Ah! My Goddess: Flights of Fancy Vol. #6 (of 6) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Wednesday, April 02, 2008
Release Date: Tuesday, March 11, 2008

What They Say
Belldandy's back - with a license to thrill!!

After her license is suspended, Belldandy returns to heaven for a crash course in "Goddess Ed." All seems to be going well until Marller reappears, and this time she's really playing dirty! Then, there's a new housemate at the temple. She's beautiful and powerful - she's Hild! Five's definitely a crowd, but how do you tell the Ruler of Demonkind to leave? And has she really moved into Keiichi's room?! Next, the whole gang vacations at a luxurious mansion. When a beautiful young girl there begins vying for Keiichi's affections, not all is as it seems. And finally, Peorth returns to grant one last wish - but for whom? What fate awaits our heroes? Watch all four enchanted episodes in the final volume of Ah! My Goddess - Flights of Fancy!

The Review!
The second season of the series draws to a close with a little bit of demonic fun before settling into something truly scary - saying "I love you."

This season is little different from the previous one in that it has the two standard tracks associated with it. Both the Japanese and English tracks are done in a stereo mix which comes across well though fairly simple. The show is generally dialogue driven with only some mild moments of ambient sound or use of magic so there isn't a lot of activity for it in general. In listening to both tracks they sound pretty comparable in terms of dialogue placement. We didn't have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Originally airing in 2006, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. With solid production values and plenty of light animation scenes, the transfer for this show in general looks very solid and pleasing on the eye. Outside of a couple of areas of noise with some of the characters hair, this is a very clean looking show. The only area that looks bad is during the opening sequences as there is some noticeable blocking going on in the backgrounds. The opening also looks pretty horrible for the font used for the credits, though not anywhere near as bad as the scrolling end credits which are almost unreadable at times.

With a lot of white space and a white keepcase as well, Keiichi and Belldandy provide the appropriate pairing for the final volume. The two of them look pretty good here, though Keiichi's ears look rather big, and it has that kind of warmth that the character designs have always given off to me. The soft orange shade used works well with the design as it allows for the character artwork to really stand out here. The logo, with the addition of "Flights of Fancy", is done in silver which looks great against the soft orange shadow around it. The back cover is similar in color and design as the left side features the summary and a few shots of the show. The right side has more shots as well as a breakdown of the discs extras and production information. The technical grid along the bottom has all the pertinent information in an easy to read format as well as including the total number of volumes in the series. No insert or booklet is included with this release.

The menu design keeps to the same kind of feeling as it uses a brief clip of animation from the opening with Belldandy holding the bagpipes as petals float by. Having the clouds slowly move by looks great as it goes underneath the larger area where the navigation is. Episodes are selectable from the top while the languages and extras section are quick and easy to access. The disc correctly read our players' language presets and defaulted to Japanese with full subtitles.

The third volume of the series has a couple of good extras on it. For dub fans, there's a commentary track by English language dub producer and ADR director which has some good material on how all of this comes together for them. The clean opening and closing sequences are included as well here.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As the second season draws to a close, Ah! My Goddess doesn't exactly do anything unusual or special to celebrate it. With it drawing on the well of manga that's available, thirty four volumes or so as of this writing, they can't exactly end it in a way that would please a lot of fans without throwing out a huge chunk of what's not been animated. With the second half of this season focusing more on Hild and Marller, we get a bit more demonic frivolity before it descends into something truly scary.

The first half of Ah! My Goddess revolves around the Hild and Marller material which was surprisingly fun considering that Hild is an unusual character to bring in. She provides a lot of unbalance to the show because of her position and overall "world" history but it isn't surprising to see her considering her relationship with Urd. Her interest in both Keiichi and Belldandy is something that I want to see explored more but what we do get is a lot of fun here. What is surprising is that Hild really plays up her powers in a way that would seem to mess with the balance of the world a lot. In order to push Belldandy to her limits and try to turn her to her side a bit, Hild goes back in time to when Keiichi was in his hometown and she begins a romance with him that upsets the life in the present where Keiichi doesn't even really register Belldandy's presence most of the time. The time travel aspect is played out within a framework that fits with the show and it's all about the emotions and connection that these two share which has that sort of soft and mushy feeling to it that is still appealing.

If any character truly surprised me on this volume it was Marller. She's been an odd demon since her first appearance but she actually is a fair bit crafty this time around as she sneaks into the Goddess center and has Belldandy's license switched so that she's a licensed demon. That puts Belldandy in a real pinch as she has to do evil things in order to survive. Even worse, Marller ties Belldandy's powers to Keiichi's health so that he eventually weakens when she does good things and gets better when she does bad things. The episode stands alone, as most do in this series, and with Belldandy in this form, we see something of a variant of how she and Keiichi first came together back in the beginning. It's blunt and to the point but it was surprisingly fun to see it play out like this.

Where this installment of Ah! My Goddess really strikes a chord is with the final episode in which things have to come to some sort of head. Belldandy and Keiichi have been together for awhile now but their lives are pretty constant when the weirdness doesn't creep in. Belldandy's feelings are obvious but Keiichi gets thrown hard when she actually uses the "I love you" phrase. He's still not been able to say it and his mindset is one where he believes that if it's mutually understood it's all good. Others are a bit more interested - for varying reasons - in seeing the couple start to move forward. For Belldandy, and her long life, it makes sense that she's not in any rush but also is as open as she is about her feelings. That brings in some amusing characters like Peorth to push and prod Keiichi into action.

While it's not unusual for male anime characters to be wishy washy in this regard, Keiichi does at least have an advantage here in that he's trying to admit his love to a full blown goddess and in that he really does seem to understand the importance of such words. His conversations with Peorth about it are refreshing in that he talks about how those three simple words are not things to be said casually because of what they mean. At the same time, by now, his feelings for her are patently obvious and he believes it's a mutual thing between him and Belldandy so he needs to make that step. Of course, Urd and Peorth get involved along the way which has some silly fun to the show but it really strikes a chord with me in how honest it is with the power of the words. The relationship between the two leads has always been simple but it has that kind of simple honesty to it that just makes me smile.

In Summary:
Ah! My Goddess is the strange and unusual show in which I will almost always be pleased by new episodes even though I know there isn't a lot of real meat to it. The series is very static in its own way but it has that sense of familiarity and comfort to it that is highly appealing. It's a group of old friends that you can just curl up to and enjoy the time you have with them because it's not about important events or situations. It's just the presence and the feeling. These final episodes reflect that pretty well though it does take a bit of getting used to the presence of Hild once again. Her inclusion unbalances the show in some ways for me but she at least provides for some good tweaks of the main cast once again. With the end of the second season of Ah! My Goddess, I'll continue to hope and pray for more adaptations of the manga in the future. If not, I will be more than content with the experiences I've had with them so far.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Clean Opening,Clean Closing,Commentary

Review Equipment
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: A
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: TV PG
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
MSRP: 29.98
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Ah! My Goddess