Air Gear Vol. #04 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A-

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  • Art Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Released By: Del Rey
  • MSRP: 10.95
  • Pages: 224
  • ISBN: 978-0-345-49281-4
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left
  • Series: Air Gear

Air Gear Vol. #04

By Robert Harris     January 29, 2008
Release Date: May 01, 2007

Air Gear Vol.#04
© Del Rey

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Oh! Great
Translated by:Mokoto Yukon
Adapted by:Mokoto Yukon

What They Say
Without a doubt, Ikki is the most fearsome skater around. Too bad he's lost the super high-tech skates that helped him succeed. Worse yet, Ikki's a far better skater than he is a student. He's failing in class and must clean up his act fast in order to compete in the next Parts War - a dangerous and thrilling face-off between rival skate gangs.

As the team leader, Ikki knows his friends are counting on him. Everybody thinks that he's the toughest kid in school, but is Ikki about to prove them wrong?

The Review
The first three volumes of Air Gear served to introduce Ikki, and the readers, to the world of Air Treks and Stormriders. From his first run-in with the Skull Saders to his eventual victory over Buccha the Night King, Ikki and his friends have been rushed from conflict to conflict almost non-stop. It’s not surprising, then, that Oh! Great uses this fourth volume to slow things down and just show Ikki & Co. having a good time and acting like the goofball teenagers they are.

Slower volumes of an action series are generally a call for massive influxes of characters and plot devices to keep the face-punching engine running, but what’s on the menu here is comedy. The first half of the book remains firmly focused on Ikki and his now-busted Air Treks, aside from a brief moment given to their teacher Ton-chan, who honestly deserves it as she is a riot. The chapters remain self-contained until Ikki, Kazu and Onigiri begin “recruiting” for their team, and their aspirations soon lead them to observe an A Rank match between two top teams. New enemies, allies, and one who’s kind of both are introduced, but it’s not the flood I was expecting, so you shouldn’t have trouble remembering new faces.

That’s all just background, though. The real star of the show here is the amazing amount of comedy Oh! Great is able to wring out of his characters. The writing is as clever as it is coarse, and there’s something hugely entertaining about Ikki and his friends calling each other ‘bitch’ repeatedly, but the art is what brings it all together. Oh! Great is truly one of the best manga artists around today, and the ease and fluidity with which he switches between art styles is amazing. The visual aspect of manga is its primary advantage over other mediums, and something like Air Gear reminds me just how often it’s underutilized. Perhaps even more impressive is how the art is used to compliment and enhance the events unfolding, not overshadow them.

This volume won’t make a believer out of anyone who hasn’t yet been convinced, and the slower pace and lack of tension may turn off the action junkies. Still, its comedic content and character additions should please existing fans. At the very least, even if you hate the story and the characters and the premise and the food you’re eating while you read it, you can enjoy the pictures.

As a final gripe, the translation still contains WTF’s and OMG’s but I think I’ll stop complaining about them…it seems a lost cause.


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