Reviewed by: Azure
Released by: Tanoshimi
Publishing Country: UK
Author: Oh! Great
Age Rating: 16+
Page Count: 224
Itsuki's got a bit of a reputation at Higarashi Junior High School, earning the name "Babyface" of the Eastside. Trouble starts when Itsuki beats a bunch of punks from Westside, who have some underworld connections, who happen to all use motorised roller skates.
Air Trecks are top of the line motorised roller skates that have become extremely popular with Japanese youth especially the gangs. Itsuki is accidentally thrust into this harsh world, at first he thinks it's extremely simple but soon learns that the world of Air Gear is far more complex and far deeper than he expects.
The reader is taken along with Itsuki as he learns about the Air Trecks. Thankfully at first Itsuki is terrible and there's some great moments as he attempts to use them whilst getting immediately mixed up in duels with other skaters. The duels themselves are pretty interesting with skaters racing and setting challenges for each other whilst betting gang emblems or Air Trek Parts.
Itsuki himself is probably the most likable character of this manga. He likes to act tough but does his best to do the right thing, even picking himself off the ground after his friends abandon him when he suffers a major humiliating defeat. Out of the Nayamano sisters whom he lives with, the one who stands out the most is Ringo Itsuki's potential love interest. Ringo cares deeply for Itsuki and does her best to give him advice, though it's ultimately her who pushes him to use his Air Trecks and leads him further into danger.
As with all manga by Oh! Great the first thing that stands out is the artwork. Both the character designs and the backgrounds are highly detailed and superbly well drawn. Tones are used often, but thankfully not too much creating a strong sense of light and dark. The camera angles are rich and dramatic, of course since Itsuki lives with three sisters there are also plenty of excuses for panty shots and shower scenes.
Air Gear is surprisingly engrossing, it doesn't take long before the reader is sucked into Air Gear's gritty world. On the surface the idea of a manga based on motorised skates may sound a little silly, but the level of detail and atmosphere make it surprisingly engrossing. This volume also includes a selection of character sketches, translator's notes as well as a Japanese language preview of the next volume.