Ah! My Goddess: Flights of Fancy Vol. #1 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: TV PG
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Ah! My Goddess

Ah! My Goddess: Flights of Fancy Vol. #1

By Chris Beveridge     April 25, 2007
Release Date: May 08, 2007


Ah! My Goddess: Flights of Fancy Vol. #1
© ADV Films


What They Say
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 Two - Flights of Fancy.

The Review!
The second season kicks off as the journey that Keiichi and Belldandy are on continues in much the same manner.

Audio:
This season is little different from the previous one in that it has the two standard tracks associated with it. Both the Japanese and English tracks are done in a stereo mix which comes across well though fairly simple. The show is generally dialogue driven with only some mild moments of ambient sound or use of magic so there isn't a lot of activity for it in general. In listening to both tracks they sound pretty comparable in terms of dialogue placement. We didn't have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2006, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. With solid production values and plenty of light animation scenes, the transfer for this show in general looks very solid and pleasing on the eye. Outside of a couple of areas of noise with some of the characters hair, this is a very clean looking show. The only area that looks bad is during the opening sequences as there is some noticeable blocking going on in the backgrounds. The opening also looks pretty horrible for the font used for the credits, though not anywhere near as bad as the scrolling end credits which are almost unreadable at times.

Packaging:
Keeping to the same design as the Media Blasters' release of the first season, the cover here is just as gorgeous. With a lot of white space and a white keepcase as well, Belldandy takes the center stage as she flies about in her full costume. The logo, with the addition of "Flights of Fancy", is done in silver which looks great against the blue shadow around it. The back cover is similar in color and design as the left side features the summary and a few shots of the show. The right side has more shots as well as a breakdown of the discs extras and production information. The technical grid along the bottom has all the pertinent information in an easy to read format as well as including the total number of volumes in the series. No insert or booklet is included with this release.

Menu:
The menu design keeps to the same kind of feeling as it uses a brief clip of animation from the opening with Belldandy holding the bagpipes as petals float by. Having the clouds slowly move by looks great as it goes underneath the larger area where the navigation is. Episodes are selectable from the top while the languages and extras section are quick and easy to access. We had mixed results in terms of the player presets. On the PlayStation 3 they weren't picked up and defaulted to English language. On our Panasonic player they were read properly.

Extras:
The opening volume of the series has a couple of good extras on it. For dub fans, there's a commentary track by the two leads for the first episode where they cover some of the basics of the show and their experiences with it to date. The clean opening and closing sequences are included as well as a production art gallery that runs a couple of minutes.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The Ah My Goddess franchise is one that's probably close to the top of the list of series that have been spread across multiple distributors. Between the OVAs, movie, spin-off TV series and then the two seasons of this series, almost everyone has dabbled in it. Where this one makes out a bit better is that unlike the others the voice cast has been retained from the first season for the English language adaptation.

With there being a lot of manga for this show to work from, there isn't exactly a lot of changes to expect between the first season and this one. The previous season ended on a storyline involving the destruction of everything so things are getting back to normal a bit more here. After the end of the world is averted, what else is there to do but kick back and enjoy life a bit? For Keiichi, that's just not possible as one of the side effects of that event is that the contract between him and Belldandy has been lost. After an amusing phone call from the Almighty, they learn that they have only a short time together before she has to return to her work. The pair do their best to spend it doing things together and enjoy their time but there is also some fun efforts underway to reinstate the contract.

Ah My Goddess tends to follow a simple story structure for the most part and this season doesn't look to be any different. With its manga origins and the length that it's run as well as the nature of the storyline it doesn't really lend itself to radical growth and changes. Pure wish fulfillment, Ah My Goddess is all about living vicariously through nice-guy Keiichi as he lives with an idealized woman in Belldandy. The episodic tales are cute and fun and Belldandy has a real charm about her but it's the human characters that will experience the growth. Well, at least outside of Keiichi since if he grows he won't be as simple and innocent as he is now and it wouldn't work with Belldandy.

Surprisingly, the best character in this set of episodes is Sayoko. Her rich girl "Queen of NIT" attitude is one that sets her worlds apart from Belldandy for obvious reasons. But it's her failings as a human that makes her appealing and even more so as those faults start to get explored more. With Belldandy having been with Keiichi for eleven months now, it's time to hit up a Christmas episode. Belldandy gets into the spirit of things by working on knitting a sweater for him from scratch to express her feelings. Sayoko gets involved in this as she continues to want to bring Keiichi to her side since she can't stand to have someone not interested in her. When she realizes what Belldandy is doing it sets off a storm of conflicting emotions within her and some mild exploration of what makes her tick.

As much as the focus gets on Sayoko, her antics cause plenty of fun for Belldandy as well. Using her manipulations to get Keiichi to bring Belldandy to her Christmas party, she does her best to get Belldandy humiliated through a series of events that simply backfire spectacularly. Even worse, she tries to get her drunk but only ends up completely hung over herself. Amusingly though, we find out what makes Belldandy tipsy and she ends up on a drunken mission of spreading happiness to everyone that she comes across. As good as that is for most people, for every good deed she performs, Keiichi has some bad luck happen to him.

Ah My Goddess is simply a familiar and comfortable show that allows you to just enjoy it. It's light, it's simple and it's just plain good. It's a rare solid quality production that doesn't involve heavy kid oriented merchandising tie-ins as well. With the solid English language adaptation for it that retains some much needed continuity, it's a show that can be shown to just about any age group. ADV Films has done good by fans of the show here by bringing in NYAV Post to continue the dub work and keeping the cast. Though I've long since been hooked on just the Japanese cast since that's what I was familiar with for what, almost fifteen years now, the cast doing this series continues to be solid with some very enjoyable performances.

In Summary:
Outside of a rather poor looking opening sequence, this release is a solid one both in terms of actual production and the content itself. Getting back into this familiar setting and cast was quite welcome. The stories are simple yet fun, the characters are charming if somewhat shallow, but it all comes together in a very good form. Ah My Goddess will never be accused of being a deep show, but it fills a need that's certainly out there and it entertains quite a lot. Fans of the show will be very pleased by this release overall as they get another six volumes of Goddess goodness.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Commentary with Eileen Stevens (Belldandy) and Drew Aaron (Keiichi),Production artwork,Clean opening animation,Clean closing animation

Review Equipment
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI -> DVI set to 480p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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