Hi, I'm the Eclectic Dude and I review it for the lolz.
Well, after some years of the Oh My Goddess OVA and volumes of the manga were released, a movie for "Ah My Goddess" was almost a given. It premiered in October 2000, with a US release in Nov. 2001. It was done by studio AIC and directed by Hiroaki Goda, who also did the OVA from back in 1993-94. In the US, Geneon Entertainment (now defunct sad to say) released the movie a year later past its theatrical release. So, is it any good? Let's see.
The events of the Movie takes place 3 years after the OVA's events. Belldandy and Keiichi's life is going great and all that. Their relationship/main characters are explained within the first few minutes, so it is assumed that you've watched the OVA or read the manga. More on that later, I assure you.
But, Celestin, Belldandy's old mentor, arrives on the scene unexpectedly after disappearing some point in the past. At the same time, Heaven (under guidance of Peorth, another goddess character who didn't appear in OVA) is dealing with the escape of a convict from their lunar prison and appearance of some problems in the Yggdrasil system (sort of like a giant computer system). Coincidence? Perhaps, though it doesn't take much to piece the two together.
Celestin, upon seeing Belldandy, kisses her and then flies off mysteriously after Bell faints (a cursed kiss?). It turns out, Bell got struck with selective amnesia, wherein she loses all memories pertaining to Keiichi. Now, for the casual/first-time viewer, this might not be a big deal. But for me, personally being a big fan of the series, this moment was a bit heart breaking and sad. Keiichi, along with Skuld and Urd, try to help Bell to regain her memories. Of course, they fail at first.
But slowly and surely, Bell regains her memories. Of course, then Celestin appears again to cause trouble. What is he up to? Well, he is akin to a Lucifer figure. He was a once a member in the high courts of Heaven, who once tutored Belldandy. However, he was troubled by the problems with reality, specifically the way that Heaven deals with relationships between members of different realms. There's this Judgement Gate that exists where these 'special couples' go and test their commitment to each other. Should there be any doubt, the couple is separated forever. So, he takes young Bell along to show this 'abomination' (as Celestin says) and then he attempts to destroy it. Now, while that might be something good, it has one huge downside-IT WOULD RENDER REALITY AS WE KNOW IT ASUNDER. (sorry for the all caps xD). He succeeds for a bit , but then is banished to the moon for his crimes. Belldandy then has to take a forgetting potion, so she won't remember it at all (hence the confusion when he showed up earlier in the movie). Also, this was told all in flashback, naturally.
He recruited Morgan, a fairy princess, to aid in his plan. She is a rather tragic figure, having felt the loss of her beloved at the hands of the Judgement Gate firsthand. She is the one who freed Celestin from the moon prison and aids him in trying to pry Belldandy away from Keiichi by first subtle means, then outright seduction of Keiichi. This of course didn't work too much.
Now, Celestin wants to basically render reality asunder again, and create a new reality, probably in his own image. Of course, by that point, Bell regains her memories of Keiichi totally and she along with Keiichi, Urd, Skuld seeks to prevent Celestin's plan. The virus that is causing trouble to Yggdrasil is linked into Belldandy. the final solution, put forward by Peorth, would be to inject a vaccination into Belldandy and stem the virus at its source, which unfortunately would have unfortunate side effects as well. But its better then reality becoming no more, so they go ahead with this idea.
But it fails as Celestin takes over Keiichi's body and proceeds with his plan anyway. Just when it seems all is lost, the way to prevent this calamity is.....SINGING (I'm dead serious). Also, Belldandy and Keiichi pass through the Judgement Gate together, and because their love is unwavering, they are successful and they glimpse at Paradise (i have no idea, not really explained). Happy ending, closed by credits.
Well, what are the pros to this Movie? Well, quite a lot.
First, the animation encapsulates one word-Beautiful!!!!! This was where the Ah My Goddess series underwent artistic evolution on a grand scale, that carries through to the TV Series made 5 years later. From the first scene right up to the ending, it is all wonderfully animated. It also has a very well done blend of 2D cel and CGI, probably the best example of such a seamless blend from this era of animation (the turn of this recent century).
Second, the voice acting (in the english dub). It is of course different from the dub of the OVA, which I reviewed last weekend. Now, the main couple is voiced by Bridget Hoffman (Belldandy) and Tony Oliver (Keiichi). They do a wonderful job, even if this was their own appearance in this role for the series. There are some other memorable performances in the cast as well. This includes Sherry Lynn and Mary Elizabeth McGlynn as Skuld and Urd, and interestingly enough Steve Blum as the baddie of the film, which surprised me a quite a lot. It is quite awesome, much like the rest of this film.
Third, the story. This is quite possibly the best story for an anime film outside of the Miyazaki canon. The plot is bit more developed than the OVA, as the series has been out for some time before this movie came out. It is also rather original, in that it doesn't take place within the manga series it is based on.
Finally, the music is very wonderful. It was done by Shiro Hamaguchi, who also did music for Final Fantasy VII-IX games as well as the One Piece movies. So, to say it sounds much like a video game soundtrack, not far from truth. Granted, it is totally grand classical orchestra playing the soundtrack and it is very well-done. It is grand and epic, which considering this is a theatrical release for a movie, not surprising.
Now, the one con against this movie, which I mentioned earlier: the continuity. In the first 10-15 minutes, we are thrust into this world, with lots of characters, most of which are incidental to the plot of the movie. Now, for the casual/first-time viewer, this will create some confusion. So, to truly appreciate this movie, one needs to have seen either the OVA or TV Series or read the manga beforehand just a bit to understand what most things are.
Now, final thoughts: This Movie rocks!! Like I say, this is possibly the best anime movie outside of the Miyazaki canon out there. I can heap more praise to this movie than I ever done for a lot for the titles I reviewed. It is the pinnacle of anime, the greatest example for this industry. There's hasn't been a lot of anime titles before or since that are as great as this movie. WATCH IT!!!
Now, next weekend is Legend of the Last Labyrinth.
Laterz, The Eclectic Dude