Air Master is a decidedly Seinen series about a former gymnastics star turned street fighter. Don’t look for complexities of plot here, kids – the fights *are* the plot. Despite the silliness of the basic story, I cannot recommend Air Master enough to anyone who doesn’t mind sheer mindless violence and some explicit sexual situations, not all of which are pleasant.
Aikawa Maki, aka “Air Master” is a 16-year old transfer student to Tomato Girl’s High School. She’s befriended by Yuu, Michiru, Renge and Mina at a local game center. Yuu, a kogal, picks a fight with two guys who are gaping at Mina’s enormously oversise breasts, and ends up on the ground, beaten and bloody. Renge, an immature, repulsive whelp, can only cry, but Maki steps up and beats the heck out of the guys – securing her a place in street fighter history, and four lifelong friends.
Each of the girls is a blast, with perhaps, the exception of Renge who is *so* horrible and repulsive, that she becomes funny in an appalling way. Yuu is, as I mentioned, a kogal, and proudf of it, while Michiru is a pretty normal, responsible girl and Yuu’s best friend. Mina is described as a “real live rich girl.” She goes to a different school than the others, but has been Yuu’s friend since childhood. Almost immediately, Mina takes a liking to Maki, but after Maki saves her from the mashers…Mina’s like turns into a crush, which quickly escalates into full-blown love and lust. (Some of the most fun scenes are those where Mina indulges in fantasizing about what she’d do with Maki if she had a chance.) Maki eventually comes to return both emotions, but don’t expect it to be played for anything but giggles and fanservice – this is a *really* seinnen manga.
There is a surprising amount of genuine character development, considering the point of the manga is the fighting, and with the exception of one really awful character, everyone is pretty likeable – Maki’s opponents tend become her allies after she defeats them, in fine old fighting manga tradition.
The biggest downside is the art, which is REALLY bad. But the story and characters more than make up for it, IMHO. 19 issues are currently available, as is a 27-episode anime (which I’ll review next month), so don’t hesitate – go find a Kinokuniya or other manga store or click the picture above for the Amazon JP page, and order Air Master today! You’ll be glad you did.
Art – 2
Characters – 10
Overall – 8