Reviewby Allen Divers,
Ah! My Goddess: The Movie
It's been 3 years since Belldandy came to live with Keiichi. Now, Celestin, a man from Belldandy's past, threatens Keiichi and Belldandy's bond as well as the entire Goddess System. Celestin, Belldandy's mentor, has returned from imprisonment with a plan to infect the Goddess System with a virus. Key to that plan is Belldandy. But to use her in his plan, Celestin must destroy the ties that bind Belldandy and Keiichi together.
Based on the manga of the same name, Ah! My Goddess: The Movie brings the adventures of Belldandy and Keiichi to the big screen. Having previously animated in a 5 part OVA series, the events of the movie take place 3 years after Belldandy and Keiichi meet. Pioneer does justice to the widescreen nature of the movie with a smooth anamorphic transfer that is accompanied with both a Japanese and English Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby surround sound tracks. Ah! My Goddess: The Movie is a tremendous complement to the Manga series it is based on.
Extras are pretty minimal, but are very complementary to the release. Featured is an art gallery with production stills and a preview of The Adventures of Mini-Goddess series. Also, the first series of releases featured a limited edition pencil pad featuring Belldandy on one side and Urd, Skuld and Peorth on the other. The DVD insert features character profiles for the 6 main characters as well as chapter stops for the DVD. The case is a clear case, with an image of Belldandy on the reverse of the cover. Some releases also feature a vibrant foil slip cover for the outer case with a different back image.
AIC, no slouch when it comes to great animation, creates a vibrant world of animation for the characters to play in. AIC mixes the traditional arts of cel animation with the more robust CGI graphics for smooth panning shots and a variety of detailed backgrounds. Hidenori Matsuhara handled both the character design and animation direction staying true to Kosuke Fujishima's original designs.
Both soundtracks come in 2 flavors, Dolby surround and Dolby Digital 5.1. Each track shares the same music and sound effects with no noticeable volume differences between them. Each cast is well suited to the roles and does a good job of bringing out each character's personality. The English dub cast is different from the cast used for the OAV releases. Both dubs do justice to the characters, so there is no real feeling of difference between the English casts. The script for the movie is very dramatic; with a lot of heart felt emotion driving the storyline. The English dub does a great job of maintaining the emotion set by the Japanese storyline, with only minor wording changes made for timing reasons. Music and singing are an essential part of the Belldandy character, and the actresses for both the Japanese and English soundtrack do a good job of bringing this characteristic out. The songs are simple in nature, but come out strong.
The peaceful life that makes up Belldandy and Keiichi's world is shattered with the reappearance of Belldandy's old mentor, Celestin. The plot takes on the initial appearance of a jealous lover come to seek revenge, but quickly grows to encompass something truly bigger. For new viewers, the movie may seem a bit overwhelming, thanks to an inclusion of number of characters seen only in the manga, but the dialogue and pacing helps answer most background questions. The basic relationships and interactions of all the characters are laid out fairly quickly giving viewers plenty of time to follow the plot. The entire movie moves quickly, despite its length and viewers are entangled from the beginning.
Ah! My Goddess: The Movie is a crowning achievement for the Ah! My Goddess franchise. It's original story stays faithful to the manga series, exploring the relationships established. Pioneer has done a great job with DVD release, giving fans a true treat. Hopefully the success of this great movie will lead to the creation of more animation based on the original manga.
+ Beautiful imagery and strong story
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