Air - movie
Yukito has been a wander for so long, he doesn't even know where he intended to go. By chance he meets a girl named Mizuho working on a project over the summer. Mizuho has an unexplained illness, and has missed most of the school year. During the summer she offers to make it up by doing a research project on a local legend of a winged person who once lived near her town. Yukito doesn't have a place to stay, so the two strike a deal. Yukito can stay in her shed, but will have to help Mizuho on her project.
As the two unravel the mysteries of the legend, they also discover things about themselves. They also discover they might be becoming more than friends.
I watched the Air - TV series, and wasn't impressed with it to put it nicely. It did have potential, and if done differently could be good. Which is why I was receptive to watching this movie. If you haven't seen the TV series, don't bother. Go read my review to find out why you shouldn't see it (I'll wait). This move takes the story and concepts and turns them into a tale that works very well. The TV series is a good example of why pandering to visual novel enthusiasts can lead a series astray. The movie is a good example of how to adopt a good concept, and work it into an anime that's worth watching.
Visually it looks great. The TV series had an art style that made the characters look rather awkward, but they look good in the movie. Air has incredibly vibrant colors, although at times they overwhelm the film and look washed out. Also overwhelming are some sequences with too much "stuff" flying around everywhere, like cherry blossoms and sparkles. The music and vocal cast are the same as the TV series. Considering they did a good job before, there isn't much more I need to say there.
Now getting to the story. The Air TV series went in all sorts of crazy directions, stuck them together in ways that weren't well thought out, and failed to focus enough on clear story. The movie hits the important parts of the TV series, but does a MUCH better job at putting things together. There are two parts to Air. There's the relationship between Yukito and Mizuho, and there's the story about the winged girl. Instead of some ridiculously out of place flashback, both stories are developed in parallel and linked by their similarity.
One thing that hasn't changed is that it's a sad love story. In the time constraints of a movie, it's difficult to pull off a sincere romance where people have just met, but Air does a good job of it. The one thing I did like about the Air TV series involved the family drama between Mizuho and her aunt. The movie being more focused on other things didn't dig into this aspect as much, but I think still added some depth to the show. Air isn't perfect though. The tie in with the winged girl is out of place no matter how it's presented (even if tied in well enough here). The ending manages not to be a catastrophe like in the TV series, but I would still say is... untidy.
If this mainly turned into a comparison with the TV series, I apologize for that, but I think Air gets a lot of flack because of the TV series and they miss out on a movie which is actually pretty good. I'm not going to lie, I'm not particular on love stories that have sad endings since they rarely have a conclusion that appeases me (except in kung-fu movies oddly enough), but for a sad love story, I think Air did a great job in developing a tale within its time constraints. The concept is unusual, but I think that's part of the charm of the film.
Yukito: If you know where you've come from, and you know where you are headed, you're not on a true journey. When you're on a true journey you've long forgotten why you left in the first place. You have no idea where you're supposed to go.
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