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.
ADV's release of the show picks up with Keiichi receiving a phone call regarding a memory failure that Yggdrasil has experienced. This results in his wish being lost which leads to calamity. Keiichi is forced to remember the wish word for word because if he doesn't Belldandy has to leave his side and go back to Heaven. Skuld and Urd work hard in their own way to rectify the problem while Keiichi and Belldandy spend what time they have left together. Predictably the wish is remembered the Yggdrasil recognizes Keiichi's request so all is back to normal in no time.
The rest of this disc features Christmas episodes, which I suppose you really have to be in the mood for considering it's May and all. At any rate Belldandy wants to give Keiichi the perfect Christmas gift so she begins to knit him a sweat. She pours her emotions into it and a bunch of other sappy stuff but it's more of a representation of her feelings towards him than anything else. Meanwhile Keiichi finds himself doggedly pursued by another girl, the Queen of NIT, Sayoko. She's rich, beautiful, and full of determination but in the end Balldandy's hold over Keiichi is too strong for her to break.
In the third episode Keiichi sees a ring that he wants to buy for Belldandy but at 200,000 yen it's way out of his wallet's range. Urd pushes him to work around the clock to save up enough money for the ring and in the end he's actually able to. But when Sayoko sets her sights on the same ring all of Keiichi's hard work may be for naught. The final episode here features the troupe going to a holiday part hosted by Sayoko.
Overall the second season of Ah! My Goddess is off to a great start and it's safe to say that ADV is handling it quite well. The four episodes here are a lot of fun though it's certainly "more of the same" if you're a fan of the show. This is a good thing but it would be nice to see the series take more risks now and then. If you're looking to get into the show then you should probably start with the first series or at least try to find the original OVA before diving into the second season.
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.
The supplemental inclusions for this volume are relatively standard for the most part. There are some previews, an art gallery, and clean animations to look at though I was surprised by the inclusion of a commentary track with some of the English voice cast. This track was comparable to other anime-release commentaries where the actors spoke mostly about their experiences working on the show and did a fair amount of joking around. It was enjoyable to listen to and if you're a fan of Ah! My Goddess you'll appreciate it being included on the disc.
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. The second season is off to a strong start though I'd say if you're interested in the show definitely check out the first season before coming to this one. There's a lot of background story that isn't really explained in this volume.