AH! MY GODDESS: THE MOVIE (2001)

 

Format: 106-minute feature

 

Rating: PG-13 (BN, V)

 

Type: Romantic action-drama

 

American Production: Pioneer (now Geneon) in association with Zro Limit Productions and Animaze Inc.

 

Japanese Production: Kodansha Ltd/AIC/Pony Canyon

 

Grading

 

Premise:

C

Story:

C+

Writing:

C

Character Design:

A-

Animation:

B+ 

Artistic Merits:

B

English Dub:

C+

Musical Score:

B

Songs:

C

 

 

Humor Content:

C

Action Content:

B

Drama Content:

C+

 

 

DVD Presentation:

B

DVD Extras:

C

 

 

OVERALL:

B-

 

Synopsis

NOTE: This movie is an extension of the Oh! My Goddess OVA series. While seeing the series first is not required for appreciating this movie, it is recommended. This review assumes that the reader has already seen that series.

 

      Keichi and Belldandy have been living together contentedly for more than two years now, and in that time they have become quite an effective racing team. Once again, though, problems from the past arise to pose a threat to their relationship, this time in the form of Belldandy’s exiled mentor Celestine, who was banished originally for attempting to remake the Goddess System. He seeks to do so once again, this time with the help of the faery princess Morgan and the unwitting help of Belldandy herself, though whom he channels a disruptive virus into the Heavenly computer Intracil. He also seeks to “free” Belldandy by inflicting on her a selective case of amnesia, which wipes out all memory she has of Keichi and her time on Earth. Urd, Skuld, and Keichi must work to restore Belldandy’s lost memory while forces in Heaven maneuver to counter Celestine’s plan from their end. But can Keichi and the goddesses succeed in time for a big upcoming race? And this doesn’t appear to be the first time that Belldandy has had her memory selectively edited. . .

 

The Long View

      First, a couple of notes about naming conventions. The most literal translation of the Japanese name of this property is “Ah! My Goddess,” although both the anime and manga series were translated as “Oh! My Goddess” instead on the request of the original creator, who was not originally aware how clever a play-on-words the alternate translation would be. I am not certain why the movie kept the original translation, however. Second, an astute viewer may notice that the back of Keichi’s racing uniform has a “K1” on it, and this is also, if I recall correctly, used on a note Keichi writes. “Ichi” is the Japanese word for “one,” so “K1” is just shorthand for Keichi’s full name.

      Like many enduringly popular series, Oh! My Goddess get the deluxe movie treatment here. CG-influenced graphics and animation are dramatic improvement over those seen in the series (although they aren’t top-of-the-line), creating a movie that is pretty to look at, especially when it’s showing us the shots of Heaven. The character design, which was one of the strongest points of the OVA series, is still as good as ever, and the musical scoring remains respectable. The English voice roles were completely recast from those seen in the series, but the only changes that I didn’t feel at least maintain the status quo were Megumi and Ootaki (who no longer sounds like a surfer dude). Neither has a big role here, however, so it isn’t a major issue. Most of the new roles are well-cast with the notable exception of Celestine; although I like the work of David Lucas/Steven Blum in many other series, it doesn’t quite strike the right note here.

      More deserving of extensive comment is the story and writing. Many aspects of the Oh! My Goddess manga that did not make it into the anime series make their first appearances here, including the goddess Peorth, the robot Banpei, Keichi’s boss Chihiro and her Whirlwind bike customizing company, auto club member Sora, Megumi’s status as the honorary Goddess of Drag Racing, the special style of bike Keichi is preparing to race, and the angelic forms of the three real goddesses. (As a side note for those who haven’t read the manga, the reason why Urd’s angel is half white and half black is because she is part demon. That’s also why she has a darker skin tone than her sisters.) In fairness, though, most of these elements come up much later in the manga than the time period covered by the five OVA episodes. Celestine and Morgan are completely new additions, however, as is the Millennium Gate and the fact that part of Belldandy’s past memory has been blocked. They provide the interesting angle that maybe not everything is always as peaceful and agreeable in Heaven as what we might imagine. And yes, the Nordic mythology references just keep flowing!

      Does all of this necessarily make for a good story, though? Well. . . The problem is that the writing for Ah! My Goddess takes things a bit too seriously. Part of the charm of both the manga and the OVA series has always been its light-hearted aspects, but they are almost completely abandoned here in favor of action scenes - and while those are well-staged, OMG isn’t an action-oriented story at heart. The dialogue itself gets too sappy and pretentious at times (even by OMG standards) and the writing tries a bit too hard to portray Celestine as being basically a good guy despite the fact that he’s the villain. Perhaps most importantly, the loving connection between Keichi and Belldandy doesn’t come through quite as clearly here as in some more recent anime romances. It’s still a good, clean, and charming story, just not a stellar one.

Finally, some notes on the rating. I waver over the rating on this movie because it’s really a PG story despite a bit of content that could probably bump it up to a PG-13 rating were it ever shown in U.S. theaters. This “mature” content consists of one scene were two characters are clearly drunk, a point in the same scene where one female character asks Keichi about how impressive her chest is (and then offers to show him), and a few instances where the goddesses appear nearly but not completely nude during their transformation scenes and in their spirit forms. Nothing really shows in these scenes beyond perhaps a bare bottom, and there is absolutely nothing suggestive about them. The actual violence in the movie is minimal, there’s only a little bit of blood, and no harsh language or “adult content” beyond what is described above. Honestly, I think Ah! My Goddess could be safely shown to any kid from about 10 on up.

 

DVD Extras

      The DVD case comes with a slip cover featuring embossed alternate cover artwork. The DVD itself includes:

·  Movie trailer

·  Art Gallery – a mix of production sketches and original artwork

·  Adventures of the Mini-Goddesses – The first 7-minute episode of a full series of shorts about the adventures of Urd, Skuld, and Belldandy in miniature form and with the rat Gan-Chan. (Since the physical forms of the goddesses in the mortal realm is a manifestation of their will then they can become any size they want and often do so when they’re bored and Keichi isn’t around, or so the premise goes.) Zany, light-hearted SD fun with basic production values. Features the voices of Ruby Marlowe, Wendee Lee, Anthony Mozdy, and William Frederick. Produced by Kodansha Ltd and Pony Canyon.

 

Principle English Voice Actors

Role

Voice Actor

 Keichi

Rafael Antonio Oliver 

 Belldandy

Ruby Marlowe, aka Ellen Wilkinson, et al.

 Urd

Melissa Williamson

 Skuld

Sherry Lynn

 Celestian

David Lucas, aka Steven Blum

 Peorth

Anne Sherman

 Morgan le Fay

Lia Sargent

 Megumi

Stephanie Greene 

 Ootaki

James Penrod

 Tamiya

John Smallberries

 Sora Hasegawa

Melissa Charles

 Chrono

Tara Jayne

 Ere

Barbara Goodson

 Ex

Emily Brown

 Chihiro

???

 

 

 

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