Oh My Goddess: The Movie

Until the recent DVD release by AnimEigo, I was unaware of how wonderful a show Oh My Goddess really was. The five episode OVA series was an unexpected joy, and although there were minor issues from the condensation of the long-running manga into two and a half hours, I was enraptured with the romantic comedy. Pioneer wisely picked up the movie, and it is spectacular. Although the film requires knowledge of its characters' backgrounds in order to be fully appreciated, any viewer who even casually enjoyed the OVAs should pick up this stunner.

Belldandy and Keiichi have been together for three years, and they've grown together as friends and partners. They're the perfect couple. However, all is not well in the heavenly realms, and a renegade called Celestin is released from his eternal prison by a winged fairie with her own motives. Celestin's plans call for Belldandy's help, and he sets a strategy in motion that not only wipes Belldandy's memory of Keiichi completely but also threatens the very existence of the heavens and earth as they currently exist. Where once the two lovers were bound by a granted wish, now Keiichi must prove himself on his own merits...and Belldandy must overcome a foe that she holds dear to her heart if she is to keep the human race alive.

Oh My Goddess: The Movie is gorgeous by any standard. Not only does it look better than the videos, which is a feat in and of itself, it shows exactly how CGI should be used in an animated film. Though many fans dread CGI due to its obnoxious overuse and distracting obviousness, here it's done perfectly. The character designs have always been gorgeous, but they are perfected here; in particular, the secondary goddesses Urd and Skuld get a slight makeover that makes them look even more exquisite. There's not a moment when I wasn't awed by the visuals.

Most anime films based on a television or video series make one of two blunders: either they tell a story that's essentially an extended episode, or they retell a tale we've seen before by changing around the details, creating an alternate universe. Neither happens here, to its great credit. Instead, the plot is conceptually weighty enough to support a feature length film, and it couldn't have been done nearly so well on a video budget. I'd like to see more films like this, particularly when they spring from already-established series.

I do have one quibble with the film, though. Throughout the video series, we watch a romance blossoming and growing; it's the heart of the program. The relationship between Belldandy and Keiichi is still center stage here, but it's heartbreaking to see Belldandy forget everything she knows about him. The proceedings are much more serious and the stakes are far higher than they ever were in the show, which works fine, but sets a completely different tone from the stories that have gone before. I still love the film, but I cannot classify it as either particularly romantic or comedic, which the series was in spades. It is sci-fi drama with small elements of the other two, and I miss that old feel. Nevertheless, I can't be too upset with the creators for trying something different that overall succeeds.

If you enjoyed the original series, you need to watch Oh My Goddess: The Movie as soon as possible. And if you haven't seen the fantastic video series, then shame on you! Seeing them will make this film a lot more meaningful. Both the OVAs and the motion picture are on my list of personal favorites now, and I don't doubt they'll make it onto yours too.

Oh My Goddess: The Movie -- violence, brief nudity -- A