Ah! My Goddess Flights Of Fancy Series 2 Part 3 (of 3) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Wednesday, October 06, 2010
Release Date: Monday, September 06, 2010
Goddesses are masters of comedy and romance. Just wish they stuck with one though...
What They Say
Everyone Has A Destiny! Trouble arises when Urd's demon and goddess halves split. Urd's goddess and demon halves are now in the same body as different personalities with one side becoming dominant and the other disappearing. With her demon half slowly losing her memories, Urd does the only thing she can: place a call to her estranged mother. However, asking a favour from the Great Demon Leader (Daimakaicho) Hild has a price. Hild pays a reminiscent Marller a visit. Desperate to show results, Marller decides to use her secret weapon: an Arabian lamp that can seal away whoever puts their mouth on the spout. Unimpressed, Hild adds a spell that will make whoever is looking at it see that thing which he or she finds the cutest and proceeds to use it against the goddesses. The final 8 episodes of the hit anime series collected her for the first time on 2 discs. Heavenly
For this review as I'm tending to do when I have box sets is review one disc in English and one in Japanese. The disc in either language presents no real problems with transition as the sounds come through clear and concise. Manga have done a good job with the 2.1 release 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, and the Japanese 2.1, whilst considerably weaker is still very good, if not groundbreaking as some of the sound affects don't seem to come out as well as you may expect. There weren’t any problems in combination with the subtitles 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 has been a constant trend in the AMG releases, and it intensifies in this collection which I consider visually to be the best of the 3 sets, mainly due to the artist effects as this was one of the last series that basically used mostly hand-drawn animation, and with the Hild scenes in particular in a widescreen effect, it really shows through.
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. It's the same menu as the previous discs meaning it's the same scenario, 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 standard and simple when selecting languages or extras.
Like both previous collections, the extras provide a real treat or two for dub fans. Two more commentaries and both very different. On Disc 1, we have a commentary involving Alyssa Bodsky (Marller) and Kevin Collins (Senbei) – revealing that it was the first time they met each other showcasing how the dub industry works, and is more of a background check on the two Vas and what else they do outside of anime, in particular was Alyssa’s work as a puppeteer, and she even auditioned for Avenue Q!
The second commentary is a commentary with Mark Dianasson (ADR Director) and Michael Sinterniklas (Producer) which showcases the research into dubbing the show, including the various shout-outs and links with the original Goddess OVA, and in particular some of the shows that Mark has worked on in the past with AnimeEigo, and trips to Japan(with Michael fanboying over meeting Yoko Ishida). It’s not really about the episodes per say, but both commentaries are both fun and interesting.
Along with those two commentaries, we have the standard clean openings and endings, although there was no production sketches as there were in the previous volumes.
Ah My Goddess ends as it started, wondering what will happen between Keiichi and Belldandy. Whilst there are some excellent episodes involving Urd’s mother Hild, it seems a rather disappointing ending as a lot of it seems to return to comedy and doesn’t really evolve or answer questions about their relationship – despite Hild’s attempts, as she very nearly steals the show and makes it still really good.
The first episode hits us from the conclusion of the previous one, with Urd’s angel and devil personalities now fused into her body, with Urd switching between them both more often than not. The solution to this is not one she wants to take however as it is causing her memory loss, the only person that has the power to fuse the personalities is Hild, the demon ruler…who also happens to be Urd’s mother. Yes, that means we have an angel/devil hybrid goddess and her mother is for all intents and purposes, the devil.
And yes, she is fantastic. She’s an attractive buxom sinister demon with so many restrictors on her to avoid showcasing her huge power…and the first thing she does is hug Urd, Belldandy, Skuld and Keiichi. She, not surprisingly, have fun teasing Kei, and seems very jokey, but her power is very real – and will do what she wants, where even Belldandy has to be on her full power just to handle Hild in her limited power. She basically does the job by asking Urd for a favour – which ends up a rather funny punch line. But the episode is really good in turns of animation and characters, as Hild is a funny, attractive, seemingly silly character, but the way she scares Marrler, puts the fear in Kei, and basically is an even match for Belldandy but at a much weaker state means that she can cause a lot of trouble.
The problem is, with the introduction of this great character, she had so much potential to really mess with Kei and Belldandy’s relationship, as well as a good source as a character development for Urd, yet sadly, very little of this is taken advantage of. Most of the collection with her involvement basically involves comedy. Sure, the episode where she and Marrler use a genie style lamp to get everybody to get sucked in by kissing their desires (where most of the side cast also get sucked in), and when Marrler sends in 3 rats transformed into ninjas to infiltrate the group…and all get befriended by Belldandy and ditch sides, whilst funny turn out to be pretty pointless to the plot.
However, the one thing it does is that it brings us back to the fact that Belldandy used her powers recklessly previously, and leads to the fun episode that Belldandy’s license as a first class goddess is suspended. So she has to live without using her powers – this leads to her luck reduced dramatically as everyone in the cast asks them to look after some stuff in the temple. One Skuld device later and problem solved but it also shrinks Belldandy and Kei down to a near infinite space and they can’t find the exit. However, it leads to a rare moment between the two as they simply enjoy their time together and despite Belldandy’s concerns, Kei never lets his smile down despite her worry. It finishes rather weirdly, but the rare moments between Belle and Kei are one of the main reasons why this series is still great.
It does also lead to when Belle’s license has been recovered; it has been changed into a demon license courtesy of Hild and Marrler. It’s quite funny seeing Belldandy having to make sure Keiichi isn’t harmed by doing bad things (keep in mind the bad things in question are doing graffiti and reading stuff in a shop without paying for it – it IS still Belldandy after all) and the welcome return of Peorth to save the day was a great moment.
The best episode though has to be episode 22, when Hild has apparently trapped Kei’s mind, and has made him believe he is in love with her. The trauma for Belldandy as Kei isn’t being controlled; it’s simply Hild’s power causing a time paradox. To counter this, they are forced to go into their psyche and travel back into Kei’s past, where it seems Hild has been dating Kei for a while. Belle transfers in as a new student to try and get his mind back, which leads into several great sequences between Urd and Hild, as well as Belldandy/Hild and Belldandy/Keiichi as she tries to bring him back – Belldandy’s full power to break him out even stuns Hild and it’s a (literally) magical moment as he is brought back to the present – and again, a sweet moment as the two go on a date.
That, and seeing Skuld as a kid student complaining, and then going out with her new friends excited for candy made me laugh.
To my disappointment though that was pretty much the last great episode, as the final two don’t end well for me, as whilst Season 1 had the Urd/Skuld episodes after the finale, I thought this was going to end a bit more conclusively. Basically instead, we get comedy with Peorth and Urd, trying to get Keiichi to say ‘I love you’ to Belldandy (keeping in mind he DID do this in Season 1) and the whole demon spirit episode where the goddesses are suspicious of her and what she is doing to Keiichi was done more for comedy than trying to worry about the Belldandy/Keiichi relationship.
This was probably my main problem with this selection compared to the first two. Whilst AMG does comedy well, what it really does well is the romantic moments and the dramatic moments. And there wasn’t enough of that and whilst the Urd plotline was done well with the edition of Hild, poor Skuld was barely mentioned (especially as she was recently involved in the love interest of Sentaro) and Marrler was basically overshadowed by Hild and used for comedy purposes. I do feel that this arc would have done better if it focused on Hild plotting against Belldandy and Keiichi’s relationship in a more serious note, as the one episode she did that, it was a brilliant episode. I understand that considering how long the manga is, there was a lot of material and still more anime that is being planned, but whilst everything was good, AMG is for me always about Belldandy and Keiichi, and there wasn’t enough of that. Granted, this happened in the previous collection but that was countered by two good plotlines involving Skuld and Urd, here – it had a brief few good moments using Hild, the Belldandy demon plot was also quite good but mostly the comedy, whilst fun, distracted from the real crux of the show.
No doubt, Ah My Goddess is a classic franchise, and this season does well in using what material it chose to make this second season of anime. The addition of Hild was fantastic, and the moments she is used to play mind games with her daughter and Belldandy were some of the best moments of the series. However, whilst it didn’t ruin the end, the amount of comedy used – whilst good – really took away from the main plotline, the relationship of Belldandy and Keiichi, and it almost felt the show got sidetracked. Still, the moment where they do interact, are still classic gold. Overall, recommended.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, English VA Commentaries with Alyssa Bodsky (Marller), Kevin Collins (Senbei), Mark Dianasson (ADR Director) and Michael Sinterniklas (Producer), 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.
Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: A-
Video Rating: A+
Packaging Rating: NA
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 13 and Up
Region: 2 - Europe/Japan
Released By: Manga UK
Running time: 193
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Ah! My Goddess