Reviewby Theron Martin, May 8th 2007
Ah! My Goddess: Flights of Fancy
DVD 1 - Everyone Has Wings
With the Lord of Terror crisis now past, things return to normal at the temple where Keiichi and the goddesses live. The only problem: the contract that Keiichi originally made with Belldandy was lost in the system problems resulting from the Lord of Terror incident, and so must be reinitialized. But Keiichi cannot remember the exact words! Sayoko has also not given up on winning Keiichi over and proving Belldandy a fool, for she feels empty with that victory denied her, but the bond between Keiichi and Belldandy proves difficult to break. The cooling weather and approaching Christmas inspire both Belldandy and Keiichi to come up with a special gift for the other, one imbued with the strength of the giver's feelings for the recipient. And can Keiichi survive the experience when the faultlessly pure Belldandy accidentally gets intoxicated?
The problem with creating a perfectly pleasant series about a perfectly pleasant couple is that it can too easily become perfectly dull, and that is the trap that the first volume of Flights of Fancy has fallen into. It works so hard to maintain the mood and spirit of the source material that it neglects to make its characters and situations actually interesting. Sure, Keiichi and Belldandy are one of the sweetest anime couple ever, but they have also grown boring. A drunk Belldandy in episode 4 does offer some amusement, but beyond that all of the content involving the two of them is just one sweet-hearted scene reaffirming their love after another. Some fans may continue to eat that stuff up, but for others it will quickly become tedious (if it hasn't already). The ongoing squabbling between Urd and Skuld, which seems magnified in intensity here compared to the manga, also becomes tiresome before the volume is done.
The most entertaining parts through these episodes usually come when other characters are involved. Megumi always brightens things up with her sly comments about her brother's relationship with Belldandy, and Urd is delightful when not bickering with Skuld, but Sayoko steals the show in episode 2, which focuses on her newest efforts to win Keiichi's attention and the lessons she seems to learn in the process. Her vain attempts to outdo Belldandy in the performance pieces in episode 4 also merit a few laughs. Other guest stars from the first season make brief but meaningful reappearances, and the opening and closing visuals suggest that a few other characters from the manga who have yet to appear in series animation (most notably Peorth and Hild) may show up this season. Those familiar with the manga will discover that, like most of the first series, this one also jumps around quite a bit in its adaptations of stories from the manga.
The first series wasn't a brilliant artistic effort but never suffered for lack of artistic merit, and this one is no different. It offers the same pleasant, well-defined characters designs, regular costume changes for Urd and especially Belldandy (one almost gets the feeling of her being a dress-up doll), and the same decent level of background art. It does not get many opportunities to look flashy, but does generally look good. The animation, as before, is merely adequate, with sparse use of CG effects.
The soundtrack uses more or less the same kind of themes used in the first season, with the first-season opener and one of the first-season closers appearing during episode 4 as songs sung by Belldandy and Sayoko. Yoko Ishida, who provided the opening and first closing themes for the first series, writes and sings two new numbers for the opener and closer of this one. Both are quite solid numbers well-suited to the style and content of the show, with the bagpipe-themed opener “Color of Happiness!” arguably being her best effort since Ai Yori Aoshi's “Eternal Flower.” (And the nice little artistic touches which make it look like Belldandy is singing and playing parts of it don't hurt.)
English casting consistency between its various anime incarnations has always been an issue for the franchise, but fortunately ADV retained NYAV Post and the entire English dub cast from the first TV series when they picked up the license for this one. This means the good performances from the first series are back (Vibe Jones as Urd) as well as the questionable ones (Annice Moriarty as Skuld). How this dub compares to previous ones in the franchise still comes down to a matter of personal taste, although Eileen Stevens (as Belldandy) and Karen Neill (as Sayoko) both demonstrate a fair talent for singing in performing the English versions of the themes from the first TV series. Mark Diraison, who also voices Toshiyuki, proves capable as the new ADR director, while veteran English VA Tiffany Grant provides an English script as close as is reasonable to the subtitles. The one concern: Belldandy regularly refers to Keiichi as “Mr. Keiichi,” which is obviously intended to be an equivalent to “Keiichi-san” but sounds a bit awkward in execution.
ADV rarely shorts their DVD releases on Extras, and does not do so here. In addition to typical entries like clean opener and closer and an art gallery set to music, it offers a commentary on the first episode done by the English VAs for Keiichi and Belldandy. Whether or not listening to the commentary is worth your time is questionable since it comes off as stiff and ill-informed.
The first volume of the second series pretty much offers more of the same from the first series: a mild, pleasant, and bland blend of romance and comedy long on sugar but short on spice. A sweet tooth may be required to fully appreciate it.
Overall (dub) : B-
Overall (sub) : B-
Story : C+
Animation : B-
Art : B
Music : B+
+ English cast carried over, quality theme songs.
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