A series that's close to my heart, the second part of the TV series kicks off with a lot of fun, combined with some tenderness straight to your heart courtesy of Belldandy.
What They Say
Eps 1-8. It s been almost a year since the Goddess Belldandy came to live with college student Keiichi Morisato, and he s almost gotten up the nerve to kiss her. Unfortunately, the encounter with the Lord of Terror damaged some of Yggdrasil s systems, and the contract binding Belldandy and Keiichi is among the lost data. The lovebirds can only hope the information can be retrieved before the Almighty One orders Belldandy back to Heaven. Naturally Skuld and Urd try to help, but it might be better if they didn't. Then, with Christmas at hand, Keiichi works himself to the bone to buy a present, and the rivalry with Sayoko may have driven Belldandy to drink?! What happens when a Goddess is (literally) drunk with power? Find out what happens next in Ah! My Goddess, Season Two.
For this review I listened to the disc in the original Japanese. The disc presents no real problems with transition as the sounds comes through clear and concise. It's a labour of love as well considering that just over 10 years ago, the original AMG OVAs were the first anime I purchased on DVD '" so it was a pleasure hearing the original voices once again, in particular Kikoku Inoue as Belldandy. Listening to the dub commentaries later also showed that Manga have done a good job with the 2.1 release as well, as it's very powerful and works well considering all the sound effects with the combination of technology and magic that Ah My Goddess is based on. There wasn't any problems with subtitles either so overall a very good job.
As with the audio, the video is very good '" the video is in incredible colour and comes through onto your screen in full and/or wide screen, with no trouble with coming through with it's time towards coalition and subtitles. The main strength of the video is how it shines through which when you combine it with the visual effects, gives it a real sense of power through your screen which both older and a lot of newer shows don't seem to be able to get through to the viewers. This is especially strong in any sequence involving Yggradsil or whenever Belldandy uses her powers. Very good stuff.
There was no packaging for this test disc.
The menu is very attractive on both discs, the same used both times, it's on a beautiful blue background with a shot of Belldandy on the bottom right with cherry blossoms blowing through the menu to the opening theme song, whilst Yggradsil is shown as well. The menu selection is very simple, with episode select (ep 1 being the play all) but no scene select which is always a pet peeve for me. The menus are fairly stand and simple when selecting languages or extras.
If you're a dub fan then the extras have a couple of real treats. We get two commentaries '" on the first disc we get a commentary with Drew Aaron (Kei) and Eileen Stevens (Belle) '" this commentary is more of a general one about discussing their characters and some of the others, how they prepare as Vas, and general comments on the show and a little bit of convention history.
The real joy for me though was the second commentary on Disc 2 involve Eileen again, and this time with Juliet Cesario (Peorth). For those who don't know, Juliet Cesario was the original dub voice actress of Belldandy in the original Ah! My Goddess OVAs, so seeing things turn around nearly a decade later, and she's now a nemesis of this new Belldandy was definitely fun, and Eileen definitely quizzes Juliet on her original role, and how Juliet got to get involved in her character, both past and present. Definitely a highlight.
Outside of that, there are the usual clean opening and endings, and also some production sketches of a majority of the characters spread in the two discs.
Two discs spread out 8 episodes in a package around £20 as part 2 of one of the most well known anime franchises comes to the UK. Ah My Goddess has been going around two decades now, and still shows no sign of stopping in terms of the romance between the two leads. But whilst the manga continues, we get the anime as we see the hapless continuation of the romance of Belldandy and Keiichi, whilst Belldandy's two goddess sisters Urd and Skuld help/hinder, and more goddesses are added to the pot, along with some amusing side stories involving other characters that you wouldn't expect.
It starts off quite comic, as the temple owner from the first season returns after a journey of spiritual nourishment'and quickly leaves after getting in the middle of a Skuld/Urd fight. It leads to a mini-recap at the end of Season 1 when Yggradsil got messed up during the final battle that leads to the Almighty saying that Keichi's wish has been removed from their records. Kei then has to remember the exact words and feelings he gave to Belldandy to reinstate their wish, which leads to a proper date between Kei and Belle, their feelings rarely getting a chance to mesh together as Keichi is usually two shy and Belldandy is too oblivious, this is a rare moment where it shows how compatible the two are.
The tender moments are few but wonderful, as most of these episodes surprisingly revolve around comedy, as well as showcasing some of the other colourful characters the series has '" the second episode showcases the rival Sayoko, the former idol of Nekomi Tech until Belldandy came. Sayoko is helped by Keiichi, the one person who Sayoko wants to snare in her grasp simply because she can't do it, so when she's saved by Kei after being drunk, she appears to steal a homemade present made by Belldandy for Keichi, but the subsequent talks between her, Keichi and Belldandy show that whilst she has her moments, Sayoko does respect both of them (she just doesn't like Belle').
Keiichi and Urd teaming up to get Belldandy a present as Keiichi works a tonne of part time jobs to get Belldandy a present (and he gets a rare kiss as well) is switched quickly to episode 4 when Sayoko hosts a party to try and get one up on Belldandy, but even with her family being the judges, Belldandy's ultimate charm and goddess like intolerance is too much for Sayoko. But it's absolutely hilarious when after being able to handle so much alcohol, Belldandy then gets drunk on cola. Trust me, the results speak for themselves to the level of hilarity, but when Aoshima tries to take advantage of it, it brings everyone back to reality that Belldandy still has her own true feelings. And it has a brief cameo of Marller as well (sadly, the only time we see her, hopefully it won't be the end).
The second disc starts with a surprise focus on Daichi, one of Keiichi's sempai at the Tech Club as he actually gets a romance interest when he helps fix a girl's bike. The girl, Satoko, seems to be yet another interest of Aoshima, who tries his best to hamper their budding relationship however it shows that for most of the show, Daichi is one part of the two guys comic relief, he gets some heroic moments that shows that wealth and looks aren't everything, his kind heart and fun loving nature combined with some shyness (and asking Kei and Belle for help is hilarious enough) make this a memorable episode'especially when he meets Satoko's father and the aftermath'
The disc becomes episode in nature, however it still shows little hints of the characterisation of Belldandy. When it appears someone has an interest in Keiichi and it turns out to be simply a wannabe exorcist, the way she does things to Kei to 'cleanse' him is rather touchy-feely and it caused Belldandy surprising fits of jealousy she never knew she had '" this showcase what her powers are truly capable of, and she's upset that she has this potential. Fortunately, Keichii is there to make sure he always cares for her.
However, the last two episodes begin to bring us a possibility of the plot bringing forward, as we get the debut of the character Peorth '" another Goddess who has been frustrated with not getting to do her job, but then Keiichi unsuspectingly calls her, allowing yet another wish for him to be granted. However, not only is Kei not interested, but Peorth is also a rival of Belldandy's, and tries to say that she is simply better for Keiichi. It does have a lot of comic moments, however it just further strengthens that despite some embarrassing moments, and some failed magic, Keiichi and Belldandy are near impossible to separate. It's the simple premise of the show, but with the other elements, it works to a very high degree.
The one thing you always need to remember when watching Ah! My Goddess is that no matter what goes on, it will always link or come back to the relationship with Belldandy and Keiichi. Peorth is an interesting character to see what makes her mind tick as she's clearly on Belldandy's level in terms of power, and has the premise of a true rival for Belldandy in terms of her put down, yet not so in trying to crack their relationship. With Sayoko also around, you know things will not be easy, but they will always come together. It's a different level of predictability to other shows because so much goes around them, and with a bunch of interesting characters (Daichi getting some fun in his episode, and Urd is still as fun as ever, surprisingly not so much Skuld yet). This version of AMG is more comic than I remember the OVAs, and whilst it helps, it doesn't detract of the main goal of the show, and it always comes back to it, and those rare tender moments Belldandy and Keiichi get together do make it seem worth it.
Ah! My Goddess has been around so long it's almost an anime institution. It hasn't lost any of it's charm with the warmth of Belldandy, the nice guy of Keiichi, and the mixture of rough and tumble characters from goddesses to vixens, to dumb guys to fun guys, it adds a lot of comic intent with the sweet love story that is blossoming in front of your eyes. Add to that some excellent animation, colour, music and voices (both English and Japanese) and it's a series that is really hard to resist. Very recommended.
English 5.1 Language, Japanese 2.0 Language, English VA Commentaries with Drew Aaron (Keichi), Eileen Stevens (Belldandy) and Juliet Cesario (Peorth), Production Artwork, Clean Opening/Endings
Toshiba 37C3030 - 37" Widescreen HD Ready LCD TV '" Tangent Ht-50 Home Theatre System Multi-Regional DVD Players/Speakers '" Tangent Subwoofer 50-150 Hz, Impedenced 8 OHM.