Air TV Vol. #3 (of 4) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Release Date: Tuesday, October 30, 2007
What They Say
Kanna‚€™s reunion with her lost mother has left her even more confused and heart-broken than before. Forced to move on, she finds herself scrambling to pick up the pieces and searching for someone else entirely this time ‚€“ herself. Misuzu yearns to discover herself as well. And in her case, the friends and loved-ones around her stand to gain or suffer with each new question answered. Perspective becomes key. Misuzu will learn that a person is more than merely who they think they are. She will see that she is a friend, a daughter, a dream and after that, she is whatever she chooses to be.
The focus shifts several times during these last episodes but one thing is paramount above all else and that is that family is possibly the most important thing.
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.
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.
Using the same character artwork as the 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. Misuzu and Haruko really work well together here as it has a very light and ethereal look to it. 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 are 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.
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.
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)
At the very end of the series, I'm admittedly sitting there wondering what the point of all of it was. Not that every show has to have a point as I've certainly seen my share of them over the years, but when you come away from Air, the predominant feeling is one of sadness as things simply don't end well for the core cast of characters. Most everyone that has been touched upon by either Misuzu or Yukito have come away better for it as their lives became clearer, but for the real core trio of Misuzu, Yukito and Haruko, there is nothing but sadness.
Sometimes you just need a good cry.
The four episodes on this volume are fairly strange in terms of structure. The opening episode is the end of the Dream arc in which we see how things played out for poor Kanna a thousand years ago. After finding her mother and attempting to escape with her, it all ends quite tragically for both her and her mother. What is left from the tragedy is a belief by both Uraha and Ryuya that some day Kanna will be reincarnated and there will be a chance to let her find the happiness that she wants. The only way to help that future goal is for the two of them to sire a child together and pass down the story for generations. Tied with the strong magic that Uraha has learned, it's the best hope that they have, and one that they must complete quickly.
When the series shifts back to the present, it does so in a slightly different manner by going back to just around the beginning of the first arc of the series which introduced us to Misuzu and Yukito. It's shown through the eyes of a crow that Misuzu befriends and names Sky who is a reincarnation himself. Through the crows eyes, we follow events from the series in a slightly different view with pieces that were kept hidden from us. While much of it focused initially on Yukito's perception of events, through Sky we're able to see how other parts of it played out, mostly in regards to Haruko and how she was handling everything with Misuzu.
As much as this arc does focus on Misuzu, it tends to focus more on Haruko and her struggle to deal with Misuzu. She's been an interesting character in the series but one who has so much possibly going on that getting only a fraction of it really doesn't do her justice. Her attitudes with Misuzu seemed odd but not unexpected considering the situation that Misuzu's father put her in. Her struggle with it is given quite a good look here, especially as time progresses and Yukito leaves. With both Misuzu and Haruko back on their own once again, and with Yukito's prophetic words about dreams to her, she realizes that she's become far more attached to the child than she could ever have imagined. The way she's questioning everything about what she's done over the years really makes her the most humanized member of the cast and really helps to sell these episodes with its great sadness.
But in the end, I'm still looking at this show as if I'm missing some key element to all of it. There is great tragedy throughout, much suffering borne by many of the characters, and ties to a storyline in the past that indicates that this will happen again and again. Uplifting and positives moments are certainly there but the come to the secondary characters that Yukito touches upon over the course of the series. For the core cast of characters, it's simply a tragedy in slow motion. There is certainly appeal in this since if everything was light and fluffy it wouldn't be good in the long run, but Air feels like it's missing something that really makes it truly tragic, truly a striking and defining moment. The emotions are certainly honest though, and depending on where you are in your life you'll find different people to sympathize with. These episodes left me feeling terribly bad for Haruko and has some imagery that will stay with me for some time.
Japanese 5.1 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Clean Opening,Clean Closing
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.
Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B-
Age Rating: TV 14
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Air TV/Movie