Released in North America by Pioneer Animation
, "The Adventures of Mini-Goddess
: the Belldandy Files" follows the adventures of the three goddesses and their rat companion, Gan-chan. What makes for half the fun is the fact that the goddesses are super-deformed
, which raises their cuteness factor at least ten times, by default. The second DVD volume contains twelve episodes, each averaging about ten minutes. It also comes with a few nice extras, including a non-text version of the ending theme song, "Phone Me, Darling." Among the features is an art gallery of Gan-chan, which features the rat in various poses and states of torture from the goddesses. There is also a character profile of Gan-chan, who seems to be the one that always gets picked on. In addition to the extras just on the disc, the DVD packaging also comes with a mini-poster featuring Belldandy shown at a 1:1 ratio in her super-deformed
mode. Altogether, the extras are nothing to get too excited about, but they're cute, which fits the rest of the disc well.
The episodes themselves are indescribable. The situations that the characters create for themselves are absolutely hilarious, including a reference to "The Legend of Drunken Master" and a brief scene mocking traditional Japanese theater. Although the volume is entitled "the Belldandy Files," the humor in the episodes is mainly provided by the antics of Urd, Skuld, and Gan-chan, who get in trouble enough to fill the entire disc with laughs and great lines. In a couple of the earlier episodes on the disc, there is also a recurring pun on the word "koi"; everytime the goddesses get sentimental over the concept of love, a giant carp will leap through the air. Actually, the episodes are rife with references to the Japanese language, or cultural items from around the world, which is great fun for viewers to identify. There were certain Japanese names though, that were left untranslated, which meant that anglophone viewers couldn't get the full 'Japanese-culture-reference' experience. Although Pioneer still did a good job with the subtitles, maybe translated names, or even a brief liner note somewhere on the DVD would have been extremely helpful. If viewers aren't into wit and slapstick humor, though, then "The Adventures of Mini-Goddess" probably wouldn't appeal to them, as the episodes are devoid of anything else. There is no real "plot" to speak of, but that's what makes the episodes fun. Each one is it's own mini-story, and overall, it provides viewers with a good time and a reason to laugh for 100 minutes.
One of the most appealing aspects of the episodes are the drop-dead cute character designs. The super-deformed nature of the goddesses allow them to show a wide range of emotions. In fact, it's common to see Urd in a state of ultimate rage contrasted with Belldandy's sweet countenance every few minutes. The characters are just cute, even Gan-chan at times, whose various poses and faces is guaranteed to make all but the most jaded viewers laugh. Granted, sometimes the SD-factor gets a little weird, as viewers sometimes are half-nagged by a voice in their head that asks why Belldandy's head is so freakishly large in contrast with the rest of her body. With the exception of those rare contemplations, the characters' appearances enhance the comedic tone of the series well.
Although the art is cute and fun to look at, the animation is nothing to drool over. The frame rate is rather slow, which makes the characters' movements a little jerky in places, as well as the awkward action of their flapping mouths. Considering the nature of the episodes, though, the animation can be excused. After all, the episodes were created to please Ah! Megami-sama fans, and make them laugh. The refreshing and quality content of the scenes is derived from the laughs, and not the animation. For the most part, unless one was viewing the series for the sole purpose of criticizing the animation fluidity, viewers are most likely too busy smiling and laughing to notice the animation flow, or lack thereof.
The Japanese voice cast performed well, giving the scenes the excellently performed emotion they deserved. Somehow, the actors managed to portray their characters so well, that even the voices seemed as though they were tailored for SD anime. The exaggerated facial expressions of the characters were matched perfectly with the voices. The English dub actors also performed especially well. They, also, managed to make their voices match the extreme emotions of the SD actors, and they delivered the lines in such a fashion that both enhanced the comedy and almost allowed one to forget that they were watching a dub. The English script matched the Japanese script well, and there were only a few minor scenes where the meaning of the words was slightly tweaked. The actors were cast well, and their voices just seemed to fit the characters. Overall, an impressive dub.
Pioneer did a splendid job on the second volume of "The Adventures of Mini-Goddess: the Belldandy Files." The packaging was done nicely, with cute extras, and large, clear subtitles that were easy to read. Of course, the good job done on this disc was aided tremendously by the episodes themselves. Produced for the purpose to please fans and make people laugh, the episodes hit their goal with room to spare. Ah! Megami-sama fans will be glad for the chance to see their favorite characters once again. Others will be glad for the chance to experience a light-hearted show guaranteed to make just about everybody smiles. Regardless of who you are, though, you should pick up this DVD. With this in the DVD player, it's virtually impossible to have a bad day.