Air Gear

October 11, 2009

I decided to give another shonen anime genre a shot. This time it is the 2006 extreme sports genre Air Gear. Remember the days of rollerblading? Only this time technology has these motorized inline skates fitted with mechanism and systems which allows users to literally fly and do somersault, acrobatic flips, twists and turns. Sounds like fun, eh?
So for those interested in this kind of anime, should find this show satisfying your need for rollerblading speed. Okay, so not every time you are going to see the characters whizzing pass everything all the time. You have your usual comedy, drama and action of course. Besides, if you intend to watch this show, get ready to arm yourself with a little terminology of the series. For starters, those futuristic rollerblades are called Air Trecks (ATs) and those who wear them are termed Storm Riders. Viewers will learn more as they go by such as Parts War (battles that a Storm Rider team have and the winner gets the loser’s parts or territories), the different class levels of Storm Riders (A-class being the cream of the crop and F-class the lowest), Emblem (logos which represents the ‘life’ of a team. If an Emblem is lost and taken away through a match, that losing team is disbanded), Road (markings on the surface after a Storm Rider rides it numerous times making it his/her trademark ‘Road’), Kings (the 8 most powerful Storm Riders with their unique trademark Roads. Plus if all 8 Kings gather, a rumour that the Sky King will descend) and Regalia (incredibly powerful ATs unique to its King and proof of their power and position as they can unleash powerful forces and do lots of damage). So are you still with me?
Being a typical shonen genre, we are of course introduced to the main star of the show, Ikki Minami. Yeah, his spiky hair tells it all. Plus, he is a delinquent. Looks tell that he is not the smart kind of kid and you can expect his cheeky and mischievous antics but when it comes to loyalty and principals, he sticks by them like glue. Basically season viewers can tell that he learns fast and will propel from a zero to a hero as the series progresses. Fight opponents who are on par with him, beats them, enemies become his friends, powers up, faces more powerful enemies, defeats them and the cycle goes on. It’s no different here.
Ikki’s parents died so he is somehow living under the care of the Noyamano sisters who are oddly named after fruits. The eldest sister Rika takes on the maternal role and supports the family as she is away on business trips most of the time. Next is Mikan, the tough tomboy girl and the one who usually gives Ikki her tough love. Then there is bespectacled Ringo. Obviously viewers can tell she has feelings for him as she is the one entrusted to look after Ikki. But you know lah. She’s too shy to come to terms with her feelings while Ikki is to dumb and oblivious to notice it all. Finally the loli of the pack is Ume, who has weird a weird hobby of making scary puppets. If you’re wondering why many people nickname Ikki "Karasu (meaning crow), my guess is that the obvious thing which relates Ikki and the crow is that a chibi crow is used as a censor to cover strategic parts. Yeah, you can’t leave out the fanservice, right? Babes in tight and revealing outfits riding ATs. Yeow! Hot on your heels, babe!
As seen in episode 1, Ikki runs into trouble with a group of F-class Storm Riders, Skull Saders. All I can say is that Ikki lost and peed in his pants after that horror ride. Back home, while sifting through the forbidden cabinet, he finds a pair of ATs and curiosity gets the better of him as he takes it out for a test spin. Without permission of course. Oh yeah, he gets the hang of it. Because of his infatuation for a high ranking Storm Rider, Simca, I guess he’d get involved in anything even if he doesn’t understand it all. Likewise, Simca is quite interested in Ikki. Not romantically but he sees a great potential in him and it’s like she’s nurturing him under her wings indirectly. Before Ikki knows it, he gets into a challenge with Skull Saders. Again. No time to think, it’s action time. At this time, beginner Ikki sees his own Road, dubbed the Wing Road.
In episode 2, Ikki this time beats the Skull Saders with the help of the Noyamano sisters giving him a little push. But the leader of that losing team refuses to acknowledge Ikki’s win and will be back in the near future for another challenge. While we learn that the Noyamano sisters are part of the legendary Storm Rider team, Sleeping Forest, Ikki is now very much interested in making his own ATs and his own team. One night he sees Simca in trouble and decides to help out and in return, she gives him a special prize. No, nothing steamy like he hopes for. It is an Emblem of the Rez-Boa Dogs. Oh no. Ikki lands himself in another trouble because the Rez-Boa Dogs are after it.
So you guessed it, Ikki wins again in episode 3 and the leader of Rez-Boa Dogs is gracious in defeat and disbands his team. Because he crashes into a neon sign of some famous store which sells ATs and its parts, Ikki is made to do some part time job. Besides, his reckless use of the ATs has caused it to be broken so he needs the cash for some new parts. In this episode, Ikki ponders to form his own team with his close friends, the handsome Kazuma "Kazu" Mikura and the chubby resident pervert Onigiri. Now this Onigiri’s name sounds apt because his head resembles one so much so he reminds me of that character in Eyeshield 21 and Ping Pong Club. Since earning cash this way is too slow, Ikki learns that he can obtain AT parts in a faster way through Parts War. But it won’t be easy as it looks.
In episode 4, Kazu and Onigiri decide to take centre stage as they decide to challenge an E-class team whose territory is their school. They are the Yaou and they rule the night. Their leader, Issa Mihotoke or more popularly known as Fats Buccha, is also a student of their school and his large size may seem intimidating. Plus, Buccha’s fighting aura resembles a tank so breaking down his defence isn’t going to be easy. As expected, Kazu and Onigiri lost and are badly injured. When news reaches Ikki, you can tell that this guy is going to get justice for his pals as he combines their AT parts with his to take on Buccha in a Hurdle competition, in which the battle ground will be their school compound. One thing about Buccha is his ability to turn his fats into muscles! I’d like to do that too! This match not only attracts Simca, but a King named Spitfire as well. Keeping their eyes on this rising star, eh?
Ikki learns fast the new tricks in episode 5 and with the help of the other students who are tired of Yaou’s harassment, helps Ikki to turn the 1 on 1 battle into Ikki’s favour. With that, Yaou is disbanded and everyone rejoice. This won’t be the last you’ll see of Buccha as viewers will notice how he tends to stick around Ikki and co and in the near future joins his team. At least this guy too sees great potential in this newcomer. Ikki is then confronted with Spitfire who tells him the long treacherous path to become a King which includes the many battles and powerful foes he will have to face. You can also tell that Ringo-Simca showdown is partly down to jealousy of Ikki. Simca is such a smooth talker and teaser that Ringo has no chance to counter back. At least effectively. So just how interested Simca is in Ikki? Well, she’s got the guts to come into Ikki’s home while he’s taking a bath and suggest to wash his back (apart from giving him advice, that is). And naked too. But will Ringo allow it? I’m not sure if Ikki’s mind is wandering with some fantasy and listening to what Simca is saying. Yeah, Simca even manages to bribe Mikan so that she gets to stay for a while. Ringo feels that Simca is up to something as we learn that Ringo is the legitimate heir to Sleeping Forest.
The Skull Saders are back for another challenge in episode 6 but they are disappointed to find that it is not the real Sleeping Forest that they are challenging. It turns out to be Ikki and his pals instead. So a Dash competition up the high wall between the F-class Storm Riders begins and even if that Skull Saders boss has been practising many times up this wall, he is still no match for Ikki (of course he gets help from Buccha’s rhythm). Even if Ikki tries to display good sportsmanship and help that jerk Skull Saders guy while he’s in a little trouble of his own, he still doesn’t want to admit his loss. He’ll never improve at this rate. As usual, this match attracts lots of people and also an eye-patch kid, Agito. You may have seen him in the 1st episode with his elder brother, Kaito Wanijima, the head of the police squad called Windstorm G-man, who is trying to arrest illegal storm riders.
In episode 7, Buccha gives Ikki his prize, a part of the AT, as his reward. Ikki along with Kazu and Onigiri decide to practice their AT skills and start a team. However Onigiri decides not to join Ikki’s team. Why? He’s in love with some sexy girl whom he recently met at the park. Yeah, it’s like beauty and the beast, I’d say. Can’t believe she’s all over a fat pervert like him! It proves that you can’t judge one’s look by its cover. Ikki and the rest decide to help Onigiri score even more points with this lady and stage a mock gang fight whereby Onigiri will be viewed as the hero. However that lady gives Onigiri a good whack and suddenly she’s all over Buccha! Oh yeah, she really likes fat guys. The fatter the better. Love is sure funny. Poor Onigiri. With that and nothing else to live for, he joins Ikki’s team.
However that girl ditched Buccha for an even fatter guy, a sumo wrestler. Haha. So the ‘fat pig brothers’ reconcile. Yeah, lump of meat hugging each other, Ikki says. But episode 8 focuses more on Ikki’s homeroom teacher, Mari Tomita or more fondly known as Ton-chan. At first looks, you wonder if she’s a right person to teach because not only of her childish behaviour, she dresses in some clothes which resembles a nightie to class! What about her ambiguous deep breathing and vague body language and actions? A turn on or just disgusting? So is she a teacher or a slut? Because Ikki and co’s test results aren’t good, with the help of Ton-chan they decide to sneakily steal test questions from a strict teacher, Masaya Orihara. Orihara is expecting those delinquents to steal them so much so he even camps in office to guard them. While planning their steal, Ikki and co learn from Ton-chan why the school’s clock is frozen at 8:29. Ton-chan was a student in this school and Orihara a new teacher then. Back then, Ton-chan seems to have short attention span and is always late arriving at school. Because of that, she always gets scolded from Orihara. One day as usual she was late and arrived when school is well over and expects another shelling. To her surprise, Orihara is waiting for her at the gates and points out how the time has stopped so she can’t be late. With that, Ton-chan is encouraged to do her best. Since then, the clock has never been working. I don’t know why nobody bothered to fix it but I remember the control room is located very high up. Ikki uses his skills to make the clock work again and the reason why it is not working was because there is an AT part stuck there. My guess is that Orihara may have put it there back then so that Ton-chan won’t be late. Does he like her? Dunno. With that, Ikki gets his hands on the test questions but the next day to his horror, Orihara has changed them. Although they are easier ones, Ikki and co are so dumb that they memorized the ones they stole and couldn’t answer them. Bummer.
Ikki need at least 5 people to form a team. So in episode 9, as part of Ringo’s suggestion, they go watch an A-class team match for experience. I don’t know how they got Ton-chan to drive them all the way there. Her car is going to be in for some major overhaul because Buccha is sitting right on top. Besides, if you noticed their 2 girl classmates, Emiri Adachi and Yayoi Nakayama, who are always following Ikki and co, that’s because Emiri holds a huge crush on Kazu. Guess she’ll go wherever he goes. Oddly at some construction site, the home team, Kintetsu Bulls is up against a single person Agito. Is this legal? I thought they needed 5 to a team? Now this Agito guy has split personality. When he shifts his eye-patch to the other eye, he’s got a softer and gentler personality named Akito. Sometimes I don’t know if this Akito is a girl because he acts so girly. Anyway Agito is the Fang King and his battle aura resembles a shark. Why is this guy wearing a straight jacket? Does he come from a mental asylum? Is he that dangerous? Well, he’s not A-class for nothing. He doesn’t even need to use his hands and the strings and hooks attached to his strait jacket acts like his extra limbs. Besides, he likes using the F-word like as though it’s part of his normal vocabulary. Shouting it out aloud if it doesn’t go his way or something he doesn’t like. Do Japanese viewers know the real meaning of that word? Ikki and co are surprised to see Agito’s powers as he mercilessly beats the crap out of each of the Kintetsu Bulls and even carving his own Road on the team’s leader body. Cruel! A trivial thing I want to mention is that, if Ikki had a stomach ache, why the hell does he need to strip naked just to take a dump?!
In episode 10, naked Ikki (put on some clothes for Heaven’s sake!) comes face to face with Agito but it seems that this match is a setup by Kaito and his G-men to arrest the Storm Riders. Ikki and the rest make their escape while Kintetsu Bulls buy them some time. Ikki takes Agito along with him during the escape and Agito can’t understand why those idiots are having so much fun. So in 1 big jump, Ikki tells Agito about the frog in the well story and that it doesn’t look forward to the sea but the sky. Huh? Frogs fly? This makes Akito appear and realize his potential too. And in mid-air he kisses Ikki. Holy sh*t! WTF?! The gang manages to give Kaito the slip and for the time being Akito is living with Ikki in his home and I can’t believe that kid is in love with him! Following him just about anywhere. I wonder what his other side feels. Ugh. Anyway Akito will soon be transferred to Ikki’s class and the next day on their way to school, Ikki who is tired of that split personality kid following him, asks if he’s ever going home. Akito says that he doesn’t want to go home because if he does, he’ll be put back into a cage by his brother. Oh dear. Kaito treats him like an animal? Before they know it, Kaito in his big truck pulls up alongside them and wants Akito to return.
Ikki doesn’t give a crap about Kaito in episode 11 and he makes that guy running after his truck when he releases the brakes and sends it rolling downhill, crashing into a lake. I guess it’s safe to say that Akito has chosen to be with Ikki and soon part of his new team. Plus, Kaito didn’t do anything and just let things be for now. So Ikki and the rest work hard to create their new team such as designing their team’s Emblem and even their uniform. Ikki names his team Kogarasumaru. It literally means Little Crow Maru. Yeah, later they even come out with their own victory pose! But this episode sees Kazu being summoned by his former East Gunz delinquents. You see, as Ikki is delinquent and the head of the school’s East Gunz, the former members aren’t happy that Ikki is having his head in ATs and all so they think Kazu should be the next leader but he has to bring Ikki’s head. Kazu is in a dilemma because this is his chance of standing out as he has always been under Ikki’s shadow but his loyalty to Ikki has him refuse their orders. They got into a fight but Kazu emerged victorious. So on graduation day, the former East Gunz members acknowledge Ikki and tell him to make his own legend instead. That night Kogarasumaru is beating up a team of Storm Riders challenging their turf but this upsets Ringo because she thinks this is no different than being the Skull Saders in the first place. Ikki then realizes and decides to challenge this team, Sabel Tigers, to a Parts War.
Kogarasumaru’s first Parts War between the F-class begins in episode 12. They’re supposed to dash around the perimeter of the school compound. First up is Buccha and though he is an intimidating tank, he flops because he is too heavy and falls off. Next is Onigiri who has a weird riding method by riding upside-down on his head! But being a pervert, he too messed up. Oh no. Two losses in a row. Is Kogarasumaru on the verge of being disbanded? Not only that, the loser has to go home stripped naked. Next is Akito and since he doesn’t want to participate, Ringo disguises herself as the mysterious Mask Croissant (in a school swimsuit? Why such an embarrassing outfit? I think it’s a rip-off from some Sailormoon character) and gives Kogarasumaru a lifeline and their first win. Next is Kazu and since he has low self-esteem, he thinks of sitting this out and let Agito take over. However after some lecturing from Ikki, Kazu gets his confidence and his battle aura resembles some jet fighter and wins through his stealth speed. It’s all down to Ikki and the leader of Sabel Tigers, which turns out to be a girl, stunning Ikki. Though she uses her womanly charms to throw Ikki off course, Ikki still has the upper hand and shows why he has the potential of becoming the next Sky King.
Ikki’s Kogarasumaru gets their first win in episode 13 and due to some smooth talking trick, the Sabel Tigers don’t have to go home naked, upsetting Onigiri. Ikki is very confident and is setting his sights at the top, the Trophaeum Tower. On a lighter side, Ringo is in a dilemma whether Ikki should know her true identity as Mask Croissant. However Ikki thinks that their saviour is Simca. So Ringo, is that a relief or an insult? This episode sees Rika doing her part time job as some wrestler. So is this how she makes her secret living? Anyway she wins against her bigger opponent. Ikki is at a convenience store and meets a wheelchair guy and his dogs. When he leaves, one of the dogs is threatened to being run over by a vehicle. Ikki tries to save it but the dog is saved before he could get close and Ikki suspects something about that wheelchair guy. Back home, Ikki brags to Rika about his success but Rika isn’t pleased and forbids him to do anymore ATs without giving him a reason. There’s a funny part whereby Ikki and his Kogarasumaru tries to put their Emblem on a hard to reach place, the chimney of a public bath. Ikki falls from that height and crashes into the woman’s section and is surprised to see Rika there. He unleashes his mischievous side to make his escape (taking off Rika’s towel?). If you think Rika is mad, she is more worried about Ikki and even sheds a tear after Ikki successfully escapes.
In episode 14, Ikki and Ringo secretly follow Rika who is meeting her ex-boyfriend, Sora Takeuchi, that wheelchair guy and is supposedly the founder of Sleeping Forest. Rika wishes for Sora to convince Ikki from carrying on. So the reason why Rika doesn’t want Ikki doing this dangerous stuff is because he loves her brother. That’s it. Expecting something more sophisticated? This flashback episode tells how Rika and Sora met and the tragedy which an attack from an unknown perpetrator has injured the many members of Sleeping Forest and left Sora wheelchair-ridden. Of course Rika knows Ikki and Ringo are eavesdropping and calls them out. However Sora sees some potential in Ikki and his opinions differ with Rika. So a Parts War challenge between Ikki and Rika in some Frisbee game. If Rika wins, Ikki have to give up AT forever and if it’s the other way, Rika will accept Ikki’s path no matter what. While Rika has her sisters on her side (they have to, or else!), Ikki has Sora and his dogs. If you think the dogs are useless, think again. They’re as good as their counterparts.
Initially Ikki is having a tough time against Rika in episode 15 because she is the former Thorn Queen of Sleeping Forest. In the end, Ikki’s determination and will has him beating Rika. Something about Rika has always thought her thorn cage is protecting Ikki but it is more of the other way round. Ikki also opened Rika’s eyes and that she too was born with wings. With Ikki’s victory, Rika helps him out with his AT training by strapping heavy training weights all over his body. Yeah, she throws away the key. Too bad some cat swallowed it. But you can tell Ikki will get stronger and better as time goes by. During spring break, Kogarasumaru trains together but unknown to them, Agito has been going around disbanding several Storm Rider teams on his own by single-handedly beating them. This results in Kogarasumaru’s territory growing larger and of course drawing the attention of other Storm Rider teams.
This is part of Agito’s plan to challenge a D-class team, Behemoth. A team which has a large number of members. Its top members could be A-class material but they purposely lose every 3 matches in order to stay in this rank (according to the rules, if a team wins 3 times in a row, the team promotes to a higher rank and a team will immediately be promoted if it beats a higher ranked team). In episode 16, Ikki unknowingly meets one of Behemoth’s strongest members, Mitsuru Bandou AKA Cyclops Hammer, because the latter beat his punching score at some video game outlet and is upset. Hmm… The Behemoth members do ride funny designed bikes. So as usual, Ikki and his Kogarasumaru challenges Behemoth and this is going to be billed the event of the year that all Storm Riders can’t miss. You can bet that Simca and Spitfire are there too. Also, we are introduced to another Kind, Nue of the Thunder Road. At Behemoth’s base, the match is called Cube, 1 on 1 close combat duels in boxed-in arenas. Kogarasumaru gets excited as they rush in to face their opponents. Hey, the commentator of the match has a computer monitor as his head!
In episode 17, Buccha takes on Fuumei Goshogawara AKA Hecatonchires Bomb. He is like some African wasp because he can loosen his joints and elongate his limbs to attack. Just like Dhalsim, eh? A wasp taking on a tank? A close call. Meanwhile Onigiri faces Ryou Mimasaka AKA Gorgon Shell. She’s stripping down and you know perverted Onigiri is paralyzed by this ‘awesome’ sight. Can guess the outcome, eh? Finally it is Kazu versus Yasuyoshi Sano AKA Iron Clock. Kazu too is having a tough time because Iron can somehow stop and manipulate time. Is this even possible? Or is it just some illusion? Kazu is thinking hard how to overcome this guy and the previous night Agito’s tutoring on how to deal with their Behemoth’s opponents are of no help either. Of course the other match-ups include Ikki taking on Bandou while Agito getting a chance to duel Behemoth’s leader, Akira Udou. Agito wants back his Fang Regalia whom Akira is in possession.
After putting up a tough fight, in episode 18, Buccha passes out and loses to Goshogawara. Same case with Kazu. Though he figures out Iron’s time stopping trick as hiding behind the light (?!), Iron deals Kazu a knockout punch but Kazu gave him the middle finger before he fell unconscious. Iron commenting how he lost to a finger? Emiri is heartbroken that her beloved Kazu lost after trying so hard. Ringo is worried with 2 loses in a row, and decides to masquerade yet again as Mask Croissant to replace Onigiri but to her shock her embarrassing outfit has been switched with a further embarrassing one. Why did she bother to put it on in the first place? Desperate? So where has the real suit gone to? Actually Simca switched it and she’s donning it! Simca tells Ringo to have faith in the team. Surprisingly though Ryou has got Onigiri under her snake charming spell, Onigiri releases his Bad Smell Road and Ryou starts hallucinating so much so Onigiri is like an upside-down Buddha and his ‘enlightening’ words has Ryou gone crazy and stripped naked in the name of freedom. Wow! With that Onigiri wins it for Kogarasumaru. How unexpected! With 3 matches down, it’s now up to Ikki and Agito.
The 1 on 1 battle turns into a 2 on 2 battle in episode 19 when Ikki taunts and tricks Bandou into unleashing his super powerful punches and breaking the walls of the cube area. Another flashback episode which sees Akira and Agito once working under the police. A mission to arrest a smuggler resulted in killing the guy right in front of that smuggler’s sister, Ren. Then it is revealed he wasn’t smuggling ATs but saving a little bird nest to give to Ren as a birthday present since Ren yearns to fly and she herself has a prosthetic leg. Guilty Akira continues to care for her and it’s like they’ve become a couple until it is revealed that Ren was just using him to get Agito’s Fang Regalia. Ren challenges Agito but Akira takes Ren place instead and I guess that’s when his relationship with Agito soured. Because of that, Agito lost his Fang Regalia to him. So as time passes, Akira hates those with wings. In present time, Akira gets serious in his fight and prepares to use his Fang Regalia.
The power battle continues in episode 20. Akira-Bandou combination proves as deadly as Ikki-Agito. We find out that the Fang Regalia has its weakness and the reason why Akira doesn’t use his ATs and do sky battle. He’s like grounded each time he uses it and this uses a tremendous amount of energy that will destroy his muscles if it’s overused. Ikki purposely has Bandou punched his heavy training weights which knocks the latter out and this give Ikki enough time to save falling Agito with his Wing Road when Agito and Akira clashed. So the duo delivers Akira a final blow and that guy passes out while standing up. In the end, Kogarasumaru is declared the winner, a controversial result which has the crowd protesting. However Kaito and his G-men ambush the site and all hell breaks loose. Though some tried to escape and some fought back, ultimately Akira voluntarily decides to give himself up for the sake of the rests and disbands Behemoth as he is taken away in a helicopter. Agito is recuperating in hospital and is visited by his pals.
Kogarasumaru’s giant killing act of Behemoth gains instant worldwide attention in episode 21. Talk about instant fame. That means there’ll be lots of team after their blood. How can they cope of defending their territory with waves after waves of onslaught? Will and determination of course. Don’t they get tired? Will and determination as I have said. While Kogarasumaru is looking for a base for their team, their school principal (which also happens to be that guy from that famous AT store) gives them the back of the school’s clock as their base. How convenient is that? Also, Simca who has witnessed the rise of Ikki, is now more interested in him than ever. She visits Spitfire and gets a haircut. That night, Simca’s resolve to strengthen Ikki further has her to call Spitfire to announce the assembly of Genesis, a large conglomerate of several top Storm Rider teams under Simca. They want Ikki to be their new leader. Woah! Such a big responsibility in such a short time. Will Ikki take it? Yeah, they’re all gathering outside Ikki’s home. This is massive. It’s like leading a revolution. Note: I hate Simca’s new haircut. She looks much uglier.
That Iron guy who was from Behemoth joins Genesis and is like following/pestering Ikki like his so called personal assistant in episode 22. Ikki is still in a dilemma to accept it or not. Poor Ume is crying because she doesn’t want Ikki to leave because she loves him! I think she means it in a more sibling sense. Don’t make a loli cry, damn it! But I guess Ikki has no choice but to accept and with Genesis’s activation, Ikki becomes their new leader but finds out that Genesis’s true goal is to topple the leaders on Trophaeum Tower. And that means Sleeping Forest. Oh man. However this episode is Ikki’s school field trip to Kyoto. Akito who has been released from hospital but is still unable to ride his AT due to his recovery process, is on the danger of missing it because he lack of funds. Not even Ton-chan can help. Akito did mention that he was paid while working under Kaito but his savings book is still somewhere in his truck. Ikki is determined to have Akito experience this field trip because he doesn’t want him to feel the bitter disappointment that Ikki felt when he didn’t go on one back when he was younger. So Ikki and co devise a plan to distract Kaito driving his truck while Ikki and Akito sneak in to find the savings book. But the duo have a hard time finding it and are discovered by Akira who seems to be working for the police now. Part of his atonement? Akira tells them to leave before Kaito finds out but too late. However Kaito gives them a second chance like how mentions he is seeing an illusion. He thinks they will be gone by the time he opens his eyes after giving Akito his savings book. Akito is grateful. With that, Akito will follow Ikki and the rest to Kyoto.
While Ringo is wondering if she’ll ever get to be Ikki’s boyfriend in this field trip which seems to spawn many other couples (Ringo spot some mysterious woman giving Ikki a kiss and her rage nearly destroyed a heritage site!), in episode 23, the gang arrive in Kyoto but the Storm Rider team of Kansai branch isn’t happy to acknowledge rookie Ikki as leader of Genesis. That mysterious woman who gave Ikki a kiss (actually she was whispering in his ear), Benkei, is part of the 3 leaders of Kansai branch called Trident. That night when Kogarasumaru are out on their own, they are ambushed by a group of B-class Storm Riders who are the Trident’s personal protectors. However Benkei attacks them back for being too aggressive. Meanwhile Iron meets up with another Trident leader, Yoshitsune. On another field trip outing, Ringo’s pals dress her up in a cute kimono in hopes that Ikki will noticed her. Then Ikki calls Ringo and wants to talk to her alone. Could this be the moment she has been waiting for? Alone, Ringo’s heart is beating fast as Ikki decides to ask her a question: What the heck is the windmill principle (some advice she got from Benkei earlier on). He wants to ask her privately seeing that he doesn’t want to let other people know that Ringo is wearing an AT. Ah, Ringo should’ve known better than to get her hopes up because ATs are all that he’s thinking. But they get an alert from their classmates how Ringo’s pals and Akito are being kidnapped. Ikki and Ringo starts giving chase.
In episode 24 during the chase, Yoshitsune in disguise pulls a prank by pulling down his pants! This is part of his plan to make Ikki realize how he can go even faster as his current method is ineffective. It is revealed that the kidnap was part of Trident’s plan to lure Ikki to their hideout. However Ringo’s pals and Akito are surprisingly self-sufficient and took out those B-class riders. They find out that the third Trident leader is actually a collective group of Storm Riders forming their opinions over the internet. Because they can’t accept acknowledge Ikki as their new Genesis leader, they want to challenge him and Ikki agrees. The match is Devil 30-30 but due to the length of their base which is 33.3 metres, the competition has them to jump over 33 of their comrades. If they slip or miss, their unfortunate comrade below will have his/her head smashed or some organ busted. Yeah, another match of the century. Any match that involves Ikki with some powerful Storm Rider is sure a must-see match. Ikki practices hard but comes nowhere close even to record holder Sora of 34.2 metres. Yeah, breaking rooftop tiles of heritage sites is an offence, you know. How is Ikki going to find 33 people? His friends and even classmates that he doesn’t really know have put their faith in him and are willing to lay their life down for him. The event is about to start and the other Noyamano sisters are there to watch.
All of the opponents that Ikki fought and beat are also there to lay their life down for him in episode 25. That’s how much they believe in him. Yoshitsune starts first and easily jumps over 33 of his subordinates but fails to break Sora’s record. Now it’s Ikki’s turn. While his pals are fighting where to lie, Ringo lies at the furthest and last place. Ikki starts to jump and borrows the power of Agito’s Fang Regalia. However that power is being sucked into Yoshitsune’s AT and that Trident leader is pretty upset. Ikki then crash lands onto Ringo. Luckily he used his knee to block or else she could’ve been smashed apple. But his knees are now injured. Ikki then realized the windmill principal (not that I understand anyway). Yoshitsune lectures Ikki about his principals and borrowed power but Ikki apologizes, surprising everyone. He wants another chance so Yoshitsune let bygones be bygones and allows him to jump as many times as he want. Ikki continues to jump but he falls short. Thankfully his pals are not that dumb and move away when they see him threaten to fall on them. Then some talk about Roads, Kings, bla bla bla and Yoshitsune indicates that he may have set all this up to awaken Ikki though it may leave both sides and Trident intact. Then Agito throws Ikki his Kogarasumaru suit and he regains his confidence. While preparing for his last jump, he remembers the time when he was young and climbed up a tall tower and jumped off it! WTF?! But some giant crow caught him and everyone saw him as flying. So now everyone spots that confident look on Ikki’s face and stands up. Even the enemy camp is cheering for him. Ikki prepares his final jump and surpasses Sora’s record. A new record at 35.09 metres!
Just like many open endings, it never fails to leave a bad taste in my mouth. That’s right. I never liked such endings because it leaves much to be desired and everything else hanging. However a sequel is not likely because I read that the anime is based very loosely on the manga. So if they want to continue the show, either they have to come up with their own story since rejoining the manga would be impossible at this stage, or remake the whole thing from scratch. Just like what they did to Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. More characters, more teams, more terms and more plot. But if you don’t read the manga, you can guess that Ikki will grow into a much stronger character and ride his own Wing Road. He will then face more powerful opponents, unlocks further his true hidden potential and be the next Sky King. Pretty much predictable, eh? But I guess since he’s the hero, you can’t help root for him.
I’m not sure if the other characters in the anime have their own development or not. While Kogarasumaru is growing, but it’s mainly because of Ikki. Agito seems to be less aggressive towards the end though he still has that profanity attitude. Kazu and Onigiri serve as Ikki’s support though he can fly on his own wings. Buccha, I don’t recall him winning a match in the series. So being huge and powerful doesn’t guarantee victory in a sport where flexibility and agility counts. Will Ringo ever Ikki know her true feelings? My guess is that it will never be so because ATs is what preoccupies Ikki’s head. I’m still thinking about Simca’s plan to groom Ikki into the future Sky King. Since she did mention how Genesis was form to bring down Sleeping Forest at the top of Trophaeum Tower, did she have some grudge on that team? I was expecting Ikki to face Spitfire or Nue but since this series is too short, I guess it never materialized. As for Ton-chan, not to say that I like her, but because of her childish behaviour and paranoia tendency that she’ll be molested or raped by her students or strangers had me laughing. I thought that big lips fat lady at the famous AT store would play some role in the series but she’s just a side character and making even lesser appearances than the Noyamano sisters. Not that I care.
The drawing, art and animation is typical and standard bishonen and bishoujo style. During comical moments, the drawing has the characters in chibi mode. Some even making the characters look like stick people. The mid-intermission shows sketches of random characters in the series. They can be in some pose or a comical sketch. Initially I thought that rock music would fit the series but the music from its opening, ending and background music lean more towards hip-hop. This music genre is much more suitable for an extreme sports series. It gets you into the groove, if you know what I mean. I didn’t really see this but I found out that there is a live stage musical adaptation of the series! Just like Disney On Ice, eh? However it is too based loosely on the series. Hmm… A bunch of actors rollerblading on stage and some strings and wires to make them fly?
Looks like in today’s current times, rollerblading or even skateboarding has faded into mere memories. At least in my region. I could be wrong since I’m not an outdoor person and wouldn’t know the latest trends going on. There’s always the trusty internet… However even if such ATs were to exist in this world, I might just try it out a little. Hey, every person at least yearns to have that great feeling of being able to fly and feel the wind brushing through his/her face while gliding over the terrain below. Just hope I don’t end up getting painful and permanent scars after tumbling over and over again several times. That won’t definitely look like a Road being carved on my body. More like hideous portholes…

Air Gear

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