AIR Series Review

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In preparation for KyoAni’s version of Kanon back in 2006, I decided to catch their earlier adaptation of another of Key’s works – Air. I knew Kanon featured “sad girls in the snow” but I had no clue what Air was going to be about.

Final Series Score: 12/12
Rewatchablity: med-high
Pros: The story draws in the viewer and makes us care for the characters as well as being very different and interesting, marvelous background music, is as good after rewatching it several times as the first time
Cons: Source material is shoe-horned into the episode count and as a result the show can feel a little abrupt in it’s transitions and speed at telling the story

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Story

Yukito is an itinerant entertainer, always on the move, living off his ability to control a small plush doll through no physical means. He continues to search, as his mom did before him, for a girl that’s connected to a 1000 year curse. The show starts when he gets stranded in a small seaside village and meets a high school girl, Misuzu, that dreams of her other self beyond the clouds.

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Thoughts and impressions

The first thing that comes to mind when mentioning Air is the required box of tissues that needs to be ready when watching it. Many people, when reviewing this show, will mention this and those that don’t, probably still need the tissues but won’t admit to. At the time of my first watching of Air, I had never watched a sad anime and was unprepared when I marathoned the series over the course of 3 days. I have no qualms with admitting to shedding tears in multiple episodes of this series. The second time I watched this show, I stretched the episodes out over two weeks and found I didn’t tear up as much but the third time I watched, I once again watched it over a couple of days and once again found myself shedding tears during many of the episodes. So maybe the box of tissues is not required if you plan on stretching out your viewing of the show but, otherwise, it’ll be a good idea to have a few tissues handy.

The second thing that comes to mind is how the small amount of episodes forced the show to have very fast pacing with not a single minute wasted. I’ve read other reviews that mentioned feeling lost because of the quick pacing but I, personally, had no trouble outside of the transitions at the start of the second and third story arcs but in both cases I quickly recovered.

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Many of the anime adaptations of visual novels, as Air is, contain strong harem elements to them because of the source material. Some people like this and others don’t, so since Air is a visual novel adaptation I wanted to mention that this isn’t true in Air’s case. Yukito does not collect a harem over the course of Air; instead, the story surrounding the curse and Misuzu’s connection to that curse is what the focus is. So if you object to harem shows, you can rest assured that this show does not feature them.

One trait that all Key shows feature is the use of magic. This isn’t magician magic or magic-girl magic but real magic that feels almost mythical. In Air’s case there is really a 1000 year curse and Yukito can really make the little plush doll move by just willing it to. In other Key works, for example, we have a comatose character that is hospital-bound yet at the same time, also physically living a normal life and interacting with people; in another show, a cat takes human-form so he can grant one wish to a character. In all cases, we, the viewer, are never asked to believe in something that feels impossible, it always feel real. This gives Key shows added depth and assures that they are not predictable or cliched.

If you’ve never seen a Key/KyoAni show before, I recommend to everyone that it’s worth at least trying one out, if only to see a show that can effortlessly switch from gut-busting humor to tear-inducing sadness and back again over the course of a few minutes. And of the three (Air, Kanon, Clannad), the best to start off with is Air.

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Essential Information

  • 12 episodes, 1 recap episode, 2 special episodes
  • genre: drama, supernatural
  • animation studio: Kyoto Animation
  • director: Tatsuya Ishihara
  • OP: “Tori no Uta” by Lia
  • ED: “Farewell Song” by Lia
  • Seiyuus of note: Daisuke Ono , Aya Hisakawa, Tomoko Kawakami, Kikuko Inoue

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