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Pioneer presents
Ah! My Goddess: The Movie (2000)

"I do nothing but make Mr. Morisato suffer."
- Belldandy (Kikuko Inoue)

Review By: Jeff Ulmer  
Published: November 07, 2001

Stars: Kikuko Inoue, Masami Kikuchi, Yumi Toma, Aya Hisakawa, Akako Kawasumi, Hiroshi Yanaka, Rei Sakuma
Other Stars: Rumi Kasahara, Akiko Yajima, Yui Horie, Yuka Imai, Yuriko Fuchizaki, Ikue Otani, Kiyoyukie Yanada, Issei Futamata
Director: Hiroaki Gohda

Manufacturer: CADDS
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (13+ for brief nudity, mature content)
Run Time: 01h:46m:19s
Release Date: November 27, 2001
UPC: 013023163898
Genre: anime


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A+ A+AA+ C+

DVD Review

Given its popularity and the quality of both the story and the animation, I find it depressing that the availability of an animated version of Kosuke Fujishima's manga, Aa! Megami-sama, is limited to the five part OVA (released in 1993/1994), The Adventures of Mini-Goddess TV mini episodes and this 2000 feature film. The appeal of the show is its combination of beautiful artwork, a cast of strong characters, a great story, and a perfect blend humor, adventure, magic and romance. The translation of the title of the series has long been in contention with fans, with both Ah! My Goddess (previously used on the translated manga, CDs, VHS and laserdisc releases) and Oh My Goddess!(used by Animeigo for the DVD release of the OVAs) being used for the show. Whatever the title, this is one very special series, and the movie version maintains the high quality set in the original OVA releases.

One challenge to viewers who may not have seen the previous releases of a series is getting lost when viewing a later work. While viewers will benefit from having seen the OVAs, the movie doesn't leave anyone out in the cold as to who the characters are, though some of the humor will be lost when you are unfamiliar with their specific traits, such as Skuld's use of water as her method of transporting between Earth and the Goddess Office. The scenes are still funny, but their significance won't be fully realized until you know the background.

"Keiichi's lucky, having three goddesses to look after him." - Skuld (Aya Hisakawa)

As mentioned, the characters in this film are one of its strong points, as their unusual qualities are what make them so interesting. The cast includes four goddesses, based on Nordic mythology, whose mission it is to care for the people of many worlds. They oversee the maintenance of those under their care from Yggdrasil, the tree of life which binds the many worlds, and which, in Ah! My Goddess, has a huge computer program as its core. Belldandy (Kikuko Inoue) is a goddess first class, second category with an unlimited license. She is in charge of the present. Belldandy is extremely loyal, and it is her primary job to make people happy. Urd (Yumi Toma) is Belldandy's older sister, with a limited second class licence, and in charge of the past. She has a penchant for meddling with people's love affairs, and likes to have fun. Skuld is the youngest sister, with a second class, first category license. She is in charge of the future, but her immaturity means her magic is often unfocused. She is also in charge of literally debugging Yggdrasil, a task she performs primarily with a hammer. Each goddess uses different methods for transporting between worlds: Belldandy using mirrors, Urd using television screens, and Skuld using water. These three goddesses have been living on Earth ever since Belldandy was summoned accidentally by Keiichi Morisato (Masami Kikuchi), a student at the Nekomi Institute of Technology and member of its Motor Club. Keiichi and Belldandy have been inseparable since Belldandy granted Keiichi's wish for a girlfriend "just like Belldandy," which she interpreted as a girlfriend who is Belldandy. Our fourth goddess is Peorth, who is an administrator in Yggdrasil. The movie marks her first appearance outside the manga. She is also the only goddess whose name doesn't originate in Nordic mythology.

The story opens as a young fairy unlocks a strange device located on Earth's moon, freeing a small face-like icon, with markings resembling that of the goddesses...

It has been three years since Belldandy and her sisters arrived on Earth, and things have been going relatively smoothly. Belldandy has become Keiichi's riding partner in the Motor Club, which is preparing for a big sidecar motorcycle race. When Celestin (Hiroshi Yanaka), Belldandy's former mentor, suddenly arrives after mysteriously vanishing years ago, Belldandy winds up with amnesia. The future of the motorcycle race is threatened, but another more serious threat is invading Yggdrasil in the form of a malicious computer virus, which may destroy the entire system, and the worlds they govern along with it. As Keiichi and Belldandy's sisters try to revive her memory, Peorth is busy attempting to stop the destruction of Yggdrasil. The solution may come from exploring Belldandy's past, a journey that will unlock many hidden secrets, and put the powers and personalities of the goddesses to their most critical tests. Just how does the arrival of the new and quiet young Motor Club recruit, Morgan Le Fe (Akako Kawasumi), fit into the puzzle?

The story told in Ah! My Goddess: The Movie is of epic proportion, and the multiple paths we follow result in an exciting adventure through time and space. The artwork in this film is breathtaking, with a visual feast of color and form that is a joy to behold. The sound design adds to the experience immensely, creating an atmosphere that is truly enveloping, and grows in intensity as the film moves on. The characters come to life through exquisite voice acting, and even the dub track—which I normally avoid like the plague—works extremely well, with the same attention to sound design as the original Japanese track, though it does downplay the suggestiveness in one scene where a not-too-sober Club member tries to impress Keiichi with her womanhood. This is a film that belongs in every anime lovers' collection, and is one that will also appeal to more mainstream audiences, due to the strong story, creative visuals and abundant humor. For style and substance, this one gets full marks.

Rating for Style: A+
Rating for Substance: A+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Video presentation of this anamorphic transfer is nothing short of stunning. The vibrancy of the artwork shines with beatifully rendered colors, perfect black levels and no sign of rainbowing. Only a minor amount of jitter during quick pans in a few places detracts from a flawless image. This is an outstanding transfer, which properly highlights the gorgeous animation presented here. Reference quality.

Image Transfer Grade: A

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Japanese, Englishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Japanese, Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Ah! My Goddess contains four soundtracks, with both 5.1 and Dolby Surround tracks in Japanese and English dub, accessable by remote control. The 5.1 tracks set a new reference for anime. They are simply outstanding, with a totally immersive quality, full of dynamics and presenting an enormous soundstage. Directionality is utilized effectively with lots of movement within the soundfield. The subwoofer also gets a workout in more than one location. This is extremely impressive, with no distortion despite the range in power exhibited here. Dialogue is clear and easily discernable at all times. Frequency distribution in the mastering is very pleasing to listen to, even at excessive volume levels. Anything less than full honors doesn't represent the content here.

Audio Transfer Grade: A+

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 36 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
2 Original Trailer(s)
2 TV Spots/Teasers
Packaging: other
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extra Extras:
  1. Adventures of Mini-Goddess episode
  2. Art gallery
  3. Character introductions
Extras Review: Up until the movie release in 2000, the only other animated appearance of our goddessess outside the original OVAs, has been The Adventures of Mini-Goddess, a series of short, made for TV, mini episodes which feature the Ah! My Goddess stars in their super deformed state. These vignettes don't have much to do with the storyline of the show, but are more humorous little side escapades similar to the omake theatre in the Blue Seed series, derived from the manga version of Ah! Megami-Sama: Chicchai-Tte Koto Wa Benri Da Ne (Ah! My Goddess: Being Small Is Convenient). Pioneer is set to release collections of the Mini-Goddess episodes in 2002, but have included the first one here as a bonus. Urd is the featured goddess in this installment, as she displays her prescient abilities for a new character, a rat named Gan-chan. These are pretty silly, but add a new dimension to the goddess franchise. Let's Tell Your Fortune runs 08m:56s, but the last two minutes are the credit sequence repeated in both its original Japanese and a second English version. This is presented in 4:3 mode and contains both Japanese and English audio with optional English subtitles.

We also get an art gallery featuring 32 frames covering concept and design art for the major characters and an assortment of promotional depictions. These are numbered for reference, and set against a complimentary background theme. This is presented in anamorphic mode.

The trailer section contains two TV spots, a teaser and the main trailer for the movie. This is presented in 4:3 mode, though the trailers are widescreen.

The packaging also deserves mention here. Housed in a semitransparent Scanavo case, the cover insert is dual sided, allowing the reverse artwork to show through to the interior of the case, as many Pioneer titles are doing now. The included single sheet booklet carries over the reverse cover art, and contains spoiler free character introductions for all of the major cast except Peorth. The disc's 36 chapters are listed on the back. A very nice presentation.

Extras Grade: C+

 

Final Comments

A fantastic and powerful story, strong characterizations, an exceptional style and presentation make Ah! My Goddess: The Movie a "must see." Anime fans have another reference-quality disc to add to their collections, while more casual viewers get a delightfully fun and exciting movie experience. The packaging and extras content enhance the viewing experience suitably. With a couple of mildly suggestive scenes and some brief, nonsexual nudity, parents may wish to pre-screen the disc beforehand; as there is a lack of extreme violence presented, this should be suitable for all but the most sensitive audiences.

A nice extras package rounds out a superb disc. This get two thumbs (despite one being sprained) way up from me!

 


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