|Format: 13 Episodes|
|Allegiance: Kyoto Animation/Mubik/Pony Canyon/TBS|
|Director: Ishihara Tatsuya|
|Intelligence Agency Report by: Lady Sage|
|Kunisaki Yukito, a young man blessed with the gift of telekinesis, has been searching for a girl with wings for much of his life. One day, he wanders into a small seaside town, where he meets the strangely childlike Kamio Misuzu. Yukito is taken in by Misuzu, and as he lingers, he learns about Misuzu, the other girls of the town, and himself.|
|Field Agent Report by: Lady Sage|
|(not an average)|
|At first glance, it’s easy to mistake Air for a typical harem anime. After all, you have the single male protagonist, a supporting cast of a half-dozen cute girls, and an H-game origin. Sounds like a recipe for fanservicey disaster, doesn’t it? But Air not only transcends those early judgments, it stares them in the face and thumbs its nose at them. Instead, with no fanservice and little romance, it treats viewers to an excellent supernatural drama. Even in these days of slick, computer-generated 2D TV animation, Air’s animation is exceptional. Everything moves fluidly, and the bright colors are pleasing to the eye. Although the character designs are something of an acquired taste, the level of detail and care devoted to character gestures and facial expressions imbues the series with a pathos that would be difficult to achieve otherwise.
The storyline is rather fragmented and is occasionally difficult to follow, but is nonetheless rewarding. The first half, in which Yukito aids the various girls in the town with their paranormal problems, is more standard; each girl has her own separate mini-arc that stands on its own. While these separate arcs are definitely well-done and involving, the real emotional punch comes in the second half: the story surrounding the three central characters Yukito, Misuzu, and Haruko is a powerful, moving one.
Air’s greatest weakness is that after a character’s arc is completed, the character drops completely out of the series. While the girls do develop nicely within their arcs, it can be frustrating to see them disappear from the face of the Earth once their respective personal dilemmas had been solved. However, as with all other aspects of the show, Misuzu, Haruko, and Yukito are developed spectacularly, especially the former two. Their every quirk, fear, and neurosis is put on display, and their struggle to overcome such problems is magnificent and moving.
Most of the seiyuu work is quite excellent. Hisakawa Aya in particular does an excellent job as Kamio Haruko, especially in the final few episodes. Kawakami Tomoko of Utena fame comes off uncomfortably high as Misuzu in the beginning, but settles into her role quickly, and puts all of her ample talents into the conclusion. The only voice I did not like was that of Minagi Tohno, who is portrayed with a soft monotone, no matter what the emotion of the scene.
Although Air manages to rise above many flaws that seemed inextricable from its genre, it still is bogged down by a few others. Nonetheless, technical merit and sheer emotional power manages to elevate the series to a cut above the rest.