Ah! My Goddess TV Vol. #5 (of 6) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Thursday, June 01, 2006
Release Date: Tuesday, May 30, 2006
What They Say
For the Morisato household, it is a time of change. First Belldandy has a change of attitude, from perfectly innocent to the perfect opposite. A little magic accident gives Keiichi's gender a change of its own. Urd has some changes in store when she walks away from her job in an attempt to save her sister's life. She has her powers revoked, and she turns to "the Devil in Miss Urd" to get them back.
Shifting between simple innocent stories and some surprising sexuality, the real thrill to this volumes in learning so much more about Urd.
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. 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.
After the fun with fanservice on the last cover, it's little surprise that this volume goes back to something more subdued as we get the good looking pairing of Keiichi and Belldandy together, back to back, in some of the more usual street clothes with riding helmets. The designs aren't too detailed but they have a great look about them and a good sense of color. 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 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 only extra included in this volume is a set of images in a production gallery.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
While rediscovering the original manga run due to it being brought out properly at long last, we're also getting very much into the anime adaptation of it and this volume brings us more episode that help to move away from the more simplistic and innocent purity that the original OVA series gave off. This volume also starts moving things into place for the last storyline of the season that brings out some interesting aspects of its characters.
One thing that was inevitable but still fun to see is something of a change in how Belldandy is portrayed. And it is of course a very short term event but it's one that you knew couldn't be avoided. Urd's continuing to try and get Belldandy and Keiichi together and she comes up with a sweet new concoction that will give Keiichi the ability to make a move, but it's little surprise to see Skuld mess up the potion and cause it to work wrong. So wrong that it turns Belldandy into something of a little tramp who just wants to show her affection for Keiichi. This completely freaks him out as her sexual nature becomes much more visible because of it as he has no idea how to deal with it. One of the best parts is when she drags him into a lingerie store and he ends up picking out one of the more interesting outfits for her. Getting Belldandy to act out of character is always a selling point since as much as everyone loves her innocent nature, seeing her be different for a short bit of time is a dramatic change for her.
While most of the series so far has been standalone episodes with some threads carried over into other episodes, the bulk of this volume is moved towards giving Urd a chance to be examined in some detail. Her nature as a goddess, and goddesses in general, is looked at once Skuld gets it in her mind to start practicing her magic again in order to bring about her own angel. She's been in love with the relationship that Belldandy has with Holy Bell and wants to achieve something like that even though she's leaned far more towards the mechanical magics than innate powers needed to draw out an angel. Her youth causes her to say things honestly as she sees them though and casts aspersions on Urd and her lack of an angel since nobody's ever seen it. Belldandy knows the pain this causes Urd though as she was there when Urd first managed to summon her angel.
Urd's nature is well explored in flashbacks as we see her arrival in heaven where she's paired up with Belldandy who took to her right away. It's also encouraging to see that Urd wanted to be just like Belldandy for a long time and the two had a really strong relationship that is carried through in the present but is a bit more colorful. The summoning of the angels is where all things change however and what we see Urd go through really underlines a basic fundamental about her character that will even carry through twenty volumes later in the manga. Urd's grappling with her internal make-up becomes something of the central part of the show for a bit but it gets enhanced by the return of Marller as she finds herself under the sway of her new discovery, that of the Lord of Terror that's trapped in a bottle and just waiting to get out in order to destroy the world.
Urd has always been the more interesting character in the series since she's the one whose the least pure and with something of a conflict within her. Belldandy is simple purity and Skuld is really just a child for the most part. They're fun enough characters on their own but neither could carry the show by themselves in the manner done here, even as interesting as the first few episodes of the series was before they started to show up. Keiichi and Belldandy's representation of a simple and almost naïve kind of relationship is certainly romantic and enviable but falls flat against the weight of reality " in both its pluses and minuses. Urd adds a lot of flavor to the show and we're at last getting to see the reasons why.
Though weak in some ways, this volume does a great job of giving us a good bit of naughty fun to start before it moves firmly into the final storyline of the series by challenging Urd about herself and having to let the others try to deal with the fallout from it. Visually, the show continues to be strong with its sense of color style and the slight softness to all of it, be it the set designs or the characters themselves. The story itself is what works the best though and this was just a rather enjoyable piece that let everyone have a shot at taking some time to shine while moving the relationships between everyone forward.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Production Gallery
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Toshiba HD-A1 Progressive Scan HD DVD player via HDMI -> DVI with upconversion set to 1080i, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.
Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: A
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: C+
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Media Blasters
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Ah! My Goddess