Air is a 2005 Japanese animated drama film directed by Osamu Dezaki and written by Makoto Nakamura based on the visual novel Air by Key. Originally, the film was set for a release date in autumn 2004, but was delayed; the film finally premiered in Japanese theaters on February 5, 2005. The film, animated by Toei Animation, is a reinterpretation of the original Air storyline which centers on the story arc of the female lead Misuzu Kamio. Yukito Kunisaki arrives in the town of Kami for a chance to earn money at the summer festival and meets Misuzu on his first day in town. They soon become friends and a story one thousand years old begins to unfold.
Before going to DVD, a thirty-minute sample of the film was streamed online by Animate between June 2 and June 16, 2005 two weeks later. The film was later sold on DVD and released in three editions: the Collector's Edition, the Special Edition, and the Regular Edition on August 5, 2005. The Air film was licensed for English language distribution by ADV Films and was released on December 11, 2007. The license of the film was transferred to Funimation in July 2008 who will continue to release the film in North America. To commemorate the release of the Clannad film, Animate streamed the Air film on their website which was split into three parts.
Yukito Kunisaki (Hikaru Midorikawa), a traveling puppeteer, arrives in a small sea-side town in the hopes of earning money at the upcoming summer festival. At the same time Misuzu Kamio (Tomoko Kawakami) is just leaving school after discussing her summer project with one of her teachers. Choosing to do a project on the history of the town, Misuzu finds a book containing the story of Kannabi no Mikoto (Chinami Nishimura), the inspiration for the upcoming festival. After crashing her bike and encountering Yukito on the beach, Misuzu invites Yukito to stay at her home until the festival begins after learning that he has no place to stay. After meeting Misuzu's eccentric aunt Haruko (Aya Hisakawa), and getting a hangover the next morning from drinking with her, Yukito accompanies Misuzu throughout the town as she does research for her project.
As the two become closer, the story of Kannabi no Mikoto, or Kanna for short, begins to unfold, telling how Kanna, the last of the winged beings, fell in love with her guardian Ryūya (Nobutoshi Canna) while being sequestered in a palace under penalty of death if she attempted to leave. As the two eventually become lovers, Kanna reveals her desire to escape and use her wings to fly to her mother, whom she was separated at birth from. Eventually, Ryūya decides to help Kanna see her dream and the two plot their escape.
In the present day, Misuzu's mysterious illness from her childhood resurfaces, leading Haruko to arrange for Misuzu's father to take her to a hospital where she can be treated. In a flashback, Kanna is seen with similar symptoms and tells Ryūya that the reason for her illness is punishment because she has fallen in love with him, which goes against the laws of her kind. Yukito becomes conflicted by both his feelings for Misuzu and his wish to continue wandering and leaves during the night. However, soon after he arrives at the bus stop, he remembers his real reason for coming to the town of Kami: to earn money; Yukito heads back into town for the festival. Meanwhile at the Kamio house, Haruko is preparing to take Misuzu to the festival when Misuzu's father arrives to take his daughter away. An emotional Haruko tells a shocked Misuzu that the reason she called her father is because Haruko cannot stand to see Misuzu becoming increasingly ill and wishes to be rid of her, but as Misuzu and her father leave Haruko is seen drinking and crying at the loss. While driving through the crowds at the festival, Misuzu suddenly leaves her father's car after seeing a float of Kannabi no Mikoto pass and prompts a panicked search by her father and Haruko.
During her search, Haruko finds Yukito as he his performing, and while he is at first unwilling, after recalling how he failed Misuzu in his past life as Ryūya, he joins in the search and frantically runs to the temple of Kannabi no Mikoto. Misuzu herself recalls her past life and her fateful escape from her confinement, remembering that both Ryūya and her mother died soon after she took flight; the former by a barrage of arrows in retaliation from the guards and the latter by leaving her prison to see her daughter after hearing her voice calling. Kanna herself was impaled by hundreds of arrows, but strangely never hit the ground and simply remained in the air. As the film concludes, Yukito arrives at the temple and confesses his love for Misuzu, and after reuniting with Haruko, the trio returns to the Kamio residence.
A short time later Haruko and Yukito decide to send Misuzu to a hospital in order to treat her, cutting her hair before she leaves and taking her to the ocean as per her request. At the ocean, a weakened Misuzu gets up and tries to reach Haruko and Yukito, the two most important people in her life. She finally reaches them only to collapse in Yukito's arms and die having finally reached her goal. Yukito is last seen leaving town in the autumn and promising to find Misuzu wherever she appears next in the hope that he will someday be able to break her curse and let her be free.
TV and film differences
Being done by two different production teams and having their own take on the story from the Air visual novel, there are many differences between the Air TV series and film. However, the TV series follows the original visual novel's storyline quite closely while the film makes several tangents, especially the explicit romance between Yukito and Misuzu. Yukito's general attitude is considerably more cynical and gloomy than his TV counterpart. This version of Yukito is drawn and voiced (by a different voice actor) in such a way that he appears older. Yukito's puppet business is more successful in the film, while in the TV he had a hard time pleasing the children. It is never explicitly stated in the TV series that Yukito is a reincarnation of Ryūya, but in the film it is clear he remembers his past with Kanna and believes he failed her in her escape. The crow Sora is actually Yukito in the TV series, while the one who briefly appears in the film is merely a friend of Misuzu's who does not have any apparent connection to Yukito.
Haruko and Misuzu have a much closer relationship than throughout most of the TV adaptation, and Haruko treats Misuzu as her daughter while in the TV series the two rarely interacted with each other unless absolutely necessary. Misuzu only says her famous "gao" line once in the film while she and Yukito are on the beach, and in general the film depiction of Misuzu appears more mature and able to get along with her classmates with more ease.
Uraha is only seen as a background character in the film and does not appear to have any sort of romantic relationship with Ryūya. Similarly, Ryūya and Kanna were actually shown to be lovers; in the TV series Kanna never acted on her feelings for Ryūya until the end of her life. Kanna is not cursed by Buddhist monks as she is in the TV series; instead she simply dies in midair and never returns to the ground. Since Ryūya dies in the film during Kanna's escape, it is unclear how he and Yukito are genetically related, if at all. It is more likely that Yukito is the reincarnation of Ryūya.
Kano Kirishima and Minagi Tohno appear only as background characters during the festival along with Michiru, who is among the group of children Yukito is entertaining in an early part of the film. The last scene is quite similar to the one in the TV series, with the exception of Yukito's presence.
The original version of the film was later sold on DVD and released in three editions: the Collector's Edition, the Special Edition, and the Regular Edition on August 5, 2005. The Collector's Edition was sold as a specialized box set including, with the film DVD, a separate DVD containing four promotional images and four television commercials advertising the film. A 402-page booklet was included in the box set containing detailed storyboards, and a draft of the film's scenario. The Special Edition was similarly released in a box set containing the film DVD, along with a sixty-one minute drama CD containing twelve tracks, and a forty-minute full orchestra entitled Shinwa e no Izanai CD featuring four songs in the film. The Regular Edition contained no special features and was sold in a normal DVD case containing only the film DVD. All prices are before tax. The English language version of the film was released by ADV Films on December 11, 2007. In July 2008, the license of the film was transferred to Funimation Entertainment who will continue to release the film in North America.
The original soundtrack entitled Air Film Soundtrack was first released on March 25, 2005 by Frontier Works. The soundtrack contained one disc with twenty-three tracks. The first twenty-two tracks are the background music played throughout the film composed by Japanese composer Yoshikazu Suo. The final track on the CD, "If Dreams Came True", is a song based on the song "Two people" (ふたり Futari?) on the Air Original Soundtrack for the original visual novel; "If Dreams Came True" is sung by the late Japanese singer Eri Kawai.
- "Key's official announcement of the film" (in Japanese). Archived from the original on March 4, 2007. Retrieved March 26, 2008.
- "Air (movie)". Anime News Network. Retrieved June 25, 2006.
- "Part of Air Movie Free Online". Anime News Network. June 2, 2005. Retrieved May 5, 2007.
- "ADV Announces Acquisition of Air TV Series, Air Movie". Anime News Network. April 27, 2007. Retrieved April 27, 2007.
- "Funimation Picks Up Over 30 Former AD Vision Titles". Anime News Network. July 4, 2008. Retrieved July 7, 2008.
- "Air Movie Streamed for Free in Japanese". Anime News Network. August 23, 2007. Retrieved August 30, 2007.
- "Air film official website on the DVD features" (in Japanese). Retrieved May 1, 2007.
- "Air Film Soundtrack listing" (in Japanese). Amazon.co.jp. Retrieved April 30, 2007.
- "Air Film Soundtrack listing". MusicBrainz. Retrieved October 17, 2008.
- Air film official website (Japanese)
- Toei Animation's official Air film website (Japanese)
- Air at the Internet Movie Database
- Air (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia