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American DVD cover of the film.
|Directed by||Osamu Dezaki|
|Produced by||Iriya Azuma
|Written by||Makoto Nakamura|
|Music by||Yoshikazu Suo|
|Edited by||Masahiro Goto|
Air is a 2005 Japanese anime drama film directed by Osamu Dezaki and written by Makoto Nakamura based on the visual novel Air by Key. Originally, the film was set for a release date in autumn 2004, but was delayed; the film finally premiered in Japanese theaters on February 5, 2005. The film, animated by Toei Animation, is a reinterpretation of the original Air storyline which centers on the story arc of the female lead Misuzu Kamio. Yukito Kunisaki arrives in the town of Kami for a chance to earn money at the summer festival and meets Misuzu on his first day in town. They soon become friends and a story one thousand years old begins to unfold.
Before going to DVD, a thirty-minute sample of the film was streamed online by Animate between June 2 and June 16, 2005 two weeks later. The film was later sold on DVD and released in three editions: the Collector's Edition, the Special Edition, and the Regular Edition on August 5, 2005. The Air film was licensed for English language distribution by ADV Films and was released on December 11, 2007. The license of the film was transferred to Funimation in July 2008 who will continue to release the film in North America. To commemorate the release of the Clannad film, Animate streamed the Air film on their website which was split into three parts.
Yukito Kunisaki (Hikaru Midorikawa), a traveling puppeteer with a goal to find the "girl in the sky" that been passed down his family for generations, arrives in a sea-side town of Kami in the hopes of earning money at the upcoming summer festival. At the same time, Misuzu Kamio (Tomoko Kawakami) is just leaving school after discussing her summer project. Choosing to do a project on the history of the town, Misuzu finds a book containing the story of Kannabi no Mikoto (Chinami Nishimura) in her town, the inspiration for the upcoming festival. After crashing her bike and encountering Yukito on the beach, Misuzu invites Yukito to stay at her home until the festival begins after learning that he has no place to stay. Meeting Misuzu's eccentric aunt Haruko Kamio (Aya Hisakawa), and getting a hangover the next morning from drinking with her, Yukito accompanies Misuzu throughout the town as she does research for her project.
As the two become closer, the story of Kannabi no Mikoto, or Kanna for short begins to unfold, telling how Kanna, the last of the winged beings, fell in love with her guardian Ryūya (Nobutoshi Canna) while being sequestered in a palace under penalty of death if she attempted to leave. The two eventually become lovers, Kanna reveals her desire to escape and use her wings to fly to her mother, whom she was separated at birth from. Apparently, Ryūya decides to help Kanna see her dream of the ocean and the two plot their escape.
In the present day, Misuzu's mysterious illness from her childhood resurfaces, leading Haruko to arrange for Misuzu's father to take her to a hospital where she can be treated. In a flashback, Kanna is seen with similar symptoms and tells Ryūya that the reason for her illness is punishment because she has fallen in love with him, which goes against the laws of her kind. Yukito becomes conflicted by both his feelings for Misuzu and his wish to continue wandering and leaves during the night. However, soon after he arrives at the bus stop, the crow Sora, reminds him of his real reason for coming to the town: to earn money; Yukito heads back into town for the festival. Meanwhile, Haruko is preparing to take Misuzu to the festival when Misuzu's father arrives to take his daughter away. An emotional Haruko tells a shocked Misuzu that the reason she called her father is because Haruko cannot stand to see Misuzu becoming increasingly ill, but as Misuzu and her father leave Haruko is seen crying at the loss. While driving through the crowds at the festival, Misuzu suddenly leaves her father's car after seeing a float of Kannabi no Mikoto pass and prompts a panicked search by her father and Haruko.
During her search, Haruko finds Yukito as he his performing, and while he is at first unwilling, after recalling how he failed Misuzu in his past life as Ryūya, he joins in the search and frantically runs to the temple of Kannabi no Mikoto. Misuzu herself recalls her past life as Kanna and her fateful escape from her confinement, remembering that both Ryūya and her mother died soon after she took flight; the former by a barrage of arrows in retaliation from the guards and the latter by leaving her prison to see her daughter after hearing her voice calling. Kanna herself was impaled by hundreds of arrows, but strangely never hit the ground and simply remained in the air. As the film concludes, Yukito arrives at the temple and confesses his love for Misuzu, and after reuniting with Haruko, the trio returns to the Kamio residence.
A short time later Haruko and Yukito decide to send Misuzu to a hospital in order to treat her, cutting her hair before she leaves and taking her to the ocean as per her request. At the ocean, a weakened Misuzu gets up and tries to reach Haruko and Yukito, the two most important people in her life. She finally reaches them only to collapse in Yukito's arms and die having finally reached her goal. Yukito is last seen leaving town in the autumn and promising to find Misuzu wherever she appears next in the hope that he will someday be able to break her curse and let her be free.
TV and film differences
Being done by two different production teams and having their own take on the story from the Air visual novel, there are many differences between the Air TV series and film. However, the TV series follows the original visual novel's storyline quite closely, while the film takes a number of liberties with it, especially in showing a more explicit romance between Yukito and Misuzu. Yukito's overall attitude is considerably more cynical and gloomy than his TV counterpart. This version of Yukito is drawn and voiced in such a way that he appears older, and he in fact has a different Japanese voice actor compared to the TV anime. Yukito's puppet business is for the most part, more successful in the film, while in the TV series he had a very hard time pleasing the children. It is never explicitly stated in the TV series that Yukito is a reincarnation of Ryūya, but in the film it is clear he remembers his past with Kanna and believes he failed her in her escape. The crow named Sora is actually the reincarnation of Yukito in the TV series, while Sora as he briefly appears in the film is merely shown to be the bird friend of Misuzu's who does not have any apparent connection to Yukito and basically only serves to perpetuate the theme of flying and to help knock some sense into Yukito at a critical part of the story.
Haruko and Misuzu have a much closer relationship throughout the film compared to the TV series. While Haruko is shown to be irresponsible at times, she treats Misuzu as her daughter, in contrast to the TV series where Haruko deliberately tries to distance herself from Misuzu and the two rarely interact with each other unless absolutely necessary. Misuzu only says her supposed habitual "gao" line a couple of times in the film, and in general she is depicted to be more mature and able to deal with her classmates with somewhat greater ease, even as they shun her. Her disease is also presented differently, where whenever she grows fond of anyone, instead of getting uncontrollable bouts of crying, she literally gets physically ill with symptoms such as vomiting and becoming feverish. She is also actually treated more like a person with an illness, with doctors being consulted about her condition and regular mentions of hospitalization being a possibility.
Uraha is only seen as a background character in the film and does not appear to have any sort of romantic relationship with Ryūya. Similarly, Ryūya and Kanna were actually shown to be lovers; in the TV series Kanna never acted on her feelings for Ryūya until the end of her life. Kanna is not cursed by Buddhist monks as she is in the TV series; instead, it is simply stated that all winged people had been cursed long ago, and as Kanna's being attacked, she simply dies in midair and never returns to the ground. Since Ryūya dies in the film during Kanna's escape, it is unclear how he and Yukito are genetically related, if at all. Ryūya is also given a much different character design in the film, possibly because the feudal parts of the story are told as if they were part of an old legend, complete with traditional Japanese artwork, and it might've been deemed difficult to render Ryuya's original design as an old Japanese painting. The three characters, Kanna, Ryuya, and Uraha, are all depicted having different and considerably more subdued personalities compared to their TV series counterparts.
Kano Kirishima and Minagi Tohno, who were also major heroines in the visual novel and TV anime, appear only as background characters during the festival along with Michiru, who is among the group of children Yukito is entertaining in an early part of the film. Kano's older sister, Hijiri, who is a doctor and runs the town's family clinic, plays the role of looking over Misuzu's medical records in the film, while she never was sought out to help Misuzu in any manner in the TV series, though the notion was suggested once or twice.
Despite the many changes, the overall themes of Air remain intact, and the last scene of the film is quite similar to the one in the TV series and in the true ending of the visual novel, with the exception of Yukito actually being there in human form.
The original version of the film was later sold on DVD and released in three editions: the Collector's Edition, the Special Edition, and the Regular Edition on August 5, 2005. The Collector's Edition was sold as a specialized box set including, with the film DVD, a separate DVD containing four promotional images and four television commercials advertising the film. A 402-page booklet was included in the box set containing detailed storyboards, and a draft of the film's scenario. The Special Edition was similarly released in a box set containing the film DVD, along with a 61 minute drama CD containing twelve tracks, and a 40-minute full orchestra entitled Shinwa e no Izanai CD featuring four songs in the film. The Regular Edition contained no special features and was sold in a normal DVD case containing only the film DVD. The English-language version of the film was released by ADV Films on December 11, 2007, who paid $20,000 for the licence. In July 2008, the license of the film was transferred to Funimation who continues to release the film in North America.
The original soundtrack entitled Air Film Soundtrack was first released on March 25, 2005 by Frontier Works. The soundtrack contained one disc with twenty-three tracks. The first twenty-two tracks are the background music played throughout the film composed by Japanese composer Yoshikazu Suo. The final track on the CD, "If Dreams Came True", is a song based on the song "Futari" (ふたり Two People?) on the Air Original Soundtrack for the original visual novel; "If Dreams Came True" is sung by Japanese singer Eri Kawai.
Theron Martin of Anime News Network described the film as a "more narrowly-focused love story" compared to the "emotional, familial-oriented moefest of the original series." Chris Beveridge of Mania wrote, "If you're not interested in a TV series, the film really captures much of the same material in a compact way without losing the real emotions."
- "Key's official announcement of the film" (in Japanese). Archived from the original on March 4, 2007. Retrieved March 26, 2008.
- "Part of Air Movie Free Online". Anime News Network. June 2, 2005. Archived from the original on 16 May 2007. Retrieved May 5, 2007.
- "ADV Announces Acquisition of Air TV Series, Air Movie". Anime News Network. April 27, 2007. Archived from the original on 30 April 2007. Retrieved April 27, 2007.
- "Funimation Picks Up Over 30 Former AD Vision Titles". Anime News Network. July 4, 2008. Archived from the original on 7 July 2008. Retrieved July 7, 2008.
- "Air Movie Streamed for Free in Japanese". Anime News Network. August 23, 2007. Archived from the original on 26 August 2007. Retrieved August 30, 2007.
- "Air film official website on the DVD features" (in Japanese). Frontier Works. Archived from the original on October 27, 2010. Retrieved February 2, 2012.
- "ADV Court Documents Reveal Amounts Paid for 29 Anime Titles". Anime News Network. January 30, 2012. Retrieved February 6, 2012.
- "Air Film Soundtrack listing" (in Japanese). Amazon.co.jp. Retrieved April 30, 2007.
- "Air Film Soundtrack listing". MusicBrainz. Retrieved October 17, 2008.
- Martin, Theron (December 23, 2007). "Air: The Motion Picture DVD". Anime News Network. Retrieved February 10, 2011.
- Beveridge, Chris (May 29, 2009). "Air: The Movie". Mania. Retrieved February 10, 2011.
- Air film official website (Japanese)
- Toei Animation's official Air film website (Japanese)
- Air at the Internet Movie Database
- Air at Anime News Network's encyclopedia