Ah! My Goddess TV Vol. #01 (also w/box) (of 6) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, August 08, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, September 27, 2005
What They Say
Kosuke Fujishima's classic story of a hapless college boy and his one true goddess comes to life. Keiichi Morisato is an engineering student and the top driver of the campus racing club. While calling for take out, a wrong number puts him in contact with the Goddess Hotline. One misplaced wish later, Keiichi finds himself blessed with Belldandy, the perfect girlfriend and a bonafide goddess. Unfortunately, she doesn't have any idea of how act in the human world, and her presence quickly gets Keiichi kicked out of the dorms. Keiichi's troubles have just begun.
Twelve years after a popular OVA series and seven years after a super deformed comedy show came out, Ah! My Goddess returns and in the format it always belonged in.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this series in its English language adaptation. The included stereo mix for both it and the Japanese language track came out really well and overall have a good full sound to them. Dialogue is nicely placed across the forward soundstage when appropriate but most of it is fairly much a wide or center channel approach. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions. Music in particular really comes across well here though the stereo channels.
Originally airing in 2005, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The presentation of the show mirrors the original OVA release in terms of how it wants to be viewed, which means that there are some soft areas to it and the backgrounds are real world in design and feel. There's a lot of very vibrant animation to this which comes in the character animation itself as well as things such as the vehicles and the various magic that's used throughout it. While this isn't theatrical level animation, it is the kind that makes it easy to go and watch the movie and then this without really feeling any different about how it looks. The locations are all over the city, the exteriors attractive – especially the night time ones in the city – and the interiors such as the shrine or the apartment complex are all well done and detailed. Colors are solid throughout this and aliasing is pretty much non-existent as is issues with cross coloration. There's a touch of mosquito noise in a few areas but that's about the extent of the issues. This looks fantastic on our setup.
Setting what I hope is a high standard for this series, the first cover is just a gorgeous piece that I've come to expect from Media Blasters with a shot of the three goddesses coming forward with a nicely designed background that mixes in lots of blues and whites to provide a very eye-catching piece that showcases the quality of the show itself. This is just a great looking cover and the kind you'd want as a poster. The back cover is a very soft white piece where it's split down the middle with the left half providing a collage of pictures from the show while the right side has the summary and basic features and production information. The bottom provides the usual technical information in the very easy to read grid. No insert is included in this release.
The main menu is a simply but effective piece that mixes different parts of the release together nicely. The left third of the of screen has the blue cloudy skies for a background and has all the menu selections listed along there. The right side has the series logo and starts with a fade in of Belldandy and then shifts to other images from the show and brief clips as the music plays along. Access times are nice and fast and the menu is very easy to navigate. The player presets picked up the language easily enough but the sign/song subtitles are listed as the first English track so we didn't get the right track automatically selected.
The first volume has some interesting extras. We do get the clean opening and ending sequences which are fun to watch by themselves. But we get a pair of Japanese extras that are fairly amusing. The first is labeled a Japanese VA Outtake but it's really just an extended sequence of animation and pieces put together with a new fake story over it that's pretty amusing. It even ends with a disclaimer that it's not canon. The other is an introduction piece done before the shows premier where Inoue and Ishida both appear on stage to talk about the show and do a little cosplay.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Ah! My Goddess is one of those properties that worked out to be popular both home and abroad. In Japan, the manga still runs and continues to be popular. New figures, statues and other items continue to be released and most things related to it sell decently at the least. Here, the OVA series went over very well even when it was first released as five individual volumes. It's eventual DVD release didn't go over so well due to technical issues but even that's scheduled for a new release next year. The manga continues to be released here and ever since the release of the original OVAs there's been hope for more of the show, something more than just a movie. Thankfully, 2005 saw the arrival of what's apparently a fairly open-ended TV series run where it's been said that as long as it gets the ratings, they'll keep making it. With seventeen years worth of manga to draw from, they've got plenty of material.
Due to the way the manga was released here, it's hard to say how well this follows it or how well the OVA series followed it. What's nice is that if you've seen the OVA, you have an encapsulated view of what's going to happen for some of this but it's told in a very different way. Almost the entire first episode is given over to introducing the male lead, Keiichi. He's a freshman at Nekomi Technical Institute and is looking forward to finally living his life and getting on with things. He's the embodiment of the nice guy who finishes last but is still happy about finishing at all. Due to his finances, he lives at the dorm that the motor club he belongs to uses and is awash in heavy male camaraderie as no women are allowed to reside there, even though the club has at least one female member. Essentially, Keiichi's a happy guy but he doesn't have everything he wants.
One of the things he wanted not long after being at the school was a date with Sayoko, the ultra attractive and well off young woman who is considered the Queen of the school. She of course rejected him flat out, which isn't a surprise on many levels but just from his clothes alone, but he dealt with it and sort of moved on. Keiichi's life changes though when he's stuck cleaning the dorms one day and through the connections of the things called fates, which are explained in amusing detail at the beginning of the series, Keiichi's bad luck has spawned one moment of good luck and he finds himself on the phone with the Goddess Help Line who has offered him their help.
And thus through the mirror comes Belldandy, the goddess who has been assigned to help him with his call. Considered one of the most beautiful characters ever, Belldandy is certainly a sight to Keiichi and he's almost overwhelmed by her presence. It takes a bit for him to be convinced about her and what she represents but in the end he comes down to the idea that he's been granted one wish and all he has to do is wish for it. This is a real struggle for him since he's not really actively looking for anything so in a casual manner he wishes that she'd stay with him always. Before he realizes what he's said, the wish is granted by the powers above. Even this comes as a shock to Belldandy but it is what is and she now finds herself paired with him.
Unlike a lot of other shows that have tried to duplicate this formula, what makes this work on such a broad appeal is that Belldandy doesn't look for a way out of it, doesn't get mean about it at any time, doesn't get upset about her new situation or hold anything against him. She simply accepts the will of her boss and goes forward to do what needs to be done. There is a source of conflict that gets placed into the show but it's done just right so that it can be either comical or serious depending on the need. Due to it being a wish put into place, something called the System Force comes into effect if the wish is threatened. So if the two are to be separated against their will, the System Force kicks in and does what it does to fix the situation. An example is the first one that comes up. The dorm is male only so instead of just tossing Belldandy out, they toss both of them out so that they stay together. This comes up several times in the first few episodes to amusing effect mostly but also some where things could get really bad.
This then sets the duo onto the road to try and figure out where they can stay, how they can deal with school and then deal with bringing Belldandy fully into his life. Whereas a lot of this was taken care of in the first episode or two of the OVA series, it's barely finished being set up by the fifth episode here. The changes in moving into the shrine are well done and much more believable than the OVA. Sayoko's more prominent role here is working better too since she's now facing a threat to her popularity and realizes the guy was someone she turned away. The supporting cast that comes up in terms of the school life all add a lot to the show as well. All of this and we still haven't seen the other goddess… or Keiichi's sister yet!
Ah! My Goddess is something that I've long hoped for and has come at the right time. This is a great looking show that utilizes the existing material well for its reboot and is just every bit as enjoyable and heartwarming as the original OVA was. The animation here is beautiful, the character designs spot on, it was great to get the original Japanese leads back and the new English crew pulled it off wonderfully. This is the latest gem in the Media Blasters crown of top tier titles and one that I hope they're able to put out for a long time to come. Highly recommended.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Clean Opening,Clean Closing,Japanese VA Outtakes,Japanese VA Introduction
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.
Mania Grade: A
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: N/A
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: B+
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Media Blasters
Running time: 125
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Ah! My Goddess