Air Gear isn't exactly story-heavy - Ikki sees a hot girl zooming around on her ATs, lets his hormones persuade him to borrow a pair and take the sport up himself. He aims to be the best; the anime ends before you really find out if he actually gets anywhere with that. Despite being 25 episodes long (although there are a few OVAs so maybe they'll elaborate).
Character development is nearly at zero for most of it, but that doesn't matter all that much for a sports anime and I still enjoyed it immensely.
Speaking of sports anime, it's called Air Gear and yet it doesn't focus enough on the sport itself until about half-way through the series. Once it gets going it's a great anime, but until then prepare yourself for mind-numbing amounts of fan service thinly disguised as ecchi. I started off with the attitude "Oh. Boobs. Oh well, look, there's an AT rider. Awesome!" which quickly became "More boobs huh? Okay. Well, can I watch someone flying through the air now?" and eventually I got to the point of actually skipping my way through the more tit-heavy episodes to find the actual story. All good if you're an ecchi fan though.
The second half is tonnes better - you get plenty of parts wars and rivalries and it's epic to watch - even if you're not really into fan service it's worth tolerating the first half just so you can watch the second. The ending was shoddy but it comes across as an anime which was based on a manga but didn't have enough time and/or money to complete it. It's a rushed ending but it was still better than the earlier episodes.
All in all I honestly think you could get away with watching eps 1-4 then skipping to 10 or 11 without losing too much of the story... but despite this, it's still a pretty damn good anime.
Weird. I like the character designs, but I swear the drawing actually changes over the course of the series and becomes progressively worse. The backgrounds are really well-drawn and I love the tricks done on ATs, but the character animation's a bit dodgy.
Voice-overs (sub) were good - especially Ikki and Agito.
Music... well. I hated it but it fitted in well with the anime and you'll probably enjoy it if you like hip hop and techno. The opening theme grew on me eventually - really good song. One thing I will criticize is one of the background tracks - it's soft music which occasionally has some guy going "Yeahh". It's like the kind of music a 60s pimp might try to seduce you with. Embarrassing. Other than that, the music's very well-fitted to the series.
Ikki is an arrogant shit but his determination and commitment to ATs make up for it. He's pretty interesting and I love his design. His character actually suits his role really well so the arrogance isn't that annoying most of the time; in some cases it helps him to draw confidence in harder matches.
Ringo is a refreshing change from your usual blushing, giggly anime girl (especially since ecchis usually seem to be the worst culprits for it). She likes Ikki but is quiet about it and doesn't obsess. She's an amazing AT rider and she lacks the arrogance and smugness that Ikki has in such bucketloads.
Simca is just a manipulative idiot. Her role in the anime seemed (to me at least) to consist of: Boobs. Arse. More boobs. Manipulation with boobs. Disappear. Reappear with monologue about superficial 'feelings' for 'Little Crow'. Bitchy confrontation with Ringo. Boobs. Panty shot. Boobs. Disappear. Reappear after AGES, suddenly appearing to have gained some importance to the plot... eye-candy more than anything.
I hear she's more relevant in the manga and there's always a feeling that there must be more to her, but the anime just makes her seem completely useless.
Onigiri is disgusting and tries hard (but fails in my opinion) to be funny.
The teacher (can't even remember her name) needs a slap.
Air Gear's basis is amazing - ATs are basically roller blades with an engine built in. It has the potential to be an amazing tournament anime but falls short of this potential by a fair shout. It overflows with pointless fan service near the beginning, but makes up for this in the last set of episodes which are absolutely amazing and make you want more. Would recommend if you like sports animes, and even if not the Air Treks are extremely cool. There's a sense of freedom which keeps you hooked despite the lack of story.
*Bleach (loose recc.. shounen and AG just seem to gel)
*Law of Ueki (lives up to the tournament potential, but it's more to do with powers than any kind of sport)
*Prince of Tennis (I'm told these two animes compliment each other to an extent due to their focus on sports and their epic take on them)
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