NOTE: Please keep in mind that this review is old, so while some editing has been done to make it read a little more timelessly, a lot of it is obviously dated. As such, where some things may be noted as 'spoilers', they probably no longer are.
Back again with another review finally, this time on a title I've heard about a lot but just now got to see myself. I've been told that I'm a bit of a moe nut, and whether this is true or not varies on your definition, but let me tell you this right now - if you've been avoiding Air simply because you don't like moe, you are depriving yourself one of the better anime I've seen in a while.
Air is the story of a young girl named Misuzu, though you won't be able to tell at first. For a good chunk of this 12 episode series, you'll swear the main character is the traveler Yukito. To give you the basics, Yukito is a traveling puppeteer (he controls his little doll with a form of telekinesis, no strings on this one), looking for 'the girl with wings in the sky' from a story his mother told him as a young boy. Broke and hungry, he arrives in a new town, and that's where his fate takes a turn when he meets Misuzu.
A sweet little girl with a nice amount of problems of her own (her inability to get close to anyone without bursting into an emotional, teary wreck being a major one), Misuzu is quick to befriend Yukito, wanting to play with him more and more. She offers her and her mom's house for Yukito to stay at, which after some consideration, he accepts.
As the two get closer, she tells Yukito of recurring dreams she's been having for a long time - dreams of the sky, and another her in it, flying. Yukito begins to wonder if maybe she's the girl he's been looking for all this time. However, as complicated as things already are, this is simplicity compared to the other things the two of them are about to experience.
I'll stop there to avoid spoiling more, but you can pretty easily divide this series into four or five different arcs, as there are some nice side-stories that at first seem stand-alone, but by the time you're done, you'll see just how important they are to the overall story.
The animation in this is truly beautiful, on par with the first Fullmetal Alchemist anime in my opinion, which is saying a lot. There's not a single off-animation moment or episode either, it's very constant, which is always a good thing. But as we all know, pretty animation alone doesn't make a good anime, it takes a great story. Rest assured, Air is definitely not lacking in that department.
I will warn you now though, if you have any sort of heart at all, you will get very emotionally involved with the characters in this series. In-of-itself, that's not a bad thing, but it's really going to come bite you in the butt at the series conclusion. There are very few instances in anime that literally make me sad enough to tear up, or even feel like I'm going to. The end of really long shows gets me feeling like there could be tears somewhere, because I've watched these characters for so long. Fullmetal Alchemist is the only one to actually make a tear come out of me however, at the Hughes incident (the Tucker incident before that summons rage, so no tears). This time though, at the end of Air...I don't think any actual tears escaped, but I certainly felt like crying.
Aw hell. I'll be honest. Even if I didn't cry, I wanted to BAWL like a little BABY! This is seriously one of the most emotional wrecking conclusions I've seen in ANY story, not keeping out stuff that's not anime.
As sad as it is though, this is a great series that everyone should give a look. Even my favorite anime franchise of all time (Dragon Ball), I don't call required viewing. There have only been two so far that I've called absolute required watching for the various good things represented in each one - the first Fullmetal Alchemist series, and the School Rumble series. Is Air good enough to join that rank? Honestly, I can't say yet, I'm still having to work through my feelings that are so out of whack after the ending now. There's a very good chance that this will soon be one of those shows I go about trying to make everyone see though.
So in the end, I really have NOTHING to complain about in this series. As horrible as the ending is, in it's way it's good as well, because it just shows how well the previous episodes have made you care about the characters. I can't speak for the original version, but the dub is simply brilliant; Vic Mignogna, Monica Rial, and Luci Christian have NEVER sounded better. So whether you opt for the original ADV singles like I did, or you get FUNi's re-release, this is one anime you really can't afford to miss.