Type: TV (12 episodes)
Air - TV
Yukito is a wanderer who makes his "living" by animating a puppet as a show. He travels the country to continue the wish of his mother: to meet the girl in the sky. Yukito enters a small town by the sea which looks any other, however here he will encounter three unusual girls; one of whom may have clues to the girl in the sky.
Air suffers from pretty much every pitfall in being a visual novel, and then some. Before I get into details about that, I should probably get the other stuff out of the way. The animation is reasonable. The backdrops and colors are very attractive. Character designs attempted a very cute look, but by trying too hard, they look awkward with oversized eyes that are spaced too far apart. While I liked the intro music and sequence, the background music was a little too loud and busy. This wasn't a big deal most of the time, but it was certainly distracting in some places.
Air covers the story of one gloomy asshat of a guy, and his interactions 5 girls. The story is cut up into 6 distinct sections. Wait, there's only 12 episodes, how can this work with 6 parts? That's only part of the problem. Anyway, gloom dude meets super chipper ditsy girl, and while he's not the least bit enchanted by her at first, she grows on him. Sound familiar? *cough* Not long after their introduction, the Yukito / Mizuho story is put on the back burner as Air covers the story of 3 other girls in two stories.
The first story involves a girl possessed by a spirit. From time to time her memory goes blank when the spirit takes control of her. She's had to cope the this condition for many years, but more recently her actions become more and more of a danger to herself. One of the central ideas in Air is a "hint of magic" theme used to resolve problems (often themselves supernatural in nature). Not really liking any of the characters, nor caring what happened to them, and disinterested in the solution; I'd say this story was a failure.
The next story has the opposite problem. The characters are more likable, but the story doesn't flow well and again the resolution doesn't finish it well. Air finally moves towards a real story with Yukito, Misuzu and her detached mother (who is actually her aunt). This story starts to turn into a decent family oriented drama, but then this anime goes totally crazy. Misuzu's illness suddenly causes her to be bedridden. Then she loses her memories, and reverts to an almost child like state. The next two episodes go into a flashback in history where a winged girl and her guardian try to escape a prison to see her mother. Yukito comes back out of this flashback, and is reincarnated as a crow. As a crow, he is back in time and sees parts of the same story from a different perspective (which was kind of interesting). If you think this is wacky, I haven't even gotten to the end.
Towards the end, Air could have concluded decently but instead hits failure after failure in a chain combo that left me awestruck. I wanted it to stop more than a few times, but the train wreck just kept on going. End drama can work and it takes effort and time for a proper setup. Even then, there's a limit to how much drama can be packed into a time space. Air however, drops drama bomb after drama bomb in an attempt to pull at your heart strings, but does it so half assed that it results in failure. Desperation in trying to be "touching" is about how I would describe it.
Air throws as much stuff at you as it can in the hope that something sticks and you like it. This frantic attempt at "touching drama" honestly put me off, even in the parts I did start to like. And yes I did like a few things about Air, just not a whole lot. If the story of Misuzu and Yukito interests you, I'd highly recommend checking into the Air - movie which is much more focused, has better animation/design, a well developed story (very similar but not the same), and a romance that works. Nearly everything I would do to fix to this series actually was done properly in the movie. I'm not sure I have the heart to say this is bad, but it has too many problems to recommend.
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