Review by: Clive Owen
Publisher: Del Rey Manga
Author: Oh! Great
Genre: Graphic Novel
MSRP: $10.99 US
Rating: OT (16+)
Release Date: Available Now
This is the prologue to the real Air Treck battles and things will never be the same again.
It seems so long ago that I began writing for Animanga Nation when it was still a print publication and, coincidentally, my first review was for Volume 1 of Air Gear. The series, just like its hero, has come a long way since that first volume and now in its fourteenth volume it has not only become more interesting but all the things we loved about this series are still very much attached. However, as we can see from Volume 15, Ikki and his friends are in dangerous territory as they continue to climb the ladder to Air Treck elite glory.
Having been injured during his last Air Treck battle, Itsuki “Ikki” Minami finds himself recovering in the hospital while his enemies – including a mysterious Storm Rider assassin called Skinface Gabishi – is looking for him only to encounter Kazu (who Ikki named temporary leader) and Emily (who still has a humongous crush on Kazu) and attack them. Thankfully, their new ally, Aeon Clock, steps in to battle Gabishi in a brutal battle that starts looking bad for Aeon until – surprisingly enough – Emily steps into the fray.
The battle doesn’t end well for the enemy as more allies come to the rescue and it is Emily who gets credit for doing something to aid her friends. This, of course, doesn’t sit well with Kazu who feels useless and begins questioning his role as temporary leader as well as being involved with Air Trecks. Having Emily, a girl who is more like a cheerleader, save the day is almost insulting to him.
Meanwhile, Ikki spends his time recovering from his injuries with Kururu from Tool Tou To who hopes to become Ikki’s Link Tuner. Ikki actually comes to like the pretty girl who looks to be finding the young man charming and nice to be around. She has seen Ikki through some bad times and seeing the kind side makes her all the more determined to help him in anyway she can.
Ikki also gets a visit from the wheelchair-bound Sora (whose past is nicely recounted in Volume 6) who not only continues to impress the boy with some interesting tricks but also comes to teach Ikki another skill that might seems like a pervert’s dream come true but is useful in ways that Ikki comes to realize. Ikki also comes to discover that somebody important from Tool Tou To actually runs the hospital but the real surprise is a quick visit from Simca … the Migratory Bird from Genesis.
Simca has comes to ask Ikki a very important favor, one of which might very well change the future of Ikki’s team Kogarasumaru. Unfortunately, when Simca decides to take a walk down the street, she is viciously attacked by a very familiar and unexpected person. The attack is so brutal that Simca is taken directly to the same hospital as Ikki … who finds out that the girl he has always liked might never fly again. If only he knew who attacked Simca – now that would be interesting.
In the meantime, Kogarasumaru begins their Air Treck battles without Ikki but with a new member who shows that she is a bigger powerhouse than one would expect. That’s right, Emily joins the team and despite the fact that she’s new to Air Trecks, she becomes a formidable opponent and a better team player than Kazu who is starting to not care about the team. Even his teammates are making decisions without him despite the fact that Kazu is the team’s Captain.
The enemy, though, isn’t taking Kogarasumaru’s victories lightly and target other powerhouses. The fate that befalls Kokuen (the magician leader of Coca Fire) before the next battle is disturbing and that leaves Benkei from Team Genesis (who has come to help Kogarasumaru) to use Emily in the battle instead. Unfortunately, their main opponent looks to be deadlier than the foes they have gone up against in the past.
Volume 14 of Air Gear leads the series to darker territory as Ikki’s team reach new heights and go up against more powerful foes without him. As the enemy grows more violent as Team Kogarsumaru comes closer to their goal, the real Air Treck battles begin and things will change as the end is near. Even in its fourteenth volume, the series is still fun, funny and interesting and that’s why we continue to love this manga.
MANGA REVIEW BREAKDOWN
With Ikki still badly injured and in the hospital, the wheels are set in motion as the real enemies of Kogarasumaru and those that sided with them are preparing to go against them. Among the first targets is Simca who has come to Ikki to make a startling request. Meanwhile, Kazu – the team’s temporary Captain – has doubts about his abilities as a Storm Rider.
As it was in the first volume, the series continues to sport some of the most impressively gorgeous artwork detailed enough to make almost every panel look amazing. Yes, there’s still plenty of fan service but the real treat here are the hilarious visual gags scattered throughout as well. Oh! Great is much better than just great.
As we can see from Volume 14 of Air Gear, things are certainly starting to get darker and more interesting as Team Kogarasumaru pushes on towards their destiny without their leader. It’s good to see that the series hasn’t lost its great sense of humor or occasional crudeness that makes this series a considerably amusing and genuinely likeable series still worth following.
Review copy provided by Del Rey Manga