Silliness continues though with an undercurrent of just how powerful Ikkou may really be.
What They Say
The gang dives headlong into more misadventures, and the casualties in their exorcisms will likely include more than one article of priestess vestment. Their first case at a recording studio takes a turn for the sensational when Chitose helps a ghostly idol debut a CD that was postponed postmortem. As winter rolls around, they shed their robes to frolic in a mountain hot spring, battle a demented Santa balloon during Christmas, and battle the possessed while something hidden stirs in Ikkou...
While Media Blasters has been dropping dubs on a lot of series, they haven’t done it here since this is a show that should sell pretty well. This release has a pair of standard bilingual audio tracks done in stereo, both of which are encoded at 192kbps. The series is rather standard in its audio design as it’s keeping things very centrally focused with only a few areas where there’s noticeable directionality. Depth and placement aren’t really a big deal here and often we don’t have many characters actively talking at any time so it’s not really needed. The mix is good for what it is and everything comes across cleanly and without any problems.
Originally airing in 2005 for the first season and 2006 for the second season, Ah My Buddha is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The series has a nice bright and colorful look but never crosses to that line where garish lives. The colors have a very solid feel throughout, skin tones in particular look really good, and the animation quality is quite good all things told so that helps to raise the bar a bit. There’s a touch of line noise in a few panning sequences but cross coloration is essentially non-existent here. The only areas that had any significant noise are the ones that deal in the darker areas, such as the night time blues which are in the buildings as well, as they have a bit more movement than you’d seen during a daylight sequence.
Ah My Buddha has a really appealing cover design to it, another sideways cover from Media Blasters who seems to love them, where it features a close-up of Sumi without any sort of top on with an innocent look to her while we also get Haruka stretched out in her school uniform with a very appealing facial expression. The show exudes a good bit of fanservice from this cover and it’s nice to see it layered and framed the way they have it. The logo looks really nice and the entire layout is very eye-catching. The back cover is kept to a top to bottom format where it’s made up of a mostly pick background. The summary goes through the basic expectations of the series with notes on the amount of skin that shows and we get some nice artwork and several shots from the show as well. The discs special features are listed very largely, larger than the episode count. The remainder is given over to the production information and a clean technical grid. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menu is nicely done as it uses the piece from the back cover of Hinata all stretched out in her bodysuit with her somewhat bland expression that just makes her even cuter. The layout is done with a shade of green that’s soft, using the symbol from the back cover as well, which gives it a very strong design. The navigation along the bottom is clean and easy to navigate which is a big plus and submenus load quickly and without problem. The disc doesn’t read our players language presets and defaults to English language with sign/song subtitles.
The only extras included in this release is a clean version of the closing sequence. Technically they list the Bonus OVA in here, but it plays out at the end of the fourth episode of the series so it’s something we’ll cover in the content section.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After the first two volumes of Ah My Buddha, you get into the routine of the show pretty easily and you know what to expect. This third installment gives us another four episodes of the series, bringing us to the halfway mark, as well as including the bonus OVA episode in which they say, “Hey, we’ve been doing fanservice. Let’s notch it up a bit with full on nudity, nipples and shadowed crotch shots.”
Sign me up.
The stories for this particular volume are fairly enjoyable all told as the gang continues to work together to train and work on the various jobs that Jyotoku sends them out on. The first one is particularly amusing as it has Ikkou and Chitose working to help a ghost find her peaceful rest. The only way that Ikkou can see to accomplish it though is to let the ghost, a young woman named Aya, take over Chitose’ body on occasion so she can record the CD she never got to before she died. It’s a risky thing since a ghost may not giving up the body, but they want to help Aya achieve her dream. Chitose ends up becoming quite the pop sensation and one of the biggest hits out there which throws everyone for a loop. Chitose is even surprised by it but she does find a bit of an allure in it all, but she may not be able to stand playing the role that often as Aya is getting more and more demanding. It’s fun to watch Chitose in this role since it takes her out of her comfort zone and presents her in a very different light. Even Ikkou comes across well as he takes a firmer hand in deciding how to handle the spiritual side.
Another episode gives us the inevitable hot spring story where the group is sent to help out an old friend of Jyotoku’s. It’s a winter episode which gives it a bit more flavor as hot springs in the winter look really neat. Of course, the gang all thinks they’re in for a fun time but in reality the old man is working them hard in the place doing chores and more. But there’s a spirit there that’s causing trouble, even more so since the women have arrived. The conniving spirit is definitely male as he’s trying to egg on Ikkou by setting up situations where the girls outfits come loose with a little help. When it gets blatant, it gets very blatant as the spirit shreds things left and right and there’s so much skin you don’t know where to look after awhile. It’s comical watching the girls constantly freak out over it and Ikkou trying to battle his urges so he doesn’t climax constantly (or so quickly!).
The other pair of main episodes of the first season which finish off this disc are fairly fun but at the same time a bit forgettable. One of them does the obvious Christmas story that involves giant floats which are possessed and it has the usual kind of Santa related spiritual silliness where they have to deal with that. It does force Ikkou into a stronger role simply because they’re awakening his real power, but it’s sort of muted and understated at times as to what the real impact of it is. To balance this, another episode is given over to deal with the idea of finding ways of restraining Ikkou’s power, appropriately at the New Years time period which has its own history in dealing with such things. It’s an interesting episode in that they’re looking much more closely at Ikkou and what he’s really capable of and that angle is turning less and less comical as time goes out. Whether that’s to the benefit of the series or not remains to be seen, since it is a comedy series for the most part.
The OVA that caps off the first season doesn’t even need to have a story to be honest, though they try to wrap it up in some silliness about winning a game show and finding the group in a hotel where all sorts of things happen. What’s important about the OVA is that it’s not constrained by TV decency standards and they introduce the viewer to the girls with a lot less on and more things visible. Hair isn’t used to cover up breasts nearly as much and these girls are certainly perky. There’s also a bit more raunchiness in the situations, such as Sumi sleeping with her legs wide open and so forth. It’s very amusing and I like it when a fanservice oriented show can take things a step further and be a little more raunchy than it usually is. It’s why I advocate official hentai versions for most shows!
Ah My Buddha continues to be a fun show but is one that it slowly adding in a bit more serious material when it comes to Ikkou. The fun is still the dominating factor though and that’s what’s keeping me coming back to it. I like what they’re doing with Ikkou since it ties things together a bit more, but in the end I just enjoy watching the girls flaunt themselves around a bit without realizing it and how Ikkou deals with it. The spiritual side has some decent moments, I particularly liked the opening episode, but by and large this is a kind of guilty pleasure that doesn’t have a whole lot of depth to it. It’s fun and enjoyable and a kind of series we don’t see too often at the moment since it’s unabashed in playing with its sexuality in a fun way. Good stuff overall.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.