Ah! My Goddess - Season 2: Complete Collection (of 1) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Thursday, May 28, 2009
Release Date: Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The second season of the series fits in perfectly with the first when it comes to the way the show presents itself.

What They Say:

It's been almost a year since the Goddess Belldandy came to live with college student Keiichi Morisato, and he's almost gotten up the nerve to kiss her. Unfortunately, the encounter with the Lord of Terror damaged some of Yggdrasil's systems, and the contract binding Belldandy and Keiichi is among the lost data. The lovebirds can only hope the information can be retrieved before the Almighty One orders Belldandy back to Heaven. Naturally Skuld and Urd try to help, but it might be better if they didn't.

Then, with Christmas at hand, Keiichi works himself to the bone to buy a present, and the rivalry with Sayoko may have driven Belldandy to drink?! What happens when a Goddess is (literally) drunk with power?

Contains episodes 1-24.

The Review:
Audio:
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.

Video:
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. The twenty-four episodes of this season are spread across four discs with six episodes on each disc with authoring by ADV Films production. 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.

Packaging:
The single disc releases all had great artwork and designs to them so I was glad to see much of it carried over to this release. The thin slipcover piece is fairly standard for FUNimation these days but it looks great with the artwork used. The front panel has all three of the goddesses together in their usual outfits with wings abound and it’s very engaging, especially with the framework used around it. The back panel has more character artwork on the sides with a number of small shots from the show along the bottom. The central area is where they do what they can to summarize a show about atmosphere and feelings while also making a plug for the number of discs and episodes in the set.

In the set we get two clear thinpaks that have space for two discs inside. The first volume has a great shot of Belldandy with her angel while the second has one of her in street clothes with Keiichi. The back covers have more artwork on the left side while the right side breaks down the episode numbers and titles for each of the volumes. The reverse sides of the covers have one long piece on it with a simple colored background where one volume has a full length shot of Peorth and the other of Hild. These are good looking covers and designs overall between the two volumes and the slipcover itself.

Menus:
The menu design keeps to the same kind of feeling as it uses a static piece from the opening with Belldandy holding the bagpipes as petals float by. Each of the episodes run down along the left side with their numbers and full titles which makes it easy to know where you are. Episodes are selectable from the top while the languages and extras section are quick and easy to access. Unlike the single disc releases, each volume of this set properly read our players’ language presets without issue and played accordingly.

Extras:
The extras are spread across all four volumes, though they’re primarily made up of a couple of commentary tracks with the English language cast and production staff. In addition to that there are some production sketches and clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The Ah My Goddess franchise finally leaps to another company with this release and this series in particular has made a few hops. Ah My Goddess has now been released in some form or another by AnimEigo, Geneon, Media Blasters, ADV Films and now FUNimation. Bandai really needs to get with the program. This release is made up of what ADV Films would have released for the most part as all the work and authoring has been done by them on that end while being packaged and produced by FUNimation. Essentially, if you liked what ADV Films did, which in turn built upon what Media Blasters did with the first season, you’ll like what you get here.

Ah My Goddess is a series that to some extent is difficult to review because it’s very much about the status quo for the most part. It’s about the slow and gradual changing relationship between the first class goddess named Belldandy and the young male human named Keiichi Morisato. The first season went through the basics well enough and this season continues on from there as it works to cement the contract that the two willingly share with each other and sets the stage for the fun that will follow. The first season ended with something of a decent storyline that had Keiichi getting involved in a difficult situation, so when it turns out that his contract with Belldandy is annulled, he has a little leeway in getting it back on track. Amusingly, this has him even conversing with the Almighty, Himself at one point which continues to show just how different of a person he is overall that he can do that without really blinking an eye all that much. This issues is resolved fairly quickly since it’s a small sticking point to getting the season underway. It’s a nice bit of resolution and clean-up and it helps to sort of reaffirm the pair’s relationships before going into more things.

This season covers three main things outside of the smaller stories that are scattered about which are pleasant enough and fit in with the general theme of the series. The initial story arc that’s dealt with involves Sayoko as she’s still smarting over Belldandy and the way she’s able to become so popular so effortlessly. Even more frustrating is that Keiichi only has eyes for Belldandy and she’s never had that problem with a guy before, so she puts in plenty of effort in trying to capture him. There are some fun moments with these, such as the Christmas party competition overall, but there are a lot of sweet moments as well as Sayoko really comes to understand who Keiichi is and why he’s so head over heels for her. Sayoko has that little princess personality to her but she’s starting to grow up during this arc a bit which was really nice to see.

Already grown up is Peorth, another first class goddess with a grudge against Belldandy from a slight in the past that’s not all that it appears. She’s having her run-ins with her this time around but there’s also the nice twist that she’s essentially summoned by Keiichi to fulfill a wish that revolves around desires. She ends up setting up residence temporarily with everyone in the temple and she adds a nice little twist to everything because of her more outgoing and slightly sensual personality. That’s made all the more sensual by her appearance and the way she carries herself. Peorth is a rather fun character since she’s goddess but not related in the way the other three are so she has some different interactions with everyone. But she also has some good emotional moments as she confronts her issues from the past with Belldandy and that has her being one of the few characters that actually grows.

The last main arc of sorts that fits into the series deals with Hild, the queen of demonkind. Through a poor plan by Marller, Urd is split into her two halves. The demonic Urd is intent on making the planet her own but circumstances forces her to fuse back with her goddess half in their original body. This puts her in a slightly schizophrenic state but it also is unsustainable as her body won’t handle the two halves of her this way. In time, her demonic side will disappear entirely and she’ll be a very different person than she has been all her life. The only real hope she has is to get some help from Hild, who is also her mother. This brings in some really cute moments but also some strong family issues to deal with. For example, if Urd actually conveys how she feels about her mother, it’ll tilt the internal balance she has and it would draw her more towards the demon realm where she’d be lost to her sisters. Hild takes up some time on Earth in general as she plays puppet master and deals with Marller while also going up against Belldandy. Amusingly, Keiichi has some very good scenes with her as he stands out as someone who isn’t easily scared away.

Ah My Goddess in its second season is overall much like the first and in turn like the original OVA series. It’s so much about atmosphere and the kind of very light and ephemeral romance that has been the hallmark of the franchise from the start. These are all very familiar characters at this point and their relationships are firmly established, so it’s about setting things up in a way that you know it will all end well. The challenges certainly aren’t all that major, even when they try to play it up that way, because the core idea behind the franchise is that love and kindness will win out in the end. Even with the adversity that they face, as long as the two leads have each other they’ll be happy. And there’s only so many times they can go to the well – effectively at least – in dealing with the idea of truly separating them from each other. Thankfully, they do avoid that for the most part in this season.

In Summary:
Ah My Goddess continues to be a show that I like, but some of that does stem from my original enjoyment of it when the first OVA series was released in the early nineties. It’s a nostalgic property and the anime series adapts the manga quite well overall. The characters are pleasant, the situations simple but fun and it has some really solid animation and designs. It’s easy to understand why a show like this is off-putting to many, but I find it to be one of those titles of calmness in a sea of very busy and overactive shows. Even after powering through this season in two days, I’m still left wanting to see more and wishing there was a third season that adapted more of the manga. This release is solid overall and will please those that didn’t get the singles but wanted to see more of their favorite characters.

Features:

Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing, Production Sketches, Commentaries

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: B+
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 13+
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: FUNimation
MSRP: 69.98
Running time: 650
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (Mixed/Unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Ah! My Goddess