The second season of the Ah! My Goddess TV series is a little like having a reunion with an old friend who hasn’t changed at all over the years. You won’t get any real surprises, but you also won’t be let down — and in the case of A!MG, the whole cast of the show have taken on the flavor of old friends I’ve come to know and love.
Still, with the sheer number of iterations this material has been through, you’d think there would have been more variety. There’s the original manga; the first OAV adaptation; the feature-length movie; the first season of the new TV series; and now the second season of the TV show. Through it all, the basic math for the A!MG algebra has remained the same: Boy Meets Goddess(es), and Mayhem Ensues. Still, why tinker with a good thing when it already works?
Season one set up the basic situation. We met Keiichi Morisato, an undergraduate student at Nekomi Technology Institute. Courtesy circumstances entirely too insane to relate here, he ended up with a live-in girlfriend of sorts — a goddess named Belldandy, paired to him alone after he wishes for “a girl just like her to remain with him always.” It’s hard enough dealing with a goddess for a ladyfriend — never mind the fact that he’s ended up also providing space for her two sisters, the seductress Urd and the alternately bratty and brilliant Skuld. Then there’s the bevy of classmates, relatives, old flames, and random weirdness rained down from On High that Keiichi had to contend with. The details about the universe they inhabit — where Heaven is a supercomputer, God is the ultimate sysop, and a system crash can rend reality itself — provide further pegs on which to hang various complications.
Season two kicks off in much the same vein, with a year having elapsed since Belldandy first came into Keiichi’s life. Unfortunately, the situation with the Lord of Terror at the close of the last season left some of the divine data banks messed up, and the contract between Keiichi and Belldandy was among the lost data. (I guess God doesn’t do off-site backups.) Worse, when Keiichi is called on to reconstruct the data, he fails miserably. He may still retain the spirit of the wish, but he can’t remember its exact wording, and the scene that ensues plays out like one of those modern-day nightmares where we call the bank to straighten something out and discover to our horror that we can’t remember our Social Security number. With the threat of Belldandy being recalled to Heaven looming, the two decide to have one last day out on the town together … and as it turns out, their seize-the-day mentality turns out to be exactly what’s needed. Even when faced with the prospect of having no future together, they find a way to be happy in the moment.
Would that the same could be said of Sayoko Mishima, the haughty, self-appointed “campus queen” who once took great pleasure in snubbing Keiichi. With Belldandy around, who not only has divine perfection to burn but is so stupefyingly humble about the whole thing, she’s determined to steal Keiichi away. Why? Not necessarily because she actually likes the guy, but more so because nobody, nobody gets ahead of her and stays there, and she’s willing to stake her reputation on that. When Christmas rolls around, she exploits a bit of happenstance to steal a gift Belldandy has created for Keiichi, but when she tries to pawn it off as her own, the plan collapses — not because everyone else sees right through her, but because they’re sincerely disappointed that she can’t just employ her good qualities. It’s not like Sayoko doesn’t have them — she’d just rather get satisfaction by playing dirty, and she assumes (wrongly) everyone else will also do the same.
Most of the show just revolves around situational humor, where the basic natures of the characters get to collide in cute ways. In the last episode on the disc, Sayoko blunders across what is one of Belldandy’s few weaknesses: feed her a soft drink and she gets sloshed — drunk enough to wander out into the street and start spreading unnatural levels of good will to everyone she meets, and at the expense of unwittingly inflicting ill will on Keiichi. Part of the joke here is how people witness the blatantly impossible happening in front of them and find the most hilariously mundane ways to rationalize them. When Belldandy transforms one of Keiichi’s female friends from the Auto Club (the nerdy, freckled, bespectacled and flat-chested Sora Hasegawa) into a ceiling-puncturing giantess, her other classmates elbow each other and solemnly declare that they’re not going to let some underclassman upstage them with an engineering trick like that. Even when a goddess is on the loose, it’s always about them.
Ah! My Goddess is a show you have a fondness for entirely on its own terms — it’s not groundbreaking and it doesn’t challenge your preconceptions about anything, but it doesn’t have to do any of those things. It’s heartwarming and straightforward, and if you liked the other entries in this same canon you’ll probably like the way the second season kicks off.