Ah! My Goddess: Last Dance picks up exactly where the previous volume, In Your Eyes, left off. Collecting episodes 23 through 26 of the television series, this sixth installment in the DVD package takes a bit of a turn from the normal romance of the series and starts off with some mystical action episodes that see Keiichi and the Goddesses fighting to keep the world from being taken over by demons.
In Volume 5, Urd had succumbed to her darker half, letting the demon inside her supercede her goddess powers. Caught up in an ancient prophecy, it turned out that she very well could be the Lord of Terror, and if she completes her transformation to evil, she will eradicate all existence through the Ultimate Destruction Program. Thus, our heroes are caught up in some big, big stuff.
Episodes "#23: The Savior of the World Arrives with the Sound of a Flute?" and "#24: Ah! Always by Your Side..." are the final two parts of the Lord of Terror storyline. Keiichi, the human catalyst for the goddesses being on Earth, and Urd's sisters, the super sweet Belldandy and the precocious Skuld, are trying to stop Urd and her demonic minion Marller from activating the Destruction Program. Of course, since this is anime, it's not going to be as easy as it initially seems, and there are plenty of twists and turns over the two episodes that I don't want to spoil. Suffice to say, the animation team rises to the challenge, delivering the sort of "big budget" effects befitting a battle to save life as we know it. The world of Ah! My Goddess combines elements of computer technology with Norse mythology, and both sides are put to use. The enemy takes the shape of giant wolves and snakes while also acting like a computer virus, replicating itself and infecting other "programs." The Almighty lends a hand, but ultimately, the climax hinges on the sap factor that makes Ah! My Goddess what it is.
"#25: Ah! Urd's Little Romance": Though the battle with the Lord of Terror has some lasting repercussions, the makers of Ah! My Goddess waste no time getting their show back on the comedy-romance track. While Heaven rebuilds itself, the goddesses are cut off from their power source, and their weaknesses manifest in different ways. For Belldandy, it's falling into a deep sleep; Urd, on the other hand, is turned into a much younger version of herself. Alcoholic beverages can recharge her, but this can be problematic for someone who looks like she's in elementary school. When a cop hassles her, she ends up getting help from a shy, bookish boy that she strikes up a friendship with. Her wanton ways are just what he needs to shock him out of his timidity. And, naturally, Urd learns a lesson, as well. It's a cute episode, and a nice slow jam for us Urd fans.
"#26: Ah! Is My Heart Pounding Because I'm a Grownup?": It's Skuld's turn to suffer the effects of the Heavenly reboot. For a full day, she is turned into an adult version of herself, including certain assets that attract members of the opposite sex. What Skuld discovers much to her surprise, however, is that Keiichi is the only boy she actually wants the attention from. The rest of the supporting cast from Keiichi's college returns briefly, having been on the sidelines for several episodes, but the highlight of this installment is a flashback sequence rendered in an impressionistic style.
All in all, Ah! My Goddess manages to maintain strong plotting and animation, making it one of my favorite anime series. Last Dance has a bit of everything: action, romance, drama, and comedy--a little dash of something for everybody. The fact that the animators do all of those things equally well makes Ah! My Goddess a charming treat that always entertains.
Ah! My Goddess continues to be one of the best looking anime serials on the market, with the DVD having an 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. Given the consistent quality of animation on this series, fans should expect no less.
2.0 mixes for both the Japanese language track and the English dub, and excellent subtitles.
As with volume 5, the sixth disc has a gallery with character model sheets and painted concept art, as well as a textless version of the closing theme and four trailers. Three of those trailers are for shows with robots and fighting, and the other is for GreenGreen, which looks strangely perverted.
Highly Recommended. Ah! My Goddess: Last Dance continues to advance the series. While other anime can tread water and feel overly padded, in Ah! My Goddess, the story progresses at a good pace. On this, DVD #6, the writers shake things up by throwing in a little more adventure, but without losing focus on the love story that forms the heart of the serial. For viewers waiting to see what happened after the previous installment, Last Dance delivers, and for new people curious about the series, while I suggest volume 5 may be a better place to dive in, you could do worse than picking up the show at this particular peak.
Jamie S. Rich is a novelist and comic book writer. He is best known for his collaborations with Joelle Jones, including the hardboiled crime comic book You Have Killed Me, the challenging romance 12 Reasons Why I Love Her, and the 2007 prose novel Have You Seen the Horizon Lately?, for which Jones did the cover. All three were published by Oni Press. His most recent projects include the futuristic romance A Boy and a Girl with Natalie Nourigat; Archer Coe and the Thousand Natural Shocks, a loopy crime tale drawn by Dan Christensen; and the horror miniseries Madame Frankenstein, a collaboration with Megan Levens. Follow Rich's blog at Confessions123.com.