The co-founder of last year's rocky Japan Expo 1st Impact talks about all the dramatic changes to this year's event, what went wrong last time and what to expect from this year's show at the San Mateo Event Center.
Reviewby Bamboo Dong, Nov 23rd 2002
Oh My Goddess!
Morisato Keiichi's life radically changes one day when Belldandy suddenly appears out of a mirror and into his life. She grants him one wish, and thinking it's a joke, Keiichi asks that she stay by his side as his girlfriend. He later discovers that she's a real Goddess, and the story follows the growing romance between the two, as well as their adventures with the other people that are a part of their lives.
Ah! Megamisama, translated as Oh My Goddess!, was originally a manga by Fujishima Kousuke. It was later made into a five episode OVA, which is currently available in the United States through AnimEigo. The first three episodes are contained on the first DVD, as well as a few extras. Among these bonuses is a slideshow with production cels, and artwork slides, which features some extremely artwork, making this a terrific extra for all fans of Fujishima's work. Another nice bonus is the choice of choosing between two alternate audio tracks, one that has only the music and sound effects, and one that has commentaries by a few of the actors and the voice director. The commentaries given by the actors are rather useless, as they don't talk about anything important; rather, just strings of stream-of-consciousness babble. For fans of the voice actors, though, the track is a nice chance to hear a few of the characters talk amongst each other regarding various scenes. AnimEigo's classic liner notes also carried an interesting perk. After they discussed the background of the manga, they go on to give the viewer a brief lesson in pronouncing Japanese names, which is very thoughtful and well written.
One of the most charming aspects about Oh My Goddess! that has earned it so many fans is the sheer heart-warming feeling it exudes. Even when the characters are arguing, or engaged in mindless tasks, it is hard for viewers to refrain from smiling. The characters always seem so earnest with each other, and the emotions that they feel are presented in such an honest way that it enhances the overall lighthearted atmosphere of the episodes. The plot of the series itself is nothing extraordinary, given the rushed feeling of presenting a story within the confines of five episodes. In fact, the story would have been given a much better treatment had the series been longer, but the hurried story doesn't lessen the joy of the viewing experience any. The good qualities of the series lie not in the story, but the way the characters interact with one another in the story. Regardless of what is happening in the script, though, the feeling of cheer that is derived from the series can still only be described as nothing but heart-warming.
While the art of the series is beautiful, the physical quality of it is not as wondrous. This is to say that the cels themselves are slightly deficient in aesthetic beauty. Upon inspection, the cel lines are not traced as well as could be possible, making them appear faded at times. Also, the cels seem flat in a sense that they seem to stick out from the background. It is interesting to note as well that in the first episode, an article of Belldandy's clothing changes color midway through due to an inconsistency of cel coloring. Nitpicky nuances aside, the art can still be classified as beautiful. The backgrounds are nicely drawn, and the character's facial expressions are carefully done to show a variety of emotions. The animation is fluid, but not excessively so, as jerkiness can still be seen. However, none of the aforementioned jerkiness detracts from the pleasure of viewing the episodes, so it can be easily excused.
One particularly nice aspect about the OVAs is the music, both instrumental and vocal. The instrumental tracks used in the episodes are relaxing at times, and lyrical at others, with pieces ranging from quiet piano interludes to orchestral ensembles. This is such a series that one can play the soundtrack to over and over again and instantly be reminded of memorable scenes and the precise emotions that the viewer felt while watching them. The overall feeling of the music is one of a mix of happiness, cheer, sadness, and just heartfelt emotion. It makes the all-music audio track a welcome one, where viewers can just play the DVD in the background while listening to the music. Another nice addition to the music is the vocal tracks in the episodes, namely the opening and ending themes. The opening theme is overtly happy, while the ending is just purely pleasant. The lyrics to the ending, which is luckily printed with the liner notes, are very romantic, and while contrast slightly with the ultra-lighthearted nature of the song, only add to the heart-warming feeling of the series. The songs are given their beautiful voices by the Goddess Family Club, comprised of the Japanese voice actresses for the three goddesses, and it is easy to see how they quickly became such fan favorites.
Since one of the enticing parts of the series is the interaction between the characters, it is very relieving that the voices are done well on both the Japanese and English dialogue tracks. Both casts voice the characters with emotion, laced with the feelings of cheery goodwill that prevail throughout the episodes. The scenarios that the characters face, as well as the manner in which they deal with them, are reflected well in the actor's voices. The one minor oddity about the language tracks, however, is the English script. The original Japanese script is translated faithfully for the most part, except for the fact that many of the lines are written so that they have language that appears more trendy and more along the ways of American vernacular. While this doesn't change the script meaning, it's just amusing that this was done. Another tiny issue with the dub was that in a few parts, the words didn't match the character's lips as well as they could have, but this is understandable and excusable, given the small quantity of deviation.
Overall, Oh My Goddess! is one of those anime series that almost every fan seems to know about. It comes as no surprise that a vast majority of those fans that have seen the series have only words of praise for it. The OVA, though short, is full of vivid emotion and leaves viewers with a feeling of happiness whenever the characters solve their problems. The music is beautiful and lyrical, and matches the emotions portrayed on the screen perfectly. While the five-episode frame seems far too short for the series, it is nevertheless still very enjoyable to watch. Besides, with only two discs to buy to own the complete series, it is the perfect way for almost any anime fan to be inducted into the Oh My Goddess! fan club.
Overall (dub) : B
Overall (sub) : B
Story : C+
Animation : C
Art : C
Music : A-
+ Heart-warming series with beautiful music
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