Review: Ah! My Goddess (2000)

Directed by:
Cast: , , ,

Distributed in Australia by:

It’s so hard to dislike this movie even though there are a few things I’m not particularly overjoyed with. But let’s not start there…

Let’s start with Keiichi and Belldandy, the two central characters in this movie. We are looking at Keiichi and Belldandy after their first meeting — 3 years ago he dials for fast food and gets the Goddess hotline, and ends up with a goddess for life instead — how lucky is he? Very lucky. The goddess is Belldandy who looks ‘perfect’. Wait, she is perfect. She is Mother Teresa and a Victoria Secret model rolled into one. She cooks, she cleans, she sings and wait for it, she has superpowers. Not too shabby for a wrong number, huh?

Excuse the sarcasm folks but did a boy come up with this concept? For those who really care, yes, the boy is Kosuke Fujishima who also created You’re Under Arrest.

Ahem.. back to the review.

Of course, that is what it seems on the surface but as it is with shoujo anime, the central character [usually dorky and hopeless] goes through a period of self-discovery through his association with a more mature and capable female character [thanks to Heroic’s anime expert Deni for setting me straight!] Obviously Belldandy didn’t just become Keiichi’s girlfriend instantly when he accidentally dialed the hotline, it was clear that Keiichi and Belldandy have gone through a lot of emotional growth and self-discovery in the series so my sarcasm is only partly justified. Hmphh…

Even if you haven’t seen the earlier series it’s still pretty easy to get into the movie. And I was into it… but annoyed at the same time. Oh the dilemma, on one hand I was insulted [as any modern girl with half a feminist backbone would be] by its concept, on the other hand the movie is so well done. It was quite easy to be engrossed in Goddess’ ethereal world — the stunning backgrounds, really lovely animation and the loving attention to detail is obvious and could rival those of Miyazaki’s work. Pretty high call I know but Ah! My Goddess succeeds very well on the technical level — everything from the choice of colours to the music is pretty darn good and appropriate to the content of the story.

The movie picks up 3 years after their initial meeting — Belldandy and Keiichi are now living in perfect harmony until the arrival of Celestin, Belldandy’s mentor. He has just escaped from prison and wants to change the world. Uh oh. You can tell he means business too with his long spiky hair and deep voice. He uses Belldandy to infect the Goddess System [imagine it being like a computer system] with a virus. As a consequence Belldandy loses her memories of her time with Keiichi. Can Keiichi, Urd and Skuld [Belldandy’s sisters] manage to save the Goddess System from destruction and restore Belldandy’s memories?

Fans of the OAV will be quite chuffed — the movie delves more into Belldandy’s
world in Heaven, her childhood and the structure of the goddess system itself. So if you have been following the series then you’ll be in for a treat — there is much background history to savour. As it is there are plenty to appreciate — the score for the movie is quite wonderful. The character design for the supporting characters, especially the fairy princess Morgan, is exceptional.

It’s also very dramatic from start to finish, well paced for most of the movie. If there was a criticism I could make it would be that Ah! My Goddess plays it a little too safe and conventional at times — the movie is not all sweetness and light, I admit, but the angst isn’t quite potent enough, there is hardly any sexual tension to speak of and the philoshophy is a smidgen too tame and gets a little too preachy during the finale.

However, die hard fans will love this and first timers will think it’s a fine piece of work.

I would have loved this a bit more if it wasn’t for the [too] many saccharine and coy scenes of Belldandy playing with kittens, singing with birds and talking about treasuring the precious life on earth. Otherwise it would be perfect, like Belldandy! we go again…

PS: Those who want to explore the themes a bit more could perhaps check out Chobits also released by Madman, but produced by CLAMP who are an all female production team. Chobits has a similar story of boy who acquires female slave … I mean companion.

7 busted angel wings out of 10.
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