Itsuki Minami needs no introduction—everybody's heard of the "Babyface" of the Eastside. He's the toughest kid at Higashi Junior High School, easy on the eyes but dangerously tough when he needs to be. Plus, Itsuki lives with the mysterious and sexy Noyamano sisters. Life is never dull, but it becomes dangerous when Itsuki leads his school to victory over some vindictive Westside punks with gangster connections. Now he stands to lose his school, his friends, and everything he cares about. But in his darkest hour, the Noyamano girls come to Itsuki's aid. They can teach him a powerful skill that will save their school from the gangsters' siege–and introduce Itsuki to a thrilling and terrifying new world.
Air Gear was first published in English by Del Rey Manga who released the first 17 volumes in the period from July 25, 2006 to August 31, 2010, with the latter three volumes released as a 3-in-1 omnibus. Kodansha Comic USA has been publishing the series from volume 18 since June 14, 2011 and has been republishing the manga in 3-in-1 omnibuses since May 28, 2013. It was also published in Spanish by Norma Editorial from November 2007 to September 2013 and in Italian by Panini Comics under the Planet Manga imprint from March 23, 2007 to March 16, 2013.
Oh great ... yet another bombastic manga, developing from its humble beginnings, into the convoluted mess I see before me. Anyone who has read most of it, or its previous incarnation Tenjou Tenge, will understand what I mean. Air Gear is an exciting Shounen, Sports, Ecchi, Comedy that takes extreme sports to a whole new level. Nevertheless this is an Oh! Great manga; so expect mind-numbing violence, x-rated fanservice and an absurdly over-the-top storyline.
As it follows Itsuki Minami (Ikki), a boy who comes across as your typical teenage delinquent, with no real purpose or goal in life; but that soon changes when he discovers the
wonders of the popular extreme sport known as “Air Treck”. Now Air Treck is like if you took rollerblading and stuck it in a shounen manga like Hunter x Hunter. I know that not everyone will understand the analogy, but it is the only way one can even describe the latter 2/3rds of the manga.
Now the way that most shounen sports manga go, is by first introducing the protagonist to the sport and have said protagonist be met with an obstacle they must overcome through both training and sheer force of will, then come across an even greater obstacle. Rinse and repeat. Sure Air Gear follows this formula but there’s a number well-conceived concepts that give this manga an edge over others; like the formation of an AT team, the bonds between them and infinite possibilities of ATs. From then on the story continually develops by adding new elements (e.g. Regalia) to the plot. Unfortunately the deeper the story goes, the more it loses the original essence that once captivated the reader and in turn becomes such a convoluted mess that even I struggled to follow. Which isn't helped by the poorly written dialogue the characters spew, when explaining a trick/skill/ability that often consists of either: something random scientifically proven theory, some random ancient mythology or some random philosophy.
But one thing that never loses its essence in Air Gear, is the cluster of clichéd but cool characters that fulfil every single archetype imaginable. Yet I feel somewhat torn when it comes to evaluating the characters of Air Gear. Because on the one hand you have Ikki, the main protagonist, who we will follow as he struggles to get to the top and pretty much exudes "cool" whilst doing so. But it's not only him, as it is often nice to see his comrades develop along the way too, meaning that no one is left on the wayside. I in particular enjoyed seeing Kazu struggle to break free from Ikki's shadow and become truly formidable in his own right. Even side characters who seem unimportant at first are given enough time in the spotlight, for the readers to learn what motivates them all. Then on the other hand you have a certain character, who shall not be named, that drastically undergoes the most contrived transformation imaginable and then there's Barack Obama... nuff said. Which is why I feel torn, because there's an amazing cast of characters and then a few that kind of ruin it.
Yet I can be decisive in saying the artwork is the best thing about Air Gear, with its unique look and well thought-out design that sets it apart from all other shounen manga (except other Oh! Great manga). Not only are the characters fun to look at, with their distinct looks and their expressively drawn attitudes, but this is the first time I'll praise the SFX katakana for not only being noticeable but for enhancing those intense moments. The environments are also very detailed and it’s easy to see that a lot of time, effort and creativity has gone into illustrating every battle.
Overall Air Gear is exactly what you’d expect from an Oh! Great manga: really crude perverse humour, imaginative character designs, extreme levels of fanservice and an over-the-top story to tie it all together. Now usually serialized shounen manga will prolong their run by continually upping the stacks, whilst retaining the theme that originally sucked in the readers. However where Air Gear falters is that mangaka continually adds new elements to the plot, transforming it from a sports battle manga hybrid into a pure shounen battle manga, disregarding what originally sucked the reader in. Gravity Children, Brain Charger, Barack Obama... Just to name a few of the random things later added to the plot that give off the feeling that not much thought was put into how they'd affect the story as a whole.
In the end what is left is a story riddled with huge gaping plot holes, as far as the eye can see and no way to close them without completely abandoning your own sense of disbelief. But it doesn’t change the fact that this is still a hugely entertaining shounen manga to read, if you enjoy shounen manga. Just keep in mind that you may have to turn off your brain from time to time, which is a damn shame.
So I stumbled across a few artworks by Oh! Great and was simply fascinated by his art. This really made me want to read his works so I started with Tenjou Tenge, although I put it on hold because I heard Air Gear is his best work.
Now that I've finished it, here is my review.
- S T O R Y -
The story is centered around Minami Itsuki as he gets introduced to the world of A-T and grows as a Storm Rider and he overcomes progressively increasing in difficulty challenges through practice, skill and sheer will.
It starts out fairly simple with a fresh concept not
seen before in Sports manga but as the story progresses it becomes more and more convoluted.
The pacing is good, it's not too fast, nor does it drag on. Every moment has enough time to develop itself and not overstay it's welcome.
That aside, the story, while really enjoyable, is the weakest part of Air Gear for sure, the battles often rely on will and having to protect someone in order to be strong. While not necessarily a bad thing, it does do it a tad bit too often.
Sometimes it doesn't even try to make sense with some character's powers but that's not a problem Air Gear is an over-the-top Sports/Battle Shonen hybrid and does what it does really well. Air Gear was not made to excel in writing and be the Hamlet of the manga world, it was made to be cool and that's what it does best. Air Gear is the definition of cool, that's what it breathes and that's what it exhales.
While it has plenty of nonsensical moments, there are the occasional scientific explanations that makes what just happened seem plausible but they're far too few.
- A R T -
The best aspect of Air Gear for sure, the art is incredibly crisp, clear and incredibly detailed in places. It compliments the setting of Air Gear and it makes the characters shine.
Especially when they zoom in the A-Ts, the detail is mesmerizing.
Oh! Great's proportions make some pretty good fan service, for both guys and girls, Air Gear is riddled with hot guys and hot girls.
- C H A R A C T E R S -
While they're pretty archetypical, they show plenty of personality and do grow as characters, each of them has his own individual character arc and road.
Their motives are pretty clear and simple, they want to improve themselves.
Also, their interactions are one of the best thing about Air Gear alongside the art.
- O V E R A L L -
The story, while nothing special, it manages to make the best out of it's characters and setting, the action was great, the panel selection for each scene was perfect and it knew when to stop on a cliff hanger. It kept you on the edge. There is plenty of violence and fan service but none of it feels out of place with Air Gear.
- E N J O Y M E N T -
I really enjoyed Air Gear, especially because of it's action and fantastic art.
I'LL SHOOPDAWHOOP YOU TO THE BOTTOM OF THE OCEAN!
^This actually happens in the manga...
Enter the ridiculous world of Oh! Great (Ogure) manga: Air gear. If you are familiar with his other works (such as tenjou tenge) then you should know what to expect. A convoluted mess of absurd amounts of fanservice, a cast of cliches, a great deal of random events, amazing art and (as an added bonus for this manga) bullshit physics.
Air gear takes place in a world where highly advanced, state-of-the-art, motorized roller blades known as air treks are used by people to zoom around the town, partaking in territorial wars
and other competitive events.
-Characters are bland.
-Story is just a mess.
-Random stuff happens so frequently, you just have to accept it.
-BAD. PHYSICS. Anyone who gave a crap bout their grade 8 physics class would see a lot of mistakes in Ogure's "explanations"
-Did i mention the story is a mess?
-Bad inclusion of humor at inappropriate times. This would actually be a Pro if it wasn't so overused.
-And just so you know, the story is a down right horrid mess of crap.
Follow our protagonist as he dreams of soaring through the skies! Delve into the world of air treks and witness as the shit hits the fan!! The story starts off great but quickly takes a turn for the worst. Bad science + no clear direction + too much fanservice + even more yaoi fanservice + random mecha + president of united states = not very good. I ain't gonna spoil it for you and you can read the synopsis for more detail. And seriously... this is one of those manga's where you would benefit from skipping anything YOU, the reader, deems retarded and irrelevant. Why? Because it probably is.
Friggin' AWESUM! The art is just great! if only there was less fanservice and more focus on the story, this manga woulda been top-notch... The attention to detail, the fight scenes, the backgrounds... its all just so good!
A massive cast of just about every cliche out there. I wouldn't give it a 1/10 cause it sticks to the nature of cliches... but no higher than 5/10 cause there really isn't any originality here. One big problem in my opinion is the characters age... way way way tooo young for what they look like and what they do.
Read it if you want lots of Pseudo-Hentai with a story in the background. Maybe if you wanna check out some awesome art. But don't read it if you are looking for this super awesome concept executed with an amazing story and quality art... all you'll get is disappointment and quality art.
The following is a more detailed review. Don't bother if you don't want a giant wall of text full of my opinions.
So! You should have a basic idea of what this manga is like. A few things I'd like to add to the genre tags would be "fantasy" or "science fiction" Why? Because the story starts with simple motorized roller blades and ends with super high tech parts that use vibrations in the air to trap people. Or techniques of breathing in to accumulate more nitrogen in your body, causing nitrogen bubbles that generate excruciating pain but also heighten the bodies senses. Even ways to skate on the water by creating so much heat that you generate a surface on the water... YEEEEAAAAAAH... Like i said, bad physics. Simply adding a genre tag other than "sports" would help the story do what it wants. But nope, Ogure chose to break his own rules. The "sports" tag is misleading. There's way too much bullshit going on for it to be regular sports.
See, it starts fairly simple. Guy wants to fly. Gets super-awesome skates. Flies around. Suddenly, he gets into a fight with a group. Suddenly, another group appears. Then suddenly, more information is given to us about the world of air trek... but... it was just so sudden... suddenly, people start executing techniques that are just absurd... stopping time with roller blades? WHAAAT!?WITH FRIGGIN' ROLLER BLADES!?!?!? Suddenly, wheels turn into whips (but don't hinder the riders mobility)... suddenly, falling from heights that would have killed someone in chapter 2 isn't a problem in chapter 15... Suddenly, some guy appears. Suddenly, he betrays the protagonist... Suddenly, this person dies... Suddenly hes alive (of course, cause... ya know... adding a motor to a pair of roller blades allows you to resurrect people by causing super sonic vibrations that resonate with the mitochondria in their cells causing the body to go into overdrive preventing them from losing their consciousness thus allowing them to remain alive...not) Then suddenly, the president of the United states of america appears (not kidding...). Then suddenly theres a body swap. Then suddenly giant robots destroying cities.
That is how to story goes. Suddenly something happens, we start getting crap explanations (if we are even lucky enough for one) and before you can even begin to wrap your head around it, suddenly something else happens and there are more explanations. Then the story ends... and you realized you just wasted a great deal of time and energy trying to give a crap about a bad story. And lets not forget, random bullshit is hiding at every corner. Every single time the story takes a turn, some giant pile of bullcrap comes raining down on the reader. Seriously... this manga makes less and less sense with every volume.
Oh and don't get me started on Oh! Great's naming sense. That's another clue the sports tag is uber misleading. You get attacks like "bloody killer fang," "Unlimited atmosphere," "Pile Tornado." Even titles like "gravity children"... Seriously, if this guy wasn't smoking something while coming up with incoherent bullshit, he would be deemed insane.
Like i said. The art is great. But there is way too much fanservice. Which is great if you like that.
Every girl gets naked here. EVERY ONE OF THEM. Oh... and so do some of the guys. We also have some serious (STORY RELATED) yaoi here. Every chapter is perverted. Every volume has ridiculous amounts of cleavage, boob-grabbing, ass-slapping, cloth-ripping and just plain on panty-shots. If you, like me, cared about the story then this would start to get in your way of enjoying the manga. But then again, the story is crap so this really is all you got going for you. Fanservice and fight scenes. The two things that don't need to make sense are the only reason you should read this manga.
Boy oh boy oh boy. Main male protagonist is your average full of himself, "i-cant-define-cool-without-making-him-a-douchebag" douchebag... He's got a friend who's full of determination and self-doubt to the point that he is a normal person. Another friend who is just a complete and utter pervert. And one who's the fat guy who just don't stop eating. One is gay for the douchebag and has multiple personalities.
Then there are the female cast who all are very... "well-endowed" when it comes to the body department. NO LOVE FOR TEH PETTANKOS!! The majority fall in love with the douchebag main protagonist. What else did you expect?
How do these characters develop? Wellll... a lot actually. But they just sorta loop around to being how they are in the beginning with just more skills. Soo... not much i guess...
Facts, credibility and imagination:
You might be thinking, WTF IS THIS? well, i had to add this criteria simply because Ogure does such a wonderful job of making up total and utter bullshit and expects it to make sense to the reader.
As far as facts go, they go along with the world of Air gear then fall flat on their face. They last about... 3 volumes...
Credibility, just the same as facts. Everything goes along just fine, seemingly appropriate for the world of Air gear and the fancy high-speed roller blades known as air treks... then credibility fails Ogure as mystical, magical and down right moronic science kicks it to the curb.
Imagination, however, SHINES! There is a lot of imaginative material going on in the manga. And it really really really isn't bad. Like i said earlier, this manga has a fantastic concept. But the great ARTIST Oh! Great screws up big time and (probably started smoking something new) just gets too wild and crazy that the reader must begin to imagine that this is a good manga. Oh, and i capitalized the word artist because that is what Ogure is. He can't write a story for shit, but he sure as hell can draw some amazing things. Did i mention Ogure can't write a decent story? Just making sure you get my point...
Go dream up a better story involving motorized roller blades and i guarantee you that it will be a bazillion times better than air gear. If you are too lazy, then read Air gear. Feel free to skip the "SCIENTIFIC EXPLANATIONS" since they just ruin stuff (unless you have no knowledge of anything physics-related i guess). Heck, it actually is BETTER to skip lots of the stuff past volume 5 to keep the story in the direction it's MEANT to go. You could literally skip 1/4th of the manga and you would have a more cohesive story. Would i recommend this? Maybe if you want lots of fanservice, or if you want to know what not to do to a story or just wanna check out some awesome art.
Hope you found this review helpful or at the very least enjoyable.
For the past ten years, Oh! Great (Ogure Ito) has created one of the most bizarre pieces to ever hit the shelves: Air Gear. To be blunt, it's bizarre because you just can't seem to figure out what Air Gear is trying to be. Is it a sports manga that's over the top? Is it a battle manga with the most peculiar choice of weapons? Is it a harem manga of sorts? Is it actually a comedy manga with ridiculous amounts of fanservice? The manga jumbles its focus on these genres as it goes on, and does so until its final chapter.
Nevertheless, I finished reading
Air Gear. I just finished reading it out of sentiment; I still fondly remember the days when it was good, and continued reading hoping that the good times of Air Gear would return. Alas, it would not recover, but I read it anyway. I suppose this is the sentiment produced by reading long-running series; you just can't let go so easily. Anyway, let's get to the nitty gritty.
The story is about Minami Itsuki, referred to by his friends as "Ikki," and his story in the world of ATs. What are ATs? Think of over-the-top inline skates. That fly. And skate in the sky. With powers.
I actually hooked on to this concept, and thought that it would produce some of the most ridiculous sports manga ever. Air Gear, however, tries to attain a multitasking attitude, and attempts to do several genres all at the same time. What we end up with is a sports manga tied in with battles, romance, comedy, and fanservice. It juggles the concepts each time, and ends up with a bizarre mess most of the time. It does have its moments, though, although the mess really is more frequent. It was jumbled so much that the last 20+ chapters ended up being romantic, then more of a shounen battle, and finally finishing it up sports manga-style. It's confusing, but you tend to grow on it if you've been reading it for years.
I've always liked Air Gear's character illustrations. Details are pretty much just right where you need them. It's just puzzling, though, how the female characters don't seem to know the concept of "underwear." Or even "sports bras." Heck, sometimes, even "bras" too. Well, setting all forms of fanservice aside, the characters look great.
The battles look amazing as well. It's amazing how the artists envision all the powers of the ATs, and bring them to life as backgrounds each time the user of the AT uses the said power. Dragons, vines, typhoons--name it, they got it.
What sets me off, though, is the scenery. Sometimes, it's great, but often times, it's really messy. Setting that aside, everything else is pretty good.
Here's where the other problem of Air Gear lies: the characters are so plentiful they're cluttered and completely lack characterization. Most of the characters are cool and collected, or hot-headed sports jocks like our lead character, or some pretty girls with awesome sets of inline skates (and vital statistics). The only guys I remember so well aren't even the lead characters; they're just members of the group Ikki forms later in the story. If anything, you'd find strength in the characters not as individuals, but as a whole. Heck, even Ikki's personality was pretty uneventful.
Nevertheless, Air Gear was a pretty unique experience. You'd never thought you'd see genres so diverse in one single manga, and the author manages to execute the story while keeping the ridiculous instances at bay. (Sometimes.) The tricks and the ATs give life to the story, and keep readers on. You can even play favorites with your choice of the best ATs in the series. It's that catchy. Either that, of course, or you're really just interested in certain curves throughout the series. Or the almost complete ignorance of women's underwear. But hey, all's well that ends well, right?
For the record, this is simply the average score of everything I've rated above. Overall, Air Gear brings about a story that's just as ridiculous as the sport where the entire story revolves about. Whether you're in it for the sentiments, or the women, or the tricks, or the powers, Air Gear remains to be quite an entertaining read. It's certainly not the best out there, but it's nice to read something to bizarre it's entertaining. I guess the bizarre nature of this manga is one of its strong points after all.