Mania Grade: A
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- Audio Rating: A+
- Video Rating: A+
- Packaging Rating: A
- Menus Rating: A
- Extras Rating: A-
- Age Rating: 12 & Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
- MSRP: 29.99
- Running time: 106
- Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Ah! My Goddess
Ah! My Goddess The Movie
By Richard Hempsey
February 06, 2002
Release Date: November 27, 2001
Thanks to an (unnamed!) friendly street-date-breaking retailer, I managed to get the Ah! My Goddess movie region 1 DVD a week before the official release date. This is one disk I've been waiting for rather impatiently since getting the region-2 DTS box set months ago.
This is very pretty. Nowhere near as outstanding as the R2 box, but it stands out on it's own. It's actually just a cardboard slipcover over a standard translucent Scanavo case (which released the disk with little effort - they're getting better!) The slipcover is very shiny (a 'hologram' effect); on the front, Belldandy with her wings spread; on the back, a composite still from early in the movie itself (Keiichi looking through the trees at Belldandy with Holy Bell singing before the tree.) The case sleeve is identical to the slipcover, but it does have an image on the back of Belldandy, visible through the case, spanning the entire width of the sleeve.
The insert is quite minimal. Front - an image of Belldandy (identical to the left half of the sleeveback image); back - the chapter list over a graphic of one of the spell circles; inside - images & introductions of the main characters: the main three goddesses, Keiichi, Celestin, Morgan, again over a graphic of one of the spell circles.
The disk itself is black with the title, copyright & region information in simple white lettering; in one corner is a single white feather. The same graphic of the spell circle used before is on in dark blue - it can only really be seen under bright light or by holding the disk at the right angle.
Unlike the R2 release, the movie does go to a menu without actually having to hit the menu button. A zoom through a tunnel of light (taken from the movie) leads up to a simple menu: Setup, Play, Extras, Scene Access, all over a background image of Belldandy, identical to that used on the cover. The main menu has some animation playing with music, but response is quick with no delay. Setup menu has four options for audio: English, English 5.1, Japanese, and Japanese 5.1. Scene access menus are non-animated; the 36 chapters are divided up, six chapter selections on each of six menus. Extras menu has options for movie trailers (containing TV spots & theatrical trailers), an art gallery (32 stills of art & production sketches; navigation by direction buttons), and as a teaser, the first episode of the Mini-Goddess television series.
As far as I can tell, it's identical to the R2 release; that is, excellent. No artifacting, no rainbowing that I could see, even zoomed. The picture is uniformly sharp, and the 16x9 transfer means no lost image.
I listened to this in it's original Japanese using the 5.1 Dolby Digital track, as well as checking out parts using the English 5.1. I was spoiled with the Japanese DTS disk, but the 5.1 is very good. Sound effects and music are identical between the Japanese and English tracks and are used very well - you can listen to motorbikes pass by, front to back. Dialogue doesn't use the extra channels at all - it's all front-and-center. Music does use all the speakers, but just for surround without a specific direction.
Not much, but it is nice: included is a 'Limited Edition Mini-Pencil Board'; one side is yet another image of Belldandy; the other is of the other three goddesses - Skuld, Urd, and Peorth.
Content & comments:
The movie is a fantastic production, but being a dedicated AMS fan, I admit to being biased. Anyone who is actively seeking this movie out will almost certainly have read spoilers & synopses on the net or elsewhere already, but for anyone who hasn't, my summary: Belldandy's childhood mentor Celestine breaks out of prison and returns to dip his finger into the pot of Heaven and Earth.
I could then say 'chaos ensues' in a comedic sense, but that'd be a lie. Instead I'll say 'chaos ensues' in a dramatic sense, with promises that couldn't be broken being broken, or at least forgotten, with suffering and pain in both the past and the present, and proof that, cliched as it may be, love will triumph.
(As a side note, it is obvious why Pioneer chose to use 'Ah! My Goddess' as the region one release title, as opposed to AnimEigo's 'Oh My Goddess': they used the original Japanese credits (which have always used that spelling, even in the manga), and the title is overlaid upon the movie scenery itself.)
(It's also been mentioned in a few other locations, but Pioneer chose it's own cast for the English-language dub, not the one used by AnimEigo. I'm generally a die-hard dub-hater, but Pioneer managed to get more than halfway there. Good - Urd, Chihiro, Peorth, Celestin, Morgan, Ex, Ere, Tamiya, Ootaki. Average - Belldandy, Keiichi. Poor - Skuld, Hasegawa, Megumi, Chrono.)
As I said earlier, this is something I've been waiting for since I first heard of the movie years back. It's a great continuation of the original OAV series, but unfortunately I don't think it can stand on it's own unless the viewer has some background, such as knowing that Belldandy, Urd, and Skuld are all goddesses, and knowing of Keiichi's original wish. If you're a fan already, it's money that truly needs to be spent; if you're not, give the OAVs a try first, _then_ buy the movie.
Skyworth DVD-1050P; Kenwood VR-410 DD/DTS receiver; RCA 22" TV and Viewsonic PT771 monitor (via DVD player's progressive-scan output)