Ah! My Goddess The Movie
It's been two and a half years since the events occurring in the OAV series. The three sister goddesses, Belldandy, Urd, and Skuld are still living with mortal Keiichi Morisato, and Keiichi continues to attend Nekomi Tech. Belldandy has decided to also attend Nekomi Tech, and participates in the Motor Club with Keiichi. Today is the day of the Club Fair, and while Keiichi reminisces about his own first experiences at Nekomi (and gets the unwanted attention of his drunken female underclassmen), Belldandy has a chance encounter with a fellow deity - one who she regards as a teacher and mentor. But he has his own agenda, as does the mysterious newcomer Morgan, and Belldandy is hit with amnesia, setting off a chain of events that may topple the very pillar of life itself: the great tree Yggdrasil.
I'll try to keep the spoilers at a minimum. This movie certainly deserves that much.
Ah My Goddess The Movie is set quite a bit later than the OAV series, and though some of the characters (Chihiro, Peorth) have only appeared in manga since then and are assumed to be common knowledge, the movie is still able to stand alone without having read the manga, much like the first Tenchi Muyo movie.
That having been said, there is no longer any excuse for any TV or OAV series-based movie to suck. This movie has proven that, yes, you can do a series-based movie without it seeming like an overlong episode, or relying on the alternate universe deus ex machina. It's canon, and it's really, really good.
"How good?" For starters, the animation and music are absolutely beautiful. It's been joked that the OAV series was cut to five episodes because they couldn't afford to animate the goddesses' hair, but that's not really the truth. There wasn't enough budget to completely render the universe that Kousuke Fujishima has created, and now that CG has become a seamless part of anime, Fujishima decided it was time to make a feature that incorporated that, as well as having more of the backstory set in Heaven. It helps that the music chosen for the movie (performed by the Warsaw Philharmonic), while usually subtle, creates just the right background for each and every scene. Bonus points for Belldandy's song (easily one of the most soulrending beautiful pieces ever to grace an anime - each and every time).
The character designs are even truer to the Oh My Goddess manga than the original OAV series is. Though a slight (and perceptible) change for fans of the OAV series, it's not really an issue for fans of the manga (like myself).
However, it's the characterization and plot that really make this movie shine. The complaint I had with the OAV was that the characters were oversimplified and weak. Belldandy, in particular, comes off as a complete doormat in the OAV series. After watching the movie, you will never think of Belldandy as a doormat ever again. All the characters do a lot of soulsearching, and reveal aspects of themselves that hadn't been apparent before in the OAVs. And thankfully, no one's perfect. Better yet, Keiichi isn't just a lovable loser anymore, and he's a stronger character for it.
In fact, after watching the movie, I fell in love with this series all over again. While the OAV series was a wonderful rendition of the Fujishima art style, this movie is a perfect translation of his universe, and it's incredibly beautiful. And the plotline, while largely dependent on the fantasy-turned-technology Yggdrasil system and Keiichi's obsession with anything with a motor, is never dull or uninteresting, and that one hour and forty minutes delivers a lot of it. (And Peorth's pretty cool, too!) There are even some incredibly rendered action sequences involving the goddesses and their angels (yes, these finally show up in anime form!). Though the climax is slightly beyond the bounds of reality (as if the whole thing isn't!) it'll leave many fans breathless.
Oddly enough, this movie was originally planned to run an entire three hours. One wonders just how much more they could have packed into a movie like this. The movie never seemed clipped while I was watching it, and if it was, I was too interested in the plot to care.
No superlative gives justice to this anime movie. If only other series-based movies were more like this.
Now, if only they'd get off their duff and make this incredible story into a real TV series. Please?
[EDITOR'S NOTE: This wish has since been granted ... and how!]
While those of you who don't care for slightly sappy romance dramas won't agree with me, it's quite possibly the best the genre has to offer so far. And it IS that good. But watch the OAVs first, or better yet, read the manga. — Carlos Ross
Recommended Audience: No onscreen nudity. Belldandy changes outfits, but Skuld covers Keiichi's (and the audience's) eyes so you don't see anything. Some mild adult themes during a drinking party early on. One scene in which Urd kisses Belldandy might startle Westerners (ahem, Americans) unaccustomed to that, but it should be of no consequence. Some violence, but it's mostly fantasy (magic spells and the powers of gods). The beast summoned near the end with its gigantic scythe might scare tots, but generally the movie's fine for children and above.
Version(s) Viewed: R1 DVD
Review Status: Full (1/1)
Ah! My Goddess The Movie © 2000 Fujishima Kousuke / Kodansha
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