Ah My Buddha Vol. #5 (of 6) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Release Date: Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The gang is still trying to get a handle on their spiritual powers, much to their dismay and that of the viewers. If not for all the gratuitous panty shots.

What They Say
With the haniwa incident over, Jyotoku asks Hinata to visit another temple together with Ikkou for help with her unique powers. The buxom priestess there, Miyako, has suggestive methods that utilize Ikkou's healthy libido to help Hinata gain control of her dark power. Sumi on the other hand, requires intense meditation in an attempt to stop problems with her realm's power, and Ikkou manages to encourage her by discouraging his own youthful desires. Lastly, Yuko takes on a challenge made with a young boy in the hospital, and she fights a life-or-death battle... to make a tasty sunny side up egg.

The Review!
Audio:
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.

Video:
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.

Packaging:
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 Hinata without any sort of top on with an innocent look to her while we also have Miyako in the center with her chest falling out of it. 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 yellow-green 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.

Menu:
The menu is nicely done as it uses the piece from the back cover of Miyako all stretched out in her very sheer outfit which really isn’t all that appealing because of the overall design of it. The layout is done with a shade of yellow-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.

Extras:
The only extra included in this release is a clean version of the ending sequence.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As the series gets ever closer to its finale, the girls are all finding themselves having to deal with their powers and their lack of real control over them in a real way. The previous storyline involved Hinata really coming close to losing complete control of her abilities and that’s shaken her. But it’s not just her as everyone has an issue of some sort and Ikkou is a pretty big problem waiting to explode as well should he fully awaken in all his horny perverted glory.

This set of episodes runs across a couple of stories and deals with some of the girls and their problems. The big one that gets a lot of attention is Hinata, which isn’t a surprise considering what had just happened. She and Ikkou are sent off to another temple for additional training in order for her to get a better handle on her six realms power and for her and Ikkou to strengthen their bond together. That does set off alarms with some of the others, notable Chitose, but by and large the focus is on the two main characters in this story as they meet with Miyako, an overly buxom and somewhat lazy priestess who is going to instruct them. And her instruction is mostly revolving around mundane chores for a week or so as she gets them to work together before sending them off to their really big challenge of understanding each other. The two part storyline is all well and good, but it lacks and sort of serious compelling material to make the training part believable.

What does make it a little compelling is the subplot that runs through it that involves Sakura and Hinata as the two are very close to each other. Sakura having to watch Hinata go through all of this is difficult because of issues from the past when they first started living together and she very much cares for her “sister” and doesn’t want her to be hurt or alone. So having her going off for this special training and having to confront deep soul searching issues really strains Sakura when it comes to watching it happen. Having it happen with Ikkou being Hinata’s partner makes it a bit worse, but it really comes down to the trouble she has in making sure her only real family that’s close to her is well. There are some good moments that the two do share in this which helps make it work better than it would have otherwise.

The two episodes that follow after this deals with pretty much the same kind of top level stuff in working through the girls that are still having problems. At this point, there are six episodes left in the series and it doesn’t really give me much hope for something really strong to close it out on. The third episode here focuses on Yuko as she ends up meeting a young boy who is angry and bitter about some “Shurgery” he’s about to have, so Yuko decides to make a bet with him about making him a good meal and if she does so, he’ll go into surgery without complaint. It’s a fairly cute piece as it has Yuko really working hard to try and master cooking, something she has little luck with in general, It’s good to see Yuko get some time to shine, but it is sadly all about cooking and it gets kind of wonky along the way.

The one story that really stays true to the nature of this series is the last one that involves Sumi. With her spiritual abilities not completely in check yet either, she has a very different problem when they come to light. And that’s due to her strong connection to the animal world. In the spring, she essentially gives off a pretty strong pheromone to the world and dogs from up to three towns away come in search of her as they sense that she’s in heat, which she isn’t. It’s completely out of her control and it’s completely surreal to watch lots of dogs essentially trying to get with her. Poor Ikkou doesn’t stand a chance in watching this happen as the really do molest in her quite some dirty ways. It’s all about the dog on woman relations here and honestly, the rest of the plot doesn’t even matter at that point. Woof.

In Summary:
Ah My Buddha has been fun for the most part and a lot of that comes from the raunchy nature at times and the gratuitous moments of panties flashing, butts wiggling and the jiggling of the boobs. That isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement but it does what it does and it does it well. The problem comes in that after now watching some twenty-one episodes of the series, it’s really not all that engaging when it comes to the story itself. Mostly because while there is one, it doesn’t really register with the viewer. This is purely fanservice harem comedy material with a little nod towards something more that’s entirely forgettable. It’s fun but empty of any real meaning, which isn’t bad if you’re honest about it.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Ending

Review Equipment

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.



Mania Grade: C+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: A-
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: C+
Age Rating: 13 and Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Media Blasters
MSRP: 29.99
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Ah My Buddha