Hey guys! So it’s been AWHILE since I last did one of these. I think since around my blog first started and I was reading Otomen and My Little Monster (there was also a third series but I can’t remember what it was called…). I figured it was about time I revived them because who doesn’t want more manga content on the blog? Besides, it’s a way to help me keep reading! And since these are impressions by volume, SPOILERS abound! Especially once you get into anything after volume 1 because I talk a bit about the previous ones (hehe)
But yes, I have already started on my reading goals and because it was just right there, my first read is Air Gear. I mentioned I watched the anime when I was younger and I was trying to figure out when because I started reading the manga soon after. And oh boy, has this first volume surprised me. Not only does it feel SUPER different from what I remember, but it’s also more violent than I remember!
First off, when I watched the anime, I distinctly remember it starting with Ikki getting beat up by these storm riders (which I believe is the term for gangs who use Air Treks, a type of skates). He ends up “pissing himself” and he’s pretty much disgraced as the Eastside Guns’ “Babyface”. But in the manga we actually start off seeing him as a bigshot gang leader. It’s clear that everyone adores him and looks up to his strength. And then the beating comes and it’s so much more brutal! Yes, Ikki gets disgraced but it’s not just him that gets violated. Girls get raped and his friends Onigiri and Kazu are threatened into getting money (like a tribute)
Looking back at my younger self, I’m surprised I was reading this!!
But Ikki isn’t one guy to be easily cowed because after he cried in bed and sulked, he finally got his butt in gear. Having heard about what happened, his sisters (adopted since he was taken in) introduce him to Air Trecks, which are a type of skates with motors that are very popular. It’s a type of fight fire with fire situation. Since the gang that took him out were riders, he should also become a rider. And he’s lucky to have his sisters on his side because, as it turns out, they are the legendary team Sleeping Forest, which is a team people didn’t think actually existed. A team that inspires fear and awe in other riders
Really, it’s such a good first volume so I was easily convinced to continue!!
And of course, the next two volumes start to wane, especially the second. I think that was my least favorite to read! In these two volumes I felt like Ikki was also learning a bit more about the Air Treck world
First off we meet Simca, who we’d only seen in passing in the first volume. She’s actually the girl on the cover for volume 2. Ikki is pretty much smitten with her and when she starts cozying up to him, he thinks he’s hit the jackpot, but really he’s only gotten into some trouble. Having stolen a team’s emblem, Simca sends them hunting for Ikki. While Ikki does end up gaining some experience, I just didn’t really feel much happened in this volume storywise
In this volume we also have a continuation of the whole Ikki getting beat by the storm riders named Skull Saders. Rumors start to spread around the school about him having got revenge for his gang and when asked to prove his skills, he ends up floundering (I mean, the guy’s only been skating for like a day). His fellow mates think he’s made up a lie to pick up his pride and diss him once more (except for the ones that matter). But we also learn that because of this whole gang fight, a new King stepped up from the shadows and is now terrorizing the school ground. Someone being called the Night King
Volume 2 starts to set us up for this fight by introducing our new characters and Parts Battles, and in volume 3 we actually get the battle. I feel like that battle really brought up my score for the series because it felt important. Even though Ikki and his friends are total perverts, they pride themselves in protecting others and this was what the battle was about
Unfortunately, I felt like volume 3 ended very ecchi as we got tons of boobs, stripping, and Ikki getting a handful. Essentially, just some pages to make you laugh but also to make you wonder about Simca and what her intentions are
If volume 3 was ridiculous, the start of volume 4 (and maybe almost half of it) was off the charts. Most of this volume was just filler (I felt) as we get this whole story of Onigiri getting a girlfriend, him trying to help her get over her fears, and then him getting dumped. There were so many boobs, panty shots, and just perverted trash in here I was laughing and shaking my head
But if we ignore all of that there were some nice things happening in this volume! For one, we are introduced to my favorite character, Agito/Akito. He’s a rider known to pretty much slaughter his opponents single-handedly and I swear he’s probably 5’2″ and tiny. And cute. And maybe a little psychotic. He’s also got a personality disorder so whenever he’s Agito he’s a vulgar little thing who is dubbed the Keeper of the Fang/Blood Road, and whenever he’s Akito he’s a cute and sweet little boy who probably can’t skate to save his life
Ikki ends up meeting him when his crew goes to watch an A-class battle after Ringo lets them know about it. It’s also at this time when we learn that there’s an actual police force in place to deal with rowdy riders, which makes me wonder where they were at when that stuff with the Skull Saders was happening. Because wow, the amount of power storm riders have in this series is A LOT. I know at one point it’s mentioned that the police and even the mafia make sure to stay out of their way
This volume also has some BL feels which I’m not sure if I like or not
Like obviously I love the gay feels that Akito has for Ikki. It’s just so totally cute and adorable and HUH, I wonder if it’s all just some misunderstanding now that I think about it (Akito spends his days locked up in a cage so I’m thinking this whole interaction could just be him not really knowing what he’s implying). Basically, Ikki loses his lip virginity to Akito, who ends up running away with Ikki and his group. He even ends up living with his family and sleeping in the same bed with good morning kisses
I guess what makes me uneasy is that if this is legit, like Akito having the gay feels for Ikki, I’ll be super sad. Why? Because Ikki OBVIOUSLY likes women and boobs and all that. Don’t hurt my precious demon!
Oh hey! Curious as to what Agito looks like? Well ain’t this cover beautiful? Yup, that’s him right there, not wearing his straight jacket and kind of looking evil. Unfortunately, even though he’s on the cover, the volume doesn’t really focus on him
Honestly, volume 2 starts to slow down again. At this point, Akito not only lives with Ikki and the Noyamano sisters, but now he’s also enrolled at his school. So they should technically be spending a lot of time together, right? Not so much. In this volume the focus seems to be on Ikki and the others finally getting their team together. They end up getting odd jobs to fund things like their outfits, their emblem design, and its creation. Our usual 4 suspects (Ikki, Kazu, Onigiri, and Buccha) end up working together a lot but it’s hinted that Agito goes out at night to do…something. The only person who finds this suspicious seems to be Ringo
But aside from this whole team forming, the other thing this volume focuses on is Kazu’s development. Since the beginning he’s sort of been a side character who wants to do something but never has the strength to do anything. When Ikki gets beaten in volume 1, he tells him how one of the girls was raped, meaning he had been powerless to stop it. When the track girls are being harassed by the Night King, Kazu tries to do something and ends up hospitalized. Here he’s sort of pushed into the spotlight. He needs to start growing and stepping out of Ikki’s shadow and it happens during a parts battle
It was nice to see this but also, I’m not really invested in his character. I suppose next up would have to be Onigiri. HA, it’s also in this volume where we see Ringo dress up as The Masked Croissant and wow, she can be SO cute sometimes. It makes me shake my head
By the end of this volume we get reintroduced to Rika, the oldest of the Noyamano sisters, who apparently made it forbidden to introduce Ikki to air trecks (so when she came home you bet all hell broke loose)
This volume picks up directly after the previous. We get to learn quite a few things, not just about Rika’s past, but about the Sleeping Forest (which I’m more interested in). It looks like Sora, the guy we’re introduced to late in the previous volume, was the guy who created the Sleeping Forest. And apparently he used to be the previous Sky Keeper (possibly, he says he wasn’t truly the Sky Keeper but all of this Keeper stuff isn’t really cemented, a lot of it seems to just be legends). But as we can see, he can’t really skate anymore in a wheelchair
They end up having a B-class battle where if Ikki wins, he will be able to continue skating and if he loses, he stops. There were quite a few funny moments in this as Sora is hilarious but for the most part it was very feelsy and serious
In the rest of the volume we transition back to Ikki and his friends practicing as a new team (aka doing dumb looking stuff). Agito still refuses to participate in anything friendly with them but also we get a few cute moments with him, right before we see what he was up to at night. The stage seems to be set up and we will be meeting a bigshot team next!
And ouch, the preview for the next volume looks like it hurts
So far I am enjoying the series because it makes me laugh a lot. I like the concept of the whole skating sport and fighting, which I’m hoping to see more of at a higher level. All of the previous fights seemed interesting but with the introduction of Behemoth I think it’s going to get more interesting. Obviously I want more of Agito/Akito and I want to learn more about the Keepers (who they are, what they are, what happens when the Sky King is summoned). I want to learn more about the Sleeping Forest and I want to see Ikki get better
Still, even though I like a lot of what’s happening, I do think it drags in some places (like those fillers I mentioned). Definitely not a series for everyone because of the ecchi-ness and I would NOT be seen reading this in public but I like it
Ratings for each book generally fluctuate between a 3 and 4 (with the first volume getting a solid 5)
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