Air, The Complete Series – DVD Review

AirCS

Review by: Brenda Gregson

Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: $49.98 US
Running Time: 340 minutes
Genre: Drama/Fantasy
Rating: TV 14
Release Date: Available Now

It’s just as sweet as the summer air.

In a place that seems to have come straight out of a dream, there’s a sleepy town overlooking the sparkling ocean and where the girls are haunted by the spirit of a “girl in the sky” who calls to a young man who fulfills his destiny at last. The Complete Series of Air is a sweet, tragic and emotionally deep series that tells a most heartfelt story well worth watching.

The Complete Series set includes all 12-episodes of the series as well as the two specials that I didn’t even get to see quite often when I lived in Japan. The story follows a young homeless traveler named Yukito Kunisaki who comes to the sleepy ocean-side town in search of a legend his mother always talked about even as she was dying. The legend is that of a “girl in the sky” who is soaring through the clouds and will fulfill Yukito’s destiny once he finally meets her.

Of course, a journey like this isn’t easy and even more so when Yukito has absolutely no money seeing as his only means of making money is performing a puppet show using his special ability passed on to him by his mother. Having arrived to the small town, he meets a cute young girl named Misuzu who offers him food and a place to sleep. Yukito isn’t the warmest of characters – at first – and accepts to stay with the girl despite the fact that Misuzu’s “mother” doesn’t jump at the idea at first. I say at first because, Haruko, begins to notice that maybe Yukito is exactly what Misuzu needs in her life. It’s clear that Haruko doesn’t want to be emotionally attached to the girl who she says has problems.

While Yukito spends his time picking up Misuzu from school and trying to make some extra money with his puppet shows that are seen as quite lame by the town’s kids, he meets a young girl named Minagi and your young little friend named Michiru. He meets another girl named Kano who Yukito connects with right away when she mentions magic. It is thanks to Kano that he gets his first job working for Kano’s physician older sister. Life seems to be going well for Yukito when suddenly things change.

On Misuzu’s birthday, the pair see Kano head to a shrine only to burst into a ray of light and a strange feather appears. Something has a hold of the girl and it seems to be connected with the shrine itself. Looking into the matter, Yukito is nearly choked to death by the something that isn’t Kano but rather another personality. Could it have something to do with the feather that was discovered in the shrine? The feather itself has a history and a story that involves a mother who makes the ultimate sacrifice to protect her child.

When Misuzu has an “episode,” Yukito decides to leave only to find himself becoming involved with Minagi and Michiru’s life. While things are cheerful and Yukito and Minagi’s relationship leans toward the romantic, a sudden and surreal realization involving Michiru changes things again. As we discover Michiru’s true identity, the series does start to get overly dramatic but the episode where Michiru’s story is resolved is also one of the most emotional and brilliant episodes.

While the rest of the episodes lean towards the tragic and Yukito finally reaches the end of his journey in a somewhat confusing manner, the best episodes come near the end that explains the who the girl in the sky is and what exactly affected the shrine and thus Michiru, Kano and Misuzu. The story is a beautiful one of a winged-person named Kanna who lands on a palace guard named Ryuya in Shoryaku in A.D. 994. As winged-people are a dying breed, Kanna is imprisoned in the palace for her own good, which doesn’t sit well with Ryuya and a young handmaiden named Uraha who one day escape with Kanna.

The story follows their journey to not only keep Kanna free but to also reunite Kanna with her mother. Along the way the three form a bond and Ryuya vows to follow Lady Kanna’s every word. Sadly, their journey ends in tragedy as Ryuya and Uraha are the only ones left to keep a promise they made Kanna. It is this promise that sparks a connection with the events the Yukito and the others experience. Thankfully, the two-disc set also includes the two specials, which is nothing more than just extended scenes of the Kanna, Ryuya and Uraha escape from the palace.

Air, The Complete Series, is a little heavy on the drama but it also manages to be funny, sweet and meaningful. We’ve seen anime like this before in series like Kanon but what is found here is a series that is worth a view if you like a heartfelt series with good characters and an interesting fantasy twist.

DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN

MOVIE/EPISODES: B
In his search for the “The Girl in the Sky,” a boy named Yukito finds himself in a small town where he meets a girl who changes his life and makes him realize that his quest might just involve her or the other girls in town. However, there are strange occurrences that might be connected to a shrine and something that happened there so long ago.

VIDEO QUALITY: A
The gorgeous colors really stand out in this series making the town such an inviting and bright place. The female characters are so totally cute so if you’re into moe then you’re in luck. Overall, this is superb animation.

AUDIO QUALITY: B+
The Japanese voice acting is where it’s at so watching this in the original Japanese is highly recommended. Still, you cannot dismiss the great voice acting found in this series … especially when it comes to Monica Rial, Luci Christian and Vic Mignogna.

EXTRAS: C-
There are trailers and textless opening and closing songs in the third disc but that pales in comparison to the two extra “specials” that expands the two best episodes of the series involving Ryuya, Uraha and Kanno.

OVERALL: B
While it can be on the overly dramatic side, The Complete Series of Air is still an occasionally sweet and deeply emotional anime that makes this a series with a lot of heart. While the final episode will break your heart, there’s a light side that manages to shine brightly like the characters themselves.

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