Air Gear Vol. #09 (Mania.com)

By:Robert Harris
Review Date: Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Release Date: Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Ikki and pals fight for their right to be pretentious, but Behemoth isn’t backing down. They like being pretentious too!

Creative Talent:
Writer/Artist: Oh! Great
Translation: Makoto Yukon
Adaptation: Makoto Yukon

What They Say:
FINAL COUNTDOWN

The last phase of the ultimate battle between the underdog Kogarasumaru and the fearsome Behemoth has begun - and it's up to Ikki and Agito to seal the deal and achieve Air Treck glory. All Ikki wants is to be the greatest Air Treck rider ever - but for Agito, the battle is personal. Could it be that the key to victory lies in Agito's past?

The Review:

I had high hopes for <B>Air Gear</B>. It seemed so attractive, for reasons only partially owing to its interesting premise. Oh! Great’s slick, modern art style coupled with a fast-paced, light-hearted story about a plucky pubescent pugilist and his sometimes cowardly, always stupid friends? It wasn’t a breath of fresh air exactly, but it was entertaining and good but crude fun. Here we are now, eight volumes later, and I’m simply left wishing that <B>Air Gear</B> would improve enough to be called ‘decent’.
 
This volume is almost completely dominated by the fight between the remaining members of Kogarasumaru and Behemoth. I’m happy to report that the action scenes are much, much better this time around. Watching Agito fight is always an entertaining experience, and Ikki continues to be Ikki, which means poorly thought out stunts and strategies which shouldn’t really work against competent opponents, but still do. And we accept it, because it’s all lighthearted good fun.
 
The story itself is still pretty trashy. We get to see Agito and Akira back when they were best buds, which is neat, but Akira’s reasons for breaking things off and creating Behemoth are so painfully, stereotypically anime that it almost physically hurts. Which is to say nothing about the metaphors which still drip, like venom, from the mouths of each character. Oh! Great has kicked it into overdrive in this volume, and if clumsy metaphors could kill this volume would be classified an act of terrorism. Knowing that someone read this dialog and signed off on it is, frankly, embarrassing for me as a reader. As a personal favor I won’t go into another diatribe about questionable scientific explanations, but rest assured they are still present, and I still loathe them with a disturbing vigor.
 
In Summary:
This was definitely an improvement on Volume 7. The action, which makes up about 90% of this book, was very good, and it’s a relief to see Oh! Great back in his groove. Unfortunately other aspects, particularly the dialog, are still problematic at best. I’m not looking for Shakespeare; I’d be more than willing to accept what we had in the first few volumes. Namely, the banal chattering of a group of middle school morons with an occasionally clever joke thrown into the mix. This change of direction towards a more cohesive, overarching story is unnerving. In the hands of a more capable storyteller I would be excited, but Oh! Great has proved to me with the Behemoth arc that he is nothing approaching a capable storyteller.



Mania Grade: C
Art Rating: A
Packaging Rating: A
Text/Translation Rating: B+
Age Rating: 16+
Released By: Del Rey
MSRP: 10.99
Pages: 208
ISBN: 978-0345501950
Size: B6
Orientation: Right to Left