Air Gear (エア・ギア Ea Gia?) is a shōnen manga by the mangaka Ito "Oh Great" Ōgure. Air Gear is about the life of Itsuki Minami "Ikki", also known as "Baby face", "Lil (and Little) Crow", and his friends. The story follows their use of Air Trecks, an in-universe invention derived from inline skates. The early parts of the story carry out the introduction of characters that eventually join Ikki. As the story progresses, it focuses on their roles as Storm Riders and their quest to be on the top of the Trophaeum Tower. It won the 2006 Kodansha Manga Award in the shōnen category.
Itsuki "Ikki" Minami, is a student and a delinquent. Also known as the "Unbeatable Babyface", Ikki is the leader of the youth gang by the name of "East Side Gunz". Upon his return home, after being humiliated by a Storm Rider team called the Skull Saders, Ikki discovers a secret hidden from him by his benefactors, the Noyamano sisters. The sisters belong to a group of Storm Riders who go by the team name of Sleeping Forest. In the anime, learning the sisters' secret angers him and he steals a pair of Air Trecks, abbreviated as "AT". (In the manga, the sisters give a pair of ATs to him and invite him to skate with them.) Ikki eventually settles his grudge with the Skull Saders, but in the process he receives more than the simple satisfaction of revenge. Determined to experience the sensation of "flight" for as long as he can, Ikki is quickly engaged in the mysterious, irresistible world of Air Treks.
- See also: List of Air Gear characters
Itsuki "Ikki" Minami Voiced by: Kenta Kamakari (Japanese), Chris Patton (English)
- The main protagonist of the story, he was given Air Trecks (in the anime, he took them himself) and soon delved into the world of Storm Riders. There is a small crow named Kuu that lives in his hair. In the anime, Kuu was used as a censor. Eventually he creates a team, Kogarasumaru with his two best friends, Kazu and Onigiri. Eventually Buccha, Agito/Akito (Lind is discovered at a later time) join Kogarasumaru. Originally trained to become the Wind King, and eventually the Sky King by Sora, he soon finds himself betrayed by Sora and Nike (Sora's twin brother), who conspire together to steal his Regalia. When they do this, Ikki is stripped of the chance to become the Wind King. Shortly thereafter, Ikki is instead named the Storm King, following the "Hurricane Road." He has the ability to use his Air Treck's to manipulate the wind. His special techniques allows him to create a space where there is no wind called Null Wind, similar to the eye of a hurricane, which may explain his road's name. He is the strongest member of Kogarasumaru.
- A long-time friend of Ikki, Kazu is a friend who's always by his side. He is a speed-type rider who has recently inherited the title of Flame King following the path of the Flame Road, along with Spitfires old AT's. Due to his speed he got the nickname Stealth. His special techniques allows him to 'manipulate time' (this technique is actually just an illusion, where he moves too fast for the normal human eye, thus making him able to fool the opponent with his speed, one of these tricks being the 'cloning' which is just all his afterimages) and literally marking out a 'Flame Road', where he rides his AT's at such high speeds that the heat caused by the friction of the wheels creates the illusion of flames. These two techniques are, at some level, inherited from Yasuyoshi Sano, the Aeon Clock, and Spitfire, the former Flame King, respectively. This is highly likely, as they both followed the Flame Road.
- Also a long-time friend of Ikki, Onigiri is a "perverted pig" as called by most. He has an unorthodox riding style, wearing his Air Trecks on his head and riding it upside-down. He has his own unique Road called the Smell Road, which uses an opponents senses against them.
Issa Mihotoke "Fats Buccha" Voiced by: Hitoshi Bifu (Japanese), Mark X. Laskowski (English)
- Formerly of the Team Yaō (Night Kings), Buccha was defeated by Ikki and his team was forced to disband. Eventually, he joins Ikki's team as one of the main power riders, making use of his extremely large build and strength. In the manga he is known as the Black Pig for his seemingly overweight appearance. Ironically he isn't truly fat; because all of the blood from his muscles go from his body to his belly due to his constant over eating, explained in episode 17, and when he needs to, he reverts all the blood to his muscles, gaining super human strength, and an extremely well built appearance. He can also be extremely scary at times.
- He is the Fang King (a.k.a the Shark) with a split-personality. Akito is the "light" side while Agito is the "dark" side. They used to work for the police team of "WIND" until inspired by Ikki to leave and join Kogarasumaru after being rescued. Their split-personality changes depending on the side their eye patch is worn. Akito wears his patch on his right eye, Agito on his left. Later, a new personality named Lind emerged. Lind is like a "big brother" personality akin to Akito/Agito's older brother, Kaito Wanijima. He claims he is the original personality of the body. Akito/Agito/Lind are the second strongest members of Kogarasumaru.
ADV Films announced over the October 20, 2006 weekend at Oni-Con, that they had licensed the Air Gear anime for release in the USA. Though few of the actual artists and inside creators of Air Gear were actually there. The few that were there included Loa Mitsoyagi (Ikki), Ian Miller (Agito), Jason Remmings (Kazuma), and The ADV representing team. The first volume was released on February 6, 2007. ADV is releasing the uncensored Japanese home video version, rather than the broadcast version. On January 3, 2007, IGN released a special sneak peek of Episode 1 of the English Dub. In 2008, Air Gear became one of over 30 ADV titles transferred to Funimation. In Australia and New Zealand, the series is licensed by Madman Entertainment.
Avex released one single and two albums covering all the songs and themes used for the anime adaptation. The opening theme single "Chain" performed by Back-on was released on June 7, 2006 and peak ranked 139th on Oricon singles chart. The two albums Air Gear original soundtrack: What a Groovy Tricks!! and Air Gear original soundtrack 2: Who wants more Groovy Trick!!?? were released on August 23, 2006 and February 28, 2007, respectively.
In the 33rd issue of Weekly Shonen Magazine, it was announced that a new Air Gear OVA will be released alongside the limited edition of Volume 29 of the manga. Animation studio Satelight will animate the OVA instead of Toei with Shinji Ishihara as director, Jun Maekawa as script writer, Osamu Horiuchi as character desinger and Stanislas Brunet as mechanical desing. Nobuhiko Okamoto will play Ikki, Yukari Fukui will play Kururu, and Haruka Tomatsu will play Ringo.
Air Gear was adaptated into a musical called Musical Air Gear, which made its debut on January 7, 2007 and ran until January 21, 2007. The musical is loosely adapted from the manga and all female roles are eliminated from the plot. The cast featured Kenta Kamakari, KENN, and Kenjiro Tsuda reprising their roles from the anime respectively as Ikki, Kazu, and Spitfire with Masaki Kaji (who had also starred with Kenta and KENN in the Prince of Tennis musicals), Run&Gun, etc. as their co-stars.
Due to the success and popularity of the musical's first run, the musical has had a rerun in May 2007 titled, Musical Air Gear vs. Bacchus Super Range Remix (ミュージカル「エア·ギア」vs.バッカス Super Range Remix Myūjikaru "Ea Gia" tai Bakkasu Sūpā Renji Rimikkusu?) with the entire cast, except for Kenta Kamakari due to illness, reprising their roles.
Also, a greyed out 'movie' button on the TV Tokyo Japanese Air Gear website indicates that an Air Gear movie may be in the works.
It is also recently revealed that a new Air Gear Musical is coming out in 2010 April.
Both the anime and manga have gained a lot of popularity, both in the east and the west and now has quite a large fan base. BlogCritics said "It mixes this action and comedy quite well with a storyline that doesn't fail to leave a reader wanting more.". The anime has often been criticized for not remaining true to the manga, and skipping parts, but is praised for its soundtrack. The English dub has received positive reviews since its release. AnimeOnDVD said "The concept of the show is one that is pure anime though and something that visually can be done very well".
- "過去の受賞者一覧 : 講談社漫画賞 : 講談社「おもしろくて、ためになる」出版を" (in Japanese). Kodansha. Retrieved 2007-08-21.
- "Del Rey to Publish Air Gear". Anime News Network. 2006-01-20. Retrieved 2009-01-02.
- "ADV Announces Air Gear". Anime News Network. 2006-10-21. Retrieved 2009-01-02.
- Beveridge, Christopher (2007-02-06). "Air Gear Vol. #1". Mania.com. Retrieved 2009-01-02.
- "Exclusive First Episode (01/03/2007)". IGN.com. IGN Entertainment. 2007-01-03. Archived from the original on 2007-02. Retrieved 2 January 2009. Check date values in:
- "Funimation Picks Up Over 30 Former AD Vision Titles". Anime News Network. 2008-07-04. Retrieved 2009-01-02.
- "Ride Hard, Fly High!". MADMAN. Madman Entertainment Pty. Ltd. Retrieved 2009-01-02.
- ""Chain"" (in Japanese). Avex. Retrieved July 28, 2009.
- "オリコンランキング情報サービス「you大樹」" ["Chain" peak rank] (in Japanese). Oricon. Retrieved July 28, 2009.
- "TVアニメ「エア・ギア」オリジナルサウンドトラック AIR GEAR WHAT A GROOVY TRICKS !!" [Air Gear original soundtrack: What a Groovy Tricks!!] (in Japanese). Avex. Retrieved July 28, 2009.
- "TVアニメ「エア・ギア」オリジナルサウンドトラック2 AIR GEAR WHO WANTS MORE GROOVY TRICK !!??" [Air Gear original soundtrack 2: Who wants more Groovy Trick!!??] (in Japanese). Avex. Retrieved July 28, 2009.
- "Air Gear Manga To Bundle Original Anime DVD". Anime News Network. 2010-07-11. Retrieved 2010-07-12.
- "Musical Air Gear Official Site" (in Japanese). Retrieved 2009-01-02.
- "Air Gear Musical Cast" (in Japanese). Retrieved 2009-01-02.
- "TV Tokyo Air Gear site" (in Japanese). TV Tokyo. Retrieved 2009-01-02.
- Carl Kimlinger (2006-10-01). "Air Gear Review". Anime News Network. Retrieved 2 January 2009.
- Aaron Auzins (2006-10-19). "Book Review: Manga - Air Gear Vol. 1". Blogcritics. Retrieved 2 January 2009.
- Theron Martin (2007-02-01). "Air Gear DVD 1 - East Side Showdown Review". Anime News Network. Retrieved 2 January 2009.
- Official Japanese Manga Site
- Official Del Rey (USA) Manga Site
- Air Gear at Funimation
- Official Japanese Anime Site
- Official Japanese Musical Site
- Air Gear (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- Air Gear (manga) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
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