When a vacationing horde of students comes down from Hokkaido, their wildest dreams come true and Maki gets to fight her toughest opponent yet in Air Master.
What They Say:
Maki Aikawa is tall, with a nice model-like figure, but is also quiet and looks like an ordinary high school girl. However, her unique life style includes being a street fighter within the dark alleyways and back streets of Tokyo. To date, she remains undefeated against both men and women. And with a unique arsenal of aerial techniques allowing her to knock out opponents at will, people began to call her the Air Master.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After the first eight episodes ended up being surprisingly enjoyable, which went counter to a lot of what we heard, it was good to get into the next batch pretty quickly and without much of a wait, not that we had too much of one with the DVD release. Curiously, we've learned that a lot of women seem to really enjoy this show and more often than not they can't quite pin down why. Suffice to say as much as I'm enjoying it my wife is enjoying it even more.
This set brings in a new storyline to the show that runs for the first three episodes before it shifts over to a standalone comedic episode that caps it off. After the events with Julietta in the previous batch, things have gone back to what I guess you could consider is normal for the group. Unfortunately for them, a large group of students have come down from Hokkaido for a school vacation and they're all part of one particular gang known as the Black Union of Righteousness and Sincerity. These are the basic kind of thuggish looking badass guys you'd expect as they all wear their bulky black school uniforms and essentially take over a large chunk of Shibuya as they check out the sights and sounds of the place.
What turns things on its ear though is when a small group of them come across our leads and they're all stunned to see... Mina. Through a brief and amusing flashback, it turns out that they acquired photos of her from her swimsuit gig previously and have been lusting after her since as the newest starlet of the big boobs fetish genre of Japanese youth. These guys are crafty and ask for a photo with her and are all nice and happy, but when the camera snaps they actually kidnap her and head off so they can take her to their leader, Kinjiro. Maki would go after them but she gets sidetracked beforehand by Sakiyama who foolishly continues to try and challenge her. She's getting better but she'll never catch up to Maki's level.
This leads to someone else picking up the slack and though it starts off with Reicchi on his bike going after her, and that has some great moments as they bike across the rooftops, eventually you get everyone getting into the picture from Roo-cha to the construction guy and eventually even Julietta and Maki's father. It's like old cast week as everyone gets back together in what turns into a ringside event. Kinjiro eventually ends up with Mina but he's so uninterested in girls that he's set to take her back and just be done with it so he can continue to look for the Airmaster. Of course, this brings the two of them together and we finally get one of the best fight sequences yet since the Black Union arrived. Kinjiro's surprisingly more of a challenge than even Julietta was and the entire event forces Maki to remember why she gets into these fights and we see more of her past from it. This is just really great and engaging fight sequences that doesn't hold back. Having watched a lot of tournament and fight shows in the last couple of years, the bloody nature of this one is refreshing, especially since it doesn't involve demons or some other kind of otherworldly beings.
While a lot of the focus is on the Maki/Kinjiro fight, the subcast got a lot of good time here. It was good to see such characters as Roo-cha appear once again to offer advice and his services as well as the two punks from the opening episode getting involved once more. Sakiyama continues to be a mixture of pure annoyance and amusement since she does have her moments, though this time she's more annoyance since she just interrupts other fight scenes. What surprised me was how little Mina really bothered me this episode and I even found myself laughing repeatedly at the big breast jokes. Heaven help me.
The fights this time are a bit more varied and a bit more comical up until we get to the real on between Maki and Kinjiro. They also allow for practically everyone from the first eight episodes to get some screen time and participate in their own way. The whole thing is capped off by a pretty silly stand alone episode but overall this was just a lot of fun in general. The violence side feels a little more intense this time around, particularly with the fight between Maki and Kinjiro, but it also manages to deal out some comedy at times as well, such as when Tsukio finds the exterior to his apartment ruined and he ends up beating the snot out of Mina’s fans with ease. The mixture of comedy and violence can be dicey at times depending on when one crosses the other, but Air Master manages it well and it’s just good fun in the end.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.