Ah! My Goddess TV Vol. #2 (of 6) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Monday, November 07, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, November 29, 2005



What They Say
Keiichi's life with Belldandy becomes a little more complicated with the instruction of Megumi, Keiichi's little sister. She wants to help Belldandy get closer to her brother, and ends up sending them on a romantic date.

Unfortunately, Keiichi's wish has thrown a few bugs into Heaven's computer, and the System Force crashes! Belldandy's older sister Urd comes down from On High to fix the problem, but she decides it would be more fun to fix Keiichi instead. What will happen when she convinces Keiichi that the only way to fix the system is for him to kiss Belldandy?

The Review!
As Keiichi and Belldandy settle into life, it's time for family to start showing up.

Audio:
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.

Video:
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.

Packaging:
With what I thought was a stand-out first cover, the second volume doesn't disappoint either with a great image of the two leads falling into an embrace with each other as Belldandy is in her full outfit which just has great detail and colors while meshing beautifully with the layout and background colors used here. Just like the first volume, this is the kind of cover you'd love to have as an actual 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.

Menu:
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.

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

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As Ah My Goddess hits up another five episodes with this volume it continues to push its style of being a mostly harmless and very sweet if slow moving series. With so many shows focused on being hyper kinetic, loud and all over the place or darkly serious and full of angst, being able to watch something as, well, simple and pleasant as this continues to be a real treat and just plain enjoyable. While people can draw, rightly so, plenty of things from Belldandy's nature and the way she acts with Keiichi, the end result is that this is a show that plays with the simple part of love but also some of its strongest bonds.

With the show moving forward as fast as it does in terms of episodes, we get to cover a lot of material that may have felt a bit slower when it was seen episode by episode during the original broadcast. The progression of the series goes along nicely here as the sixth episode brings in a new character that fits in nicely without taking up a lot of space. When shows that were made after this series started its manga run, often you'd have new characters show up and they'd become yet another main character that takes up a lot of time and space away from the real leads. Ah My Goddess doesn't do this all that much beyond a couple of characters so even though we have new people coming in, they don't push the leads out of the show. Keiichi finds himself with a real fun new arrival in this volume at first with his younger sister Megumi arriving from Hokkaido.

As it turns out, she's come to her older brother to help her find an apartment to live in since she's going to be going to a school in the Kanto region when she graduates from school. Unlike Keiichi, their parents gave her no grief about doing this apparently and she's pretty much got free reign. She also has no apparent clue about what the real world is like as she reads off a dream apartment that she wants to find for under 20,000 yen a month. As the trio go about searching for an apartment and the fun that goes with it, they all get to know each other a bit more and it's a big plus that the more we get to know Megumi the more it becomes evident that she's not a one-note character in that she has some big secret, style or fetish of some sort that has her standing out. Even better, she doesn't have some sort of massive big-brother complex. She loves Keiichi and he does her but they're otherwise a decent pair of kids who've been apart for awhile but have no real issues with each other. What a change from, well, everything else that's usually done.

Family is a recurring theme as the other pair of new characters that get introduced are along those lines though they're on Belldandy's side. The contract that Belldandy and Keiichi have is something that's pushing the System to the limits at times and it finally starts having some serious issues with glitches, which leads to Belldandy coping with what seems like a minor cold as she's sneezing a lot as a symptom. It's actually part of the larger issue and her powers are starting to weaken a bit and that's caused her older big sister Urd, a dark skinned white haired beauty, to decide to leave her administrative position in the System's command center and come down to Earth to help out personally. She does this without the Almighty's permission though (lying about it to her sister no less!) and starts her creative fun methods of interfering with the relationship between the two.

Her interference is all based around at least getting the two of them to kiss since she realizes such a wuss like Keiichi would never be able to go all the way with Belldandy and her methods are comical as she tries to create situations for the two to get together. The System seems to be interfering along the way as well which is keeping the two of them from making that leap, though it doesn’t always appear as obvious. Urd's arrival and taking up residence in the household brings in that element of danger and naughtiness that her character is simply infused with though she does take away some of the time from the leads. Unlike other characters in that position, she's usually trying to find ways to get the two of them together instead of breaking them apart for herself.

In the midst of all of this, a couple of the regular human characters find themselves becoming more involved with the pair. Sayoko of course has seen Belldandy as a threat since she first met her and this only becomes more of a problem as time goes on, especially with Belldandy as a fellow student. When she sees Belldandy and Urd walking along the campus with Keiichi between them and all the guys drooling over the girls and envious of Keiichi it just pushes her even further to wanting to do things to break them up and destroy them. She finds some aid in the school's main playboy, Aoshima. He's got all the girls under his sway at any time between his money and good looks but he's stunned when he meets Belldandy for the first time and simply wants her. Belldandy's actually to blame for part of it due to a misunderstanding but in the end he's got an itch for her that he wants scratched and comes up with amusing ways to show her that Keiichi isn't worth her time.

In Summary:
There are simply so many elements of this show that I love that break from the norms, a lot of it owed to its relatively older source material, that keeps it from feeling like a lot of other shows. The basis in college, the lack of parents, the minimal focus on the school, the greater focus on the quiet times and simply living and talking with each other between the leads continues to be a really good change of pace. With the positive nature and mellow feel of the show, this is represented well in both the animation and music as it provides just as much life. The character designs and flow of the animation is just as strong as the early episodes and takes advantage of the usually less than active nature of the characters by keeping it nicely smooth when it does a lot of movement, such as the big race episode or the various magical elements. This series is completely proving the promise of the original OVAs and showcasing exactly why the manga is so popular and I cannot recommend it enough if you're into this kind of material.

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

Review Equipment
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: A
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: B-
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Media Blasters
MSRP: 29.98
Running time: 125
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Ah! My Goddess