Itsuki was just another thug in a gang that ran a small area around his school. One day he finds out about powerful self propelled inline skates called Air Treks (AT). ATs lead Itsuki to into another world where skill, guts, and natural ability are all required. What he could never have imagined is how large the plot is surrounding the AT scene, and how he would become a key part in it.
Air Gear looks like it's going to be a sports anime featuring high tech in-line skates. If you're going to watch this for that reason you'll need to rethink that, because Air Gear has nothing to do with that stuff - even if it hints at it in the beginning. The Air Treks (ATs) are basically a plot device that empowers characters with super powers. These could have been weapons, cybernetic implants or magic frying pans. As things progress it becomes more and more about random fights than anything about ATs.
The characters are an odd assortment. With the exception of one girl, I hated everyone as it started, but a few of them grew on me as the show progressed. The story likewise didn't jive with me either. Putting this together I wrote Air Gear off as bad by the 3rd episode, but around the middle I found I was okay with the direction it took. I guess in a world of punks rolling around on in-line skates, a dude in a wheelchair totally kicking ass made me think maybe this show was just weird enough to like. Some of the back stories are also pretty good, which went a long way in patching things up with me.
Then things get weird. Itsuki starts out as a guy who wants to race around, but it turns out he's the chosen one. Once upon a time there were powerful skaters all gathered in one place that had a disagreement and split among them powerful skate parts called Regallia. Each of these kings represents a road leading to the summit of the tower of Trapia. It is said that one who is known as the Sky King will unite the roads once more and... are you following this? Wait, it gets weirder.
Air Gear gets deep into pseudo philosophical things as it progresses. Sometimes it almost sounds insightful too. It's a lot like two pot heads watching a nature program on TV and questioning the purpose of the universe as animals fight - while they're high. That's when you'd realize what they're saying is nonsense. Each person in Air Gear seems to have some sort of patron thing like a crow, shark or fighter jet that represents them. It takes this stuff way too literally. There will be a bunch of talk about a crow trying to fly through the sky, but then being bound by a cage of thorns, but then the crow can't be bound by such things because of the power of the wind. It actually shows this stuff too. What does this have to do with in-line skates? Yeah nothing. And pretty much any constraints of reality go out the window with Air Gear making stuff up as it goes.
While I'm critical of this stuff, it does give Air Gear an unusual philosophical disposition unlike any sports or shounen fighting anime I could name. True, it induced lots of eye rolling, but it's kinda cool at the same time. Mind you, while this might all sound interesting, the execution of the story is rather poor.
By the end I found it was decent but overplayed a few things. It doesn't really have any plot twists, one of the AT battles lasted for 6 episodes (way too long), and as the manga is ongoing; this anime doesn't have a conclusion. I wouldn't recommend this for a few reasons. It's a pretty niche title requiring patience, and the payoff isn't that great. For a shounen fighting anime, Air Gear is okay for what it is, just squeaking by as average.
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reviewed by archen in 2012