AIR, a PC game released in Japan in the year 2000, following on the success of Kanon. A wonderful bishoujo game, one that was very popular and was voted best PC game in Japan for that year and the year later. Now, Kyoto Animation brings AIR into the anime world. Did it suffer the pitfalls of bishoujo game to anime adaptations? I think not. Key/Visual Arts have learned from their previous mistakes and weaknesses in Kanon anime and have made changes which makes AIR an artistic masterpiece, one that stands for how good a bishoujo game anime can be.
Sadly, the AIR anime tried to cram a 30,000 word story (equivalent to 3 or 4 Shakepearean pieces) into 12 episodes. Pacing became an issue towards the end of AIR, as it started to follow the Kanon "one girl, one episode, checklist" formula. Mind you, the story was a tad confusing at times, with the time leaps and the subtle hints about the "girl in the sky", but it made sense towards the end. Although the supernatural part of the story was managed a tad bit awkwardly, with its emphasis on AIR or WINGS or DREAMS.
Flawless. Detail for detail, animation and motion, Kyoto Animation exceeded all my expectations. Characters move, facial expressions are detailed, backgrounds are visually appealing. This anime's strongest point is in its animation, and it shows, as the production values put in this area topples some OAVs and movies! Every episode I was awed at the animation. It is truely a treat for the eyes.
Not much to say here, as they used the music from the game. Very ingenious, as it allowed them to animate scenes to blend in seamlessly with the music. Since the music from the game was already very very good, then of course the anime will use the music to the fullest extent. Tori no Uta, the OP is a masterpiece. Farewell Song sounds too much like a generic J-pop, but the insert song in the final episode made up for it with stirring vocals and fitting lyrics. All in all, the music added to the atmosphere of the anime, and enhanced the experience.
Interestingly enough, Yukito was not the obligatory faceless male of a h-game type anime. The anime AIR is on relationships, like Kano-Hijiri (older sister/motherly figure) or MInagi-Michiru (younger sibling) or Haruko-Misuzu (mother/daughter) or even Potato (most kickass dog in anime, ever). The creators of AIR made it clear enough that every character in AIR was developed thoroughly, devoting at least 2 episodes to each relationship. I felt the Haruko Misuzu story packed the most punch, with the Gao gao and the Goal sequence in the end.
Overall Rating: (9.5/10)
AIR, I think is the best bishoujo game to anime conversion of the year 2005.