AIR Blu-ray Box review

In 2004, TBS’s producer Nakayama decided to create an adaptation of a popular visual novel to run on TBS’s broadcast satellite channel BS-i. He chose to collaborate with Pony Canyon, Movic, and a studio which had aired its first TV animation production the year prior, Kyoto Animation. The adaptation of the novel began in January 2005 and ran until March 2005 with DVDs releasing throughout 2005 including a bonus OVA disc containing two special episodes in October 2005. In early 2006, TBS and Pony Canyon began promoting it as one of the first anime Blu-ray releases before delays pushed it back to a December 2006 release time. This is a review of that Blu-ray Box for the series AIR.

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I’ve recently commented on the series itself, so I’ll link that post here for my thoughts on AIR the series and devote this to a review of the Blu-ray Box itself. AIR was one of TBS’s first Blu-ray releases, and so they chose to package it in a 4 disc stack case on a digipak inserted into a carrier box. With AIR obviously focusing on the skies, the producers went with a sky-blue theme for both the outer case and the newly drawn illustration from anime character designer Tomoe Aratani on the digipak. The inside has new illustrations for each of the 3 main “heroines” and the main female lead from “Summer” on the discs and left digipak side. Other characters not on the discs are on the right side of the digipak. The cases are arranged flimsily with the size being much smaller than the digipak and allowing it to move around. My digipak also likes to creak when it’s being opened more than 90 degrees.

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There are 4 discs for this box, three discs containing the 14 feature episodes and a bonus disc containing the special features. Discs 1 & 2 have 5 episodes each while disc 3 has 4.

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The image quality is one of the first things that would be noticed. The upscaling process for AIR took the image and did a blanket upscale on the video causing the line art to become jagged. Contrastingly, this did not affect the backgrounds or the color of the images. When I viewed the episodes from a decent distance away, I could not see the jaggies on the line art. As this was new technology, Pony Canyon encoded the video using the MPEG-2 codec commonly used on DVDs, which meant episodes took up more space than they had to. They also encoded the episodes at 1080i at 30 fps. Most animation is performed at 24 fps, but the use of 30 fps helped the CGI look good for most scenes. There’s some moments where the camera pans with the backgrounds moving much faster than the characters are moving, which creates a huge contrast. I’d love for TBS and Pony to re-visit this and do another pass with newer upscale technology from Sony PCL, but that’s unlikely to happen. It is what it is and I got to a point where it didn’t bother me.

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TBS hired Ted Jensen to re-master the audio into 5.1 surround sound, which was provided in both lossless Linear PCM and lossy Dolby Digital formats. The audio is quite nice with the 5.1 surround providing a good experience for the opening song “Tora no Uta.” Excluding that, it’s not used to huge effect. Two stereo tracks, also in Linear PCM and Dolby Digital, are also included.

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The bonus disc contains three bonus features. The first is an illustration gallery of promotional art in magazines and key visuals for the show. Unlike later galleries on Kanon and Clannad, illustrations for the DVD covers were not included. The second bonus feature is a newly created long (3 minutes) opening animation for the show featuring scenes from the novel that were not animated in the adaptation. It’s provided in two forms, one with the three heroines silhouettes effects added and one without. Finally, the main feature from the “Memories” DVD, a 2 hour long cast interview session, is provided. The audio commentary tracks, textless opening and ending, promotional clips, staff appearances on shows, and the recap episode (along with special openings/endings) are not kept from the DVDs. It’s quite bare. Japanese subtitles are provided for everything though.

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And so that is the AIR BD-Box. It’s a relic of its time for BD production, so it doesn’t compare to newer releases/upscales, but it’s what the technology was at that time. The show itself is a mixed bag, but I enjoyed my re-viewing of it. TBS’s Key policy of not including extras really bugs me as there’s a lot I wish I could see, but at least I only have to find 2 DVDs rather than an entire set. I honestly can’t say this set is worth it in 2015 unless you’re a huge fan of the show (in which case you likely bought it sometime in the past 9 years). I’d say pass for most people.

7 thoughts on “AIR Blu-ray Box review

  1. Hello ULTIMATEMEGAX, I enjoyed your review of this AIR Blu Ray Box Set. I also own this box set and I really like the artwork. I have one question that I hope you can help me with. I’ve seen that there has been a re release of AIR in the form of another Blu Ray Box Set that got released on November 28 2008. Do you know what the difference is between the 2006 blu ray box set from this review, and the newer blu ray box set that was released in 2008. I’m curious because I’m thinking about purchasing the 2008 set, but I’m not sure what the differences are between the two sets. I feel like the artwork may be different between the two or maybe the newer 2008 re release has better quality overall compared to the original 2006 set in this review, since BD technology was fairly new back in 2006. Anyways, I would be really thankful if you could inform me on the differences between the 2006 set that you reviewed and the newer 2008 set. Thank you and I really enjoy reading from your blog.

    • There’s new artwork on the box and digipak case holder. The actual cases are still the smaller version (compared to Kanon/Clannad/After Story). Other than that, it’s exactly the same. The encodes on the discs are the same. It’s just new artwork.

      There was a “Compact Collection” released in 2014, but it used the same masters and put all 14 episodes on one disc. I can’t recommend that one.

  2. Thank you very much for your quick response. I own both the Clannad/After Story, Kanon, the Air 2006, and even the new Angel Beats Blu Ray Box sets. And I was really debating on whether or not it was worth it to buy the 2008 blu ray box set of Air. If it’s just different artwork on the box and digipak I may pass. I would’ve thought they may add english subtitles for the re release of the blu ray box set, but they didn’t. So there are no new features whatsoever on the discs, and the only difference is the artwork on the box and digipak, and is the disc art the same as the 2006 version? Again thank you for your help and information.

    • If you want new box art with Mizuno on the front and Kano/Minagi on the back and Kanna on the digipak with new disc art, then get it. If not, it’s an easy pass since there’s nothing new on the discs.

      TBS only included Eng subs on the others since they had them at that time. AIR’s BD-Box was before any English release, so they didn’t have any subs to put on it. Also, the 2008 re-release was the “common edition” since the 2006 version had a limited print run.

      • Ok, I will probably pass on it, since the art doesn’t really match with the other BD Box Sets. It’s nice to see the blue box from Air, orange from Kanon, pink from Clannad, and yellow from Clannad After Story since they look like they were meant to be shelved together. Maybe if I find a cheap price for it I may get it, but I I’ll just wait for now. Out of curiosity, do you own the 2008 set as well or just the original 2006 one. Lastly, one last question, does the blu ray Compact Collection that you mentioned earlier that was released in 2014 contain the English subtitles or is there just no blu ray set of Air that has English Subtitles. Thank you once again for your help.

        • I only own the 2006 one for the matching colors like you mentioned. The 2008 one stands out unnaturally, so I chose not to get it. The compact collection doesn’t have any subtitles at all; not even the Japanese ones included on the two BD-Boxes. There’s no BD set of AIR with English subtitles at all currently in any region.

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