Ah! My Goddess TV season 1
After a long and tiresome day, Morisato Keiichi plops down in his student dorm, wanting nothing more than to relax with a nice takeout dinner. What he receives, however, is a goddess popping out of his mirror telling him he has been granted a wish. ANY wish.
So, what does Keiichi do when a gorgeous woman pops into his apartment? He wishes for her to stay with him forever, which is then approved, with all the benefits and problems that entails.
My first encounter with the Ah! My Goddess universe actually happened when I purchased the European VHS releases of the OAV around eight years ago. I'm pretty sure most of you know that show as the rather excessively compressed version of a rather extensive manga that is, to my knowledge, even being worked on and released to this day. The OAV, while having its share of faults, was a welcome break for me at the time, since my anime diet consisted mostly of sci-fi shows or horror shows -- mainly the type of shows European distributors thought their audience wanted. And those faults aside, it's still an enjoyable show, lack of proper characterization notwithstanding.
Still, after reading large amounts of the simply magnificent manga, I knew what I wanted. I wanted a show that provided me with, if not all, then most of the stories, episodes and characterizations of the manga. And from the looks of it, Ah! My Goddess TV delivers just that. Sure, there are changes being made, but despite that, it's actually strangely close to the manga. The entire first episode is dedicated to presenting us with the character that makes up Morisato Keiichi. Unlike in the OAV, he's more cynical, more self-assured (though, compared to the OAV, that's not really saying much), and seems to deal with his companions' absurdities with a resignated "why me" expression plastered on his face. He's still a total gearhead, though, and he freaks out all the same when women start floating out of his mirror.
Belldandy, on her part, seems to be a lot more clueless about human behavior and traditions than in the OAV. While she is every bit as kind and benevolent as her OAV self, she puzzles rather easily over what anyone would think of as common sense, and it takes her quite a few episodes before she figures out that proclaiming herself to be a goddess to everyone might not be such a good idea. She's optimistic to a fault, though, and she deals with any supernatural elements crossing their paths quickly and efficiently. While she wasn't my favorite character in the OAV, I grew fond of her rather quickly in the manga, and this carries over quite well to the TV series. She grows and learns as a person in the duration of the show -- even just the twelve episodes I've watched -- and the budding relationship between her and Keiichi is therefore a lot more believable than its OAV counterpart, and certainly no less endearing.
Up to this point, Skuld has yet to make her appearance in the TV series. Urd, however, is every bit as hilarious as she was in the manga AND the OAV. So, between Keiichi and the goddesses, the show quickly settles into the rhythm of madness I had wanted to see ever since I read the manga. One tiny complaint would be that Urd seems a lot meaner than she was portrayed in the manga, though thankfully, that settles once her introductory episode was over. This IS a relief, because I was honestly worried that once Skuld made her entrance, the writers would make her brattier than normal just because.
The art from the TV series seems to follow the later chapters of the manga, which is great, except ... well, I feel the art quality falters when, for instance, characters are seen from a distance. Also, the animation quality seems to fluctuate a lot between great to passable. What's more, the CG used when the characters are out driving is rather noticeable and artificial-looking. On the other hand, when the art style is at its peak, it's GREAT. Plus, a lot of attention has been put on various vehicles, making them look not only good, but downright realistic. All right, so the racing episode looks a bit ... videogame-like, but it's a good example of computer graphics being put to good use. And when one of the characters in the show is a total gearhead, that's quite an important detail.
As for the music, it's quite an improvement from the downright tacky music in the OAV. The show opens with a soft-rock piece with rather obvious celtic folk elements which suits the show to a tee, despite it being about Japanese guys and Scandinavian women. The inshow music is no worse for wear. Not even the enka ballads, which are hilariously presented as Urd's very own brand of sleeping medicine. For the voice actors, it looks like most of the cast from the earlier animated shows have returned to do their respective roles ... which I'm pretty sure the fans are going to appreciate. As for the dub, I can only hope that Media Blasters elects to keep the actors from either the OAV or the movie. (Given the choice, I'd go with the movie cast, but that's just me.)
I've been wanting this show for a long, long time -- ever since I read the manga. I'm very grateful for its quick licensing and (hopefully impending) release. Like I noted above, I have no idea for how many episodes it'll last, but I certainly wish it a long life. There are many, many manga story arcs I want to see -- that I HOPE to see animated. And now I probably will.
I'm a happy man.
Art and animation nitpickers might want to dock it a star. That's the only star-docking reason I can come up with, though. — Stig Høgset
Recommended Audience: This show has rather loose ties to old, Scandinavian mythology. (Mainly character-wise.) So loose, in fact, that I'd consider this fantasy instead of mythology. Aside from that, this show has no particular violence and only mild fan service. (Swimsuits ahoy.) Should be suitable for anyone old enough to know what's going on.
Version(s) Viewed: Prerelease fansub
Review Status: Partial (12/26)
Ah! My Goddess TV season 1 © 2005 Fujishima Kousuke / Kodansha / Ah! My Goddess Production Committee
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