Air Gear #1 by Oh!Great (amazon)
Itsuki Minami rules the schoolyard, easily beating up anyone that encroaches on his territory. Much like the Disney version of Cinderella, he has befriended a flock of birds, so it is easy to spot him because they hover wherever he goes. Itsuki has learned his fighting moves due to his unique living situation – he stays with the four Noyamano sisters. All of the children are parentless, but Rika Noyamano is old enough to serve as guardian to the others. Mikan likes to greet Itsuki as he comes through the front door with low-flying kicks. The middle sister Ringo is Itsuki’s particular friend, and she tries to prevent her older sisters from punishing him too much. The youngest sister Ume enjoys sewing morbid dolls for herself.
Itsuki escapes his apartment by going to the rooftop, looking for a mystery girl who practices flying through the air on her anti-gravity rollerblades. Gangs have adopted the new rollerblading technology, fighting with Air Treks that allow them to skate up buildings, across rooftops, and launch themselves high in the air. Itsuki meets his match when the Skullsaders beat up and humiliate him, claiming his school’s territory as their own. Itsuki is wakes up in the middle of the night to find that the Noyamano sisters have been keeping a secret from him – they are members of the Sleeping Forest gang. They give him his own pair of Air Treks. Will Itsuki be able to get his revenge?
This was the first book by Oh!Great that I’ve read, and I thought the art was excellent. I was a little dubious about the prospect of seeing people fly on anti-gravity rollerblades, but the illustrations are filled with energy. Itsuki looks appropriately terrified when he finds himself soaring miles above the city for the first time. As one would expect from an Oh!Great book, there is plenty of fanservice, with a shower scene, upskirt shots, and accidental breast grabbing. Libraries with concerns about nudity will likely want to shelve Air Gear in the adult section, although Del Rey labels the manga as 16+.
Itsuki is an engaging main character, and his relationship with the Noyamano sisters is amusing. Air Gear seems like an action series that many people will like. As usual, the production from Del Rey is excellent. Air Gear includes color pages at the begining of the book, character sketches, translation notes, and a sneak peak of the next volume.