Air: An Overview
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Air, it’s the story of a homeless man, Yukito, and his journey as he stops in a quaint little town by the beach. He is searching for the Winged Maiden (sounds so pretty, doesn’t it?), a woman his mother would tell him about as a child who was cursed and bound to the sky. He meets a young girl named Misuzu when stopping in this town, and suddenly everything changes for him. So that’s the basic plot line. Now you don’t have to quickly google it before reading this article.
The Air Anime
Story: The anime first appealed to me because it was short at only 13 episodes and because the artwork is stunning. Where the story is concerned, it’s sloppy and all over the place. The Winged Goddess story line is choppy and poorly explained…well maybe it isn’t but I was just bored by the time they got down to specifics. A huge reason for this is the large and pointless cast of secondary characters who are tolerable at their best and horribly annoying at their worst.
Characters: Misuzu, Haruko (Misuzu’s foster mother), and Yukito are all fairly well-developed characters. The problem is the obnoxious bunch of secondary characters who are supposed to make this a more dramatic show but make it slow and all over the place. Misuzu goes beyond your typical cute girl. She’s not particularly good at anything, she has issues socializing, and has no friends. Yukito is also great as the sort of detached character who grows very fond of Misuzu and starts to really connect with her. Now if only we could get rid of everyone else…
Art/Sound: I would guess no one would say you have a good show when the art and sound is the best part of it, but I wouldn’t want that to downgrade just how much I love the art and sound of Air. As I said before I was drawn to it by the artwork, which doesn’t disappoint. Breathtaking beach scenes, wonderful use of color. The score to Air is filled with over the top songs but I kid you not when I say the piece Summer Lights is the most beautiful instrumental I have ever heard. Go listen to it. Now.
Back yet? I probably over hyped it and now you’re mad at me. That’s okay.
The Air Manga
The story line is similar. Everyone has complaints about the manga, though, because it has so much less detail. Well guess what? That “lack of detail” is them taking out all the major plot lines of the secondary characters. Jackpot for me! So now the Air manga is perfect right? Um, no.
My problem here, though, is that the manga was constantly repeating itself. That’s a big problem, considering like the anime it’s very short. Here, the Winged Maiden story once again is unclear to me (am I just not paying enough attention?) yet the manga repeats the basic premise of the legend like, 20 times but never goes into any detail.
Air the Movie
I think the legend is finally clear to me and the movie has the most coherent way of telling it. For that I find (and I’m the only person who does) the movie to be a big improvement in comparison to the anime.
The artwork is different, to the point where most people who love the anime believe it is very poor. The anime does have better art, but I think the movie has a lovely visual eye candy quality to it. Again, the obnoxious characters don’t appear and that makes it even more enjoyable. Oddly enough, Yukito and Misuzu fall in love in the movie. It didn’t really fit though and was pretty stretched. The ending was rushed too.
Why didn’t the movie play Summer Lights?!?
Air in Summer
This a short special consisting of two episodes. It’s an extension of the summer arc where Kanna is trying to find her mother. I watched it after I saw the movie, and found it pretty enjoyable because I actually understood the whole Legend of Winged Maiden thing by then. I thought of all of them Air in Summer did the best job telling the story it had to tell. I think the anime, manga, and movie have better stories but this special does the best job telling it.
I know what you’re all thinking: if you think it’s just an average anime why did you go to the trouble of all the other stuff? Well, the manga was so short I decided to give it a shot because even if it was bad I’d finish it quick. Then, I decided to see if the movie was any better. Once I’d finished all that, how could I not complete my knowledge of the franchise in two short episodes?
Honestly, I also just have this weird obsession with finishing things 😉