Air TV Vol. #2 (also w/box) - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: TV 14
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98/39.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Air TV/Movie

Air TV Vol. #2 (also w/box)

By Chris Beveridge     October 12, 2007
Release Date: September 25, 2007


Air TV Vol. #2 (also w/box)
© ADV Films


What They Say
The search for the winged girl behind the sky continues. As Yukito‚€™s relationship with Misuzu grows, new complications surface. Whereas Misuzu yearns for a companion closer than ever before, Yukito is forced to choose between what the heart wants and what the heart needs. Meanwhile, the strain on Minagi‚€™s life at home is bought to light. She lives with her mother, yet remains alone. Only great loss may bring the two of them together. Also, a glimpse of the past answers the queries of the present ‚€“ but with it, new questions arise; deeper, darker and more dangerous.

The Review!
Shifting its focus onto Minagi before throwing a sizeable curve into the past, Air mixes more surreal moments into a slice of life format.

Audio:
The bilingual release for this series is presented with both tracks in a 5.1 mix that runs at 448 kbps. It's a surprising show t have in 5.1, at least for these first four episodes, as it's a very mellow and dialogue filled piece without anything that really stands out in the rear channels. The forward soundstage does come across well with plenty of distinct and clear moments and some good placement but the material itself just don't scream out to be done in a full 5.1 format. The opening and closing sequences make out the best with it by having a very full sounding feeling to it. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2005, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. Air features a very rich design when it comes to the character animation but even more so with the backgrounds. As such, the look of the show is lush and filled with beautiful detail and colors that comes across wonderfully here. The show has a fairly high bitrate for it and in general it's a very solid looking presentation. The faults with it, in the source itself I believe, lay within the edges of areas such as characters hair where you can see a good bit of line noise during some of the zooms and pans. It's very apparent in Yukito's hair due to the way he's designed but it shows up elsewhere as well. There is also a touch of light fuzziness in the opening sequence where it's very busy but it's very brief and hard to notice.

Packaging:
Using the same character artwork as the first Japanese cover but using a much richer looking background scene of clouds, the front cover here is a great looking piece that mixes bright and dark with detailed character designs. Michiru and Minagi look good here as they stand out as strong and clear while the backgrounds are more diffused. It's a very appealing design over all, right down to the use of the proper logo. The back cover has images of clouds and feathers obscured behind the dark overlay and is laid out in a very appealing way. Mixes of shots from the show are arranged across it with the discs features along the top and a good summary of the premise. The bottom portion has a good sized technical grid that covers all the basics of what to expect in a very easy to read format. No insert is included with this release nor is there a reversible cover.

In addition to the DVD release, there is a DVD+box release that will house the entire four volume run of the series. The heavy chipboard box is quite beautiful as the glossy paper used really lets the colors shine and stand out. One main panel has an image of Kanna with her wings spread wide while the other has a group shot of the four main girls from early on laying on the grass and reaching out to the clouds. The logos are well placed though I'm curious about the small block that has "Air on TV" on it. The spine uses a zoomed in version of Misuzu with her little stuffed animal set against some very blue skies that will stand out wonderfully on a shelf.

Menu:
The design for the menu is an interesting one as it brings in the character artwork of Misuzu from the first volume cover and pairs it with a background shot from the past with feathers floating by. There is a good brief instrumental piece associated with it that really reinforces the laid back nature of the show. The menu is fairly standard design for ADV Films but it has some good little bits to it that show them moving away from the very basic menus they've done for the past year. In an interesting and welcome twist, there is a title card at the end of the volume to look forward to the next volume. The title card is the same as the menu so when it finishes out you're dropped right back to the main menu with little change. It can't be seamless due to DVD limitations but it's a great little thing that ties it all together better. The disc correctly read our players' language presets and played accordingly.

Extras:
The extras for this volume are pretty minimal as it only includes a clean version of the opening and closing sequence.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The series moves through the middle of its overall story by finishing out the "Dream" portion and settling into the "Summer" arc. The opening volume presented a show that was very laid back, curious and lightly touching on the surreal elements that surround it all. With this volume we get a bit more of that before it gets a bit more obvious and then shifts to something out of left field with a trip back in time about a thousand years.

The "Dream" arc has been good for introducing us to the various characters and their situations bit by bit. Yukito's pursuit of a girl who can fly has him wandering from town to town and his arrival in this particular one has introduced him to some very interesting young women. Misuzu was a good part of the focus early on but it shifted to the other characters rather quickly and gave her a back seat role for awhile that continues on even in this volume. The opening episodes focus more on Minagi and Michiru as Yukito finds himself spending more and more time with them. The trio form a bit of a bond when Minagi invites Yukito to come along to her Astronomy Club, of which she is the president and sole member of. It also expands nicely when the three of them share some sand crystals that are very precious to her as it came from her father before he left.

Where it becomes fascinating is when we start to understand more of Minagi's home life. The death of her younger sister caused problems that led to her parents divorce but it also caused psychological issues for her mother. So much so that she has shifted between not believing her daughter was dead to believing it was Minagi who had died. There have even been instances where Minagi was treated as the daughter that lived which is something that she did in order to ease her mothers mind. We don't see a lot of what went on but it is inferred quite heavily and what little is said really paints a said and tragic picture. Yukito serves well as character that helps characters through changes and becomes a catalyst for their lives. The surreal aspect of all of this with the trio that is used here is plainly obvious almost from the start but the way it's presented keeps it intriguing throughout.

The focus does return to Misuzu for a bit thankfully as I find her to be the most interesting character of the bunch. Something about her just isn't normal and that's going beyond the issues that she has in her life. Her outlook on things and the way she looks at the world is very interesting to watch since it can get you to look at how you view things. Her past isn't explained much here but we get a clearer picture of her relationship with her mother but also in how she handles relationships in general. Yukito was allowed to stay in the house since she seemed so comfortable with him but that's starting to fall off as she's having attacks from being so close to him. Yukito has actually been away from her more due to the Minagi story arc which may be affecting her feelings as well. Misuzu has so many trust issues with people that they seem to manifest in a number of ways that invariably end in her losing whatever friends she has. So much so that even her parents didn't want her.

Where the Air series really throws me for a loop is that just when it looks like we're going to get some really fascinating material with Yukito and Misuzu, it decides to shift back to the year 994. No, not 1994, 994. Introducing us to a young woman named Kanna who is considered a winged angel of sorts, she's protected and kept secure by moving about the country to different locations so that she can fulfill her destiny someday. The place she's currently at has led her to make friends with a young woman named Uraha and a young man named Ryuya. The trio have a fun relationship with each other as there as a casualness to it that lets them tease and have fun in what would otherwise be difficult times. When it's discovered that Kanna is being readied to move again, they decide to work together to escape so that Kanna can go find her mother and explain to her why she has these beautiful wings.

There are plenty of obvious parallels drawn here, as Ryuya is an incarnation of Yukito, right down to the scar that they now share on their backs. Uraha feels like Minagi and Kanna is plainly Misuzu in a different form. The events in all of this are certainly related to what's happening in the present, but its placement after the dream arc comes as such a twist that you're almost unsure you want to see this part just yet. Misuzu had gotten to be an interesting character now that Yukito was focused on her again as well as discovering what it is that he really needs to do. The understanding of his own past with his mother and how she has guided him gives a strong indication of his path to the future. Shifting the focus to the past in order to tell the future isn't bad, but the timing of it feels like it may not have come at the best place just yet.

In Summary:
Air has garnered plenty of fan attention during its original run and watching these episodes play out, particularly the first seven of them, has shown it to be a fascinating show both in visual quality and the way it handles the lives of these young women. There hasn't been anything that screams that it's a show you will remember for the length of your life but it has a very pleasant and laid back atmosphere that can suck you in without realizing just how strongly it has you. This volume has some very different focuses to it and the lack of direct attention on the present day Misuzu has me a bit concerned about where it's all going. The release in general is quite solid though and fans of the show will love what's been presented here. If not for the last episode I'd probably be more optimistic about it but right now it's just a cautious optimism.

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

Review Equipment
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.

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