The Oh My Goddess! five-episode OVA series was first released on DVD in the United States in 2001 across two separate discs: Volume 1 and Volume 2. Fans of the ever-growing popular show will be more than pleased with AnimEigo's decision to re-release it in this remastered three-disc collection. Staying loyal to the original manga by Fujishima Kousuke, both director Hiroaki Gooda and screenplay writer Naoko Hasegawa do a phenomenal job with bringing one of anime's greatest love stories to life on the screen.
One afternoon in his dorm room, college freshman Morisato Keiichi is forced to take on the role of secretary for his sempais while they are out. Keiichi's sempais are not the most thoughtful of people, and thus, leave him nothing to eat. Luckily for him, take-out is a viable option... or so he thinks. After trying a few places and being turned down for various reasons, Keiichi accidentally dials the number to the Goddess Helpline. Before he knows it, a beautiful goddess named Belldandy has appeared before him.
Belldandy is everything one would imagine a goddess to be: stunning, radiant, and dressed in elaborate attire from head to toe. Keiichi naturally assumes that his sempais are playing a joke on him, that this cannot possibly be real. Adding to his gut feeling is Belldandy's offering of one wish. This must be a dream, right? Keiichi entertains a few ideas, then suddenly blurts out that he wants a girlfriend like Belldandy to be with him forever! She consults the "Ultimate Force" and is pleased to announce that his wish has been approved, and a contract has been made.
Trouble starts to brew almost immediately for the newly paired couple once Keiichi remembers the "No Women Allowed" rule pertaining to his dorm. Right on cue, his sempais return and kick the two out. Bell, being the goddess she is, knows the perfect place for them to reside: an old temple which she fully restores with her powers. However, before Kei and Bell can get in any quality alone time, Kei's little sister Megumi moves in. At least she provides a big chunk of the living expenses.
More trouble stirs when Bell's big sister Urd shows up (through a tape from Goddess Films titled Sexy Dynamite!! Part 2, no less). The title suits Urd as she is a voluptuous goddess with an agenda: taking Kei and Bell's relationship to the next level, particularly in terms of intimacy. The perfect opportunity arises when Kei and Bell take a trip to the beach together. Of course, Urd unknowingly invites herself to make sure things are going along smoothly. Apparently, Keiichi is just not cutting it. She offers a few suggestions including suntan oil, a boat, and finally, a love potion. Either because of an unforeseen interruption, Kei's own naivety about girls, his respect for Bell, or circumstances beyond his control, nothing goes quite according to plan.
To make matters worse, Bell's little sister Skuld makes an appearance via the tub when Keiichi happens to be taking a relaxing bath. Talk about awkward! On top of that, Skuld has been awfully lonely without her sisters, but especially Bell. Keiichi inescapably takes the bulk of the blame for this overwhelming loneliness. As a result, Skuld practically takes the side of the other team when Kei is nominated to assemble and race a motorcycle on behalf of Negomi Tech's Auto Club, particularly when she finds out that Bell is the wager. Will the Goddess of Victory smile upon Keiichi?
Up until this point, things have been fairly lighthearted, however; things take a turn towards the more serious beginning ultimately in the fourth episode. Somehow, system bugs have made their way to the Surface World and are causing all sorts of problems. Needless to say, they do not belong here. Not only that, but whenever Kei and Bell get near each other, a magnetic force builds up and causes explosions--including glass windows! This is bad news for Kei and Bell who now have to keep their distance until Skuld can figure out a way to seal the bug exhaust port which has formed. Leave it to Bell's sisters and their antics to try and solve the problem!
But not all is lost. During this difficult time, the two have a chance to really evaluate their feelings for one another. And what they feel is genuine. The question is, will that be enough? Will they be able to keep their promises to each other, or does destiny have something else in store for the them? Only time will tell. I do not want to reveal much more than that, but I will say that by this point, I wanted nothing more than for Keiichi and Belldandy to be together.
Honestly, I find it tough to believe that I had not seen the Oh My Goddess! OVA series prior to this. It may well have been the reported video problems that kept me away initially, but I can assure you, this is no longer an issue. The animation itself is quite lovely, and the recurring characters throughout the show make it particularly enjoyable. By the end, I was completely hooked and truly felt for Kei and Bell. My biggest and perhaps only complaint about the series is that it is simply too short! Regardless, I consider it timeless with a whole heck of a lot to offer.
Once again, I alternated between the English and Japanese 2.0 tracks from episode to episode. I found both enjoyable, though this time, I have to lean a little more towards the Japanese track. However, if you are not a fan of subtitles, the English dub is more than suitable. Most importantly, both tracks sounded clean and clear--very pleasant on the ears! A 5.1 track might have been nice along with the remastering of the video, but it is hardly necessary in a show like this.
Oh My Goddess! is presented in its original 4:3 or 1.33:1 full frame aspect ratio. For this collection, the video for all five episodes was remastered, and from what John mentioned in his reviews on the original releases (links to both near the top), the improvement is astounding. I was quite impressed with just how clean and clear everything looked. I have not viewed the original discs myself, but I am certain that fans will be much more pleased with the video quality this time around, and hopefully others will not be as likely to shy away because of this.
Unlike most anime DVDs, the Oh My Goddess! Collector's Edition for the OVA series contains a myriad of extras. First and foremost are the special audio options: two optional commentary tracks which appear on all three discs. You can either dub your own Oh My Goddess! or listen to a commentary track featuring voice actors Juliet Cesario, Scott Simpson and Pamela Weidner along with English voice director Scott Houle. Dubbing your own commentary is a fun idea which I have not really seen explored previously, but probably something you would want to do with a group of people rather than as a solo activity. The other commentary option is a thoughtful one, but ultimately falls short of what one might expect. It mostly consists of the aforementioned guests talking amongst themselves without a whole lot of insight into the voice acting process itself.
Additional extras include character cards, character designs, image galleries, program notes, lyrics, a look inside Negomi Tech, karaoke, textless opening and ending songs, an interview with producer Toru Miura, and various trailers. I found the interview with Miura to be of particular interest. He brought up an array of tidbits that I was previously unaware of, such as the fact that approximately 80% of Oh My Goddess! fans stem from the male gender (at least in Japan); they are essentially the target fan base. The only downside to this interview is that it is comprised of text rather than actual audio and video, which is kind of what I was expecting. Nevertheless, it does provide a more in-depth look into the series and should definitely be checked out by inquiring fans.
Oh My Goddess! is considered a classic in the realm of anime, and with good reason. It has something to offer to just about everyone: charm, subtle humor (which is a nice contrast to some of the more common over-the-top hijinks), love and romance, gorgeous goddesses (without catering exclusively to the fan service factor), and stellar animation. Poor video quality should no longer be a deterrent to potential fans, and current fans will finally receive the treatment they have been longing for. Highly Recommended.
One last note: AnimEigo is offering a Divine Ascension upgrade for as little as $15 to those who already own the original releases of the OVA series. To take advantage of this offer, print out their sacred order form and follow the instructions inscribed upon it!