Air Gear

An impression of the series from the first volume

Today I’m going to give a brief impression of the first volume of Air Gear.

I could not possibly whet my anticipation more than it currently is. I do hope that this is not yet another publication which will be canceled half way through?

No, with some relief I can report that this is a series that looks like it’s going strong. Let’s get going with the sales pitch:

Itsuki Minami needs no introduction - everybody's heard of the 'Babyface' of the East-side. He's the toughest kid at Higashi Junior High School, easy on the eyes but dangerously tough when he needs to be. Plus Itsuki lives with the mysterious and sexy Noyamano sisters, so life's never dull. But it gets downright dangerous when Itsuki leads his school to victory over some vindictive Westside punks with gangster connections. Now he stands to lose his school, his friends, and everything he cares about. But in his darkest hour, the Noyamano girls come to Itsuki’s aid. They can teach him a powerful skill that will save their school from the gangsters’ siege - and introduce Itsuki to a thrilling and terrifying new world.

When I first saw the title an impression formed in my mind that this would be a comic about sports. I hear that these are quite popular nowadays.

That’s what I thought at first as well when I first saw what looked like an emphasis on Rollerblades, but in fact it’s more about gang warfare. Though admittedly all of the gang warfare is carried out whilst on crazy futuristic Rollerblade-thingies.

I am sure these inline skates are not actually called “Rollerblade-thingies” in the book.

Well, no, they have a much cooler name: they’re called “Air Trecks”. The best I can describe them is a cross between rocket boots and the long-fall boots from Portal: somewhere in those small, lightweight boots are motors that let the wearer accelerate quickly and reach high speeds; then there’s some sort of unexplained impact system that stops anyone falling from a moderate height from injuring themselves.

Inline skates are often associated with hoodlums and other ne'er do wells. Would that theme be explored in this material?

Yes, that’s where the gangs come in. Itsuki - along with quite a lot of help - goes up against various gangs and gang leaders, and most of the fight scenes revolve around the use of the air tecks.

The fights themselves are a little more violent than you might be used to in most action comics, but they’re very well scripted. From what I’ve seen so far, they’re always sharp, to the point, and never go on longer than they need to. Plus the use of the Air Trecks gives the combatants unique options that you wouldn’t see in most other comics.

What other topics are covered in this work?

Well, along side the “serious” violence, as per the norm in Japanese Manga there is more “light” violence in the form of the odd bit of slap-stick comedy. Usually in the form of “boy does something inappropriate, gets hit by girl”.

Then there’s the mystery of the Sleeping Forest gang, who help Itsuki out in the first volume, prompting him to find out more about them.

Oh and speaking of, um, exploring mysteries, there’s the occasional bit of fan service. There’s not that much (in the first volume at least), but if you’re not into manly men picking fights and then trying to look at attractively proportioned girls in the shower, I think you may be put off this series.

I believe I may obtain this book for seven of my British pounds. Should I make this purchase?

Hmm, I’d say probably yes. I must warn you that - even without resorting to much blood or gore - there is actually quite a lot of violence and intimidation used in this book; it’s a bit dark in places. But all of this is expertly used to make you really feel for the main character and to draw you into the story. It’s a gripping read.