Book Review: Manga - Air Gear Vol. 1

Written by Aaron Auzins
Published September 19, 2006

While the school-brawling theme has already lent itself to a large number of manga, the fresh new series Air Gear by Ballantine Books (published by Del Ray Manga) succeeds in taking the genre to new heights – literally.

Air Gear Vol. 1: Oh! Great debuts the story of Itsuki Minami, often referred to by his peers as the “Babyface of Eastside.” Easily the strongest among his classmates at Higashi Junior High School, Itsuki is called upon to defend the eastside territory in an annual brawl to decide whether the east or west controls the central district. However, this year, the westside competitor proves to be quite a sore loser, as he doesn’t hesitate to take advantage of his connection with gangsters.

Unfortunately for Itsuki, the Skull Saders are no ordinary gang. Being notorious for having a penchant for violence and taking anything they want when they want, an ambush turns the Babyface’s world upside-down. Using high-tech skates called Air Trecks, the gang can easily fly through the air at high speeds and use the technology to bruise and batter Itsuki.

Now a shell of his former self and a laughing stock at his school, Itsuki receives help from an unlikely ally – the Noyamano sisters, with whom he lives. The gals introduce him to his own pair of Air Trecks to even the playing field. With his newly inherited skill and the mysterious past of his housemates, Itsuki sets off to a new battle where more than just territory is at stake.

The first volume stacks in with more than 200 pages, which includes five chapters of the story as well as extra features. The first nine pages of the manga are a full color reprint of the original Japanese prologue and following the story is a section of character sketches and profiles as well as translation notes and a four-page preview of Vol. 2. Needless to say, Air Gear Vol. 1 provides plenty of material to acquaint readers to the series and warrant a $10.95 price tag.

The art in Air Gear is handled very nicely with appropriate distinctions between action, comedy and emotional panels. Since the characters use Air Trecks in almost all the fight sequences, a lot of the action panels feature motion blur and speed streaks. While there are a few panels in which this may lead to a little confusion over what exactly is going on, the sense of speed and adrenaline is accounted for and is further fueled by graffiti-style onomatopoeia kanji.

Overall, the translation process for Air Gear was handled very well. The writing ties the symbolism of all of the birds in the story and the personality of each of the characters is very evident in the way they converse with each other. The text is also very easy to follow and doesn’t get lost in any of the panels.

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Aaron Auzins, better known as "nestlekwik," is an avid gamer and collector who resides in Ohio. He has written video gaming reviews for The Northwest Signal, The Disclaimer, personal Web sites, GameFAQs, BitSmack and on Sony's invitation-only Web log - The Gamer Advisory Panel.
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Book Review: Manga - Air Gear Vol. 1
Published: September 19, 2006
Type: Review
Section: Books
Filed Under: Books: Comics and Graphic Novels
Writer: Aaron Auzins
Aaron Auzins's BC Writer page
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#1 — September 19, 2006 @ 12:34PM — Christina Little

Great manga review! Glad to see your first manga review turned out so well.

#2 — September 19, 2006 @ 15:47PM — Sterfish [URL]

I enjoyed what I was able to read of this series before it was licensed for U.S. publication. This review made me hopeful that this series will come over intact (and not heavily edited like Oh! Great's previous series Tenjho Tenge).

#3 — June 25, 2007 @ 00:12AM — tihan

what else new episode of air gear ?
hwo i can download free chapter & film of air gear?
thanks so much

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