Created by Kosuke Fujishima, Ah! My Goddess is one of the most celebrated anime franchise from the past 20 years. It originated as a manga, then it made a debut as a novel, was turned into an OVA, had a movie, and ultimately enjoyed two seasons of a new show back in 2005. You can't scoff at those facts, and chances are very good you have at least heard of this heralded harem series, even if you haven't seen it.
The first season of the show was handled by Media Blasters and can be found in individual volumes and a full boxed set with all 24 episodes. The second season was licensed by ADV, but during the recent shift in licensing here in the States, the show's release has been turned over to the good folks at FUNimation. With the individual releases by ADV already on the market, FUNimation has packed the entire second season together in a box set. All 24 episodes are here, packed onto four discs (opposed to ADV's six volumes) and all of the original bonus features have been left intact.
Ah! My Goddess 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 as a girlfriend, 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, but there is a plentiful harem element as well. 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 other 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.
During the 24 episodes here you'll meet the cast of characters as they were established in the first season. There's very little introduction here and if you have not seen the first season I highly suggest that you do before digging into this one. At any rate the episodes here follow the same pattern as we became familiar with in the first season, so there is very little in terms of surprises.
When the season starts out with Keiichi receiving another phone call of destiny, as it were, since it appears that Yggdrasil's memory has had a failure and his wish has been lost. This basically means Belldandy has to go back to Heaven, but everyone works hard to make sure that doesn't happen. Naturally Belldandy gets to stay in the end because there wouldn't be much of a show otherwise. Beyond that there's some rather episodic content with some Christmas episodes, interruptions from the head of Keiichi's school's Auto Club, a girl shows up looking to expel demons, and in between it all there's Keiichi and Belldandy making googly eyes at each other.
If there's one flaw in Ah! My Goddess it's that the two main characters, as endearing as they are, keep their distance from each other romantically. This is a common theme in the show and so many times we'll see Keiichi and Belldandy doing nice things for each other, but their relationship never really seems to go anywhere. The second season plays around with those emotions a bit when Keiichi inadvertently places a phone call to Yggdrasil's hotline and gets the sultry Peorth.
Peorth's arch is one of the most entertaining, as she introduces some naughty elements when she appears and attempts to seduce Keiichi. She's a fun, lively character that introduces an element of chaos to everyone living with Keiichi. She even frazzles Belldandy to the point of jealousy, which is hilarious I assure you. From here to the end there are several other mini-storylines that pop up every now and then, such as the reemergence of Marller who summons ninjas to do her dirty work, Skuld meeting a boy who awakens her angelic powers, and Peorth even makes a return later in the season.
Overall the second season of Ah! My Goddess is a success and fans of the first season will definitely want to pick this up if they haven't already. I'm not certain that the series is for everyone due to some awkward pacing, static character development, and tiresome humor, but despite those nitpicky flaws this is a great show. It's easy to see why the franchise has become so popular over the years, and though I don't think the series quite reaches the level of quality enjoyed by the OVA, it's still a lot of fun. Check out the first season of the show first before digging into this one though.
Ah! My Goddess' second season receives a remarkable looking transfer by ADV and a decent restructuring by FUNimation. 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. All around this is a bright series with some great design that is enhanced by the quality of the transfer.
Like Media Blaster's treatment of the first season, the second season here includes two 2.0 stereo tracks. 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, thanks to the fact that most all of the original voice cast has returned. While the range on the soundstage is notably limited there were no technical flaws during the four episodes here.
Included with this FUNimation re-release are the original bonus features offered by the ADV volumes. That means you're going to find six English audio commentaries here with members of the voice cast and American production team. The commentaries are decent enough to sit through, but more often than not you'll just heard people talk about themselves and make jokes about the show while they watch it. Otherwise you're just going to find a production art gallery, clean animations, and some trailers.
Ah! My Goddess is such a classic show and familiar concept that this latest release feels like an older one somehow. The second season follows in the footsteps of the first and there's plenty to love here. It's a bright show with a fun cast of characters, hilarious situations, and loads of creativity. If I have any complaint about the program itself, it's that the jokes are rehashed every now and then and the characters never really develop more than when they were established. Despite that, the second season of Ah! My Goddess is a wild ride and it's something fans of the first should definitely pick up.