Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
Ah My Buddha
DVD - Complete Collection
Ikkou Satonaka harbors a great spiritual power within him, but he only has access to it when he becomes sexually aroused. In order to train that power – or at least learn to keep it from surfacing and taking him over – his family sent him to train at his grandmother's Buddhist temple. (Un?)fortunately, Gran's also training six lovely young ladies to be nuns, and they're kind of in the dark as to the dangerous consequences of Ikkou's powers running amok. With all of those female bodies so close by, does Ikkou have a prayer of training his powers?
If you like harem shows about a hapless guy who gets beaten up for little-to-no reason, lots of breasts and bottoms, and panty shots galore...you probably still won't like this show. Originally released by Media Blasters and now rescued and re-released by Right Stuf under their Lucky Penny label, Ah My Buddha is a slog to get through. Suffering from an English dub that never quite works, a premise that doesn't fully explain itself until the final disk, and an unwillingness to really own its fanservice, this show has potential, but never really lives up to it, which really is a shame.
The basic plot of Ah My Buddha (retitled by Media Blasters to reference Kousuke Fujishima's Ah! My Goddess; the original title is Amaenaide yo!!, or Don't Spoil Me) is that sixteen-year-old Ikkou Satonaka harbors the awesome powers of legendary priest Saizen, but he can only access them when he becomes sexually aroused. Until that point, he's a bumbling mess of a monk, barely able to chant an effective sutra and generally viewed as a bit of a burden by the six lithe young ladies who also live at the temple. This, of course, may be due to the fact that each girl holds the power of one of the six Bodhisattvas of the lower realms, making them all incredibly powerful themselves. And in any event, should they need Ikkou's power to exorcise a particularly difficult spirit, they have only to expose their bodies to waken his skills. What they don't know, however – and neither do we until far too late in the series – is that this use of Ikkou's powers could be detrimental to him, which is why he was sent to the temple in the first place.
As a premise goes, that's certainly no worse than other harem stories, and it is certainly rife with the possibility of fanservice. Where Ah My Buddha doesn't deliver, however, is precisely there. Until episode thirteen, we see more male nipples than female (and when they do show up, they're day-glo pink), and with the exception of one early episode most of what we see are the bulbous slopes of breasts bulging out of robes, which is really pretty tame given that you can see that as part of a character's regular costume design in a non-fanservice show. (Half the female cast of Bleach comes to mind.) As the show goes on, the fanservice does increase, however, and by the second half (technically the second season of the show), the prurient content has upped dramatically. Whether or not it is worth the first half to get to non-detailed nudity and episode 18's uncensored shot of a nun showing off her (hairless) outer labia is entirely up to your tolerance for the rest of what Ah My Buddha has to offer.
The second half, Amaenaide yo!! Katsu!!, is decidedly stronger than the first. This is in terms of both plot and presentation, and it mostly owes to the introduction of semi-evil seductress nun Kazuki, who wishes to unleash the consequences of Ikkou's powers for reasons unknown until the second-to-last episode. With Kazuki's entrance on the scene, main romantic interest Chitose is forced to think about her feelings for Ikkou, which helps to develop her character a bit and certainly moves the plot along. Season two also looks back at what landed the girls at the temple in the first place, and in the case of Hinata, the loli of the group, this consists of some interesting storytelling and emotional content. While the first half of the show makes attempts at this – the episode with Hinata's older sister Sakura stands out in this area – one gets the feeling that it really hit its stride with the second thirteen episodes.
Animation tends towards the cheap, but it isn't particularly bad. What's more troubling is that in still shots characters are often off-model and the girls' eyelashes (especially Haruka's) tend to bear a distinct resemblance to spider legs. Colors are consistently sharp and clear, however, and each girl's figure is different, even if that opens the door for some troubling commentary on how Yuko is unattractive because she has small breasts and doesn't wear make-up. (That she is a tomboy is also considered a detraction.) The Japanese language track, while it doesn't give the actors a whole lot to work with, is competently done, which is rather more than we can say about the English dub. It is rarely a good sign when the main character's actor takes a pseudonym – in this case the rather obvious Dick Smallberries Jr. – and in this case one can certainly understand the decision. The dub is consistently stilted and awkwardly phrased, at times feeling too close to the subtitle track rather than adapted for spoken English. Somehow “Ikkou” becomes “Ikku” when pronounced by the dub cast, and emphasis and affect seem off.
If you are looking for a new fanservice show, this is probably not the way to go. While the second half shows marked improvement, the first half feels phoned in and is far more dull than it should be, and even the second part takes too long to explain what's really going on. It hits all of the required episodes – hot springs, baby, school festival, etc – but doesn't do any of them especially well. Add to that a poor dub and some uncomfortable moments with Sumi, who appears to be molested off-camera at one point and at another few has some awkwardly sexual encounters with animals, and you have a show that's kind of a mess, and that's really a shame. Ah My Buddha teases us with a decent premise, but ultimately does not deliver.
Overall (dub) : D-
Overall (sub) : D
Story : D
Animation : C-
Art : C
Music : C
+ Bright and sharp colors and designs, each girl has her own look and personality. Things pick up in the second half and the show starts owning its fanservice.
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