Air Gear OVA

December 16, 2011

What’s with that ridiculously excessively long second title anyway? Could you believe it? How could anyone say that whole mouthful, Air Gear: Kuro No Hane To Nemuri No Mori -Break The Sky-? Wouldn’t it be faster to just say Air Gear OVA since this is how this series is made out and this is how everyone else simply refers to it? Anyway we’re not here to argue about how it is named. So but what the heck does it mean, ‘break the sky’ anyway? You can break through the atmosphere but break the sky? Will crack lines appear in the sky? Okay, we’re not here to bicker about the meaning of its title either.

After such a long absence (at least from my point of view), it was really quite refreshing to watch the much awaited continuation ever since that crappy filler ending of the TV series. Well, there is always good and bad thing when it is made into an OVA format instead of another TV sequel. The good news is that you don’t waste time on mindless fillers as you go straight down to what is necessary with the story and plot. The down side is that you have got to be patient and wait quite a while for each episode to be released. Though there are only 3 episodes, it took around 6 months for it all to be released (November 2010 from the first episode till June 2011 the last episode). Hey, it’s better than waiting for years, right?

So for those planning to jump straight in and watch the OVA, it is better that one should watch the TV series first or at least read the manga. The story of the OVAs develops from there and unless you want to be lost in your own sleepy wilderness, it is strongly advised you do so. Whether it is the characters or even all those fancy terms and jargons, if you have a hard time understanding what the heck Air Trecks (ATs) are or the simple meaning of Storm Riders, it’s time to do some serious revision, baby. Understanding that this series is just about a bunch of kids flying in their over-super-modified roller blades doing all kinds of stunts and aerial battle is just the tip of the iceberg. Besides, it’s not the kind of simple sport that doesn’t let anyone go unscathed or blood unspilled. Oh, all the dark conspiracies and complicated fights all in the name of ultimate supremacy to rule the sky. Well, if God really wanted us to fly freely, He would have made us wings to fly in the first place, right?

Episode 1
Simca is walking in the rain, thinking how scared she is about this battle and wonders if somebody will save her. She remembers offering her help to tune Ikki’s Wind Regalia but he declined seeing that Genesis is their enemy. Shortly after he left, Ringo attacks. Her attack leaves her close to naked and helpless on the ground. Ringo says this is the only way for her who possesses no battle power to avoid this battle. Simca is unconscious in hospital and though Iron is regretting his failure, mad Ikki punches him. Ikki falls into despair but Kururu Sumeragi says to get revenge and is optimistic she can resurrect his Wind Regalia. Narration of a competition to capture and control all roads, all kings and all Regalias. But as time passed, the Royal Regalia dispersed. But when the 8 Kings gather, legend has it the ultimate Sky King who has power over all will descend. That proof is the Regalia of the Sky. The Sleeping Forest, led by Ringo, exists to protect it. Genesis, led by Simca, wants to take it. And Kogarasumaru holds the key. Simca believes Ikki to be the Sky King and tried to join Kogarasumaru but was attacked by Ringo. Ikki is in a dilemma on who to save. Kanon pays Ringo a visit and shows her Ikki’s ATs and making them to be the best but it’ll be tough to beat Ikki. Ikki then comes back and is surprised to see Kanon doing a force kiss on Ringo. He misinterpreted her intentions of holding his ATs so he snatches them and runs away. She tries to go after him but Kanon stops her. She slaps him instead.

Ringo catches up with Ikki and no matter how much she explains, he won’t believe her. This has her conclude that he is her enemy and attacks her. The sneak attack has her snatch his Emblem. She throws down a challenge to crush him. Though he is shocked she isn’t the Ringo he used to know, he accepts her challenge. It is some race and the first one to reach the mountains wins. The night race begins as Ikki is confident he knows the best route since this is his home ground. He remembers how Simca told him she is Ringo’s elder twin sister. She adds Ringo was allying herself with the Rock King and waging war together to become the leaders of Trophaeum. With determination, Ikki is able to pull off his Wing Road but Ringo catches up and knocks him down with her Thorny Road. Meanwhile Sumeragi has completed Wind Regalia’s core, Moonstruck Drop, Bagram. She is praised by Konomi Nijou but unknown to them, Hako Isawa switches them. Back to the battle, Ringo is trying to tell Ikki about the King’s true power, the battle to capture Trophaeum. She thinks all of these should disappear. Ikki didn’t like her idea that all Regalia should disappear so they continue their battle. Ikki gives his version of freedom. She can’t see his reason for seeking the Trophaeum. Is it to become stronger or is it Simca asked him to? Because of Regalia, people fight and stain the free blue sky with blood. Ikki disagrees with her answer because if there are a million people, colours and shapes, there’ll be a million versions of freedom. Unhappy that he didn’t see what she’s trying to tell him, she cuts him down with her Thorny Road, breaking his Regalia!

Sumeragi, who is happily cycling to find Ikki, senses a great battle. She was fast enough on the peddle, then leaps of her bike and the amazing thing in her Regalia was that all the screws and whatever parts fix back Ikki’s Regalia!!! WOW!!! All with exact timing and precision. All in less than 3 seconds before Ikki hits the water surface!!! JUST WOW!!! Gliding on the water and putting Sumeragi to safety, Ikki resumes his battle. It gets even more intense with Ikki unleashing his deadly Wing Road Infinity Atmosphere. Err… Why is the sky filled with Grim Reapers?! Ringo retracts her Regalia and seems to prepare herself to be crushed by him. Maybe this way she’ll get away from Sleeping Forest and find her own peace. But she changes her mind because she hasn’t told Ikki everything yet and unleashes her Thorny Road Max. It backfires and she got pummelled in her stomach. Ouch. That really has got to hurt. Ikki seems possessed by the Regalia but when he activates it a second time, it breaks. Ringo with her last ounce of strength uses this opportunity to unleash her Thorny Road Infinity Atmosphere and send them both crashing into the river below. Day breaks. Ikki sees Ringo waiting for him at the goal. She says it’s his victory and throws him back his Emblem. Then she collapses and starts crying. As Ikki carries her, he says though he is still pissed about the attack on Simca, he learned Ringo was serious and focused though she distanced herself and act strong. He also notes the kindness she has because she’s always putting others before herself. He’ll show her he believes in that part too. Besides, that is the part of her that didn’t change. At the top of the mountain, he says the battle is a draw as Ringo is relieved that she has finally reached him.

Next day, Iron congratulates him for becoming the Air King and will gladly hear last night’s battle. Ikki wonders if he has seen the stairs to the sky. He thought he saw it but haven’t found anything. Though he doesn’t know why he’s aiming for the sky, he feels he may be wrong the whole time and knows nothing about the meaning of freedom. That night as Ringo’s body aches from using the Regalia, Ikki from outside her door says he is leaving this place to find his real wings. He thanks her for making him realize. He’ll only return till he finds them. But she mentions there is 1 thing he still doesn’t understand: Kanon. She quickly opens the door and kisses him. Or so it seems. Just a breath away from touching. Then she pulls back, slaps him and slams the door. The Ringo we know? Yeah, have a safe trip anyway. So Ikki goes on his way and where does he live? In Iron’s luxurious mansion! No wonder it’s tempting to leave that rut, oops I mean home. Hey, why is Iron pants-less?!

Episode 2
Ikki is performing in a street act. Wait. It looks like he is going to commit seppuku! What is Agito‘s first word? “F*CK!”. However Ikki gets to live another day when the girls, Simca (in a wheelchair), Croissant Mask (Ringo in that horrible mask swimsuit outfit), Sumeragi and Nijou all come by. They all heard his problem but it’s going to be a bigger problem. You know Simca, Ringo and Sumeragi all have a crush on Ikki. So this is the first time all 3 are together in 1 place. The trio are ‘fighting’ among themselves to let Ikki now there’s still hope. I guess they took too long so they let opportunity slip when Kazu is the one who brings the good news to Ikki. Why do I get this feeling that Ringo is like a comical tsukkomi role here despite her brief appearance? As narrated, the Gram Scale Tournament determines who stands atop the world of Storm Riders. But Ikki’s blunder denied Kogarasumaru’s participation and was punished to commit seppuku. Whatever his blunder was, seemed Ikki was made embarrassed because his naked butt was showing. However if they are able to get their hands on the Eternal Seed Rights (a permanent spot always reserved in a tournament for one holding this right), they can enter the tournament.

Thus Kogarasumaru decides to pay a visit to the mysterious Inorganic Net world. They manage to find the place since Simca knows them as old friends. This guy, Falco seems like some porn uncle playing ecchi simulation on his computer in his messy apartment. I think he and Onigiri can click. Down to business, he agrees to give them his Seed Rights if they meet his condition. Kogarasumaru (in addition to the 5 guys, the team includes Emiri Adachi and Yayoi Nakayama) are thrust into the cyber world of the floating sky city, Ron Holtz Vaughn City. Their opponents are Simca’s old buddies and ex-members of Sleeping Forest. That’s right Rika, Spitfire and Sora are included in this team. The other members include Falco (he looks like a handsome blond guy. See what the virtual world can do to one’s outlook?), Dontores, Blackburn, Kilik and Ine Makigami. It’s odd that Kogarasumaru enters some weird dance upon finding out their opponent. Is this some sort of a tradition? Even that Agito kid who normally won’t do something as silly as this is doing this dance.

The A-class battle will be Balloon and the goal is, well, to catch a balloon and the first team that gets it within 30 minutes wins. Since this is a 6-on-6 battle, Kilik and Sora are reluctant to join. Agito notes this battle is meaningless without them. So how to let them join? Sly Ikki uses Agito’s hands to caress Rika’s boobs!!!!! WTF?! I guess Kilik and Sora must have feelings for her so they angrily swap places with Ine and Spitfire. Well, at least things are heating up. The battle starts with everyone showing off and unleashing their cool Regalia powers. Kilik realizes that Kogarasumaru have the same potential as them so instead of wasting time fighting them, they decide to go straight for the balloon. Kogarasumaru is on alert since they know the other team is trying to uncover who their Panther is. Short flashback reveals Kogarasumaru members discussing the importance of the Panther role, supposedly to be the fastest Storm Rider in the team. From what I understand, if the Panther is discovered, then it’s game over. Then there are other roles like Decoy (fake Panther), Ultimate (those who’ll fight head on) and Keeper (protects teammates from enemy attacks). So did Ikki adopt this “One For All, All For One” motto? I mean for the sake of the Panther, everyone dies. They want Ikki to decide on the roles but he tells them to decide themselves. Even so Agito tells them all to pretend to be like one.

Back to the battle, Adachi is intercepted by Dontores. Then Buccha and the rest surround him in some strategy based on their one-for-all motto. The rest of the ex-Sleeping Forest members head along and come into creepy cyber monsters including one that can take on the shape of anyone. With Kilik’s clairvoyance and orders, everyone is able to get out of that hell. But it seems Kogarasumaru (minus Buccha who is busy taking on Dontores) are ahead of them. Everyone attacks and when Falco’s kick hit Agito, he reverts into one of the shape shifting creatures. Then they realize everyone is a decoy. The real Agito is speeding up, closing in to take the balloon. However he is intercepted by Kilik and Sora who have predicted his moves. What is Agito’s reply? “F*ck”. He is blown away by their sand storm, Crystal Sand Wind. But how can they find his separate movements? As explained by Rika, every Storm Rider has his/her own Run Pattern. It’s like a fingerprint unique to each rider. Kilik unleashes his Gaia Road and no matter how much Kogarasumaru defend, they’re no match for it. They supposedly lost and should be logged out but Falco realizes the link is not cut and that the battle isn’t over yet. Seems Onigiri did some imaging as he turns into a giant perverted pig targeting Rika! Falco panics that he was hasty and too quick to judge Kogarasumaru’s abilities. Ikki and co revive and the fun is just about to start.

Meanwhile Agito is lying unconscious by Nakayama’s side. His body is badly scarred. Agito’s other personality, Akito barely conscious and tells Nakayama to complete Agito’s tuning and true fangs. I’m not sure about the final scenes about Kilik regretting letting Ikki, Kazu, Onigiri and Adachi face Rika. He isn’t happy that they have that pig as their secret weapon. Onigiri lets in on his secret that he once peeped on Rika changing. He thought it was his first love but was just his first erection! Ikki beats that perverted piece of sh*t up upon knowing the truth.

Episode 3
As revealed, the Panther’s position is important because it is the only one allowed to seize the balloon and win it for the team. The battle rages on and based on Ikki’s observation and gamble, he knows who their Panther is: Rika. But even so, those ex-Sleeping Forest guys aren’t going to have any problems in dealing with them. Meanwhile Akito wants Nakayama to hurry with the tuning but she can’t because she feels like a burden to him. She reveals she has never done tuning before. But Akito believes in her and that she has the ability of making ATs into real magic wings. He will guide her how. Flashback time. A talk between Nakayama and Adachi revealed that the former has feelings for Agito. During a ferocious stormy battle between Agito and another opponent, Nakayama distracted Agito. The rival attacked Nakayama though Agito managed to rescue her in the end (I wonder how she ended up totally naked). Nakayama was always watching the faraway sky with her telescope and always enthralled with it. Ikki and his Kogarasumaru teased Nakayama when she wrote about finding those Magic Wings in her notebook. How heartless could those jerks be? Reading out and embarrassing her. Let Adachi take care of them. But Agito left a note “That thing is always flying in front of you. F*ck!!!”. That’s when she realized she was always watching Kogarasumaru flying in action as though they’re using magic. She felt jealous and impatient that not being able to do more. Nakayama is determined to use that magic. At that time, Agito wakes up and tells her there are already wings growing on her back. He hugs her and lets her hear the flow of his rhythm. I don’t know what this magic thing is or how she does it, but it involves her taking off her clothes. With the confidence she has now, she feels Agito is her magic wings.

Kogarasumaru continues to be under relentless attack from Kilik and co. He notes their Panther is out and their simple strategy is to slowly wipe them all out. But soon Kilik soon something amiss and goes off after thinking he may have been letting his guard down. As Onigiri continues to harass Rika, Blackburn makes a revelation. If Kogarasumaru’s Panther is lying injured, why didn’t anybody check and authenticate his Panther emblem? They’re acting as though they’ve crushed their Panther but perhaps they’re being made to think that way? Then it hit them that it is really true because of Ikki’s smirk. Yup, they’re really acting to make them think so. Kogarasumaru’s Panther is Adachi as she is running up the tower, inching closer to the balloon. Flashback reveals she wasn’t too pleased to be the Panther because she’s the weakest and slowest. Plus, Agito will be the ultimate decoy and purposely take a beating to let their guard down. Adachi gets the motivation to continue running because she loves the team. Kilik and the rest rush over to the tower but Kogarasumaru aren’t going to let them have their way. Dontores and Buccha’s battle is fought to a draw because both are tired out. Falco tries to get in the way of Ikki but was crushed by a revived Agito’s Fang Road. Ikki ‘berates’ him for being late so Agito tells him to go after Kilik. He fires his Fang Road for Ikki to ride on. Ikki says not to talk things which don’t fit him. Doesn’t he sound arrogant when he mentions everyone should just fight for his sake. But in return, he’ll spread his wings for them.

Adachi is out of breath and is just 25m away from the balloon with over 3 minutes remaining. She builds up speed in a do-or-die attempt but gets frightened when Kilik appears in front of her. She makes a screeching stop and runs the other way. Well, though she did thought of escaping for a second, it was just a distraction to throw a stone statue at him! Hey remember, this is a virtual world. This was enough to catch Kilik off guard, give him the slip and make her build enough speed and jump off the tower. However it’s yet-so-close-yet-so-far situation because she can’t reach it and starts falling. But Ikki zooms by and gives her the much needed push and boost to finally grab the balloon. Hooray! Kogarasumaru team wins! Ikki catches falling Adachi and return to the other teammates though she hoped it should’ve been Kazu who had caught her. Kilik reflects his team were far greater in ability. Was it because he let their guard down? No, he was just careless for a split second. By the time he caught up with the Panther, he already used up all his power. If this was a real fight, it would’ve been their lost. Falco notes how Sora didn’t do anything and his reason was he doesn’t want to show those small fries his real power even if this battle was fun.

As Kogarasumaru logs back to the beginning of the virtual world (yeah all their wounds gone. I guess it was so real, pain felt so real, eh?), Falco congratulates them for obtaining the Eternal Seed Rights. He shows them their team’s name on the Gram Scale Tournament bracket. Do the winning pose! But I don’t know why, the other guys start getting angry and beat up Ikki. Maybe it’s all the trouble they had to go through if he had not blunder in the first place? But hey, they went through some good battle experience, right? Another flashback of how Agito pulled out unconscious Nakayama from the river. Thinking there is only 1 way to revive a sleeping princess, when Nakayama opened her eyes, she sees him using a bamboo stick to blow through her mouth.

The Sky Is Only The Limit…
It is rumoured that there will be more OVA episodes to come in the future and it will be interesting to see what is in store for Kogarasumaru and their destiny. I wasn’t a big fan of the TV series but I’m not saying that I turned into one after watching the OVA. At least with the nice pacing of the story with the first OVA focusing on Ikki’s battle with Ringo after the brutal attack on Simca and the following couple of episodes the Kogarasumaru team in action against the ex-members of Sleeping Forest, it doesn’t feel boring or draggy at all. So okay. Maybe I watched all 3 OVA episodes at one go instead of immediately watching it when the episodes are fresh out like hot baked bread from the oven. Indeed watching the OVA brings back nostalgic memories of the TV series and I even went back to read my old blog on this show. Partly because to refresh my failing memory on the terms and some of the plot. Hehe… ;p. And it seems there are more plots, characters and terms to come. My, it’s going to be a little overwhelming for me so I’m going to take a little short break.

As compared to the TV series, I feel that the members of Kogarasumaru are tightly and further close to each other. During the battles, there is display of absolute teamwork, cooperation and friendship. They’ve grown so much and there is more space for them to do so. Perhaps the OVAs were too short to conclude about the changes in character but I can say that they feel a little different. There is this sort of mature feel to some of the characters. Ikki may be a long way off from becoming the Sky King but with the determination and effort he is putting in, it’s no time the world of the Storm Riders will be shaken up. Foul-mouth Agito (nearly every damn sentence of his has that F-word. It’s like his signature phrase) seems much more cooperative though he is still cold but not as unfriendly as before. But I guess there are some things that won’t change like Onigiri’s pervertness. In fact it might have gotten worse! Oddly, I think his other form is a pig which he is being displayed as some of the time. Well, what do you make off, a short fat guy? Hey, better than a monkey, right? Perhaps not. Say, I don’t see the crow (which is Kogarasumaru’s mascot and partly what their team name means) that was usually used back in the TV series as ‘Ikki’s personal censor’. Maybe they should’ve used it when Ikki’s butt was protruding. Nah… I also remember Onigiri rides best upside down balancing his head on an AT! That’s some mean balancing feat for a fatty like him. I remember Adachi and Nakayama who were always following the team when they go for Parts Wars in the TV series. I guess their love for Kazu and Agito respectively has got them to finally join the team, eh? Rika may be Ikki’s big sister and though from the opposing team, it feels like she is quite distanced from the rest here. She was considerably quiet and from my point of view, a ‘nearly-rape victim’. In the TV series, it was Rika who tried to tell Ikki about the dangerous world he was getting into. In the OVA, it was Ringo’s turn. Well, can you defy destiny? Too bad Simca won’t be in action in any time soon since she is ‘grounded’. On an unrelated note: I still don’t like Simca’s short haircut.

Though there are a few new characters introduced but not playing any memorable role (at least at this point since it’s only 3 episodes) like Hako, Nijou and Ine. It feels that their appearance are somewhat fleeting. If they really do expand the OVA, I hope and am sure that these ladies and much more other characters will play a significant role. However there are those that do not appear at all in this OVA such as Ikki’s other sisters, the tough Mikan and the loli Ume. What about Agito’s SWAT officer brother, Kaito who hunts down and arrests all Storm Riders? Don’t see any nose of him at all. I might have forgotten all about him if I did not refer back to my old blog.  Oh, remember that slutty kid-like homeroom teacher, Ton-chan? No time to fool around so I guess that’s why she didn’t make any appearances here.

The path and road that leads to the top of the Trophaeum seems like a complicated and long way to achieve. I mean if you think about it, it is kinda scary to see all the different types of battles that they have to go through in order to achieve that. At the end of the OVA, I remember about the different classes of Storm Riders but it seems Kogarasumaru isn’t your D-class or E-class team anymore. The way they are taking on A-class teams like ex-Sleeping Forest shows that they are a force to be reckoned with. And they have moved from the Parts Wars or territory battles between other lowly teams. So in addition to the 8 Kings, we have this Gram Scale tournament now. I have a good guess about the outcome of our heroes. They’ll meet and face stronger teams, beat them and get even stronger before their next opponent. What is it that Kogarasumaru possess that it makes them the chosen one and fascinated or loathed by many others? That’s why they are a team of crazy people to watch out for.

The art and animation between the TV series and OVA feel slightly different. Since they are produced by different studio houses, the OVAs feel more ‘mature and serious’. Even the entire seiyuu line-up is different. All the characters have been given a different seiyuu and none of the original ones have been retained. But even if they sound totally different than their original counterparts in the TV series, their characters are largely the same so they are still identifiable in that sense. Heck, I don’t even remember how the original ones sounded but what difference would that make? All the ending themes are heavy rock based and it is quite suitable for the pace and action for this OVA. Speaking of action, it doesn’t disappoint either. We get to see the individuals pull off their awesome moves with the right mix of not showing off too much of it and get that ‘intoxicated, over-excess’ feeling and at the same time not too scarce that leaves fans disappointed and wanting for more. Of course we would want to see more aerial action from Kogarasumaru, right? They may be exaggerative and mind blowing but if you can put that aside, you’ll enjoy these aerial stunts. You know those comical parts when characters are drawn in their chibi modes? Well, I thought they look like those Bu Dao Weng tumblers only with stick limbs sticking out. Funny… Oh, the fanservice? Enough to tease fans wanting to see more of Ringo and Rika’s hot bod. Oh yeah… As for the love triangle part, I guess we’ll have to wait and see how it plays out from there from future episodes (if there are any). Looks like it’s not going to be a heated battle to the top of the Trophaeum that is at stake too, if you know what I mean?

So well, roller blading like flying in the sky still seems like a distance dream. Though the trend of roller blading seems to be in hibernation mode, I’m not sure if the trend will see some revival in the near future. Well, did roller skating make a strong comeback? Perhaps if such magic shoes were created, it will revamp the entire extreme sports history. A stadium won’t be enough for people to run and fly with these babies. You’ll need a big city to strut your stuff and wings. Me? If only I could just balance well on my 2 feet and not fall on my butt or knees every 3 seconds…Maybe I’ll just stick to just watching. That will be much safer.

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