Ah! My Goddess - Love Unwanted?

by Aaron Bynum

If there is one concept in this world that I am honestly hesitant to jump right into and submerge my mind, it probably deals with the topic of love. I know that I'm not the only person concerned with either being scared of finding "the wrong one" rather than "the right one," or the only person already within a relationship that is on thin ice or dangerous waters (pick your euphemism) and looking to test that relationship accordingly. Nevertheless, it is indecisive ideas like these that make me wonder why I don't watch Ah! My Goddess: The Movie more often. An anime film keen on love, faith, interdependence and emotional awareness, it is a movie with great insight, yet very little recognition of its value.

The premise of the movie is a dramatic tale of what to do when there is trouble in paradise. The background, as fans of the manga or OVAs may already know, is that first class goddess Belldandy lives on earth with a nice guy named Keiichi. A meeting first brought about by a wrong phone number flourishes into a deeply romantic relationship between goddess and human. Ah! My Goddess: The Movie continues the story of Keiichi and Belldandy, but with a rather substantial hurdle. Belldandy's former childhood mentor, Celestin has returned from supposed eternal incarceration to reclaim power within the heavens, as well as within Belldandy's heart. Taking a slightly different approach to the Ah! My Goddess franchise, the film relies less on comedic interaction and more on its characters' emotional wavelengths to propel the story.

I find that the themes of being wary of whom you love, measuring one's faith in another, and of hints of "true love", are themes that are not taken lightly despite the film's brightly animated fašade.

It is important to note the dynamics of the two characters Keiichi and Belldandy before assessing their relationship. I want to show that despite their picture-perfect personalities, there are faults, and yet, despite such faults, the two manage to display what I understand as harmony. In any case, Keiichi Morisato, simply put, is a casual, nice guy. One can criticize that he is too kind and perhaps too sensitive for the stereotypically strong and overly masculine male, but it is important to note that Keiichi is also an inquisitive and often determined individual at heart. Likewise, Belldandy is a soft-spoken girl, also very kind. A perfect fit in respect to whom they are as people. What I think can be learned from gross observation is that in this movie their relationship is an active evaluation of trust and friendship.

I know that in today's world of dating and courtship, there's a hell of a lot of emphasis on how good the couple wants to look with one another than there is on how secure the couple should be with one another. There is a battle between the concepts of the socially compatible and the emotionally trustworthy; and unfortunately, I feel that there are too many people that cannot discriminate between the two. Keiichi and Belldandy is an example -albeit fictional- of a couple capable of understanding one another on many different levels. Belldandy may be a gorgeous goddess, but she still becomes jealous when she sees another gal with her man. Keiichi may be an innovative collegiate, but he is still very prone to fear and anxiety. The romance between the two is found in their understanding of one another's self-deceiving alternate personas, and in their careful actions to help the other person when their soul aches from within and cries with unsettling sorrow, while still wary of coming off as one driven by wishful thinking or infatuation.

Yet there is a concept lost amongst such reasoning. Even through careful scrutiny of another person's emotional stability (or the lack thereof), there is still a very high probability of misconception. Very few actions and opinions have more destructive effects on relationships than misinterpretations and ill-fated observations that neglect the sentimental satisfactions that one's significant other mutually seeks. In Ah! My Goddess: The Movie, misconceptions come to the foreground when Celestin comes into the picture. Now let's put this situation into modern terms: You and your significant other are courting happily for relatively three years, and your connection with each other is both familiar and memorable. Then the bitter and resentful ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend comes back to snatch away your significant other because they feel that they need a second chance after seriously spoiling the first. This is a very typical situation in today's world, especially in a country where one out of every two marriages ends in divorce. Sometimes the "third party", whom you have never met before, suddenly becomes your enemy because of some fragmented anger and jealousy. But instead of quitting at this point, it is important to assess why the third party wants back in and why they cannot be let back in. Yet is it possible to see that third party was never estranged in the first place?

This is where I note how long-lasting relationships do not work. Relationships do not work well when based on whimsical and wishful thinking and/or an infatuation stemming from a mindset devoid of sincerity. Guys, would you want your life partner to be a gal whose understanding of romance is a fanciful and antiquated ideology, a gal extremely liable to fall to vague insecurities and another man who just happens to fit into a universalized puzzle? Ladies, would you want your life partner to be a guy whose understanding of trust and faith is a superfluous illusion and distortion of reality, a guy whose theme song to life is reminiscent of "Jade" on the second Macross Plus OST, who expresses affection only arbitrarily? Highly unlikely.

One of the most significant scenes of the anime film involves two people and a motorbike. A scene that has as much tension and angst as it does warm-heartedness, and as much indecisiveness as it does emotional reassurance. During the night, Keiichi is driving home, with Belldandy in the side-passenger car. Keiichi is playing over and over again in his mind recently aroused doubts concerning he and his girlfriend's true significance to one another. He can't stand the fact that his relationship is being picked apart by the third party's deceptive interference, nor the fact that at times even he doubts his own ability to be a reliable companion. As his anger rises, he accelerates the vehicle, faster and faster. With unrest increasing, Belldandy tries to steady herself. A sharp turn in the road approaches, and sensing his inability to make it, the goddess opens her wings and pulls the two of them from the motorbike before it slams into the guard rail, saving their lives. Keiichi realizes this, and he sees the wrecked vehicle sitting there, newly ineffective yet symbolic of all of his anger. He observes the irony of Belldandy saving him when in fact it was jumbled thoughts of her that caused Keiichi to accelerate. Silently, he begins to wheel the bike by walking the rest of the way home, silently and sighing, because he is afraid of expressing his true sorrow. This all changes when Belldandy, without being asked, sweet-heartedly helps push the motorbike and asks: "It can be repaired, right?" And with a half-sigh, Keiichi comprehends that despite his weaknesses in their relationship, his significant other will remains strong in his place, to which he replies: "Yeah, I'm sure I can fix it."

I find that in the absence of ambition, solemnity arises, and with the lack of emotional awareness, one is primed to fall to lies and deception. This can be countered with a yearning for experience, the experience of one's growing faith in his or her significant other, and the experience of a true love.

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