By Avi Weinryb
February 27, 2008 - 08:00
At first glance, this manga seems to offer a formulaic approach to the shonen (made for boys) genre; young kids with various abilities do battle until a victor is crowned. There must be something more to the series. After all, beyond being a popular manga series, Air Gear has inspired both an anime movie, and a musical!
The story in this volume frames itself with a healthy dose of drama as teammates employ their special abilities in a bid to defeat their elitist challengers. There is a lot at stake. Beyond risking the quality of their reputations, the members of Ikki’s team could die. Each of their individual abilities and life experiences could make the difference. Buccha is a faithful member of the team, distinguished by his friendly nature. The author crafts a unique character who can manipulate the blood flow in his body in order to create temporary muscles of grandeur. In providing each of the characters with a unique series of traits, the author ensures that readers will not gloss over the team as a homogenous blob, but rather as special figures worthy of attention. When the battle royale kicks off, there is an emotional investment in the Kogarasumaru warriors and their plight.
The illustrations are generally well-detailed and lively, but they sometimes suffer. Overly chaotic moments can become extremely disorienting, with the entire page filling with movement. Readers may alternate between exhilaration and exasperation as the story wanes on, but the action in the Air Gear saga has a way of sorting itself out. By the conclusion of this volume, the art compliments the story and the busy book is fun.
7 / 10