AIR

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AIR jacket.jpg

AIR is an H-game by Key Visual Arts with a clean version that spawned two anime, a movie by Toei Animation and a TV series by Kyoto Animation. (It was actually the first of three Key games that were animated separately by these two studios, although the Toei version of Kanon came out first.) It is seen as and marketed as a companion to Kanon; both deal with a young man with little to go on who begins living with a girl upon arrival and meets various other girls while sorting out the supernatural mystery of the town. The themes of fate and miracles also run deeply in both series.

Kunisaki Yukito is a traveler running low on money who lives day-to-day by performing a telekinetic puppet show. His travels, however, have a deeper meaning, one he's been trying to push away: for a thousand years now, his family has been searching for a girl with a curse upon her. A series of girls in town - cute, immature Misuzu, sly, friendly Kano, and quiet, peaceful Minagi - present themselves as suspects to be this girl in the sky, as they all have mysterious dreams of flying and connections to the spirit world that unfold along with their problems in the present day. If the girl isn't found and somehow saved, once she reaches a certain age or finds someone dear to her heart, she will become very ill, lose her memories, and die...

Not to be confused with the French electronica duo, the graphic novel, or the stuff you're breathing.

Tropes used in AIR include:
  • Achey Scars: Yukito was born with a scar that suddenly relives the time that his past life received the same scar, causing Yukito to collapse to the floor.
    • Justified. His past life was the victim of a curse for being too close to Kanna, resulting in the wound not healing properly. Yukito began to suffer it because was likewise getting too close to Kanna's own reincarnation of that time period, Misuzu.
  • Adaptation Distillation: Watch the movie or the anime, then watch the other and note how different the main characters' personalities are.
  • Against the Setting Sun: several scenes take place by the sea, against a sundown scenario. Especially relevant is the scene in which Misuzu calls out to Haruko, accepting her as her mother, and the two embrace as the waves crash against them.
  • All There in the Manual: Due to time constraints, the explanation of Yukito's past exists only in the game, and much of the medieval journey is relegated to an OVA. Also, the conditions of breaking Misuzu's curse are stated in the game and implied in the anime, making the ending more positive if you paid attention).
  • Bird Run: Misuzu does this a lot.
  • Bishoujo Series
  • Bittersweet Ending: Finding true happiness breaks the curse that the Buddhist monks laid on Kannabi no Mikoto, allowing the next life to freely pursue happiness. Hence, although Misuzu dies in this lifetime, her next life will be a happy one, giving the ending a heartwarming undercurrent of hope.
  • Bleached Underpants: The original game was an H-game, but the anime adaptation and PS 2 port have the sex scenes removed.
  • Breathe on the Fan: Yukito does this in an early episode.
  • But Now I Must Go: Michiru.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Sora is really Yukito. Especially well done since he's given exclusive screen time hiding in the background throughout the whole series.
  • Children Raise You: Played with in Haruko's subplot -- she's an immature and irresponsible woman raising her dead sister's child, but she behaves the way she does for a good reason. She does become a loving and responsible mother figure at the end, though.
  • Continuity Cameo: Kano, Minagi and Michiru briefly appear as background characters in the movie. Also, Ayu, Nayuki and Makoto appear at Misuzu's school, and they would later appear in Kanon.
  • Continuity Nod[context?]
  • Corner of Woe: Uraha and Ryuuya in episode 8, when Kanna tells them to get away from her.
  • Dating Sim
  • Decoy Protagonist: In the anime, at least, you could be forgiven for thinking that this is Yukito's story. Then he's excised from the plot via reincarnation as a crow, and the conflict between Haruko and Misuzu takes center stage.
  • Deus Sex Machina: Kano believes that becoming an adult will give her magical powers. Unfortunately, she was misled. No wonder Hijiri's so overprotective of her.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: Oh, Misuzu...
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Note to any winged beings: Leaving the temple, even if it's just to see your mother, will result in you being killed and cursed by Buddhist Monks. Said curse will haunt you in your reincarnations also. The curse? Die when you fall in love or if you feel love.
  • Disney Dog Fight: Misuzu is forced to choose between her aunt and her father.
  • Dojikko[context?]
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Yukito. He doesn't die, but as a crow, he has near to no relevance to the plot anymore.
  • Eyes Always Shut: Uraha. Well, almost always.
  • Eyes of Gold: Yukito and Ryuuya
  • Festival Episode[context?]
  • First Girl Wins: Sort of.[context?]
  • Fond Memories That Could Have Been: Played painfully straight with Haruko imagining all the time she could have spent with Misuzu as she died in her arms.
  • The Gadfly: Uraha and Ryuuya love nothing more than teasing Kanna.
  • Giant Poofy Sleeves: The school uniforms.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars[context?]
  • Hey, It's That Voice!:
    • A case of this in the original made it into an Actor Allusion in Lucky Star (DaisukeOno and Hiromi Konno, who played the roles of Yukito and Potato, respectively). There's also one in Haruhi Suzumiya (with Daisuke Ono, again).
    • Heck, Yukito is Heero Yuy in the game version!
    • Aya Hisakawa is Haruko.
    • English dub: Misuzu is played by Monica Rial, who uses a similar-sounding, but more solemn, voice for Lumiere, and very much avoids typecasting as Super Soldier Jo in Burst Angel and vampire-like Ninja Okoi in Basilisk. She's been in lots of stuff. The other leads in the dub have been in their fair share of anime -- Vic Mignogna as Yukito, and Luci Christian as Haruko.
  • Identical Grandson: A thousand years and lord knows how many generations later, and Yukito's mom still looks like Uraha with brown hair and Yukito himself like Ryuuya without slicked-back hair.
  • Important Haircut: Haruko cuts Misuzu's hair, accidentally cutting it much shorter than intended, thus giving her a more childish look that foreshadows later events.
  • Jidai Geki: The Summer arc and OVA.
  • Karma Houdini: Unless Nobunaga was around to raid the temple (which he was not, as he wasn't even born at that time), the Buddhist Monks, who are responsible for the deaths of Misuzu, Kanna, and God knows how many incarnations, get away free.
  • Lazy Artist: Those from Kyoto Animation. Ever wondered whether light is a wave or a particle? Well, here's the answer: it sticks to hair.
    • Actually, that complaint should be directed at Itaru Hinoue, the original character designer. Kyoto Animation did a very good job in adapting the original character designs in fluid motion, and actually painting each of those frames, as intricately as the hair was already designed, takes a good deal of effort.
  • Media Research Failure: DVD advertisements describe Kanon as a prequel to AIR, featuring the same characters. No, and no, despite the Continuity Cameo above. Speaking of the ads, Hurai Suzumiya, anyone?
    • And then there's Anime News Network's official review, which messes up the character names.
  • Mood Dissonance: Done pretty well with Kanna and her companions joking and dreaming peacefully while encircled by enemies, misused and abused everywhere else in the series. Anyone laughed at any gag involving Haruko and Misuzu?
  • Motorcycle on the Coast Road[context?]
  • No Communities Were Harmed: The unnamed town is actually Kasumi, a small Japanese town that was absorbed into a city called Kami after the game came out.
  • Only Six Faces: In the series. One for girls, one for moms, and whoever is left...
  • The Other Darrin: The game and movie has Hikaru Midorikawa as Yukito's seiyuu, while the series uses Daisuke Ono.
  • Paper Fan of Doom[context?]
  • Percussive Maintenance: Yukito uses this with Misuzu's TV. To no avail. The real fix is fiddling with the antenna, as generations of real-life analog TV owners with spotty reception can attest.
  • Precious Puppies: Potato. To quote JesuOtaku's Red Snark Titles, Cutest fuzzy tuber ever!^_^.
  • Rage Against the Heavens: Haruko when it rains the day of the summer festival.
  • Rapunzel Hair: Rather appropriately reserved for the two high class Heian period ladies, Kanna and Uraha. Misuzu and Haruko's hair is pretty long as well, but not quite up to the standards of the trope.'
    • ...Isn't Misuzu's hair about knee length in the anime? I believe that qualifies. I think her hair is still at least below waist length in the Visual Novel.
  • Recap Episode: Episode 13.
  • Refusal of the Call: Yukito, at first.
  • Reincarnation: The plot of the series requires it to exist, while the movie is good enough even if you don't believe in it.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Potato.
  • Rule of Cute: What else could justify the series girls' most peculiar eye placement?
  • Samurai[context?]
  • Scenery Porn: The sky and the sea play very important roles. The shots of the blue sky during the final scenes lend them a very dramatic atmosphere.
  • Shout-Out[context?]
  • "Silly Me" Gesture: Misuzu does this.[context?]
  • Sitting on the Roof[context?]
  • Someone to Remember Him By: Inverted by Ryuuya and Uraha.
  • Something Completely Different[context?]
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Misuzu lives in the manga, and Yukito remains human in the movie.
  • Story Arc: In order - episode one, Kano, Minagi, episode seven, Heian period, Sora, Misuzu, episode 12.
    • In the game, the arc with the first three scenarios involving Kano, Minagi, and Misuzu is called Dream, the Heian period arc is Summer, and the final arc with Sora, Haruko, and Misuzu is AIR.
  • Street Performer: Yukito tries to make a living performing by making his doll do tricks.
  • Supernatural Fiction
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: Played for Laughs: Near the shrine at night Yukito helps a disorientated Kano to stand after she collapsed when Hijiri suddenly appears to find her sister in the arms of the part-timer
    • It's not like I gave alcohol to an innocent girl and took her to a secluded place...
  • Together in Death: After Ryuuya dies, he's seen standing on a field in the afterlife, apparently waiting- and then Uraha walks up to stand next to him and the two set off to look for Kanna again.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Misuzu and Michiru, angels in every sense of the word, who by the cruelty of the gods themselves cannot stay with the people they love.
    • Kanna, by extension. The monks, not the gods, were responsible for that, though.
  • Twelve-Episode Anime: Plus a Recap Episode as episode 13 and two AIR In Summer episodes.
  • Utsuge
  • Welcome Episode
  • White-Haired Pretty Boy: Yukito and Ryuuya
  • Yamato Nadeshiko: Though it isn't explicitly stated, Uraha probably invokes and parodies this trope on purpose; her perfect-lady act is simply too over-the-top and unflappable to be entirely honest.
  • You Already Changed the Past: The series uses this trope as fuel. The movie, though, leaves some freedom of choice to the characters.