Ah! My Goddess TV season 1
Morisato Keiichi is a man who has a major streak of bad luck and misfortune. Everything that goes right for other people goes wrong for him. He lives in a dormitory with members of the auto club of which he is a part of.
During one night, while the other members are away, Keiichi does the chores around the dormitories and props himself down to make a phone call for one of the members. However, his call goes through to the Goddess Help Line, a phone service where someone is granted one wish by a goddess. Within mere moments after realizing what was happening, the goddess Belldandy appears in the room through a mirror, to the shock of Keiichi. When asked his one wish, he lets out that he wants her to stay by his side forever, which is validated. How will this new person affect Keiichi's life?
What I really liked about Ah! My Goddess was that it was a romantic show without all the overdramatic scenes (not unlike the ones present on daytime shows in the US) and, instead of using tension, utilized comedy to achieve its goals in a very unique, and very good, way.
To kick things off, there is the music of the show. The opening theme is highly odd for an anime as it sounds very similar to some Celtic tunes (or maybe Irish, but on a stretch) and is, to put it nicely, a soothing song that matches up nicely to the opening. The ending has another foreign sounding genre of song (this time ringing out with what sounds like old time country (maybe 80's to 90's) combined with Celtic. The second ending theme initially sounds like an a cappella type song, but soon after starting brings in the instruments. The second one is a change in pace (as it sounds less like the Celtic music influenced creations that also appear in the show). Inside the show, nearly every type of music is used. Enka, rock, classical, easy listening, you name it, it's quite likely there (with the exception of R&B and hip-hop). Rock and enka are used more often than the rest, but usually because the plot asks for it (more on that later).
Plotwise, the show simulates a romantic comedy through and through. You have your rival for Keiichi's affection, another rival for Belldandy (Skuld), and a whole mess of others involved in advancing the plot. The show reminded me of Canvas 2 ~Niji Iro no Sketch~ when it tried building up suspense, but unlike that show, AMG tries it in very small, easy-to-watch amounts. Along with the love stories and drama, you have the comedy, which, while not rapid-fire, certaintly gets put to good use. Jokes and certain scenes lighten up the mood while the drama and romance keeps watch over the course of the show.
Now, I will admit that, until now, I have never seen/read a single thing of this series (Oh! My Goddess, Adventures of Mini Goddess, AMG: The Movie, or the manga version), so I have no idea how the characters deviate from there, but I'll describe them from the show. Keiichi is, as described, a man who has never known good fortune for a long time, and is given a chance to make life a little better by the Divine Ones. Belldandy, despite being clueless and not a very interesting character at first, is one of those characters you either like a lot or like a bit (as total dislike is a bit hard to acquire). She helps out with problems experienced by Keiichi and the Auto Club. Urd (who comes into play a bit later) is the comic edge of the show, with her odd behavior and her joking persona (telling some fibs so strange yet so believable. These are ones Keiichi falls for somewhat often), though she can get serious. However, she gets more hilarious when it turns out enka music puts her to sleep (a reason why I mentioned enka to be a plot influence), with her waking up after the music is done and usually going down on who or what played it. Skuld (sister of Urd and Belldandy. Notice how Norse mythology is being brought to play now?) is the mechanical genius of the group, but she also carries a slightly bratty persona that lasts for, at best, a few episodes here and there. Her storyline is played out as she learns more about life (though she still thinks Belldandy is her's). On the opposite end of the good side-bad side of the story, we have Marller (misheard as "Mara" on occasion), who tries to make life miserable for the people she meets. As in Urd's case, Marller has a strange case that when rock music is played, she starts dancing uncontrollably (this is how rock is incorporated into the plot), with this usually being her big weakness. Probably my favorite character is a small man by the name of Shakim (probably not his actual name, but what it sounds like), the god of poverty. He has a very crazy pose and does things that are completely hilarious (though not for the victim of his bad luck weaving). Unfortunately, he has appeared in only one episode thus far, but I hope he appears again (if only for a second at least). Lesser characters include the Auto Club and a man whose name I forgot (he wore a green suit)
Artwork for the show is almost completely brilliant, as the scenes are very well done. The sunsets cast orange glows on some scenes. The daytime scenes are as fresh as a market ripe tomato. Though it isn't without its flaws. While it is brilliant, sometimes the artwork falls short of being five star material and loses itself for a moments (though this sort of repaired itself in later episodes). The animation is quite clean, with good flow through the episodes (good enough to look professional) and I really liked the way it fleshed out the storyline.
Last, but not least, the voices. I've only watched the English dub, but the voices are accurate enough to be rewarding. Skuld had a very well picked voice as well as Belldandy. Urd and Marller had voices that were...ok, to say the least. Keiichi had a rather odd voice that only barely suited him.
In closing, I would like to say that I was impressed by this anime. It did quite a lot of things well and left me wanting more of it, which is what I expect from good shows like this.
Well deserved. Take off one or two if you don't like romance with comedy or vice versa — Jake L Godek
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: R1 DVD
Review Status: Partial (18/26)
Ah! My Goddess TV season 1 © 2005 Fujishima Kousuke / Kodansha / Ah! My Goddess Production Committee
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