Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Release Date: May 2009
Synopsis: “Ikki is now one of the most famous Air treck stars in the world, but not everyone believes in his talents: The Internet is buzzing with haters and critics, and Team Trident, Kansai’s leading Air treck team, is burning to challenge him. Can Ikki prove he has what it takes to make it to the top?”
Oh, Air Gear, I want to keep on loving you with the same eagerness I always have, but sometimes I just can’t seem to muster up the energy to care at certain points. Sure, you have the same high-octave action sequences and gorgeous artwork, but the nitty-gritty sciences of how the rocket-powered roller blades work gets a little tedious at times.
In semi-seriousness, this volume certainly had its good points once you get past what I honestly feel are some pages too overstuffed with text for such a fast-flying series.
Much to the surprise of many, Ikki has been named leader of one of the most powerful organizations of Air treckkers and it comes as much less surprise that many aren’t happy with it. He’s only been Air trecking for two months (has it seriously only been that long?!) so shooting up the ranks this fast isn’t sitting well with veterans. Another of the Regalia holders challenges him, but this time instead of a fight, he must make a near-impossible jump where a slip-up could leave Ringo seriously injured. As interesting at the fights are for putting one insane move against another, it was a nice change of pace.
Vaguely speaking of whom, Ringo has some fantastic moments in this volume. If you thought she looked cool pulling off impossible stunts in previous books, wait until you see her do it here in a full kimono. Her one-sided love for Ikki does invoke some sympathy, even if I do think she deserves better as both Ikki and the series continue to underplay her value (even if she is trying to hide her skills as an Air treckker). Admittedly I didn’t think too much of her at first but in recent volumes she’s easily become one of my favourite parts of the series.
Other volume highlights include Akito in a wedding dress, a surprising flashback to Ikki’s childhood and a big left-turn at the end when a whole new batch of characters are briefly introduced, allowing readers a glimpse of some pretty crazy stuff to come. Oh and don’t forget about all that fan service, for better or worse.
While I need to drag myself through the slower patches (or you know, just skip them altogether), I can’t deny Air Gear’s charm for still being one of the slickest and hip-styled shonens out there. Despite its flaws, it remains a fun read and I continue to look forward to each volume with specifically tuned enthusiasm.