Ah! My Goddess The Movie (Mania.com)
Review Date: Wednesday, February 06, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, November 27, 2001
Since I have already did a R2 review of this movie already, I decided to write another review for the R1 version with expanded thoughts on the movie. Just to warn you this review contains some spoilers, but I tried not to reveal too much. With this R1 release, I only paid attention to the 5.1 English track, with subtitles turn on, and spot check a few scenes in the Japanese 5.1 track here and there.
Let me begin by saying I have seen this movie over 30 times with my Region 2 disc (I lost count and I'm serious!), and with each viewing I begin to appreciate this film more and more. It's not so hard to see why. Honestly during my first viewing, I felt a little bit disappointed with the story of the movie, but with multiple viewings, my opinions changed and I have been able to pick on many things that made this movie one of the best ever produced and one that I will treasure for a long time.
I want to get one thing off my chest, if your exposure so far to the Ah! My Goddess series is thru the 5 OAVs, then you are definitely missing out a big chunk of a great experience. To make this movie work, read the mangas. I really want to stress this out, read the mangas. That way some of the things presented in this movie doesn't feel so out of place. Anyway, back to the content of the movie.
What didn't really struck me at first is the way the story is told. It's about remembering one's forgotten past. When Morgan released Celestin, it was to say that the movie would tell a story that was sealed away long forgotten. It is more apparent when Belldandy was infected with a virus. The virus served a dual purpose, one to break down the Yggdrasil system and the other was to block out her memories of Keiichi. It was because of this, Peorth had to search deep into Bell's past to unlock the mysteries that surround Celestin's past and what he hopes to accomplish by infecting Bell.
Bell's past is the key point for all the mess they are in. So far (well if you have read the mangas anyway) you don't really know much about Bell's past, and in this movie, it was a good way to give depth to an already fully flesh, multi-facet character. In her lost memories, we get a glimpse of what Celestin was like and what it is that he hates about Heaven. And later on in the movie, you will come to understand why Celestin changed to this sort of person and his reasons for opposing Heaven, not for his own benefit but for Bell and those who are less fortunate to receive the blessings of Heaven and God. A funny comment I made to a friend about this movie, which is kinda true in most anime, is that there are no such thing as an evil bad guy. Celestin and Morgan are no different. Both of their agendas are things they want to achieve in their hearts but they have lost sight or become misguided in their purpose.
The theme of love works real well in this movie too. It's not really over the top soap-drama TV sort of love, rather something that goes deeper than what anyone would see on the surface. In our mind and hearts we know that Keiichi and Belldandy are inseparable, no mater what happens to them. And with her losing her memory of Keiichi, in a way he takes it upon himself to be the one that will rescue her, no matter the cost. It's really a good to see this sort thing happening, considering if you've been reading the mangas, Bell has been helping him out more often. Cliché? Yeah, but that's what I love about this movie, not to mention I'm a sucker for good melodrama.
It's not all melodrama in this movie. There are a few scenes that will have you laughing, like the Tamiya and Ohtaki scene. It is always funny with those 2 around. Also there are good amount of action sequences. They are rather short but it is good nevertheless. What really gets you going are the racing sequences (which were cool) and the battle sequences. From what I've heard, this movie was first to introduce the goddesses' angels animated, though I wonder was it necessary to animate Noble Scarlet or Gorgeous Rose (Skuld and Peorth's angels respectively). It seems more like an afterthought as the other 2 angels, Holy Bell and World of Elegance, have more screen time with great sequences that follow. They just kick ass.
The animation is a combination of traditional cel animation and CGI works. Compared with a Disney animation that has a mix of CG and traditional cel, this is a bit subtler. Not to say the CG work is bad, rather it compliment each other real well, not trying to out do each other much. With some of the CG sequences, it doesn't really strike you at first but after multiple viewings you can appreciate why it was done. Also I would like to think the mix of animation styles reflects the movie in the same way as well, a mystical world infused with modern technology. You never really think that Heaven is a world run by a computer, but I think it's because of this that makes the world of Ah My Goddess so mysterious and attractive at the same time.
The music of this movie is one of the greatest soundtracks that I've heard. It has a powerful score, which, during some of the greater moments in the film, has a way of drawing you into the moment, giving you a sense of being the characters, feeling the way they feel. The only other movie soundtrack that rivals this is Tenchi Forever (in my opinion anyway). The theme song, Coro di Dea, is by far one of the most moving scenes I've seen in animation. I would like to point out that a couple of Square's composers lend a hand in making the scores to the movie. Knowing how well Square makes their soundtrack, infused with emotion like no other, it was a great choice by AIC to employ them. Also the Warsaw Philharmonic, whom has played many other anime orchestral soundtracks, was able to bring such a wonderful score to life. I even got the movie soundtrack just to prove it too. :)
The audio tracks on this disc amazes me, it has 4 audio options!! I would have thought that Pioneer would include only two 5.1 audio tracks like some of their previous releases, but this just takes the cake. The Japanese audio tracks are an exact copy of the regular R2 release and the English tracks are an exact in terms of quality, but it seems like the dialogue is more forward sounding. To really compare go to the clinic room scene. Some might think there is some mistake with the audio as you get an earful of the music, no matter the volume level, but I assure you it's normal. Ask anyone who have the R2 discs. On the other hand the English side sounded less ear shattering, ah well no biggie so long as the music is still there. This would disc would make a good benchmark disc in terms of audio.
The video is perfect. It's an exact copy of the R2 releases so there's nothing to complain about at all. If there was something to nitpick about the video, it is probably the hard-subs or that it isn't progressive, but hey it's not the end of the world with these and I ain't complaining bout it.
And a cool set of extras here, although it's not as jam pack as the LE DTS boxset I have. There are couple of trailers and the first episode of the ever-funny Adventures of the Mini-Goddess. I'll do a mini review on this one. This episode is just a funny take on the Ah My Goddess world, where the goddesses are in the handy petite size and the ever-funny rat friend that hangs around them, Gan-chan!!! This episode has Gan-chan looking for love, with Urd helping him look for one. There were a few odd choices but in the end Gan-chan got married to a pot. But the pot ran away with the kettle in the end. It's really funny as hell and I can't wait till this series gets release. Overall, this isn't such a bad set of extras Pioneer provided us with.
With the dub I didn't like the one done by Coastal Carolina on the OAVs, but I'm really satisfied with Animaze's dub. Every VA got played their part real well. Especially Ruby Marlowe and David Lucas, they play Belldandy and Celestin without a hitch, heck it even feels like they are the English version of the characters. There were a few bits that kinda sounded wrong, most noticeable was Peorth's VA, she doesn't seem to have the forcefulness her Japanese counterpart has. The worst part of the dub I believe is the bit where the young Belldandy sang to the tree. Yeesh... talk about needing to take singing lessons. Overall, I would say this is one good dub work I've heard and it does bring justice to this great movie. The dub on the Mini-Goddess episode was pretty good as well, but I have to wonder, should Animaze have changed the VA for Urd? It doesn't really matter anyway.
I am highly impressed with the Region 1 release. This is the last great movie to be released in Region 1 before the end of 2001 and I highly recommended it to almost anyone, anime fan or not.
Panasonic SA-HT80, Sharp 25" X-51F4
Mania Grade: A
Audio Rating: A+
Video Rating: A+
Packaging Rating: A+-
Menus Rating: A
Extras Rating: A-
Age Rating: 12 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
Running time: 106
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Ah! My Goddess