Ah! My Goddess Vol. 2: Love Plus One
Just when Keiichi was coming to terms with having a beautiful goddess for a girlfriend, two unexpected visitors make his life all the more complex. First up is his younger sister, Megumi, who arrives to search for an apartment in Nekomi City before starting at the Nekomi Institute of Technology in the following spring. Then Belldandy's elder sister, Urd shows up, and all kinds of magical mayhem ensues!
This is the second DVD in the series to be released by Media Blasters. Presented in a strikingly white Amaray case, the cover is identical to the Japanese release, featuring Belldandy descending from Heaven into Keiichi's arms. The pink theme is continued on the back cover, with a synopsis of the DVD, as well as a collection of screenshots from the episodes.
While the packaging has been created with care once again, the disc itself is pretty bare. Aside from trailers for other Media Blasters anime titles, the only true extra is a textless closing. The interactive menus are nice, even though each one repeats the first bar of Yuko Ishida's Open Your Mind ~Chiisana Hane Hirogete~, which can get a little repetitive.
Continuing to follow the manga’s plot, episode six involves Belldandy and Keiichi trying to help Megumi in finding an apartment, which involves a run-in with an irate Earth Spirit. The next episode is a seasonal one, covering Valentine's Day and Belldandy's efforts to find a suitable place to give chocolates to Keiichi by soliciting help from Mishima Sayako.
Urd returns in the eighth episode, and viewers get their first look at Heaven and Belldandy's younger sister, Skuld, who does not appear until later on in the series. Urd is the Goddess of the Past, and she is a whiz with potions and love charms. Unfortunately, she decides to use her skills on Keiichi, which leads to an explosive conclusion.
Urd's presence also sends sparks flying in the penultimate episode, when she goes up against Sayako. The Campus Queen loses her title to the angelic Belldandy, and she becomes determined to unmask her as something other than human -- by kidnapping and torturing Keiichi!
The final episode centers on Belldandy. Aoshima, Sayako's partner in crime, has developed an obsession with everyone's favorite deity, so he challenges the Auto Club to a race against his own Four Wheels Club. The winner will gain Belldandy as their mascot. This episode gives us the first look at Belldandy's determined side; it also completes the Queen Sayako story arc.
The quality of the DVD transfer is excellent, and the Japanese audio track is pristine. I still have issues with the English track (Belldandy is still addressing Keiichi as 'Mr. Keiichi'), but if you can endure Media Blasters’ method of translating Japanese honorifics for five minutes, the English dub is actually quite good. The translation is close to the original, although it is changed in places, such as during the final episode, where one of the Japanese characters yells “Shit!” in English. This is changed to the less offensive “Damn it!” in the English audio track. The actual dub itself is well cast. Belldandy sounds innocent, while Urd has a throaty depth that is suggestive of a porn star, while Sayako is perfectly stuck-up and haughty, although I still prefer the cast who voiced the original OVAs.
There are a lot of comedic moments, from Urd's stand-off with Sayako in front of half of Nekomi Tech's student body to the sight of Keiichi's sempai dressed as a cheerleader (complete with lipstick!) doing the 'welcoming dance.’ The series also continues its parody of well-known companies and brands with 'Dack Daniels' whisky!
Fans of Ah! My Goddess will love the continuation of the television series, especially as the turnaround from broadcast on Japanese TV to American DVD release is less than six months, which has to be a new record. The fact that the DVD contains five episodes, rather than the usual three or four, is an added bonus, although it would have been nice to have had a few more extras included on the DVD or another cell phone strap extra. Either way, I highly recommend this DVD, and I can foresee its appearance on many of our readers’ Christmas lists.