Air Gear Vol. 2 (Del Rey)

airgearheaderAn 80-page gang fight on rollerskates is the indisputable highlight of the second volume of this big, dumb, fun action epic.



220 pgs B&W; $10.95

(W/A: Oh!great)


Itsuki Minami is back, and he's giving his hot new Air Treck skates quite a workout in the second volume of Air Gear. With said skates in dire need of repair, his sort-of sister Mikan takes the lad to the local sports shop for parts, where Simca, the babe-alicious skater chick he's been keeping his eye on, happens to work. Itsuki goes into full-blown stalker mode, but it doesn't take long before he's dragged into a disagreement between Simca and the Rez Boa Dogs gang. This leads to a phenomenal 80-page fight between Itsuki and the gang's alpha dog, the pompadour-ed Inuyama, with the winner taking the loser's gang badge. Then, his skates left completely burned out from the battle, Itsuki discovers Parts War, a way for his broke ass to score spare parts by battling other Storm Riders. But when his competition is the gargantuan gourmand Mihotoke and his four-wheeled, tank-like Air Trecks, "Ikki-kun" may have bitten off more than he can chew.


The cover to Air Gear Vol. 2. Click thumbnail for a larger image.After establishing the world of rollerskating gangs in the first volume of Air Gear, Oh!great uses this second volume to not only explain the mechanics of Storm Rider competition but also to flesh out his previously overlooked female characters and even stir up a little romance. In volume 1, Simca was just that nameless hot-girl-on-skates, but in the Rez Boa Dogs fight she's finally dragged into the thick of things. What her motivations are in dragging Itsuki into her battles is still a mystery, but she seems to be striving toward opening up his potential as a skater. This doesn't sit particularly well with Ikki's housemates the Noyamano sisters, particularly Mikan and Ringo, both of whom also get a lot more screentime this time out. Ringo in particular gets a lot of the fun, smaller moments in the story, mostly revolving around other characters implying she has feelings for Itsuki and her denials, some emphatic and some not. The increased character interaction is welcome, especially since the plot is just barely beginning to teeter on the edge of becoming a formulaic "quest story" with Itsuki battling wacky characters to get his hands on their gang badges. Thankfully, it's not there yet.


Makoto Yukon's translation is generally top notch, and the dialogue maintains a conversational tone. The only real sticking point is a tendency to leave phrases in Japanese and explain their context in the translation notes, which leads to a few halts in the book's momentum when the reader has to stop reading to flip to the back of the book for an explanation. A minor complaint, but something that comes up several times in this volume alone.


With an increased attention to character details teamed with copious amounts of action, sexy babes galore, and Oh!great's always phenomenal art, Air Gear is on a good trajectory. Let's hope it stays that way. | Jason Green

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