Review – Ah! My Goddess (2005)

First off, thank you to BrOtaku for enlightening me to this anime. Also, thank you for your input in the review found in brackets []

Studio AIC does a wide variety of anime be it something like Tenchi Muyou or Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040. If one aspect is clear, the studio is pretty solid when it comes to female characters and some sort of romance element involved. Director Hiroaki Gouda, whom is usually in the role of key animation got his first real shot in the new position. This is an interesting anime simply from the fact that the manga started in 1989 and didn’t finish until 2014 making it a total of 48 volumes. It is all very fascinating, but how good is it?

Our main character is a sophomore in college by the name of Keiichi Morisato. He is simply a guy down on his luck with a love for cars and bikes which is why he is a member of the motor club. One day, Keiichi accidently calls the “Goddess Help Hotline,” so a beautiful young blond woman suddenly appears to grant him a simple wish. Jokingly, Keiichi says he would be happy if the goddess would stay by his side forever, and surprisingly enough his wish is granted. This begins a funny adventure from Keiichi and the goddess, Belldandy, to find a place to live together, and learn all aspects about one another. It really is a funny, awkward, simple, sweet comedy about a normal guy being with a beautiful goddess.

The show itself is loosely based on Norse mythology such as the elements of Belldandy, the heavens, and the powers that be. This is mixed into the real world causing comedic scenes, episodes, and some fun interactions between Keiichi and Belldandy. The episodes range from the motor club competing in a stock car race of sorts, to meeting Belldandy’s sisters, to an evil enemy trying to exact revenge on the gods. All the while still maintaining that slow romantic relationship build between Keiichi and Belldandy.

[One of the most interesting aspects of the story is the interaction between Keiichi and Belldandy’s luck. Having a full fledged first class goddess with him, Keiichi should be living the good life. However, his own luck is so spectacularly bad that it pretty much evens out to normal. Most conflicts in the manga and the show seem to depict Keiichi being the recipient of terrible misfortune, only for Belldandy’s supernatural prosperity to deliver him from his troubles. This can be seen early on when the pair find a Buddhist temple to live in, due entirely to misunderstandings by the priest.]

As stated before, the manga started in the late 80’s and the earlier episodes match that. Character designs and writing are very much of that era. However, half way through the series it seems the animation gets a bit more crisp, the writing changes in a more chaotic sense (coincides with the sisters arriving), and there is more action compared to building romance. The theory is since the manga stretched out over decades, so did the style and direction of Ah My Goddess based on the anime era. Literally watching this first season is almost a representation of the late 80’s to the late 90’s in anime. [The mangaka (Kōsuke Fujishima) is known for heavy automobile / mechanics references in his works. His other works include You’re Uner ArrestéX-Driver, and the recently announced Toppu GP. He has also worked as a character designer for the Tales series (Tales of Xillia, etc.), as well as Sakura Wars.]

Now to compare romance anime from the past and present, where Ah My Goddess shines the most is convincing the audience of Keiichi and Belldandy’s relationship is more than just their contract with each other. [The romantic comedy is almost a “fish out of water” storyline as Keiichi struggles to properly convey his feelings to Belldandy, and Belldandy attempts to figure out her own emotions (being a goddess who has never experienced most human emotions before).] Truthfully, this is one of the most touching and sweet examples of two people building romantic feelings for one another over time. Another strong suit is actually the supporting cast surprisingly enough. Side characters consistently added to the comedy from start to finish. For example, fellow motor club members always cause Keiichi some sort of grief, and even how when one character says Keiichi’s name, the audience knows something good is going to happen.

No, the show is not the best written for dialogue. The animation is dated for the time of release. Music in the show is essentially as low budget as a studio can get. When the sisters arrive in the anime, the two bring an entire other element to the show. The sisters [Urd and Skuld are brought in to show that Belldandy is strange, even among the denizens of heaven, in her purity. To be fair, Skuld is part devil, so it’s understandable that she’s a bit naughtier.] Some could see this as bringing something different and fresh or seen as simply over-the-top and chaotic. There is some back story and a different entertainment value which has a place, so it really is up to the viewer if this is good or not.

Basically, Ah My Goddess feels like two different anime across the 24 episodes. This anime also seems very reminiscent of Tench Muyou in romance, animation, and characters designs from that early 90’s period with some 2005 technology on it. It is a simple romance done right, but not ground breaking in any way. Ah My Goddess knows what it is and at least worth a single watch for fans of romantic comedies.

TL;DR: Ah! My Goddess is a lovable romance anime with some magic elements tied in. How the series mixes the magic, simple nature of the characters, and a slow building romantic relationship is some of the best ever for the time. Even when the show starts to get more chaotic half way through, there is still something entertaining and sweet about the anime.

Recommended Audience: Any fan of romantic comedies will no doubt enjoy Ah! My Goddess. The show is pretty reminiscent of anime from the early 90’s, so an old Toonami fan would have no problem enjoying this show. It just might become the best magical series you haven’t seen.

 

Somehow called the goddess helpline for a 3/5

Studio: Studio AIC
Director: Hiroaki Gouda
Premiered: Winter 2005
Episode Count: 24
Rating: PG 13 College
Genre(s): Romance, Comedy, Magic
Streaming: second season on Funimation
Price: Amazon $100+

 

JD
Check me out

JD

I currently reside in Toronto, ON, Canada. Growing up in Houston, TX, I started out as an anime fan with the old 90's Saturday morning cartoon shows (Dragon Ball, Ranma 1/2). When Toonami starting airing, it was a show like Gundam Wing that officially cemented me as a true anime enthusiast. Any questions or comments, don't hesitate to contact me via Twitter @BowlingJD or check out my Youtube channel: Moosen Spiel.
I am also a big gamer from the retro NES days to modern PS4 greatness. More fun facts about myself include: Job as an engineer with a degree in Geological Engineering, speak fluent German as a second language, ex-Pro current Amateur level Bowler.
JD
Check me out

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About the author

JD

I currently reside in Toronto, ON, Canada. Growing up in Houston, TX, I started out as an anime fan with the old 90's Saturday morning cartoon shows (Dragon Ball, Ranma 1/2). When Toonami starting airing, it was a show like Gundam Wing that officially cemented me as a true anime enthusiast. Any questions or comments, don't hesitate to contact me via Twitter @BowlingJD or check out my Youtube channel: Moosen Spiel. I am also a big gamer from the retro NES days to modern PS4 greatness. More fun facts about myself include: Job as an engineer with a degree in Geological Engineering, speak fluent German as a second language, ex-Pro current Amateur level Bowler.

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