Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Released: April 2008
Synopsis: “Behemoth has already taken out part of Ikki’s Air Trek team. Now Ikkie and Onigiri are faced with their toughest opponents yet: a deadly femme fatale known as the Gorgon and the unstoppable punching machine, Bandou. Ikki’s team has come a long way in their battle for Air Trek supremacy. Can they defeat Behemoth and get back in the game?”
The battle begun in the previous volume continues here in volume eight of Air Gear. Ikki’s Air Trek team, Kogarasumaru is going up against the deadly team Behemoth and his teammates are going to need a lot of creative, and just flat-out weird, methods to take them down!
The first chunk of the book follows the battle between the almost entirely (to eventually fully) nude Ryou Mimisaka, the busty and physical flirtatious member of Behemoth. Her opponent is Onigiri, the large and pervish member of Kogarasumaru. The ridiculous, methods of battle between the two are remarkable: first in how the author comes up with such outlandish ideas and second how they manage to be so entertaining. Ryou’s secret method for slowing her enemies is an interesting one while Onigiri’s methods are far less cool or appealing. But they get the job done, setting the stage for the return of Ikki and his battle with the insane punches of Bandou. This match isn’t especially thrilling on its own, though the twist of Jan Ken Pon makes for an amusing add-on, but it, in turn, takes readers back to the fight between Behemoth’s leader, Akira and the vicious, Agito.
Agito’s past is poked at in this volume which is hands down the most entertaining part of this arc. The split personality of Agito/Akito hasn’t been very explored until now and it’s a dramatically told story (though still a bit vague) in both written and artistic form, short scenes using vibrant symbolism.
By mid-volume, remaining members of both teams join up for a final vicious brawl, but it’s not the end of this fight just yet. What’s presented here continues to be set against detailed backgrounds, attractive character designs and some of the most intensely rendered action scenes found in manga form.
The usual DelRey fixings are here, including the translation notes at the end, honorific explanations at the beginning and impressive job on the translation work inside. While continued kudos go to them for the fantastic adaptive speech work, some of the verbal lines in this volume don’t feel as smooth as usual, even on various rereads of particular scenes. Some other nit picks include certain words and images being hard to see without near cracking of the book’s spine, and the cover isn’t entirely aligned, leaving the spine graphics bleeding onto the back and the front cover itself a tad too small (leaving a small gap between it’s edge and the interior pages). All together, however, it’s still a pretty solid release and the flaws do little to diminish the overall quality.
By the end it’s safe to say this volume takes the fan service and action of Air Gear up a notch, for better or worse, and the revelations of Akito’s past saves the story from being an otherwise standard plot-arc. Like its predecessors, volume eight is a representation of a series overflowing with energy and charisma.