Air Gear Vol. #07 -

Manga Review

Mania Grade: B

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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: 200
  • ISBN: 978-0-345-49909-7
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Air Gear Vol. #07

Air Gear Vol. #07 Manga Review

By Robert Harris     July 06, 2010
Release Date: February 12, 2008

Air Gear Vol.#07
© Del Rey

Have you ever seen a bunch of dudes fight before? Have you ever seen a bunch of dudes fight in cubes? I didn't think so!

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Oh! Great

What They Say

Ikki’s the captain of a pretty good extreme skating team . . . pretty good, that is, for a bunch of newbies! The players have more heart than talent, but so far, that’s landed them close to the top. Now they’re facing a matchup that’s going to take more than guts to win: a battle to the death with Behemoth, the most reckless, cruel, and murderous team in the league!

The Review

Ikki's team, Kogarasumaru, has successfully baited Behemoth, the strongest D class team in history, into a Parts War. Unfortunately, instead of using Agito's plan to have them compete in the F class competition Dash, Ikki went and challenged them on their own territory. Unfortunate for them, but fortunate for us since we get to see a new type of Stormrider battle. Since so much of this volume is focused on the D class battle 'Cube', it's chock-full of action and fighting. And little else.

 Cube battle is explained as two Stormriders fighting in a cube. That's it. It's essentially four separate one on one duels. The duels aren't tests of riding skill or tactical team-based affairs like the other Parts War events. They're straight-up battles, punches and kicks and whatever else flying fast and furiously. Which makes this volume of Air Gear boil down to essentially every other action manga ever made ever. There's no difference! Oh! Great takes the one unique factor of Air Gear, the skill-based confrontations that pointedly do not involve beating someone in the face while dudes fly around with magic dust or a robot monkey or whatever other gimmick every other mediocre series relies on, and throws that out the window. It falls, bounces off the wall of a neighboring home, and ends up in an empty box, where it mutates into a series of duels in which the participants beat each other in the face while they fly around with magic robot skates, shooting off differently themed moves while the announcer explains how everything works.
The explanations are a particularly offensive action manga trope which Oh! Great has decided to institute alongside the super-powered slugfests. Using a combination of pseudoscience and wishful thinking, we're supposed to believe that there's a firm logical foundation to support the insanity on display here. Speaking for myself, when I am reading a work of fiction which is not hard sci-fi, I'm prepared to suspend my disbelief a certain amount. For a series about electric jet-powered skates, or however air treks function, just give me a sentence or two about how they work and I'll buy it. Show me middle school kids jumping off fifty foot ramps and grinding along the tops of buildings, I'm willing to go along with you on just about anything. So if you want to introduce a character who can create flames with his roller blades, or stop time, or anything along those lines, bring 'em on. I can handle that. What I cannot handle is dedicating multiple panels to explain how, "scientifically", a man can turn invisible with roller blades. I'm no physicist, but anyone who's taken a middle school science class could probably call shenanigans on that. Long-winded explanations based entirely on questionable science merely serves to frustrate the reader and break the narrative flow. I also hate them to an unreasonable degree outside the bounds of logic, which lead to more frustrating on my part then was probably warranted.
In Summary:
I had a weak, flickering hope that I would not be subjected to any straight-up street brawl antics after Rico scolded Ikki and his team for beating the stuffing out of the Sabel Tigers. I guess her horror was not at how they were piledriving the enemy team into submission, but that they hadn't gotten to class D yet, where that kind of thing is expected. It's inconsistencies like this, between the supposed elevation of Parts War as a more professional competition and the barbaric brutality on display in this volume from someone other than Ikki and his crew, which make me wonder where exactly Oh! Great is heading with the series. Are we going to get more creative battles which reach outside the box, or is the series going to progress towards constantly introducing new characters with wacky powers whom Ikki & Co. will have to defeat in a fight between special Air Trek abilities? I truly hope it's the former. After setting up a fairly interesting world, it would be a shame for Air Gear to become just another succession of yawn-inducing fights between bouts of training and powering up. I just...don't think I can take another series like that. It will break me. More than I already am. 




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