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"Ah! My Goddess Season Two" Makes For A Nice, Relaxing Diversion

by on May 7, 2009

Ah! My Goddess, like the male lead Keiichi Morisato himself, can best be described as nice, if not especially distinguished. I’d never sought out this series, and had simply dismissed it as probably being too bland for my tastes. In a way, even after having finally seen the second season of the TV show and enjoying most of it, I still think that.

For the uninitiated, Ah! My Goddess concerns the mild misfortunes of student Keiichi Morisato, a kind-hearted student who, on a typical down-on-his-luck day, accidentally places a telephone call to the Goddess Technical Help Line, and calls down the beautiful goddess Belldandy. (Goddesses here are magical beings who live in heaven, where they undertake a variety of jobs on behalf of The Almighty One, the Lord of Heaven.) After offhandedly saying he’d like her to stay by his side forever, she cheerfully agrees. Not long afterward, Belldandy’s goddess sisters, the sultry, older Urd and their precocious younger sister, Skuld, enter and add to the complications in Keiichi’s life. The second season finds the characters in much the same situation, albeit with a little more stability in their interactions, which only adds to the already somewhat serene nature of the series.

That’s not to say the series isn’t entertaining or diverting, but it does straddle a fine line between being genuinely funny and charming and also being a little on the bland side. One of the series’ key strengths is also one of its weaknesses, with Keiichi being unambiguously in love with Belldandy, and vice versa. While this does make for a refreshing spin on the tiresome possible multi-partners seen in other ‘harem’ anime series, at the same time it robs the series of a lot of potential for dramatic and comedic conflict. Perhaps because it recognizes that these circumstances can lead to staleness, this second season briefly adds a fourth goddess, Peorth, to the mix.

She makes for quite a tempting and funny distraction for Keiichi, and her presence certainly livens things up. Thankfully, even after she leaves, it sticks with more engaging and interesting stories that make up for the blandness of some of the early episodes. This is most clearly seen with the development of Belldandy herself, who comes across as something of a well-meaning doormat in the first few episodes. However, with the introduction of her feelings of jealousy and clear willingness to defensively spring to Keiichi’s aid, she becomes a much more human and relatable character, while still retaining her perpetually cheerful demeanor. Urd and Skuld, with far more dynamic personalities, remain more interesting overall, and it’s little surprise to see that they each have several episodes focusing on them.

While the new season introduces a few new characters, the series doesn’t feel bloated by them, and it maintains a careful balance with who appears in what episode. The series is mostly episodic, although a couple of short spans of episodes are graced with ongoing plots and themes. The aforementioned episodes with Peorth are undoubtedly a highlight of the season. But a loose, Urd-centric, eight-episode arc leading up to the end of the series is also very entertaining. In that arc, the half-goddess, half-demon is split into two, Captain Kirk-style, by the troublemaking demon Marller, allowing for a decent combination of dramatic and comedic moments.

While taken on their own, the second season’s episodes make for cute and diverting stories, there is also the feeling that these are merely highlights of a much greater whole (perhaps on display in the original manga). As such, while the series has many strengths, it does seem on a few occasions that it is lacking in terms of character-building scenes, particularly with the newer secondary characters, many of whom have the potential to be just as interesting as the main ones.

The series is presented in anamorphic widescreen and has a very clear picture, no doubt helped by the actual animation quality, which is very respectable for a television series. There are the obvious shortcuts like panning and zooming shots for the characters, but there is also a decent amount of good-looking character animation, although the production values overall could best be described as average, particularly with the rather plain backgrounds seen in the vast majority of the episodes. Not helping matters visually are the final two episodes, originally released direct-to-video, which noticeably have more animation shortcuts than the preceding 22 episodes of the season. On the audio front, both sub and dub sound very clean, with the dub featuring well-cast actors who fit their roles perfectly.

Ah! My Goddess season two is ultimately an entertaining show, and fans of the franchise will have nothing to worry about. Even for fresh audiences it’s very easy to get into, and while not containing sustained crazy hijinks up to the levels seen in Tenchi Muyo for instance, it is still a suitably pleasurable series to sit down and watch after the end of a long day.

As yet another in Funimation’s increasingly ubiquitous small and handy complete series boxsets of former ADV series, Ah! My Goddess Season 2 comes as an attractively priced and indeed recommend series, a definite cut above most similarly themed shows, even if it is still a little bland.

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