Adventures of Mini Goddess Vol. #1 (of 4) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, January 28, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, February 12, 2002
What They Say
Super Small = Super Cute! Whenever Keichi leaves the house, Belldandy, Urd and Skuld shrink themselves to play with the other residents of the area - including their clueless rat sidekick, Gan. Whether it’s a battle against Gan-zilla or adventures in kitchen appliance romances, the goddess adventures are dangerously funny! Gan: Although frequently the butt of the goddesses jokes and the victim of their mistakes, Gan the rat persists in his absolute devotion to Belldandy and never questions whether Urd and Skuld may be dangerous for his health. . .
Small sized definitely is cute when it comes to the Minigoddesses. These adventures, told in half-episode lengths, attempt to capture the comedy of the manga versions that appeared alongside the regular manga. For many of these episodes, it succeeds quite well, and for those who can't get enough Urd, they'll be quite satisfied here.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. The show is your basic stereo mix using just the forward soundstage for everything. The dialogue is pretty clean and clear and there's little in the way of real directionality to it. Sound effects fill up the entire stage and the music sounds nice and warm.
Originally released in 1998, the show benefits from some nice modern production values but is obviously being done on something of a budget. The traditional details on the characters exist here as Fujishima has always done and the show manages to avoid massive cross coloration from it. There is some scattered throughout, particularly in some of the heavily detailed scenes and in a few panning sequences, but nothing on a horrible level. Colors are nice and solid, done up in a more "real world" setting rather than the flash and vibrancy some may be used to. Pioneer went and left the opening and endings in their original form (Kanji and all) while providing hard subtitles for things like episode titles and on-screen translations. After all the episodes play, a separate credits track plays that translates the Japanese production and then lists the English production.
Going for cute right off the bat, we get to see all three goddesses here in super cute form free floating along with Gan-chan. The cover is nice looking and with Belldandy getting the main body of the picture, will grab the eyes of any AMG fan if they see it. The back cover provides various soft animation shots and giving a summary of the shows premise. All twelve episode titles are listed along with their episode numbers and the production credits at the bottom.
The menu system for this release really qualifies as basic, with no animation or music playing even in the main menu, which is a rarity for a Pioneer title, especially one where there's so many possibilities with it. The design is simplistic enough with a nice image of the goddesses and the selections in the center. Moving between menus is nice and fast and access times are pretty good.
The extras are a bit minimal here, but I don't think this is a series that was laden with material outside of what was in the show. There's a two page section that gives some character notes on Belldandy and her relationship with Keiichi and there's thirteen images of Belldandy in small size form in the art gallery.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Ever since I saw a few of these episodes at a convention a couple of years ago, I've been eagerly awaiting their arrival on DVD to see them in a nice clean format. This release really doesn't disappoint in that department.
The show takes the general premise of the Ah! My Goddess series and has some fun with it. While the main show focuses on the relationship between Belldandy and Keiichi, this one gives Urd and Skuld the majority of the screen time along with Gan-chan, the temples resident rat. Since Gan-chan is the foil for everything Urd and Skuld can throw at him, they bring themselves down to small size and interact with him on his level.
Belldandy also makes a number of appearances, sometimes small sometimes larger, mostly due to the voice actress being pregnant at the time of the shows recording. The character of Keiichi doesn't make an appearance (though I believe his voice is heard once or twice), which means that Gan-chan is the male lead. And in the tradition of anime male leads, he fits numerous stereotypes, much to Urd's pleasure.
The episodes are all comedy based and rather than extend out a joke far too long, and in keeping with the short strips that the show originated in, the episodes are half length, so two episodes fill up one full episode, much like how early Urusei Yatsura stories were told. This lets the writers introduce the setup quickly and get right to the hilarity. And it works nicely at that.
Take the episode that was seen on the movie release, which has Urd performing fortune telling for Gan-chan about who his wife will be. While he wants someone to set his heart afire, she gets a lit lighter strapped to his back, causing him to go up in smoke. And even when she gets serious about his desires, the result is his quick marriage to a kettle. A kettle with legs. Alas, she's in love with someone else and runs off...
My favorite episodes on this first volume of twelve episodes involves Gabira. Gan-chan shows up where Urd and Skuld are sunbathing on the desk and doesn't look so good. Apparently a cake that's been out awhile was irresistible and he simply had to partake of it. After all, what's a rat to do? Unfortunately, it was quite old and quite moldy. And that mold has now begun to grow inside of him and it begins to transform him into a human sized "Godzilla-rat". He loses all control and begins a rampage throughout the temple on his quest to get the kitchen to infect more things with mold. While still in small-size, Urd and Skuld go military style and begin erecting defense around the temple to hold him off until they can find a way to defeat him.
All done in great comic style. There's something about watching a six foot tall moldy giant godzilla-style rat rampaging and dancing without any rhythm. There are so many gags like this that work well in this show that it definitely merits repeated viewing to see what you might have missed.
We did take the time to watch a few of these episodes in English to see how the comedy went over there. While the actresses for the goddesses worked fairly well (I'm unable to tell if they're the same as in the movie), I felt that the actor for Gan-chan just didn't have what it took to make the character so... well, pathetic. Pathetic in the sense that you really end up feeling for him with all that Urd and Skuld do to him. Mitsuo Iwata truly made the role of Gan-chan his in the Japanese version, and with comedy, it can be really hard to adapt from one language to another.
Very few straightforward comedies come out in the domestic market that I'm glad to see this one make its way here, even if it was tied to the movie coming over. Between the tight writing and the short running time of each episode, there's plenty to laugh at and the disc just flies by fast. Very recommended for fans of the Goddess franchise.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Belldandy Artwork,Character Notes
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.
Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B-
Extras Rating: B-
Age Rating: 12 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Adventures of the Mini Goddess