Reviewby Theron Martin, Jul 18th 2007
Ah! My Goddess: Flights of Fancy
DVD 2 - I Only Want to Be With You
A money-making drive for the Auto Club leads to an unexpected development for Otaki: volunteering to repair her moped gives him a chance to hook up with Satoko, the pretty, gentle daughter of Nekomi Tech's president, much to the consternation of Aoshima but the encouragement of his friends. An apparent love letter left in his locker leads Keiichi to meet Shiho, a fledgling exorcist determined to get rid of the evil spirit possessing him. Though Urd regards her ability dubiously, the way she acts around Keiichi sparks a new feeling in Belldandy that she has difficulty coping with: jealousy. Things only get worse when Peorth, a rival First Class goddess from the Earth Help Center, arrives and insists that she is going to grant Keiichi's deepest wish, one that (she claims) Belldandy has not fulfilled. And she is aggressively determined not to leave or give up until she has completed her duty, much to Keiichi's dismay.
As if in response to complaints about the dullness of the first volume's contents, the second volume livens things up quite a bit by picking stories from across the original manga's run which introduce three new characters, feature cameos by a horde of supporting character standbys, and, perhaps most importantly, expand Belldandy's emotional range. One of her most adorable or annoying (take your pick) traits so far has been her utter faith in Keiichi and seeming incapability to feel threatened when other women make advances on him, but Shiho's arrival and attention in episode 6 changes that. Given her infallibly sweet nature, Belldandy understandably has a difficult time dealing with this new emotion, and as we quickly discover, a goddess with bottled-up emotions can have hazardous side effects. Something like this was hinted at in the Ah! My Goddess movie, but this is the first time it appears in series animation. For those getting their first exposure to the franchise via the TV series, it should help make her feel a bit more human despite the power output. It also may explain how she ends up so uncharacteristically plagued with doubt in the next two episodes.
Although sweetness and congeniality are the bread and butter of AMG, the series is usually most interesting when things get chaotic, and the arrival of Peorth in episode 7 certainly achieves that. Gone are the French affectations she tosses about in the manga (neither dub even makes an effort) or the sensible administrator side she shows in the movie; here she is in total full-of-herself bitch mode, alternately browbeating Belldandy in their one-sided conflict, trying to seduce Keiichi to fill his deepest wish (read: repressed sexual desires), putting down Urd and Skuld, or engaging in childish challenges with the other two goddesses. Since Urd spends most of this volume acting like the wise and observant big sister, Peorth's sexuality seems to have been played up to fill the vampiness vacuum left behind.
That can also be seen in the character designs. Although her look and outfit is 100% faithful to the design in the manga, Peorth's look is also every bit as sexy as Urd's at her sleaziest. Nearly all of the abnormally high level of fan service in this volume involves her. All other character designs are well-rendered, with good-looking but not garish outfits and new designs consistent in style with established ones; Satoko in particular looks charmingly pretty in an understated way. Quality background art also contributes to an overall pleasing look, but the rough animation quality continues to detract. It is the series' biggest weakness.
The soundtrack, which has normally been a strength for the TV series, falters in key action sequences as it descends into weak synthesizer-based numbers which resemble video game background music. In more gushy and light-hearted moments the woodwind-based ditties continue to work, but the dramatic quality drop-off in at least two places creates an uneven sound for the volume as a whole. The delightful bagpipe-influenced opener and country-leaning closer remain unchanged.
In an interesting bit of dub track gimmickry, NYAV Post has brought back Juliet Cesario – the English voice of Belldandy for the original anime (OVA) series – to voice the part of Peorth. (And to make it even more of an event, the Audio Commentary for episode 7 features both her and Eileen Stevens, the current voice of Belldandy, talking about their respective experiences with the role.) Her performance sounds nothing like her original work as Belldandy, instead taking on a bitchy quality which suits Peorth's original Japanese treatment well. All of the other new roles also find excellent matches for the original performances, while the returning cast maintains their tradition of performances that don't necessarily match the originals but certainly match the roles. The English script stays tight, only varying greatly in a couple of places. One nice touch certainly appropriate for American viewers: translating the name of Skuld's chain saw as “Texas Murder.”
In addition to the aforementioned audio commentary, the only other Extras the second volume offers are clean versions of the opener and closer. An artbox is also available.
Although it still emphasizes its lovey-dovey elements to almost gag-reflex extremes, the addition of new characters, new strife, and more character development make this volume a distinct improvement over the previous one. The writing still falls well short of the best titles out there, but these four episodes represent one of the better volumes of the TV series to date.
Overall (dub) : B
Overall (sub) : B
Story : B+
Animation : C+
Art : B+
Music : B
+ Arrival of Peorth, character designs.
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