Goddess: The Movie (2000)
The story the directors tell in the film is usually effectively developed and is always suffused with a genuine sweetness. Whether they are depicting an exciting adventure, an otherworldly occurrence, or a supernatural contest, Gohda and Bessho tinge every moment of their work with such a sense of pleasant kindness that the viewer is invariably made to feel the touching decency of its protagonists. Consequently, even when they are faced with real threats, the innate goodness of these persons is never obscured. Admittedly, such qualities do become somewhat too saccharine near the film's conclusion, but, while such moments are irksome, they do not spoil the movie.
Fortunately, Ah! My Goddess' gentleness and goodness are complemented by a number of fascinating and inventive details. For instance, the movie's villain, Celestine, though he does much that is hurtful, is, nonetheless, motivated by a desire to help others rather than by spite or some intrinsic evil. His plot to defeat his enemies, whom he condemns as uncaring and cruel, is also surprisingly intriguing. Instead of trying to conquer or kill his opponents, he infects the world with a virus that, functioning as a computer virus might, causes the operating system maintaining the universe to malfunction. Even the heavenly bureaucracy whose members attempt to repair the damage so caused is likely to catch the viewer's fancy when he sees that the workings of this celestial hierarchy are much the same as are those of the institutions of the ordinary world.
What is more, the technically accomplished and visually appealing animation used throughout the film is as enjoyable as are any of its other qualities. The female characters are particularly charming, being sweet, pretty, and frequently very sexy. Several of them, I should add, strongly resemble characters from either Love Hina or You're Under Arrest!. Such similarities are not, however, likely to distract the viewer. If anything, these resemblances, by reminding the moviegoer of the personalities of the individuals from those other works, actually help to involve him with the film's characters.
The lovely faces and shapely bodies of these persons are not Ah! My Goddess' only appealing visual quality. The majority of the designs used for the elaborate costumes the female characters wear are both colorful and imaginatively realized, and most of the backgrounds against which the movie's actions are set are genuinely attractive. Those used for the heavenly city, which is filled with twisting, spiralling towers, impossible bridges, and vast halls, are especially nicely done.
In spite of its numerous virtues, Ah! My Goddess is, sadly, far from being perfect. Perhaps the movie's greatest weakness is not, however, the presence of any fault, but simply its lack of any quality that would raise it above the ordinary. While the film is always entertaining, it is not likely to awe the viewer.
Although Ah! My Goddess is never really inspired and is occasionally oversweet, it is so attractive, pleasant, and light-hearted that it is both enjoyable and involving.
Review by Keith Allen
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