interesting that you tend to notice only after waking up from this dream-world how few characters are in this small town. And the composition of the visible population: there are only two men, neither of whom native or permanent resident, and the second one has a very peripheral role. All the others are children and women. The notable exception is the main character the point of view of whom most of the episodes are told.
Suggestion: if you don't mind that an anime does not have armed fights and wars to save the world, only personal dramas and vulnerable characters, buy "Air" and if you liked the experience, go on to Kanon: The Complete Series."
Messy finish ruins an otherwise great show
Jonathan Lane | Crestview Florida U.S.A | 12/16/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I've been on the look out for sad and depressing anime ever since finishing Now and Then, Here and There, so when someone pointed me towards Air TV I was more then happy to try it out. At first glance Air seems like the pure definition of a heartwarming, yet sad tale, but once you get past the initial tear jerking moments found in abundance in volume one, the story really has very little to offer. Yukito is a young traveling puppeteer who moves from town to town searching for a mysterious person who he calls "the girl in the sky." one day, tired and hungry, he stumbles into a small coastal town and meets a young, energetic, girl named Misuzu who seems to be as clumsy as she is cute and charming. Although Misuzu is the main focus of the show, Yukito meets three other misfit girls, each one, much like Misuzu, hide their own secrets and deal with their own personal problems, some of which will leave your breathless. If I were to compare this show with another anime, I'd say it has a lot more in common with Haibane-Renmei then anything else, but where Renmei slowly builds up its momentum to a captivating finish, Air slowly fizzles out and allows itself to die out long before the closing scene. This show, in all honesty, should have been four episodes shorter, for although I understand where they were trying to go with the ending, I couldn't help but feel that it was rushed, unprepared, and mellow dramatic. Where the opening is nothing but pure heartbreaking tragedy, the ending manages to somehow turn an otherwise great story into a cheesy soap opera with Misuzu and her mom taking center stage at the expense of every other character the creators of this show worked so hard to develop.
And that's where this show ultimately fails, in my opinion. Characters like Kano, Tohno, and Michiru get so much attention in the first half of the series that when they suddenly drop off the map nothing felt right anymore. They are very well developed characters with some very serious problems but after maybe two episodes devoted to each, after their lives are suddenly and magically put back together thanks Yukito they are no longer necessary parts of the story and are dropped altogether. Why, I wonder, did the writers bother to put them into this story if they weren't going to play any significant role in the overall plot? Why bother? It isn't as if the story needed them, although they did add some touching moments. Their characters were far too well developed and their stories far too touching to be dropped completely after they served their purpose.
The art work is nothing sort of amazing. I defy anyone to show me an anime series more visually beautiful then this. Every frame is a masterpiece of artistic brilliance found only in anime movies such as Voices of a Distant Star and Place Promised in our Early Days. the characters designs may be a bit cliché, with the stereotypical long hair, enormous water eyes, school girl uniforms, the works, but they have a personal feel that ultimately made the characters seem more real, more alive, and that's all that matters in the end. to accompany these visuals, this show boasts a very quiet, very sweet and haunting musical score, mostly piano pieces that reminded me very much of Voices of a Distant Star. I didn't even realize until the last few episodes that they were just playing the same three songs over and over again, and even then it didn't matter. Numerous times I found myself ignoring the dialogue and just listening to the sweet melodies of the soundtrack and watched the beautiful visuals.
In all this show starts out extremely strong, but somehow manages to ruin an amazing story with an ending soap opera writers would be proud of. The series really ends at volume three, or at least that's where it should have been, everything after that, although it has its occasional moments, ruins all credibility this show had as a drama. Watch this show for the visuals, the soundtrack, and heartbreaking opening, and nothing else.
Replay value; Very low.