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Ah! My Goddess TV #1: Always and Forever PDF Print E-mail
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R2 DVD Reviews
Tuesday, 08 May 2007 17:00
Ah! My Goddess TVIf you've been an anime fan for more than about five years, I pretty much guarantee you won't need to read much this review - Ah! My Goddess is one of the best-known manga series of all time, with the original OVA anime series & subsequent movie both carrying the tag of 'classic'.  It's now finally made the trip to the small screen - and there are a lot of expectations on the new series.  Can it live up to the reputation of its predecessors?

1 - Ah! You're A Goddess?
Keiichi Morisato is a fairly typical college student, who's sadly stuck in a low-rent dorm (males only) with a bunch of very abnormal fellow students.  He has to deal with the usual ups and downs of everyday life, but mostly it's the downs - today, his bike has broken down, he's been turned down (in public) by the girl of his dreams, and his friends from the Auto Club are determined to 'help' him skip class to join their fundraising campaign.  But his luck's about to change, when a phone call he makes is re-routed to the Goddess Help Line - and to Belldandy, Goddess First Class...

FailureBelldandy arrives

2 - Ah! Those Who Believe Shall Find Salvation!
"I came down from Heaven to grant your wish", or so Belldandy tells him, but Keiichi's having an understandably hard time believing her - it's not every day that a Goddess First Class appears in your flat.  With introductions out of the way, and Keiichi finally convinced that Belldandy's telling the truth, it's time for him to make his wish.  Talking with Belldandy has put an idea in his head: wouldn't she make a great girlfriend?  So even though he has the chance to ask for untold riches or world destruction, Keiichi keeps it simple: "I'd like a goddess like you to stay by my side forever".  To his amazement (and to Belldandy's initial confusion), his wish is accepted.  One small problem: about that 'no women' rule in his dorm...

Global destruction, sir?Wish accepted

3 - Ah! Apprenticeship, Home and the Goddess!
Somehow, living in a ruined car isn't all it's cracked up to be, even when you're sharing the car with Belldandy.  Come morning (after a lot of counting of sheep), Keiichi decides it's time to start looking for a proper place to live.  There's also the matter of trying to persuade Belldandy that using her goddess powers in public may not be a good thing.  As far as a place to stay goes, a local Bhuddist temple provides an opportunity, but the priest has his suspicions about Belldandy...

New landlordHolybell

4 - Ah! The Queen and the Goddess!
With the matter of living arrangements all sorted out, it's back to college for Keiichi - with Belldandy in tow, as she's not keen on the idea of being left at home alone.  The problem with turning up for class with a beautiful girl, is that it's bound to draw attention, and not all of it good - campus hottie Sayoko Mishima (Keiichi's former object of obsession) isn't happy at having her fanclub take an interest in Balldandy instead, and takes steps to make sure she remains the #1 girl on campus.  Shame no-one told her about the System Force that kicks in whenever someone tries to separate Keiichi from Belldandy...

No longer center of attentionMaking her move

5 - Ah! Living Under One Roof Together!

Keiichi's having a hard time persuading people that he & Belldandy are living together entirely innocently - pretty much everyone assumes that since they're living together, they're an item.  It gets Keiichi to thinking about exactly what sort of relationship he has with her, though - is she just following through on her contract, or does she really have feelings for him?  The best thing to do would be for him to just confess his feelings to her - but his previous experience of being turned down by Mishima makes that easier said than done...

You're living together!?Frustration

If you've seen the OVA series this will all look a bit familiar.  Rather than carrying on from where the OVA left off, the TV series opts to start over again, and this time around is able to linger over the details of Keiichi's story.  Old-timers will also note that the character designs have changed slightly - less detailed and cuter than the original designs (and showing the development the manga designs have gone through over time), they're very easy on the eye.  The original OVA cast has also been retained, which is quite an achievement after so long.  It all adds up to a release that long-time fans of the series will love.

For newer anime fans, at first glance it's maybe not such an easy choice.  Ah! My Goddess at heart is a harem series (most of the other girls Keiichi has to deal with haven't arrived yet, but they'll be here soon) – back in 1993 when the OVA was released, they weren't hugely common, but nowadays they're ten a penny, so if you didn't know the history of the series you could maybe be forgiven for complaining about a lack of originality – even though many of the more recent shows of the genre take at least some of their inspiration from A!MG.  

The series does enough to stand out from the harem crowd, though, through its high production values and a cast that you really can't help but love, even though they play to all the stereotypes you'd expect.  There's a genuine warmth and interplay between the characters that's a joy to watch and gives the series a feel that very few shows manage to achieve.  The comic scenes are genuinely funny and don't feel forced, while the more touching moments between Belldandy and Keiichi are very well written and usually manage to tug gently on the heartstring without making you feel that you're being shamelessly manipulated by the writers.

The end result is hugely enjoyable.  A!MG has had such a following and high profile over the years that there were plenty of high expectations that surrounded this new project, and I'm happy to say that, so far at least, the TV series looks set to live up to them.  Older fans won't be disappointed by how the story is being handled, and those new to the story should find plenty here to make the series worthwhile viewing.

To be honest, A!MG TV would have needed to have been a complete disaster for me to write it off at this stage.  My interest in the storyline is great enough that I want to see more of it in animated form, and this series finally gives me the chance to do that.  Add in the high production values and the way the story is being handled, and I'm very happy with this release.  I just hope the high quality is maintained.  In the meantime, though, this volume comes very highly recommended.

Rating - ****

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