GRAPHIC NOVEL
Air Gear
Volume 4

Author: Oh! Great
Artist: Oh! Great
Tanoshimi
RRP: 6.99, US $10.95
ISBN: 978 0 009 50666 9
Ages: 16+
Available 03 May 2007


Following a humiliating defeat in a fight, Ikki is a troubled student. His luck starts to get better when he meets up with sisters who belong to the Sleeping Forest, Storm Riders gang. The Noyamano sisters provide him with his first pair of Air Trecks, a form of high tech roller skates. With the use of the skates Ikki is able to regain his honour and enter the fast and furious skating world of Air Treck...

Volume Four of Airgear, by Oh! Great, continues the loosely related vignette stories. If you are interested in the background to the author then check out the review for Volume Three. None of the stories have a title, only being differentiated by their trick number. Volume Four holds tricks twenty-four to thirty-two.

Volume Four starts out with Ikki who, having broken his skates, is somewhat despondent. If we're being honest here there is generally little in the way of plot progression in the individual tricks, with Volume Four covering Ikki's need to compete in the parts war to get stuff for his skates, and his decision to form his own gangs and the consequences of this. Taken as a whole there is some plot, but the majority of the book is devoted to fighting on skates with some fan service panty shots thrown in - meaning that the plot of each Trick can usually be condensed down to a few lines. This is a problem that much of his Tenjho Tenge series also suffered from, with its comparable, endless fight scenes.

However, strong narrative plot is not the reason to buy this book. The book is full of comedy shots, jokes, girl's panties and dynamic racing graphics - pretty much everything your average fourteen year old is looking for in graphic entertainment. So, perhaps I'm not the target audience. I don't like going fast in skates, have no interest in girl's panties (unless it's a weekend and I'm wearing them) and am far too old to see the funny side of life. Still, the book is well drawn, even if it's not the deepest philosophical book that you have ever read.

If you like your manga irreverent, or you're still young enough of heart, then this may appeal. Grouchy oldies take heed and avoid. To wet the appetite of fans the book also contains in-depth translation notes, character concept sketches (that are actually very useful of keeping track on who is who with so many characters) and of course a preview of the next book. The artwork remains strong, but the story is weaker than the last book.

Charles Packer

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