Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Air Master - Review

Given the seemingly never ending stream of uninspired, shitty, pedophilic anime that I am continuously subjected to, it seems wondrous that I continue to deem myself an anime fan. Truth be told, there have been many a time I have wondered to myself if I'd be better off giving up on this self hurting hobby that could possibly get me arrested in some states.

But then, every once in a while, I find an anime so brilliant, so entertaining, so Manly, that it washes away the pedophilic aftertaste of the shows before it and reaffirms all that is good in anime, and reminds me why I love it so much. Air Master, is one such show.

This is what I look like when I watch most crappy anime. Except I'm not a redhead. Or a girl. Or a cartoon character.

Released in 2003, Air Master is the touching story of people getting kicked in the face. Eschewing moe, unrealistically beautiful characters, needlessly drawn out fights and all manner of bullshit that pervades modern anime, Air Master focuses all it's energy on one simple thing; brutal yet beautifully choreographed street fights.

A tale that warms the heart.

One thing that must be kept in mind while watching Air Master however, is that the entire series serves as an elaborate parody, of the fighting genre in particular, and anime in general. The story is paper thin, the reasons for fighting are ridiculous, character's regularly break into long winded speeches on the nature of street fighting, and many characters themselves take common anime cliches and exaggerate them to the point of absurdity.

Violence solves everything. EVERYTHING.

Maki is a street fighter known as the Air Master, because she utilises an aerial fighting style. She then spends 27 episodes kicking people in the face.

Sometimes, she punches.


Aikawa Maki
The main character. A former competitive gymnast, she eventually quit the sport because her sheer build and height had become too great to allow her to continue as a top level competitor. Missing the adrenalin rush of competition, she takes to street fighting. Utilising her skills as a gymnast, she eventually built her reputation as Air Master, an undefeateble street fighter who fights with an acrobatic, aerial combat style.

Maki looking her best.

Maki looking how she normally does.

Nakanotani Mina
One of Maki's friends. Has no real personality. The only things you need to know about her is that she's totally gaybones for Maki, and her boobs are the size of your head.

Reiichi admiring Mina's 'character depth'.

Yuu & Michiru
Two of Maki and Minas' friends. May possibly be a high mind, as they never seem to exert any personality to distinguish the two.

They have different skin tones! They are totally different people!

Inui Renge
A parody of annoying, kid, sidekicks, Renge takes the trope to levels beyond the impossible. Basically only has two states; eating and crying. May possibly be a gremlin.

It is a well known fact that stuffed teddy bears bully children in their spare time.

Sakiyama Kaori
A model and tv personality, Kaori became Maki's self proclaimed rival after Maki and her friends stole the spotlight away from her while she was doing a photoshoot. Completely batshit insane, Kaori makes up for her mediocre fighting ability with sheer force of will. Refers to herself in third person. Easily the funniest and most entertaining character in the show.

Sakiyama Kaori-same demands to be given the spotlight in this screencap.

You can clearly see why she's a model.

Lucha Master
The aptly named master of lucha libre. One of the few characters who can match Maki in aerial combat. Wears a lucha mask EVERYWHERE. Also has a 'battle mask' underneath his everyday mask. A closet otaku. Easily one of the coolest characters in the show.

To be honest, I'd probably cry too.

Sampagita Kai
Lucha Master's younger sister and another practitioner of lucha libre wrestling. Unlike her brother who is a pure lucha wrestler, Kai combines lucha with traditional Japanese pro-wrestling moves. Aside from her brother, she is the only other character able to match Maki in aerial combat.

In one scene, Kai had a flashback of her childhood, where she used to beat up little children while wearing a lucha mask. It was glorious.

Kitaeda Kinjiro
A gang leader from Hokkaido and the show's token gay dude. Kills bears and other assorted animals by punching them. Mainly utilizes fast and powerful punching attacks in fights.

You know you love it.

Yes, yes, you're queer, you're here. WE'VE GOTTEN OVER IT!

An absolute giant of a man and Kinjiro's gay lover .

Yuki doesn't like to talk about her life before the surgery.

Sakamoto Julietta
A creepy pedophile whose obsessed with Maki. An extremely high level fighter who is almost completely immune to pain. Fights using the ancient martial art of rape.

It takes many years of training in the mountains to master the art of rape.

Tokita Shinnosuke
A friend of Maki's who fights with a three sectional staff. Has a massive crush on Maki.

...I can't think of a caption, what do you want from me!? You know what? Screw you!

Mishima Reiichi
The sometimes friend of Maki and co, Reiichi fights by using his bike. That's right, he fights with bike-fu. It's awesome.

You have not lived till you've seen a fight between a guy with a staff and a guy on a bike.


The animation in Air Master can neatly be categorized under two different headings, 'fighting' and 'not fighting'.

The best way to prevent child violence is to teech children to dispense it themselves.

Like Maki herself, the animation comes alive during battle. Fights are fluid, beautifully choreographed, and avoid many of the cost cutting measures seen so often in action anime. Sadly, the screencaps fail to do justice to the fights, so here's a video of one of the early fights to show you just how damn good they look;

Outside of fights however, the animation doesn't fare quite so well. While never horrible to look at, its quite clear what the animation team had to sacrifice in order to have such fantastic fights; animation outside the combat is often jerky, cheap looking and at times glaringly inconsistent. One particularly egregious example would be Renge's pet kitten, which constantly varies in size from an average kitten to that of a goldfish.

So big they have their own noticeable center of gravity.


Air Master is easily one of the most enjoyable animes I've ever seen. Unlike many shows that needlessly complicate themselves with plot and depth, Air Master focuses purely on great fights and delivers in spectacular fashion.

Real life should be like Air Master; we need more kickass warrior lesbians.

Combat is fast, brutal and amazing to look it. One thing I particularly liked is that unlike most action girls in anime, Maki actually looks like a fighter. Whereas most shows feature tiny female fighters who can inexplicably fight people twice their height and many times their body weight, Air Master's lead character is a 6 foot tall, butch amazon who could probably snap you like a twig.

Don't worry Maki, we all love you!

Similarly, the fighting pulls no punches just because some of the combatants are women; fists get bloodied, faces get smashed and oftentimes the loser will be lying in their own sick. Perhaps some viewers might be uncomfortable with this, but I found that in not holding back on the violence for the girls, Air Master was the most egalitarian anime I've seen in a long time.

A punch for equality!

Aside from the fights however, Air Master also delivers in the form of a wickedly devious sense of humour. On the surface, it appears to be little more then a poor pastiche of juvenile toilet humour. The true comedy however, is to be found in how ruthlessly Air Master parodies it's own genre, and anime as a whole.

Where else can you watch a huge schoolgirl fight a Mexican wrestler?

Almost every character serves as a parody of some cliche or archetype. Mina, for example, is essentially the fanservice character gone too far; she has absolutely no personality and has boobs so impossibly huge that one can't help but laugh at them.

God, Renge could induce nightmares.

In similar fashion, the plot itself serves to lampoon the many cliches of the fighting genre. A particularly notable running gag is how needlessly violent most of the characters are. In one of the funniest scenes in the entire series, a character is approached by three prostitutes, who offer their services in exchange for him buying them jewelry. Instead of answering them, he simply kicks them, sending them flying 20 feet away.


Sadly however, despite being very popular in Japan, Air Master didn't receive much traction in the English speaking fandom. From what I've garnered by speaking to other fans, there are two primary reasons; the stupidity of the plot, and the ugliness of the characters.

C'mon! The show's got a raging lesbian! Isn't that enough!?

In regards to the plot, it's meant to be laughable. It is, after all, a parody. Humour is meant to be found in the silliness of a story that should not, in any way, be taken seriously.

No speech about the nature of fighting is complete without an analogy about puppies.

The characters however, are indeed hideous. But given how every other anime features impossibly beautiful people anyway, it can't hurt to at least watch just one show where not everyone could win a beauty pageant.

...she sorta looks cute...kinda...uh...

Air Master deserves a bigger English speaking fandom then it's got. As comedy, it hides a surprisingly intelligent sense of humour behind a childish facade. And yet, despite being a parody, it is also an excellent action anime, with fights that are better then most of the genre it's parodying.

Mina's 'character' in full display.

In closing, you are now obligated to watch this. Take a break from whatever pedophilic moe-fluff your watching and calibrate the Manliness of Air Master. In fact, if you are male, you will no longer be allowed to call yourself a man until you watch this. Similarly, women who don't watch this shall henceforth be referred to by the lesser term of 'wo'. Besides, it can't hurt that Air Master has the coolest ending ever made;



    I have been searching for it since you told me about it and is still searching!!

  2. Need to watch this just for that Lucha Libre dude.

    But say when I hear Airmaster I have to think about some flying lolis and stuff or was that a different anime?

  3. Air Master absolutely rocks! Lol.

    I am proud to say that I was 1 of 4 other anime watching friends who didn't dropped this and got a whole lot of "kick" out of Air Master in the end.

    Still, the rushed ending wasn't appreciated. Instead, I'd prefer more episodes.. Xp
    I thought they were going to slowly move their way up the rank instead of what happened in the anime.

  4. Holy shit, looks like I need to start watching this immediately when my vacation starts, looks epic!

  5. Yeah, thanks so much for this recommendation! :D

    I like the fights. And everytime I hear "Lucha", it sounded like "lucah" (bahasa malaysia) to me, meaning "porn"; "explicit" & related. Good gawd. @_@

    I liked the ending, the variation of running, ROFL!! XDDDDDDDD

    *going to check it out*

  6. BTW, there are far worst uglier characs in animanga. Take for instance, Initial D and One Piece. Despite the not-so-bishie character designs, the story & characters are interesting nonetheless.

  7. Renge does look like a lot of other characters.

    "High mind" should be "Hive mind", dude :P Also, "Teech"? The leeches? :D

    Bycicle-fu is indeed nothing to scoff at ;)

    Also, beating up small children is as manly as having sex with small children.

    And in case you haven't watched it, you really need to watch Tenjho Tenge. It has a plot, but other than that, it's right up your alley.

    P.S. Anime is a medium, not a genre. Just like TV has a lot of shit you don't like, but it doesn't detract from you, cause you don't think it's all aimed at you.

  8. Guy is 1000% correct to recommend Tenjou Tenge. Cool fights, cool characters, brilliant story, awesome intro.

  9. Our tastes differ on this...
    While I don't mind mindless fighting and I appreciate raging lesbians, ugly characters and gigantic disgusting breasts I can't stand.

  10. The master of rape is named Julietta >.>?

    If you keep introducing me to things that does away with my msnhood I won't have much of it left.

    And you secretly giggle madly at acts of violence performed against animated women, don't you Snark.

  11. *and that is manhood. have no idea how I didn't see that typo.

    Intelligent sense of humor, though? It looks like they were actually trying for the puppy analogy...

  12. "Similarly, the fighting pulls no punches just because some of the combatants are women"

    I'm definitely going to watch this now. I'm so sick of fights that involve women where they win in stupid ways and when they take damage their clothing just frays a bit and they look like they got some dirt on their cheek (well if you're watching something with more fan service change "frays" to "shirt bursting off their breasts").

  13. Ducky, you should also watch Tenjou Tenge. You get clothes ripped off, but, well, you also have girls breaking one another's arms, people trying to actually kill them good, etc.

    And apparently the anime is much censored down from the original manga, which had full sex and stuff.

  14. Hell yeah! I watched this in it's entirety about a year ago and I can only agree with you on all counts. It's not a series to be thought about, it's a series to sit back, watch and enjoy. The fights were way bad ass and Julietta ended up being one of my favorite characters (other than Maki of course). Also, I have to say that I found Maki to be cute in her own simple minded/deranged/violent way. I heard that Funimation recently rescued the license from Toei who royally fucked up the english distribution way back when so hopefully I'll be able to grab the entire series in one beautiful box set of ultra-violent schoolgirl glory!

  15. "Air master is the touching story of people getting kicked in the face."

    That's all I needed.

  16. I'm ashamed to say that I haven't seen Air Master yet. (It has action and yuri- how could I forget!?) But thanks for the review/reminder! :) As soon as I have the time, I must sample this gloriously campy-looking series.

  17. We need more awesome masked character, and since Hei is dead, I'll have to watch Lucha for the sick fights Ive been missing.

    Bah, mountain training has failed me(or I failed).I still fail in the art of making bullets out of wood

  18. A lot of kicking and punching in this show, dont you think? and I kind of like it.

  19. Update: FUCKING AWESOME. That is all.

  20. Parodies are always fun to watch. Hmmmmmmmm...

  21. @ Blowfish
    Flying lolis? What the fuck have you been watching?

    @ Blur
    For being one of the elite few who appreciated the beauty of Air Master, you have indisputably proven your superiority over the common filth.

    But yeah, the ending wasn't the greatest, but then again, the anime was based on a manga that was still ongoing at the time.

    @ Konadora
    Bah! Fuck waiting! Watch it now!

    @ Anna
    Lol, I had forgotten about lucah XD Fuck, it's been a while since I've been in M'sia

    @ Guy
    The fuck? God, I need to start proof reading this shit >_>

    And indeed beating up children is unmanly, that is why I advocate teaching children how to beat up would-be attackers instead.

    @ Baka-Raptor
    Holy fuck you're right, that intro is awesome!

    Still, I could never get into Tenjou Tenge. Admittedly, I never saw the anime, but I've read the first two volumes of the manga.

    @ Yi
    If it helps any, Mina's unbelievably huge breasts are meant to be taken as a joke.

    @ Ningyo
    Keep in mind however that the entire series is full of puppy analogies. I'm reasonably certain they were aware of how ridiculous they were.

    @ Duckie
    Air Master - Smashing a face for equality.

    @ Okami
    Unfortunately, Funimation hasn't really done much with the license save streaming it on their website. Hopefully they'll release the dvds eventually, I fucking want those. And I really hope they redub and resub that shit, a royal fuckup would be going easy on Toei for what they did with Air Master.

    @ Glo
    As I've said to Blur, liking Air Master indisputably proves that you are above the common masses.

    @ Katherine
    Exactly! And since you're a yuri connoisseur, you obviously know no lesbian buffet is complete without a few kicks to the face.

    @ GunStray
    You were obviously not training on a proper mountain. It was probably a tall hill or something.

    @ Phossil
    Damn straight you kinda like it!

    @ Reltair
    And you know what's even more fun? A GOOD parody. And you know what Air Master is? A REALLY GOOD parody.

  22. @Snark
    I seriously have no Idea...I didnt watch a show like that but due to some unknown reason Airmaster equaled flying lolis in my mind.
    Thanks to your review I know now that Air Master equals manly flying fists.

    Gonna give this a try :P

  23. So, if I were to watch this AND Queen's blade together, would I become a man or an evil lesbian?

    Also, hell ya, snagged that torrent.

  24. @ Blowfish
    Damn straight you're gonna give this a try! >=D

    @ Sniffits
    ...hmm, good question. I however, propose a third option; become both, and you will become more powerful then you could ever imagine!

  25. I'd proof your entries, for proper linking at the beginning and/or end of every post I proof. Cause I too am a whore of sorts :P

    I actually have semi-professional experience proofing.

  26. EPIC Anime! I tend to forget about Air Master because it's been drowned in the sea of moe anime, but it's one of my favourites of all time even with the screwy ending. I'd like to see more like this if possible.

    Anime parodies, you say?? No, THIS. IS. ANIME!

    Unfortunately Toei screwed this license real bad when they released it in North America. The subtitles were horrid and almost unwatchable. They subtitled the groans and yells of each fight. It's due for a re-release, I say, raging lesbians and gays and all!

  27. awesome anime, bad ending. i won't comment on the good qualities of the anime because i'm sure anyone with common sense would mutually and unanimously agree with the palpable. instead, the producers would have fared better prolonging the anime for at least 1 more episode. the fight between the Eternal and maki was less epic than i'd thought (and disappointingly deprived of all the assets the previous fights had) and the let's-keep-our-viewers-in-infinite-speculations-of-the-finale-so-we'll-get-higher-reviews approach just screws up the whole show. one of the other comments said it was "rushed"; that about summs up the ending. snark, you said the manga was ongoing at that point in time but, like naruto, bleach, one piece and many other anime, they could have periodically released episodes on a weekly basis. that's part of the reason why those anime are top hits. perhaps, the causal factor is a low budget, which may explain the inconsistent animation. albeit that, i believe they should feature a sequel with better animation as soon as they can, because there's absolutely and undeniably no excuse for defiling such a great anime with such a random finish.

  28. I loved this anime. I was just tired of the usual "I'm a female fighter but no guy seems to hit me so I have to fight other girls..." These people really fight, not matter if you're a guy or a gal. I'm a girl and I loved it, especially Julietta. However, I hated Mina and Renge. They are fking annoying!

    Concerning the ending, I wouldn't call it bad.


    At least we know that she'll still fight on. If Maki had won, she would have stopped fighting and kicking asses.

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  33. Nice post. Actually the anime and the comic had a little different. Sorry for spoiler, but in comic Nagato kiss Kitaeda Kinjiro when Kinjiro fainted during fight. I like anime better cos it is more funnier. Beside that, this anime just follow until vol 21, and last vol of this comic is 28.In comic, there are much more funny thing about Maki and Julietta(it is in Japanese).

    1. Yes, Air Master was a great, sadly overlooked anime. Just look at how much character the screencaps have.
      I'm not a dub fan, but the dub for this show was actually pretty good, so the Toei DVDs are worth picking up for that reason. I got them for about a buck each a few years ago. A proper boxed set is probably too much to hope for at this stage...

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