There are just some anime franchises out there that every otaku knows about even if they haven't seen them. Cowboy Bebop, Trigun, and Love Hina are just a few but Ah! My Goddess is one that deserves to be on the top of that list. Originally a manga by Kosuke Fujishima, Ah! My Goddess has been around in some form since the late 80's and is still popular to this day. With an OVA in the early 90's, a TV series known as Mini-Goddess, a movie, and two newer seasons it's certain to say that a cult following is keeping this franchise hopping.
When looking at the latest incarnations of the series you have to go back to the manga roots since the story has more to do with that than anything else. The first season was published here in the States by Media Blasters but ADV has recently started releasing the second batch of episodes. The nice part is that the voice actors are basically all the same so fans will nary notice a skip in continuity between the two as far as the English dub is concerned.
If for any reason you are unfamiliar with what Ah! My Goddess is all about let me fill you in. It all started back in the day when Freshman Keiichi Morisato was selected by Yggdrasil, Heaven's computer system, to make a single wish for anything he wanted. Heaven sent the angelic Belldandy down to collect the wish though to make a long story short he winds up wishing that he had someone like Belldandy who would stay with him forever. Needless to say when he got his wish it was more than he ever expected.
Belldandy winds up living with Keiichi and the show becomes a magical girlfriend comedy before long. Most of the series follows their relationship and development as people though an eclectic cast of characters helps fill the pot. Urd and Skuld are a pair of "goddesses" that basically move in with the pair and before long you can imagine the insanity that ensues. If you're coming to this second season with no knowledge of the first I'm going to try not to spoil things for you. Instead I'll just talk about the show from this point on instead of dealing with past events.
In the previous volume things started out quietly with a romance story between some sub characters and the introduction of a random exorcist in training. Then all manner of hell broke loose as Keiichi picked up the phone and accidentally dialed the Goddess help line again. As you'd imagine another goddess, Peorth, appears and this one refuses to leave until she corrects what is obviously wrong with the situation. Naturally Keiichi wants her in his life rather than Belldandy because, after all, she's more...interesting. Needless to say it was fun watching as Peorth tried to coax a wish out of Keiichi but without the right one she's not leave any time soon.
And so the insanity continues into this third volume. The first two episodes here deal with Peorth in all of her goddess glory. She is still attempting to get that wish out of Keiichi; that thing he most desires. She gets the poor sap to agree to a date of sorts but when the other goddesses tag along she realizes that she's not going to be as successful as she hoped. It's amusing to see her frustrating build as Keiichi and Belldandy's innocent relationship taunts her so.
Fed up with all of the hoity-toity and lovey-dovey stuff, Peorth gets to the root of the matter and actually manages to pull a wish from Keiichi. As things play out Keiichi runs the risk of embarrassing himself, making Belldandy jealous, and in general fashion, buggering things up. The end result sees Peorth returning to the heavens and as a viewer I found the conclusion to be satisfactory though somehow disappointing. I liked the chemistry and naughtiness that Peorth brought to the show and her polar opposite personality really stood out against the familiar faces.
The final two episodes on this disc are more standalone adventures akin to the formula that Ah! My Goddess became successful with. The first episode focuses on the Motor Club once again and introduces a new character into the fold. I felt the story in this particular episode was the weakest of the bunch since it detracted from the main cast and didn't really add any value to the show. Then again that's what happens when a series takes the time to develop a secondary cast. The final episode picks things up a bit with some funny moments when a figure from Urd's past shows up.
I love Peorth and I wish the show used more of her. Sure she was kind of a one trick pony but the element she added to the show helped to break the pacing up a bit and added some humor. Even when the show gets back on track it's still an endearing program with a rich background and charming cast. I feel that the one-shot episodes are the downfall of Ah! My Goddess but if you have been watching up to this point you probably don't mind them as much as I do. Either way you slice it this is still a very good show and the second season continues to be entertaining.
Ah! My Goddess' second season receives a remarkable looking transfer by ADV. The show is presented with 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen and is quite attractive when you get right down to it. The artwork is clean, the visuals are sharp, and the digital flaws are kept minimal. There were a few areas where some grain and compression cropped up but overall there was little to complain about.
Like Media Blaster's treatment of the first season ADV has included two 2.0 stereo tracks for the second. English and Japanese are what you'll find naturally and each offers a dubbing of quality. I found the Japanese to be the better of the two though the English offered plenty to enjoy and familiar voices behind beloved characters. While the range on the soundstage is notably limited there were no technical flaws during the four episodes here.
This second disc offers clean opening and closing animations, some previews, an art gallery, and audio commentary. This commentary track includes the voice actors for Chihiro and Troubadour which was about as interesting as most other anime installments. As long as you don't come into this feature looking for a deep exposition into the happenings behind the scenes or information about the show you'll be reasonably entertained.
Ah! My Goddess is such a classic show and familiar concept that this latest release feels like an older one somehow. It's similar to the OVA though it feels a little more faithful to the original manga. If you have ever been a fan of the Goddess adventures then picking up the latest series is a no-brainer. This is a fun show with an endearing cast and upbeat atmosphere. This third volume continues with the Peorth insanity and tosses a couple of episodic storylines in for good measure. The content is rich and lively thanks to Peorth and development all around was fantastic. Highly Recommended
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