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What did you make of “Air”? (Thread)

WARNING – very, very (I mean it), very long post, only read if you’re interested in the anime “Air” and have a massive amount of time on your hands… I sure hope there are no rules on here concerning long posts. x)

Hi, some time ago, well not too long ago, I began watching Air, partly because my brother had told me that it was vey symbolic and to him seemed like one huge allegory. However, he didn’t make anything out of it (at that point I was all like, CHALLENGE ACCEPTED). It is my general impression that many found it boring because there were many things happening at once, and it was confusing fitting all the loose ends together.

So I decided to watch it and upon doing that, I found another great Key anime, so hurray for that – and also, in contrast to my brother’s experience, I think I found some reoccurring themes, or at least found some messages in the anime, even though it was pretty confusing at times. But isn’t that part of the point with magical realism anyway?

That’s why I got the idea of posting this thread on this forum – I registered a short time ago and don’t really know any other anime sites, so it’s my hope that someone on here has watched Air and wants to have a discussion about it, even though I understand that there might not be that many. It confuses me with that new site, though, but there seems to be more activity here? :P I’ve also included some pictures, to make it easier to get through. Anyway, I think it’d be appropriate for me to share my conclusions about the anime first, so read on if you want. I know the anime is not by any means new, so many of my observations may already have been made and posted on the internet. I have only watched the anime (from Doki Fansubs, so I hope they have translated it well as I know nothing of the Japanese language :P) and haven’t played the visual novel… The thought of playing an adult-version of Air is absurd to me anyway. I should note, though, that unless you’ve watched it recently or at least can remember what happens in the anime, much of what I’m going to write will probably be pretty hard to understand. Well then, I’m going to start off with a quote:

“My child, listen carefully. The story that I'm about to tell you is very important. It's a long, long story of a journey that will be passed down from parent to child endlessly, starting now. We continue to inherit the memories of the stars. We see and hear every event that takes place on this planet and then pass it down, from mother to child. The memories of the stars must be eternally happy. When the sky is covered by hatred and war, this planet will wail and grieve, and everything will return to the void. Eventually reaching Apocalypse is a fate that cannot be avoided. But in the end, please give happy memories to the last child who bears the stars' memories.”

This is from the last episode of the anime, after the scene of Misuzu’s death. So what we hear about here is a story about a long journey that will be passed down from parent to child endlessly. The fact that we continue to inherit the memories of the stars might sound confusing, but the point is that everything that occurs on our planet doesn’t go away, even though it’s no longer to be found. We pass it on as memories. As long as these memories are happy, as long as the parent gives her child happy memories and tells her child to give happy memories to the last child who bears the stars’ memories, there will never be any loneliness. In other words, you shouldn’t avoid loving things or persons out of fear of losing them, like we see Haruko do throughout most of Air. Because eventually reaching an end is a fate that cannot be avoided, but if you pass along happy memories and try to reach happiness while you are on Earth, then you can die without regrets. Also the fact that Misuzu is so obsessed with dinosaurs is a testament to her fate, and that is also why she is always saying her impression of a dinosaur, “Gao!”, whenever she is troubled. The dinosaurs couldn’t do anything about their extinction, just like Misuzu is unable to do anything about her illness as a human reincarnation of a Winged Being. This is after all the curse that the monks placed on Kanna that she will be reborn over and over, only to suffer loneliness and sadness by having everyone who cares for her get ill and eventually die.

In my opinion, the primary message of Air is therefore that you have to build happy memories on Earth by seeking friendships and binding close bonds like if you’re in a family. This is what Misuzu is doing throughout the entire anime. She befriends Yukito to escape her loneliness, and she decides to make it her goal to be happy this summer. To be in a family doesn’t mean to be related by blood, just like Uraha, Ryuuya and Kanna weren’t related. In the same sense Haruko and Misuzu are just like mother and child, even though it takes them very long to realize this (check the scene at the beach in episode 11). Here Haruko realizes that she is Misuzu’s mother, and that it’s her responsibility to show her love and give her happy memories, even if she isn’t her biological mother. And Misuzu, who has always truly seen Haruko as her mom, ultimately decides to stay with her because Haruko is her family.

Anyway, what’s my point with all this? My point is that in the anime the sky and ocean are representing this element of endlessness. What binds us together with our ancestors is that same sky, the same stars. All those memories and wishes we pass on and inherit are in the anime portrayed as the memories of the stars. The girl in the sky acts as the symbol for this idea that all of our memories live on as the memories of the stars, and that this girl inherits those memories. As it is known, Kanna is that girl in the sky. Not only that, she is the last of the Winged Beings who are able to inherit the memories of the stars – she bears the stars’ memories. Therefore you could take it as a metaphor – if we don’t pass on happy memories and make sure to give happy memories to the last child who bears the stars’ memories, our very existence would lose its purpose – everyone would be lonely and isolated, just like Kanna is in the empty and endless sky. So if Misuzu had kept on giving up like before she met Yukito, and didn’t try to reach her goal of being happy, if Haruko had continued to neglect her, there would never have been any happy memories to give on, and they’d all have lived lonely lives without any meaning – and all the girl in the sky, or Kanna, would have seen would be more sad memories and therefore more sad dreams.

Another symbol in the anime is the white feathers. These feathers come from Kanna’s own wings. If I had to come up with a guess, it would be that these feathers are the products of people’s dreams and wishes. Memories become dreams. When you experience something or imagine something – that is what turns into dreams. If this assumption, that the feathers house people’s dreams and wishes, is correct, then Kanna would be carrying all of it in her wings. This could be the so-called ‘duty’ her mother speaks of. It is a fact stated in the anime that these Winged Beings inherit a dream that stars see. If my assumption about this dream that stars see is the happenings of this planet, then Kanna would inherit the memories, and thereby also dreams and wishes, of all the people on the planet. The most important thing, though, is the nature of the feathers. These feathers are housed by events that have transpired long ago. Or, to put it another way, they are filled with memories of things that have gone by. This is what happens to Kano, who takes over the memory of another human being, Shiraho. Shiraho’s memories have become a dream that houses this feather and results in Kano dreaming and actualizing the story of Shiraho all over again. This story is about how she sacrificed herself so that her son could live. The reason I have found as to why this feather possesses Kano, is that both of them share the somewhat same fate – Shiraho could never talk to her son just like Kano could never talk to her mother. This conflict is therefore able to reach a conclusion, as Kano is experiencing Shiraho’s memories as a dream. And in the end she is able to meet her mother. Kano has always wanted to fly in the sky because she believes that she can meet her mother there; which isn’t entirely wrong, as her memories of her mother have become a dream and are part of these dreams that reside in the endless sky. So when she wrote her letter about going to the sky, she must have realized how this was possible. Kano then thanks her mother for giving birth to her, and she learns to let go of her worries concerning her mom’s death. Her mother says that she doesn’t have wings, ‘so she must be happy down there’. Kano is alive and has lots of things to live for, such as her sister, her friends and even her dog Potato, so she shouldn’t worry about the death of her mother. She should remember her as a happy memory, as the one who gave her birth. As she learns to let go of these things, she is also able to let go off that piece of cloth that had been tied around her wrist almost all of her life. Furthermore, the feather that she touched, which did all of this to her, dissolves into thin air.

These feathers are symbols for memories that have become dreams. Dreams can be good or bad, it depends on the memories. In the case with Shiraho it has become a bad dream that takes over Kano’s consciousness, much like the way Kanna and Ryuuya’s dreams affect Misuzu and Yukito. She, Shiraho, was never able to watch her child grow and died, probably regretting this. On the other hand, Kano is able to turn these sad memories into happy ones when she confronts her mother and thanks her for being born – she is able to live a happy life even though her mother is gone. This may have brought about an end to Shiraho’s regrets, and so the feather disappears. The same thing happens when Ryuuya dies. When he, in a dream, goes off with Uraha to continue searching for Kanna, a feather is shown dissolving into thin air, thus indicating that he truly has no regrets, and that he was able to reach happiness in his life.

Just to shortly mention Minagi’s story, it also teaches us something about the message of the anime. Minagi’s younger sister, Michiru, died at birth. This has resulted in Minagi’s mother getting a mental illness causing her to see Minagi as Michiru. The central point of this story is to further emphasize the theme of dreaming. Minagi’s mother is living an illusion, a dream, and so is Minagi herself as she is having a dream about her dead sister. She had wished for a little sister, and this wish seems to have been granted (Minagi talks about gods in the stars, granting people’s wishes – however, in reality Michiru is the one that chooses to return). However, little by little the dream version of Michiru realizes that she can’t keep doing this, as Minagi’s problems with her mother don’t seem to get resolved, and that’s why she keeps trying to get Minagi to befriend Yukito so that she can be happy with him and not be alone. Michiru’s presence is not permanent and is like that of a bubble filled with air – when it pops it’s gone. In the end, with the dream of Michiru gone, Minagi has learned that she needs to create happy memories with her mother who finally accepts that Michiru is gone and stops dreaming too. The dream of Michiru therefore returns to the sky, which is shown when Michiru turns into a feather and disappears, and Minagi can then meet her new sister at her dad’s house (who looks pretty familiar) instead of grieving the loss of Michiru. She is, of course, sad that Michiru is gone, but she also realizes that she has other things to live for. However, the time she spent with Michiru will always stay with her as a sweet memory. Michiru even tells Yukito that she had the girl in the sky share her one of her wounded feathers – so that she could return as a dream and make things right between Minagi and her mother. The feathers have the power to reunite people, the ones living on Earth and the ones who resides as dreams in the sky. As Michiru also says, people need memories but they can’t live on memories alone; you can’t be stuck in the past, living an illusion, a dream. So she eventually has to return the feather to the sky, ending this dream.

The relationship between a mother and her child is therefore also very important, and also operates as one of the main themes in Air. For an instance, there is the thing about Kanna. She grew up without her mother, always being imprisoned and alone. She only has faint memories of her mother, so she recurrently dreams about her. The same thing with Misuzu; she is unwanted by her own parents and is even ignored by Haruko, so she, too, is without a mother. The same thing can partly be said about Kano and Minagi, as Kano has lost her mother and Minagi’s mother sees her as someone else. They all share the same thing – they all have trouble regarding the parent/child relationship. This ultimately results in one thing: Loneliness and sadness. It is only by recognizing that you should always give and spread happy memories that these conflicts can be solved. That’s the whole point with the long, long journey I quoted earlier. It’s this eternal journey about giving happy memories to the girl in the sky. There are many different ways as to tackling these problems – Kanna decides to go search for her mother, Misuzu decides to be happy and be together with Haruko, Kano lets go of her guilt concerning her mother’s death and Minagi stops dreaming, living as Michiru, and confronts her mother, who finally sees her for who she is. Again, it’s all about caring for those around you and not living pointless, isolated lives. Even Kanna’s mother expresses, right before she dies, that all she really wanted to do was to fly through the sky with her daughter. This is also what Yukito realizes after he leaves Misuzu, and when he comes back for her, he swears that he will never leave her side again. So he turns into Sora…

By turning into the bird Sora, Yukito is able to always be close to Misuzu. Even when she returns to the sky, as part of the dream of the stars, he will be able to be with her thanks to his wings (again, this is very metaphorical). And eventually, as she realizes that Yukito never really left her, she is able to build a happy relationship with Sora and Haruko as a family, thus defeating the curse of the monks. Sora helps this process along, as he recovers the baby dinosaur that Haruko throws away, the thing that eventually convinces Misuzu to really try her hardest. Haruko even encourages her to do so:

"There's the dinosaur, right there. Let's go get it together, okay? Here, try your best. I'll help you too. This is a happy memory for the both of us. Let's treasure it and raise it together. Do your best with me. Your friend (Sora) is here too. We're all here. Let's be happy together. Just a little more. We can reach our happiness. See? You caught it."

However, as she is a human reincarnation of a Winged Being, her fate is still an early death. But in the end, she was still able to escape her loneliness and earn true and eternal happiness this summer, by eventually reaching her goal – the same goal Kanna was aiming for – a happy family life with Haruko and Sora. Haruko cries for days after Misuzu dies, but has understood that you shouldn’t hold on to things that are gone. Misuzu will always be with her as a memory, after all. This is what Misuzu tries to tell her, after she has had her last dream:

"My dream last night was about a dinosaur with wings. It was flying, looking like it felt good, and saying "Gao." I was flying even higher than that. I looked behind my shoulder; I had wings. They were pure white wings, and I was flying in the sky. [...] No, it was a sad dream, the saddest dream in the world. But this is the end of my dream. From now on, I'm going to be by your side, always and forever."

Haruko initially believes that this is a happy dream, but Misuzu tells her it’s very sad. This happy dinosaur will eventually meet its end, and it can’t continue to fly in the sky forever. But Misuzu knows that this is the last of her dreams, and even though she is unable to become an adult, she reaches her goal of being happy. She breaks the curse and is able to remember who Haruko and Sora is, thereby giving a happy ending to Kanna’s sad dream (Haruko sticking with her, without any fear of getting ill, is also what destroys the curse… This is something that Yukito’s mother couldn’t do, as she left the child she knew, who was in Misuzu’s situation). Even though this is the end of her dream, the end of Kanna’s dream, she is still able to live on as a happy memory, just like Michiru. That’s why Haruko decides to work with families from that point on and continue to pursue happiness, not making the same mistake twice by living a pointless, isolated, lonely life. Another thing about the bird Sora is that it can frequently be seen throughout the anime, even before Yukito becomes Sora. In a particular scene, Yukito is seen walking on some railroad tracks with Sora watching over him – as a bird, Sora is able to fly in the eternal sky and therefore serves as a symbol for the will and wishes that Ryuuya and Uraha have passed along. Traversing even time itself, their journey to save Kanna continues as it is shown by having Yukito follow these railroad tracks. It is therefore a possibility that Sora is not just an ordinary bird, but is a concrete form of the will and wishes of Ryuuya and Uraha. This would also explain why Sora interferes early on in the series, by dragging Yukito’s doll so that he and Misuzu can spot it, after it has been thrown away, just like he did with the baby dinosaur doll – both objects that are shapes of important memories. This is the hard thing about magical realism – it’s hard to tell what’s real and what’s not. Another possibility is that the crow just serves as a set-up for the eventual pay-off when Yukito becomes Sora, but the first contributes to the series’ theme much more.

This thing with wishes being passed on is also seen with the doll that Yukito inherits from his mother. This is what she says about the doll:

"That child said, "I want to go to the ocean." But I couldn't take her. Yukito. This time, finally, I want you to save her. Inside this doll, there are wishes that weren't granted. My mother and my mother's mother, before losing their strength, sealed their powers inside this doll. For the eventual day when someone will release their wishes. So, I will become one of those wishes. It is up to you how you will use this. You can forget about the girl who lives in the sky. However, Yukito... In a town somewhere, you will probably meet a girl. If you wish to save her no matter what, put your heart into the doll, because I am with you."

It’s really just a continuation of the themes I have already expressed. It seems that Yukito’s mother also knew a girl in the same situation as Misuzu – however, she was unable to find a way to save her, to make her happy if you will. This is what Yukito finally accomplishes with Misuzu, when he realizes what he has to do, and by using the powers sealed in the doll, he experiences a new beginning as Sora, experiencing his time with Misuzu all over again. He may forget the whole thing about the girl in the sky, as long as he manages to save the girl he loves – because in the end, creating happy memories is the only way to wake Kanna from her sad dreams. This results in Misuzu eventually going to the beach together with Haruko, something she has been wanting to do all of her life. And eventually reaching her goal of going to the ocean and to be happy (just like Kanna and all of her later incarnations). This is also another demonstration of the fact that we leave behind things on this planet, even when we are gone. The wish to make Kanna happy has been carried through time, ultimately resulting in Misuzu’s happiness. This is because you can’t be stuck in the past. Even though things are fated to end, there is also a brighter side to this – beginnings. This is also illustrated in the last episode of the anime, with the two kids playing at the beach. When Misuzu is seen watching these two kids, she is very envious of them. Her true wish is also to just play with someone on the beach. She thinks that she will be able to do this with Yukito – but they never get to go to the beach together. Only after releasing the wishes of the doll, Misuzu’s wish of going to the beach is finally heard. That being with someone dear to you, having a friend, is something that is very important. This is what the boy at the beach says:

"I just remembered the past. The sun will set soon, eh? Before it does, let's go check. What you wanted to check for a long time: What is beyond this shoreline. You might not have said that, but I had a feeling you were thinking that. If we do it now, we can find out what lies beyond there. To them, cruel days, and to us, a beginning. Goodbye."

When Yukito originally is about to leave Misuzu, she says that she wants to go with him on his journey. She is unable to do this, though, because of her curse. These two kids portray the relationship that Misuzu is striving to get with Yukito, and what Kanna was striving to get with Ryuuya. The boy says that he remembers the past. Therefore, one could argue that these two kids are the product of the wishes housed within Yukito’s doll. Whether or not this is the case, or that they are reincarnations of Yukito and Misuzu is not too important. The point is that the sun is about to set, and the stars are about to come out. This is symbolic, because the stars represent these dreams that Kano and Minagi were fighting with. It’s like when Kanna was being cursed to dream in the sky, the moon was out to signify this thematic – Air operates with a dualistic world; there’s the sky where things that are gone continue to exist as wishes and dreams, and there’s the world of life, the Earth, where people creates the memories that become the basis for the sky, that things are never truly gone, even though they disappear into thin air, like Kanna did. It’s these two worlds that are seen affecting each other throughout the entire anime.

That’s why the two kids have to go now while the sun is still out. They can’t be stuck in the past that the stars represent, but have to go together on their journey creating happy memories (just like when Michiru says that stars, dreams, have to disappear when the sun rises). The sun is also associated with summer, and this season is several times in the anime compared to life itself. The start of the summer vacation, for Misuzu, meant the start for her friendship with Yukito, and for Yukito this summer would become short as a star’s twinkle but also as long as eternity, as he phrases it himself. It was short because the time he spent with Misuzu was limited, but they both experienced a lifetime of happiness, and they continue to be with each other. Misuzu, while sitting on the concrete work gazing at the sky, gazing at the ocean, must always have wondered what was beyond the shoreline. This is something that the two kids can find out together. The tragic, cruel days that Misuzu and Yukito are about to endure can’t be avoided – so the boy has to say goodbye to them. But he and his friend can go on a journey together, as when there is an end there is also a beginning. This is the very point of Air in its entirety. This is why this girl on the beach is shown in the anime’s logo, as well as a bird, the symbol for the happy memories and wishes we leave behind.

So the bottom line is that even though you may see no need in wings that cannot fly anymore, they still serve as a memory of a time when you could fly. So when you lose someone close to you, a friend or someone in your family, you still have the happy memories of them, and the memories that they have left you. Therefore they continue to stand by your side and guide you. And that is, if you ask me, a pretty strong and encouraging message. You don’t need to dream to be happy, or fly in the sky, as long as you continue to try your hardest and reach your goal, whatever it may be (as Minagi says, everyone has a different destination in mind). It’s like what Haruko says at the end of the anime:

“The sky is a forever unreachable place for us humans, as we have no wings. So you must fly! For us, since we have no wings. People’s dreams and wishes, return them all to this sky! Please! That way, we’ll be able to live peacefully. That’s what I feel.”

So Sora, bearing the spirit of Yukito and the wishes of those children Yukito’s ancestors couldn’t grant, that were stored inside the doll, to save Kanna, to save the lonely girl in the sky, returns all these dreams and wishes to the sky. So that people on Earth can live peaceful lives, not being tormented by these things like Kano and Minagi were. He must spread his wings and fly, continuing his journey so that he eventually can reach his goal. You should turn your dreams and wishes to the eternal sky, pass them on; this is seen when Saika’s (Saika is the girl, who had to be hospitalized) sister is wishing to God that she will get better – however, whether there is a God or not is not the point, as Air seems to be very existentialistic to some extent. There is nothing we as humans can do to grant these wishes – even though it may seem attractive to fly in the sky, it holds nothing but air, and we humans can never reach it. In the end, it is up to people what to do and how to reach their goals – but the idea of a dream world in the sky always being present is still very important. This way, by turning your dreams and wishes to the sky, people can create and pass down happy memories on Earth, making the memories of the stars eternally happy, thus showing Kanna, the girl in the sky, happy dreams so that she realizes that she is never alone, that she is just seeing a sad illusion. The memory of her mother, Ryuuya and Uraha, and their descendants, will always remain, and the wishes they passed on to save Kanna. Doing this Sora will continue his search for her, so that she one day can experience a new beginning, just like the kids on the beach. This closes the anime with the message that there is always hope – as long as you give happy memories to the last child who bears the stars’ memories. And as we all inherit these memories, just like the boy on the beach suddenly remembers the past, that would mean until the very end of our world. That way no one will ever feel lonely. It’s a long, long journey.

I know, it has been a damn long text, but I guess I just really wanted to include all of my thoughts about this anime as I really think that it is a truly great one. And even then, there are still things that you could point out that I haven’t even covered. I just hope I made sense, at least… So if you have read this far, I thank you. I’m not sure anyone will even respond to this, but if you have anything to say about Air, please do so. I’m very curious as to what others made of it. Was it just plainly random or do you also think it had a deeper meaning?

I guess you probably spent a few hours on posting this. Suddenly I have the urge of watching some blood fighting plotless anime...dunno.

Well, I can't deny that. :P

holy long posts batman. this needs a tl;dr

but any anime with a plot that takes this long to describe must have some good points, this is going on my watch list.

Shit is way too long to read.I might watch this since you wrote that long ass post.

Did you just explain the whole anime series? O.o That cant be just a summary. I only looked at the pictures xD

I'm going to watch this before I read your post, so as to not run into a million spoilers.

@WhisperSiren - My goal was to pretty much cover the whole series, so yeah.

And I know it's long as hell, I don't really expect many people to read it all. x) But I figured I might as well just put it out there - it's no use just having it lay around on my hard disk.

I love i its beautifull and has a great plot

i have seen all of the episodes of this and it's really great, it is the only anime that made me cry and thats hard to do with and tv show so yeah, i know what it for, and it like the movie 6th sense you have to watch the hole thing to under stand it.

i found it touching that the long fallen angel got to go free

and that the bird aka the guy got to go free of his duty to let the angel free
and he him self reliefed of his duty.

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