Air Gear Vol. #5 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: C+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: TV MA
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 125
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Air Gear

Air Gear Vol. #5

By Chris Beveridge     September 24, 2007
Release Date: October 02, 2007


Air Gear Vol. #5
© ADV Films


What They Say
The rage in the cage continues for Ikki's storm riders but who will emerge from the Sewer Coliseum as the true king? It seems Agito has set up his teammates and all the storm riders for a big-time bust, just so he can get his ferocious fangs on his lost Regalia. But an even bigger plan has been set into motion...and if it succeeds, everything will change! The question is will the Crow be able to fly high enough to ride the wind, or will his wings break, making him splatter on the ground? See for yourself...who will win the Battle of Kings!

The Review!
The battle between Ikki and Behemoth goes all out with these episodes but it pales in comparison to what Simca brings to the party.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The Japanese mix is a solid stereo piece that does a really good job with the music score as well as in general dialogue placement throughout. With a fair bit of action and characters at all different locations, directionality is good and well placed. The English mix is done in a 5.1 format, something ADV hasn't done too much of lately, and it adds some better clarity to the dialogue as well as placement. Both tracks are solid though and we didn't have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2006, the transfer for this show is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The source materials for this release are in very good shape with a very clean and smooth look. The show is done with a lot of bold colors across wide areas and they come across very solid here though there is some minor noise to be found if you're close enough. A good deal of the scenes take place at night with very dark blacks for the sky as well as some greens to highlight the lights from the city and there is very little visible banding in most of this. In addition, they also look very solid while still providing detail. There is some minor aliasing in a few scenes though cross coloration is mostly absent. The worst looking area tends to be the opening sequence where they decided to do the replaced credits to match the original. The credits look fine but they aren't able to do it as smoothly which results in some stuttering as the camera moves around.

Packaging:
Using artwork that wasn't on the Japanese retail release cover, this volume uses the same style as the earlier ones but changes out the colors. Ikki and Ringo again take the cover as the only pairing as both are in action shots with twisty moves that would certainly hurt after awhile. The cover uses a fair bit of text to it, pushing "Oh Great"' along the right side but not strongly while also having a very noticeable spot that indicates that it's uncut. The logo along the bottom is decent along with more text for the volume name. The foil aspect sort of works but it doesn't really jump out a lot and just feels kind of superfluous in a way. The back cover is decently laid out with two strips of shots from the show along the left and right while a surprisingly text heavy summary covers the premise of the show. The discs features aren't given much notice here alongside the number of episodes while the remainder of the cover is filled out with the production credits and a solid looking technical grid. No insert or reversible cover is included for this release.

Menu:
The menu layout is rather simple and fairly bland with just the still shot of Ikki and Ringo from the front cover. The background is red CG piece that kind of gives hint to buildings which looks decent but the mixture of it and the character artwork just doesn't really do all that much. There's a bit of fast paced hard instrumental music with it and the navigation is straightforward enough that everything works well and is easily accessible. Submenus load quickly and the disc correctly read our players' language presets and played accordingly.

Extras:
The only extras available on this volume are the clean opening and closing sequences.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The battle against Behemoth took up some time in the previous volume and it fills out several episodes worth on this volume of five episodes. The series does drag in a way with it taking so long to get through everything but the battles are fairly interesting even as they play to the clichés, particularly in how the big bad guys now become more sympathetic when you learn their past.

With several battles currently ongoing, the first few episodes shift throughout each of them until it eventually brings a couple of them together. The most amusing at first revolves around Onigiri as he's battling against a rather beautiful woman who is using her snake charms against him. While he's easily distracted at first, the pig that he is, he actually uses his weird Smell Road thing wisely once again and changes the dynamic of the battle. Kazu's battle is similar as he's continuing to deal wit his opponent that seems to be able to stop time. The main focus however is on Ikki and Akira as they battle out in a way that is fitting only for Kings. Each of them continues to push against each other while also pushing their own limits and experiences. Though clichéd, they do bring out the best in each other as they fight harder than they have ever before.

Though the outcome isn't surprising, it's the little things that come up along the way that are. Simca and some of the other powerful Storm Riders that are observing the battle provide some commentary that fleshes out the worldview of Air Gear a bit more as Tropaeum and the place that Ikki will fit into is discussed. Simca in particular gets to have some fun here as she comes up with a way to throw off Ringo from getting involved in the highly challenging match. Ringo's need to interfere, or need to help Ikki, overwhelms her sense of modesty and she carries through in a hilarious outfit that really just serves up plenty of fanservice.

What proves to be the most interesting material during the battles however comes from Akira as he mentally recounts his history while fighting against Ikki and Agito. As a powerful King in his own right who has amassed quite the following, seeing how he used to work for a different side just a few years ago and was involved in an incident that changed everything for a young woman really does flesh him out quite a bit. His motivations for what he's doing is two-fold though as there are things that he says to Simca that speak of a larger pact and bond between the two as well as involving several others. All of this becomes clearer as the story progresses in this volume but it continues to put Ikki in a truly odd position.

As much fun as Ikki is with his unconventional style and his do anything mentality, it's still hard to see what Simca is doing at this stage as being smart. The goal of overthrowing the Tropaeum certainly isn't a bad one and I can work with the idea that Ikki has something innate within him that will really make all of this happen, but at the stage he's at he's simply moving too fast. It's far more believable that he'll burn out from all of it or that others in the team will. Even when making such a huge upset victory against Behemoth, he still comes across as being far too innocent and naïve about what's really at stake. Part of that is his charm to be sure, but the way Simca and the others seemingly bow to him over time just doesn't feel right yet. Ikki still has a long way to go and she's giving in to her own needs far too early.

Interestingly, this volume contains episodes eighteen through twenty one as well as a Special Trick episode. This episode, which wasn't broadcast, fits into the continuity nicely between episode twenty one and twenty two. It revolves around a battle between Kogaramasu and a group called Potemkine that resides on Battleship Island. The old battleship is an interesting battle group but the fact that the team is made up of octuplets who wear Chinese military uniforms and have no interest in doing battles. They basically just deal in all sorts of illegal things and are content to play as they do. The battle isn't much of anything really but where it does work is in fleshing out what's going on from Simca's revelations about Genesis. This feels like an episode that was dropped in to explain things more than they were in however episode twenty-two does it.

In Summary:
Air Gear manages to be fun even though it's fairly clichéd and plays out in a manner that is hard to suspend disbelief over. The battles and the way everyone handles their AT's is just beyond believability. The pacing of the story continues to be just as off as it all feels like it's progressing too fast. If not for that though, we'd still be subjected to the lofty words about cages and flying in the sky. Everyone speaks so earnestly about it but they don't feel like they're speaking realistically which hurts how it comes across. There is a certain kind of campy fun to what's going on here and it's enjoyable on that level but it's still a show that I in general can't really recommend watching.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Clean Opening,Clean Closing

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Sony PlayStation 3 Blu-ray player via HDMI -> DVI with upconversion set to 1080i, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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