The fourth and final set of adventures of the scaled-down, super cute goddesses sees more high jinks featuring rebellious doubles, rigged election campaigns and even more cheeky references to anime and Japanese popular culture, invariably with their hapless sidekick Gan-chan the rat suffering some sort of embarrassment or personal injury. It opens with Urd sending out an army of magically produced doubles to search out a pair of missing earrings, only to find them rise up against her; meanwhile a presidential election among the rats sees Gan and his rival Gon going head-to-head with some interference from evil goddess Marla.
If you have seen any of the previous three Mini Goddess discs you will know what to expect from these episodes and will have no doubt already decided on whether it is to your taste or not. For hardcore fans of the Goddess franchise it is another opportunity to catch Belldandy, Urd and Skuld up to some more harmless mischief, but won’t offer much apart from fun but forgettable comedy to the rest of us.
It’s obviously intended for existing fans and/or younger viewers, so the gags and storylines are still pretty tame but there are plenty of references to other anime shows and films in general thrown in (the Deluxe Game of Life episode will be immediately recognisable to anyone who has played the board game, for instance). There are also some alterations to the format of one or two of the episodes, which prevents back-to-back viewing getting too tedious; the “election’ story is in two parts which allows the story to develop a little more.
The episode in which the characters are taken by surprise with no script is a highlight too, as the four of them struggle to come up with a story by themselves to fill the time. The Miso Jar is another surprisingly funny sketch, in which Gan supposedly has a near-death experience and suffers repeated “waking from a nightmare’ experiences that are strangely reminiscent of Perfect Blue among several other things.
On the whole though, the short episodes are pretty hit-and-miss with the short running time of each allowing room for a bit of silly slapstick and little else. Having eleven separate stories on one disc is a bit of a chore to sit through, especially considering their simple cartoonish humour and sickly-sweet atmosphere. On the other hand, they are short and self-contained enough to be perfectly suited for occasionally dipping into when you are in need of some light relief or Goddess-themed escapism.
These episodes offer some more of what was on the previous two discs: plenty of childish and inoffensive comedy, a few parodies of more well-known shows and of course some well-known characters. They are all stand-alone though, so there isn’t anything resembling a larger storyline or “proper’ ending that would accompany it. It can be predominantly recommended to long-term Goddess fans, plus anyone who’s in the mood for something that is undemanding and doesn’t take itself seriously.
Not being familiar with the Oh! My Goddess franchise, I wasn’t sure that I’d appreciate the humour here or understand the setup in general. Fortunately it doesn’t require previous knowledge although a high tolerance to “cuteness’ and juvenile humour is a requirement – the short running time of each episode helps there. Much of the humour comes from the ever-likeable Gan-chan, who is a perfect stooge for whatever mischief the goddesses get up to; he could probably be made the subject of a similarly themed spin-off show of his own.
Overall I wouldn’t really call the Mini Goddess series “my kind of thing’ at all, but it is well suited to a younger audience and of course dedicated O! MG fans. Some of the episodes did however exceed my expectations and proved to be quite clever in their own limited way, but at the end of it all the series cannot really be called memorable.