Allow me for a minute to give you an insight into the world of the humble reviewer. It can be a tricky prospect reviewing the later volumes in a series. As this is the second volume (of the second series, no less) there are certain assumptions that can be made. If you’re reading this, then you’ve probably made up your mind about the series; therefore, my job is basically to see how it compares to the earlier volumes. It’s not uncommon for series to take a bit of a dip in the middle. The first episodes are usually flashy and shiny to draw you in, while a lot of focus is given to the climax of the series (often in the hope of securing another season). This can often result in a number of weaker ‘filler’ episodes, which save on the animation budget by treading water until you get to those later episodes. Fortunately, this is not the case here, as the quality of the animation and design is consistent with the previous releases, as is the writing. In fact, I would have to say that if anything this second batch of episodes is actually the best part of the series so far.
What makes this second volume so enjoyable is the variety of episodes the collection includes, offering something for every type of Goddess fan. The first episodes carry on where volume one left off, with Belldandy competing with rival goddess Peorth for Keiichi’s affections. Peorth runs around providing more fan service than is typical for this series, and generally acting like a refugee from a more raunchy shonen harem comedy. This being Ah My Goddess! of course, the resolution isn’t really in any doubt, but it’s all part of the fun. In other episodes Belldandy’s sisters Urd and Skuld take centre stage. Past feelings are stirred up for Urd when an old flame shows up out of the blue, and later a visit from an old friend (and rival) ends up in an unexpectedly dangerous situation, in a highly entertaining two-parter that I will resist the urge to spoil here. Skuld (Belldandy’s younger sister) also gets some good episodes of her own, with her forming a friendship with a young boy. The result is a very sweet storyline that show a beautifully understated sort-of-romance which manages to avoid being too sentimental.
The stand-out episode on the disc though is a surprise. Featuring none of the supernatural high jinks of other episodes, nor focusing on the central romance, it’s much more straight-up drama. It centres around the university Auto club that Keiichi is a member of. An unexpected visit from a former president of the club leads to a new friendship and a mini-motorcycle race. It doesn’t sound like much but this episode turns out to be incredibly touching and satisfying. The ex-president is a very strong and feisty female character (much stronger than is standard for this series, in all honesty); with her love for all things auto and her strong spirit, she could have walked out of creator Fujishima’s other big series You’re Under Arrest. This is a rare episode that I could recommend even to a non-Goddess fan.
This second release consists of a generous collection of 8 episodes, as with the first. Again the disc features a couple of commentary tracks (by the English language dubbers). This is a rare addition, and although obviously it will be of little interest to those of you who prefer to listen to the Japanese track, it’s welcome nonetheless.
Overall this is a strong collection of episodes. A couple are more memorable than others, but there are no stinkers here. I’m probably preaching to the converted but for any self-respecting Goddess worshipper this is a no-brainer. Amen.