What an absolute tease.
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)
The finale to Air Master is, unsurprisingly, fairly unfulfilling. The anime ran through part of 2004 and the manga itself, clocking in at twenty-eight volumes, finished out in 2006. A show like this can end at a good point where you feeling things have progressed and even with a “chapter one” feeling to a larger story that makes you want more but still feel satisfied. Air Master doesn’t quite get there and instead leaves you unfulfilled about the Fukamichi Rankings as they stand but then they introduce something else to the show that really catches your attention and makes you want to know more. And know more now.
The final three episodes of the show are pretty good, but it almost feels like they started to put some stuff in just to try and change the structure a bit for the big finale. The opening is a lot of fun as we get Konishi and Julietta going at it, though Konishi is really too undeveloped at this point to really get behind. The fun in watching it revolves around seeing Julietta pushed more than he has been in the past, and seeing what it is that motivates him to really succeed. Naked Maki isn’t exactly the kind of fanservice most people are looking for, but that they go there with a naked scene of her – both in reality and in Julietta’s dreams – is really nicely done and provides something we hadn’t seen in the show. The sequence in Maki’s place really feels awkward to say the least, but it does fit in with the way Julietta has been presented at times.
The subplot that starts around this time involves Maki, which is good since she gets the short end of the stick in a way for these first two episodes. She’s had a certain realization with her abilities recently and she’s started putting it into effect where she’s able to sense things more through the wind, through the motion of air and the way it moves. It’s given her the ability to see more clearly when blindfolded and to feel what’s happening even quicker than her already heightened senses and reflexes. It’s really neat to see her grow in this manner and it’s a good balance to the otherwise goofy series of events focused around Kinjiro trying to become Shizuna-man in full and realizing that it’s not who he is and not what he needs to do to move on.
All of this seems like it’s not really building to anything other than moving forward with the Fukamichi fights a fair bit. So when episode twenty-seven rolls around and it shifts completely, you’re not exactly caught completely unaware but it feels out of left field in a large way. We’re suddenly introduced to the concept of Eternals, ancient spirit fighters of sorts who are now setting the stage for the next battle so that the one that’s living in this time can be defeated and moved on to the spirit realm. I think. The focus is that this particular Eternal is the one that is ranked first in the Fukamichi Rankings and the Rankings revolve around finding someone strong enough to defeat him so he can move on. Maki’s been selected as the most likely and we get a lengthy brutal fight between the two that’s really nicely animated and has a lot of impact. But it feels like this episode is just too soon and put in there to tease about what else there is and how cool it is. I came away from the episode wanting desperately to know more but sad that there’s no more anime and the manga was never released over here.
I really liked Air Master at the start, both when I first saw the DVDs and when I saw it streaming. The first dozen or so episodes are spot on fun with great non-standard designs for the characters that it kept me very engaged. As it moved on, adapting from the manga, you could tell they were just taking the basics and running with it, giving it a decent life and moving it forward. But it also started to feel rushed at times but without a clear vision of how it wanted to end its run. That’s very apparent with this set of episodes, but they provide so many neat little intriguing moments at the end that I can almost forgive them. This is a fun show, one that isn’t meant to be taken seriously but one that you can really get into. I keep coming back to how great a character Maki is, both in personality and design, that I wish more shows would take this idea and run with it. Less conformity, more going for something different. I wish Toei had managed to get all of this out on disc, but I’m glad to finally be able to finish it off through the FUNimation site. Good stuff even if it does end in a fulfilling way.
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.