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Got Game?

by Wilma Jandoc

Sunday, April 7, 2002


art
PIONEER
"Ah! My Goddess: The Movie" follows up on the story of the goddess Belldandy and college student Keiichi Morisato.



‘OMG’ adventures finally
released in U.S.


By Wilma Jandoc
wjandoc@starbulletin.com

There must be a god.

Rather, a goddess.

More specifically, three goddesses.

The topic of one of my first columns was the anime "Oh My Goddess!" and I lamented the fact that neither the follow-up movie nor its cute "Mini-Goddess Adventures" were released stateside.

But lo and behold, the greater forces were indeed working, and within a year we saw the release of both.

The simply titled "Ah! My Goddess: The Movie" takes place two years after the goddess Belldandy of the Goddess Help Line, in answering college student Keiichi Morisato's misdialed phone call, came to stay to fulfill Keiichi's wish that she remain with him forever.

Now the fairy Morgan has released a medallion from a lunar prison that holds the spirit of Celestin, Belldandy's teacher in her youth. He was banished for attempting to overthrow the current divine establishment because, he said, it caused pain to mortals.

He tried to convince Belldandy to join his crusade by showing her the legendary Judgment Gate, created by the gods as a test for couples of mixed worlds -- such as a goddess and a mortal man. (Sound familiar?)

If either one has doubts or their love is not true, then they will be separated for all time -- a test no one has ever passed.

This, he says, is how the gods keep the worlds in disharmony. Celestin wants to create a new world in which everyone has equal happiness.

Celestin's target is the heavens' vast computer network Yggdrasil. Using Belldandy's system link, Celestin sends a virus into Yggdrasil and puts the goddess in a coma that erases her memories of her life with Keiichi.

With Belldandy being manipulated by Celestin, Keiichi and the goddess' sisters must restore Belldandy's memories and stop Celestin.

The movie shifts into a vastly different gear from the original anime, forcing the sisters to don their war gear and fight each other with angels that represent their inner spirits. It's no longer a romantic comedy and gives plenty of action instead.

Each goddess's personality expands in the movie. Belldandy, beset by the turmoil of her hidden memories, is no longer the sickeningly sweet ditz. Urd casts off her mischievous matchmaking and becomes the protective eldest sister. Skuld matures from a jealous adolescent into a caring, concerned young goddess.

What's most striking is how the movie -- and, in fact, the entire series -- perfectly meshes divinity and technology: Instead of "spellcasting," the goddesses run programs and access data.

On more technical terms, the animation is choppy. But video-game music fans have a treat: The movie's soundtrack is done by Nobuo Uematsu (composer of most of the music for the "Final Fantasy" games) and Shirou Hamaguchi, who has done arrangements of "Final Fantasy" music.

The DVD movie includes the first episode of the "Mini-Goddess Adventures," of which the first 12 episodes were released on a separate DVD. The adventures are based on a series of four-panel comic strips also done by OMG creator Kosuke Fujishima.

The first anthology, subtitled "The Gan-chan Files," features mainly mini-Urd, mini-Skuld and a rat named Gan-chan, who is the unfortunate recipient of the goddesses' bungled attempts at helping him at whatever situation he's in.

The adventures are pure slapstick and full of typical anime elements: wide, sparkly eyes, exaggerated emotions and oh-so-cute expressions.

But thank god. If these further OMG adventures never made it outside Japan, it would have been a sin.




Wilma Jandoc covers the universe
of video games and anime for the
Star-Bulletin. She can be emailed at
wjandoc@starbulletin.com



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