Sunday, June 24, 2007

Air Gear Review and Shakugan No Shana Updates!

originally uploaded by lemontuned.

First of all, I'd like to mention that as you've probably noticed, these pics are from a variety fo flickr users, who allow their pics to be public, and thus able to be blogged. Well, while I'm not sure whether to contact them individually, I would like to thank those whose pictures I've used, because 99% of the time they are way cooler than mine. I think that point is proven with the above picture.

Also, as you may have seen in the past I used to rush into a review; however, I feel that since I generally have something to say on top of my critiques, that from now on the review may be after a paragraph or two, or in this case several, because I'll update you on occurrences first, and then I'll give the review.

So, today no updates about myself, but I will say this. I have kept trying to write about two items, one being my CafePress store, which although it has limited stuff right now, I'd of course love to show off and talk about. ( The other is Otaku USA. I got mine about 6 days early and for whatever reason I have yet to review the magazine. Sure I discussed it, and I will state now I'm definitely a fan, and I know I've already mentioned that I like what Patrick Macias, editor-in-chief of Otaku USA, has done in the past, so that's a reasonable expectation. Still, I feel as if I should give the magazine a comprehensive review, so I'll try to remind me, and if you could try to remind me, then next time we'll make it happen.

Alright now onto:

Shakugan No Shana Updates

While, as mentioned previously, the second season won't be out till October in Japan, and I forgot to mention that there's already a movie that came out in Japan this past April, and on top of that, there's a OVA centered around a school trip. Yes, comedy galore if you're into that, and in this case I am especially since you get some slight insight into the enthusiastic friend, Matake Ogata, and her love for Tanaka, which I thought sort of expanded the Shana universe character a bit.

Lastly though, and perhaps most strangely, there are two mini-specials, or omake epsidoes. Omake means in Japanese extra or bonus, so says wiki, and that's what these are. Now, what sticks out about these specials is that Shana is entirely in chibi form, which for those of you other there in the know, cool, and those who don't, it's basically tiny, and even more cute, or so they say. Think Ah! My Mini Goddess if that helps. So yeah, Shana's tinier than ever, and yet most of the sequences are key emotional scenes from the show, just with chibi Shana. Ok, the 2nd special does distinguish itself with some strange repeats of Yoshida jiggling, but that's fan service for you, which also for those who may not know, basically is anything similar to some slight cleavage, or a panty shot for the otaku's added excitement, or once again, so they say.

Something important to mention though, is for the specials you need to have watched the whole show to really get the full benefit of them, and for the OVA, you just need to watch the first 13 episodes, so basically the first half, of the Shakugan No Shana series. As for the movie, once again we'll just have to await some fansubs, so look forward to that most likely, although with the show licensed by Geneon there's a chance they'll try to get a jump on the movie release here, although don't hedge your bets.

Wow! All of that, and I still haven't gotten to the review. While I can't promise the wait will be, or was if you've gotten this far, worth it, I do have a special place for this next show, but why spoil that now. Let's just get to the review!

Review of Air Gear

Modern day Tokyo is bustling as always, but with the introduction of Air Treks, teens can take their roller blading skills everywhere, as the new technology allows anywhere to become a their new skating ground, high or low, with Air Treks they go anywhere. The problem is that Itsuki Minami, otherwise known as Ikki leader of the gang the East Side Gunz, is that without Air Trecks his gang days may be over, as he early on is badly beat up by the Skull Saders. However, Ikki soon discovers that amongst the Noyamano sisters stuff, whom he lives with, that there's a pair of Air Trecks, and soon Ikki's not only learning to ride, but challenging every team he can and paving his own road in the sky.

First off, you may be thinking what I thought before I watched the first few episodes, and that's either a) rollerbading's not that cool, or b) even if rollerblading is cool, how can you make a show based on that concept. Well here's how, and the answer is with some success, because surprisingly enough Air Gear did captivate my interest. In fact, and this is why it's so special, Air Gear for better or worse was the first anime I ever found, and watched entirely on my own. Not only that, but I did it early too, and watched episode by episode as the fansubs came out while the Japanese run was still on.

More about the story though, what I really liked were the characters, because you have stubborn, I can do anything Ikki who really is just that typical anime character, whom may get on your nerves, but man when he puts his mind to it he really can do everything. On top of that, his friends are funny as well, with one character known as Kazu actually fitting that skateboarder stereotype, and another Onigiri providing humor, while looking more like a pig than anything else. On top of that, are the sometimes lovely, but often abusive Noyamano sisters. Ringo, whom you gather kind of has a crush on Ikki, is the one most seen, but the other's are often found in the house, beating up on Ikki or just disturbing him. As you see as the show progresses, they do show their affection for Ikki and actually help him a couple of times, but generally, except with Ringo, that's hard to tell.

Now that I've mentioned them, I can go into what will probably define this anime as good or bad for many, and that's the overt use of fan service. Well, I guess it's hard not to be overt when talking about fan service, but let's just say that while not over the top, the creator clearly intends, as is with the manga, there to be added emphasis on this aspect of the show. Perhaps the creator also though that awesome roller blades couldn't hold a show together, but whatever the reasoning, I just wanted you to be aware.

One cool component to this anime too, I felt, was the music. For instance, the opening theme Chain by Back-On, to use a term of old, is indeed pretty radical. I mean you really feel the energy of the opening, and are just excited for the show to start. The ending, Sky-2-High by Skanfunk (yes, Skankfunk) doesn't let down either, and may be cooler than the opening. So while this anime not only helped me find my grounding as an anime fan, once again as scary as that may be, the show also allowed me to develop my until then diminished interest in JRock, JRap, and JPop. As soon as I could I found both of these songs, and I still continue to listen to them, along with the slough of other anime/jrock tracks I've gathered through time.

So yeah, this anime sort of holds a soft spot for me, but that doesn't mean I can't bash it either. For instance, the premise is indeed a bit goofy, as, and I wish I'd been able to go into this more in the plot summary, you soon find out there are Kings so to speak, and roads, which certain Storm Riders, another name for those skilled with Air Trecks, travel on...?

In addition, the anime ends at a place where you just know there has to be a season 2. In fact, I've turned to reading the manga, and scanalations, for the sole purpose of discovering what occurs after episode 25, which is the final episode of what is hopefully the first season of Air Gear, and not the full show. If indeed the 25 episodes out now are the full show, then honestly I might come back on here and recommend everyone to just switch to the manga, although watching the air trecks in motion is cooler than just seeing them on page, or so I believe.

Regardless even with such qualms I've found the show to be overall very enjoyable, and hopefully if you start watching the show now, which is being released here in the U.S. by ADV Films, then by the time you catch up to the ending, they may have another season out in Japan.


What, more you say? Well, yeah, since Air Gear also was the first anime that inspired me to make an AMV, strangely enough my most popular even though it's my first, I've decided I might as well upload it here, for the world to see and, if you want, critique.

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