エアマスター Air Master Review


Maki Aikawa is a taller than usual girl known as the "Air Master" for her mastery over aerial combat.  She is a street fighter aiming to reach her true potential and to find the same pressure and intensity she relished when she was a child.  She continues to fight opponent-after-opponent, each more powerful than the last in the hopes of finding "herself".

The anime known as "エアマスター Air Master" came into my view a couple of times; but it was not until I saw it on the Crackle app on my Microsoft Xbox 360 did I finally decide to give it a shot on if it would be an anime I liked or not.

So now, I am bringing to you my review of Yokusaru Shibata's "エアマスター Air Master".




WARNING!


My reviews are normally elaborate in describing my thoughts and feelings; so hints and/or reveals of the story, character development, and any plot twists regarding the subject that it covers may arise due to the amount of detail needed for explanation.  Being mindful of the fact that spoilers could come into play, it may be better for you to watch, read, and/or play the material before reading this review.  Thank you and happy reading!



Storyline & Plot Impressions



Maki Aikawa is known in the Streets as the "Air Master".  She often fights by showing complete mastery of aerial combat.  Throughout the story Maki is approached by multiple people, all her call her "Air Master" and wishes to fight her because they have heard of her strength (And even more are surprised by the fact the "Air Master" is a female).

In the very beginning of the story Maki befriends a group of girls: Renge Inui, Mina Nakanotani, Yuu Takigawa, and Michiru Kawamoto.  They quickly become well acquainted and they learn of Maki's street fighting which leads them to show worry and concern, as well as allow them to cheer her on through all of this.

During the course of this plot, Maki continues to "Level Up" after each fight, learning new moves (Well, more like she takes various techniques from her opponent's then uses them herself, such as Lucha Master's Jumping High Kick counter to punches and her dad's Double Arm Lock that she used to subdue her younger  half-sister) as well as moves of her own gained from the heat of battle or by watching others fight (Such as the "Air Spin Driver" and "Air Cut Terminator").  Not only this, she also seems to gain additional abilities in tune with basic applications to enhance moves she already knows; such as superior sense of self and the ability to feel air flow and movement (Because she can tell where air moves, she only needs to know where things are moving through the air in order to avoid it without looking).   Also, with each fight she has she seems to be gathering herself back from her disappointment from when she was a child.  Later revealing most of her joy and confidence was taken when she failed a landing at the gymnastics and her mother passed away, probably inferring that she thought because she was too weak to win that she killed her mother by breaking her promise to her (Which is about the only reference given to why she has so many gymnastics flashbacks and poses like they do in the olympics 

Maki also makes friends from her counters and battles, such as Kaori Sakiyama (Who later acts something like her rival), Shinnosuke Tokita (Yuu has an incredible crush on him), and Sanpaguita Kai (Who she defeated in the World Female Tag-Team Championship and was one of the toughest opponent's Maki faced).  These people often become street fighters because they want to defeat Maki, though, in times of need they often encourage her so she will have the strength to win the fight she is in.  In addition to just gaining rivals and friends through her combat, she also gathers several people who become interested in her romantically and are fighting to prove their worth to her (Shinnosuke Tokita) or are so overly in love that it is more like an obsession (Julietta Sakamoto and Mina Nakanotani).

Later on down the road, Maki is interested in the "Fukamichi Rankings".  The Fukamichi Rankings is something like a "Leaderboard" of strong fighters started by Fukamichi with the intent on finding the best-of-the-best in order to defeat the person who is #1 on the Leaderboard (Known as Eternal).  These fighters begin to give Maki trouble the instant she reached into the Top 10 and was given a "Navigator" device to show her where her next opponent was.  She had three opponent's, each one more deadly than the last.  Maki actually lost to 2 of them and possibly a third.  Upon reaching her final opponent, the one known as "Eternal", she fights him alongside the only woman she is seen losing to in the series (Yuki Minaguchi); and at the end of the battle it is still unclear whether or not she won, but she seems more satisfied than ever and ready for the next challenge that lies ahead.

Impressions
The very first thing I was intrigued by was the introduction; I thought it had a cool song and was very good for a fighting anime, especially how she seems to just be twirling through the air without a care in the world (Not only that but it has one of the most hilarious Endings for their episodes that I have seen for a while) that is a very good start.  Even better was the first "real" fight scene I saw of Maki against Lucha Master, was spectacular and the first time she used the "Air Spin Driver".  It only made me want to see more of the show if all the fights were going to be of this calibur.  Also, I really liked the fact that, while it did reveal panty shots, it did not become one of the typical "school girl" fighting anime that focused a lot on them (Ikki-Tousen), or with a very submissive female character who acts all tough in order to appease some inner conflict (Real Bout High School).

Opponent's becoming more interesting as time went on, but my fascination turned into annoyance by the fact she continued to use this "gymnastic" fighting ability and not once throughout the series do they say whey she is able to fight so well or react so well (I am sure that even an Olympic level gymnast would have problems fighting someone who has only studied martial arts), and while her dad is a pretty good fighter in his own respect; he has trained longer than Maki has (Or at least, I believe, he owns a gym) and lost to opponent's she has fought herself.  Why she is such a skilled fighter?  They never say why she is able to fight and reacts the way she does; only why she is a gymnast and why they keep flashing back to her accomplishments in front of crowds.

Throughout the story they had a lot of things for comedic effect, but I wish they would have been more serious when it actually came to Maki's back story about her mom and why she decided on fighting (It was very brief, and they did not really go into why she started to fight or exactly what type of illness her mother had or what actually brought it on).  They also never specify exactly what Air Master feelings are for Mina, I would have liked some type of confirmation on whether she only adores her or is actually attracted to her romantically and kind of considers her as her girlfriend.  She abandons a fight in order to take Mina to the movies, which reminds me of a date; When Maki was defeated by Yuki she was also sleeping topless next to a topless Maki.  Not only these things though, some of the street fighters seem to be fighting for reasons beyond what seemed as superficial as money from the Fukamichi Rankings (Such as Fukamichi's younger brother who is trying to get out of his brother's shadow), I wish they would have conveyed that.  Not to mention some characters were completely left out and not explained once they were introduced, such as Shinnosuke-kun and the "Eternal" fighter at the very end of the series, also, let me explain that.

To me, the entire thing is ruined by the ending alone.  They never truly explain who Eternal is, except he is probably one of, if not the, strongest fighter(s) in the entire world.  He seems to decimate Maki and level the building with the punch, but they never show him again and Maki appears unscathed.  They never really reveal the woman who can see ghosts and who Renge said "POWWA!" to.  So many loose ends were left on the very last episode that it feels like they should have more in order to clear those up; not only that, you do not know who truly won this match and what happened to the 4th Ranked woman who actually managed to beat Maki.  The reason this is so significant is that a very bad ending which makes no sense can make a good anime seem like a waste of time by making it feel "Incomplete" (Just thinking about the ending to Soul Eater).

All-in-all it was a entertaining plot but the Fukamichi Ranking part of the show began to get progressively worse and should have had more opponents and one hell of a better ending, it is the equivalent of Mass Effect 3's original ending.


Character Development & Impressions


Julietta letting his love for Maki be known!
Something I was pleasantly surprised about was the amount of unique character personalities that this anime was able to actually deliver.  They all seemed to be legit individuals that each possess a completely different persona that had a life all its own, nor did any of their personalities seem forced on them.  You had a wide variety of people from the ordinary to the absolutely insane.

As far as the development of the main character, they did a pretty good job with her progression and seeing her "Level-Up" was not so simple as "I get instantaneously better"; they actually showed her fighting and obtaining new moves and tricks from opponents she defeats and watches.  Even beyond this, they actually show her to be still a female despite being taller than most and a bit masculine with her appearance(Proof by how she blushes when Mina psuedo kisses her, as well as her trance-like state after being deeply kissed by Julietta and did not realize she was at his apartment).  They leave enough mystery in her for you to wonder why she is the way she is, and they show different aspects of her life and family by introducing her young father and half-sister.  They did not quite clear up why she has such a thirst for fighting nor did they actually show why she is so naturally talented.  However, these flaws are easily forgettable because Maki is an easily likable character whose femininity shows more than you would actually expect it to, is a badass when it comes to fighting, and may possible have a girlfriend who is the bustiest in the entire show.

My favorite thing about the other characters is their raw emotion.  Despite not showing many backgrounds of the secondary characters, you can often tell how serious they are and a lot of times they can be taken as either funny or dead serious.  For instance, when Renge wanted to win a eating contest to show she could take are of the cat, even though it was completely funny how she ranted when she won, you could not help but feel she was serious while doing it and felt a sense of embarrassment and accomplishment.  In the case of Nagoto, who is sexually attracted to Kinjiro and was asking him to kiss him to take away the pain Fukamichi inflicted, you laughed constantly but also knew that the guy really loved him.  Not only that, things like when Kinjiro had his arm broken by Yuki Minaguchi and he begged the doctor to make him be able to punch with it was very similar to when Ippo Makunochi of "Hajime no Ippo" asked the doctor to inject anesthesia directly into his fist so he could fight Sendo.  While these things do not add completely to the overall story, they are enough to get you emotionally involved with a character to the point you care about what happens to them and their reasons for continuing to fight.

Something else I like about the characters is the power some of them exhibit.  My favorite character is Julietta Sakamoto, he only really fights with powerful kicks and the majority of the time his hands are in his pockets.  It is not later revealed until he fights with Shun Yashiki that he is an extremely powerful Ki user and  because his concentration level is so high he is nearly immune to pain and can fight even when both of his legs and one of his arms are broken.  Despite being a power house and a rich ghost writer for popular music artists, he is quiet and reserved and does not seem to want fame.  Despite having three beautiful women surrounding him, a famous model, novelist, and singer, he is only in love with Maki and is seen chanting her name throughout most of the serious.  This character is multi-layered and very complex; even with that he is the absolute definition of power in the series.

The biggest draw for me was actually the comedy aspect of it.  Despite エアマスター Air Master being a fighting anime, it had some well-deserved comedy and embarrassing moments that kept you wondering what would happen next with their character antics.  People like Renge, who seemed to always be hungry and had an ability to use "Witch Craft" or Kaori Sakiyama who was always loud and seemed to show up at the most inappropriate times seemed to be invented solely for their comedic effect.  The embarrassing moments are things like when Mina imitates a cow and becomes the Beach Queen, or how Julietta rips off Maki's top to reveal her breasts and she runs away crying.  Despite how serious something is, the comedy usually tells you the level of the writers when it comes to creating a certain mood for the readers.

Overall I think they did a very good job with everyone, though, some scenes could become annoying (Such as Renge yelling "Parfait!" or Sakiyama's attitude when she was fighting that bully in the Women's World Tag Team Tournament).  The characters are very enjoyable, everyone has personality and substance.


The Verdict


Julietta Sakamoto does not play around!
This series was nothing like I expected it to be, primarily because of the comedy and the fact that the fights were solid despite my initial thoughts about it.  It shocked me how Maki was so feminine, despite being tall and loving to fight (Also very masculine in appearance).  Though, I was severely disappointed by the way it ended, mainly because we did not get to see Maki fully fight the guy known as "Eternal" nor did we actually find out the conclusion to the fight (This is just as bad as not knowing if Satomi or Yuki would win at the end of Variable Geo, or if Akuma or Ryu would win at the end of Street Fighter Alpha: The Movie).

I would suggest if you like action and comedy you definitely give this series a go, but just like Soul Eater expect a lackluster ending that takes away from the greatness before that (Same with the Mass Effect 3 ending).  It will not disappoint in its action scenes, the characters are lovable, and you will want to watch the whole series once you actually start.

Thanks for reading my review of エアマスター Air Master.  Sayonara!

Comments

  1. I agree with your points about Airmaster. It is in my top 5 of favorite anime. I only wish it was more popular and that they would have completed it. Aikawa Maki is probably my favorite anime character of all time. She's like the embodiment of duality.

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