Oh My Goddess! (ああっ女神さまっ Ā Megami-sama?), also known as Ah! My Goddess!, is a Japanese seinen manga series written and illustrated by Kōsuke Fujishima. It premiered in the November 1988 issue of Afternoon where it is still being serialized. Every few months, the most recent chapters are published in tankōbon volumes by Kodansha (41 exist as of July 28, 2010). The series centers on the relationship between college sophomore Keiichi Morisato and the goddess Belldandy.
As the manga's popularity increased, a five-episode original video animation (OVA) was made based on it. With the OVA's success, the stage was set for two TV series and a film to follow.
Keiichi Morisato is a good-natured, yet hapless and girlfriend-less college freshman who is often imposed upon by his elder dorm-mates and brow-beaten into taking phone messages and doing miscellaneous chores for them. One day, while alone in his dorm, he accidentally calls the Goddess Technical Help Line and a beautiful goddess named Belldandy materializes in his room. She tells him that her agency has received a system request from him, so she has been sent to grant him a single wish. Skeptical and thinking someone is playing a practical joke on him, he wishes that she stay with him forever. To his surprise, his wish is granted. Belldandy must stay with him, but as his dormitory is strictly male-only, they are both forced onto the street.
They set off on his motorcycle to find alternative shelter, eventually seeking cover in an old Buddhist temple. In the morning, they are greeted by the temple's sole inhabitant, a young monk, who welcomes them and gives them permission to stay until they can find permanent lodging. He immediately puts them to work maintaining the temple grounds, but when he sees Belldandy use her powers to save Keiichi from injury, he begins to fear that she may be a demon or sorceress. He is eventually convinced of Belldandy's intrinsic goodness when he witnesses her solicitous care of the temple premises and her perfect meditation ritual. When he decides to go on a pilgrimage to India, the priest gives the couple permission to remain in the temple so long as they continue to maintain it.
The Oh My Goddess! universe is fashioned loosely around Norse mythology; various names and concepts are recycled for humor. Three worlds are presented—Heaven, Hell, and Earth. It seems apparent that many other worlds also exist. Heaven is the realm of the Lord and goddesses, Hell is the realm of Daimakaicho and demons, and Earth is the realm of humans. Reality is controlled by an enormous and complex computer system, named Yggdrasil.
Each goddess is assigned Class, Category, and Limitations. Class indicates power and skill in performing pure magic. Only First Class (better) and Second Class (lesser) are cited. First Class goddesses are held to a stricter standard regarding the prohibition to lie. Three Categories are cited: First, which is Administration, Second, which is Commercial (deals with customers), and Special Duty, which includes the Combat Division. Limited/Unlimited indicates boundaries on permitted actions. Goddesses may be penalized, even having their license suspended for a time, for dereliction of duty. A goddess using her powers during suspension will have her license permanently revoked. Belldandy is a Goddess First Class, Second Category, Unlimited License. Urd is a Goddess Second Class, First Category, Limited License. Skuld is a Goddess Second Class, First Category, Limited License.
Due to safety concerns regarding their enormous powers, goddesses wear power limiters, usually in the form of jewelry, such as earrings or bracelets. It is said that a Goddess First Class at full power could easily destroy the Earth, if not careful. Belldandy's power limiter is the second clasp on her left ear.
The goddesses' purpose is to bring happiness to everyone around them. Toward that end, heaven has created the Goddess Technical Help Line (also called Goddess Relief Agency), designed to bring happiness to the people of Earth, especially those with great virtue but terrible misfortune. A competing institution, named the Earth Assistance Center, also is staffed by goddesses. In most scenarios, a goddess appears before one that the system has deemed worthy and grants him or her one wish. The wish must be approved by the system, after which a contract is created between the human and the goddess and stored on the Yggdrasil system as a file. The wish contract file is protected by a passcode known to the Goddess. As demons work toward the opposite end, the total happiness on Earth must remain in balance. Heaven and Hell strictly abide by an agreement to work through contracts and never kill each other.
Demons have similar class and license restrictions, and are accompanied by familiars instead of angels. A seal exists between the demon world and Earth, named the Gate to the Netherworld. It was "created by the gods and can only be broken by an instrument of the gods." As such, demons require a catalyst to manifest on earth. The demons possess a system similar to Yggdrasil, named Nidhogg. Both demons and goddesses possess the power to seal beings away. The demons also operate in a fashion similar to goddesses by creating contracts with humans and offering them wishes, but often at a price.
A goddess does not have an angel automatically, but receives one in egg form. When her power matures, the egg hatches into an angel, becoming a lifetime companion. The angel always obeys the goddess, being a reflection of the goddess' inner self.
Other creatures that exist in the Earth plane are a multitude of spirits that are responsible for almost every aspect of life. These include the spirits of Money, Wind, Engine and such. More specific entities include Earth spirits, which are guardians over a specific area of land. Morgan le Fay, a villain from the movie, is probably a high ranking Earth spirit (or a being from another dimension, but that is less likely because her tragic love story with a human must have happened on Earth) who demonstrates great strength fighting Belldandy and Urd, even though her powers are less potent than the ones of goddesses of their level.
Before starting work on Oh My Goddess!, Kōsuke Fujishima created the manga You're Under Arrest!. Miyuki Kobayakawa, one of the principle characters of You're Under Arrest!, was featured as a goddess character in a four-panel gag strip in the manga. While the exact relationship between this initial goddess character and the Oh My Goddess! series is unclear, there are suggestions that Oh My Goddess! can be viewed as a spin-off series. Irrespective of the origin, the concept of a goddess "as a job" interested Fujishima, leading to the first appearance of the Oh My Goddess! series in the September 1988 issue of the magazine Afternoon.
Translating the original Japanese title of ああっ女神さまっ (Aa! Megami-sama!) proved to be problematic. Fred Patten, in writing the preface to the collection "Watching Anime, Reading Manga: 25 Years of Essays and Reviews", stated that fans were still debating whether "Ah! My Goddess" or "Oh My Goddess!" should be used at the time of writing, approximately 15 years after the first Oh My Goddess! manga was published. When the United States anime import company AnimEigo obtained the original video animation (OVA) rights, they titled the series Oh My Goddess!. This approach was also followed by Toren Smith and Dark Horse Comics when translating the manga. Released in concert with the OVA series in 1994, Smith has since stated that he saw the title as a play on "Oh my god!", and felt that there was no problem when translating it. Smith confirmed that his interpretation of the author's intent was correct by consulting with Fujishima. Nevertheless, Kodansha's bilingual release of the manga used Ah! My Goddess, as did Pioneer's North American release of the film, and Media Blasters's 2005 DVD release of the TV series.
Fujishima stated in Animerica that "Oh" was closer to his intent, but acknowledged that the title should be rendered so as to make sense within the country that it is published, and specifically stated that films may warrant different titles than other works. He did, however, state that he would prefer to see consistency between the titles of the manga and those of the animations.
Oh My Goddess! premiered in the September 1988 issue of the monthly Japanese magazine Afternoon. The series is still ongoing and as of the August 2009 issue, 251 chapters of the series have been serialized in the magazine. The individual chapters are collected and published in tankōbon volumes by Kodansha. The first volume was released on September 23, 1989; as of July 23, 2009, 39 volumes have been released in Japan.
The series is licensed for an English-language release in North America by Dark Horse. The company initially published the first 112 chapters individually, with the first chapter released on August 1, 1994, and chapter 112 on September 1, 2004, until volume 19/20, after which they only published the collected volumes. They also serialized individual chapters in their defunct manga anthology, Super Manga Blast!. The first three volumes have had three different releases; they were initially published in a single abridged volume titled "1-555-GODDESS" on November 1, 1996, and were later re-released in unabridged volumes between June 5 and October 7, 2002. The first 129 chapters were redistributed between volumes 1 through 20 so that each volume better followed story arcs; after this reordering, the English release had 19 volumes. The fourth volume was released on October 15, 1997; volume 19, which Dark Horse numbered "19/20" and which ended on the same chapter as the Japanese volume 20, was released on January 19, 2005. After this release, they began republishing the first 20 volumes, this time following the Japanese chapter layout and using a new translation; they also continued publishing volumes from 21 on, these also followed the original Japanese chapter layout. The third re-release of volume 1 was on December 7, 2005, and the re-release has reached volume 12, which was released on June 24, 2009. Volume 21 was published by Dark Horse on July 6, 2005, and volume 33 was released on August 29, 2009.
The first novel of the series, Oh My Goddess! First End, was written by Urd's voice actress, Yumi Tōma, with the illustrations done by Fujishima and Hidenori Matsubara, the animation director for several of the series' animated adaptations. The story follows the manga, taking place three years after Belldandy and Keiichi first meet. The novel was first published in Japan on July 20, 2006 by Kodansha; it was then licensed in English by Dark Horse and released it in North America on December 12, 2007.
Original video animation
In 1993, Anime International Company, KSS, Tokyo Broadcasting System and Kodansha teamed up to produce a five-episode original video animation (OVA) series based on the manga series. Directed by Hiroaki Gōda and distributed by Pony Canyon, the first episode was released on February 21, 1993, and the final was released on May 17, 1994.
The OVA was licensed for release in North America by AnimEigo, which released all five episodes across two DVD volumes in 2001, then re-released the episodes in a single "Collector's Edition" set in 2006. AnimEigo's license expired at the end of February 2010.
The Adventures of Mini-Goddess
A 48 episode TV series called Adventures of Mini-Goddess (ああっ女神さまっ 小っちゃいって事は便利だねっ Aa! Megami-sama! Chicchaitte Koto wa Benri da ne?) and featuring shrunken versions of Urd, Belldandy, and Skuld in a comedic super deformed style was produced by Oriental Light and Magic and premiered on WOWOW in 1998 as a part of the omnibus show Anime Complex. It is distributed in Japan by Pony Canyon and in North America by Geneon Entertainment. This series departs the most from the original manga storyline, and has almost no continuity with the previous series. The series revolves around the three goddesses and their rat companion Gan-chan, following their adventures in their temple home. The goddesses remain constantly in miniaturized form, for apparent freedom of space and in order to properly interact with Gan-chan.
A film, titled Ah! My Goddess: The Movie (劇場版ああっ女神さまっ Gekijōban Aa! Megami-sama?), premiered in Japan in 2000. It saw the return of the main cast, along with several popular characters from the manga who had not appeared in any of the previous anime. It is distributed in Japan by Shochiku and in North America and United Kingdom by Geneon Entertainment in 2001. The plot does not seem to follow any of the existing canon, but uses plot devices from several different story arcs from the manga.
Oh My Goddess! saw another TV iteration under the name Ah! My Goddess in 2005. The episodes, which followed the manga closely, were directed by Hiroaki Gōda, animated by Anime International Company, and produced by Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS). The season began in Japan, on TBS, on January 6, 2005, and ended on July 7, 2005. Bandai Visual released the episodes in Japan between April and November 2005, as eight DVD compilations each containing three episodes. The two original video animations (OVAs), which had not been broadcast, were released on a special DVD on December 23, 2005. The series was licensed for a Region 1 release by Media Blasters. Six DVD compilations, containing all twenty-six episodes, were released between September 2005 and July 2006. Each DVD contained four episodes, excluding the first two, which contained five each. A premium complete season box set was released on November 7, 2006; the regular set followed on November 27, 2007. MVM Films distributed the series in the United Kingdom, with the individual volumes released between February and December 2007 in six similar DVD compilations. The box set followed in July 2008.
The success of the first season inspired a second season titled Ah! My Goddess: Everyone Has Wings, released as Ah! My Goddess: Flights of Fancy in North America. Also directed by Hiroaki Gōda, animated by Anime International Company, and produced by Tokyo Broadcasting System, the series covered the adventures of Keiichi and Belldandy in the aftermath of the Lord of Terror fiasco. It premiered on TBS on April 6, 2006 and concluded on September 14, 2006, picking up the story from where the series left off in season one. Season two concluded with episode 22, although the Japanese and North American DVD releases include episodes 23 and 24. It was released to DVD in Japan between July 2006 and February 2007 by Bandai Visual. Media Blasters, who released the first season, passed up on this season and it was licensed to ADV Films instead. ADV Films released the season on six DVD compilations, each containing four episodes, between May 2007 and March 2008. The rights were then transferred to Funimation Entertainment, who released a box set on November 25, 2008.
In 2007, Ah! My Goddess: Fighting Wings, a two-episode special to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the original publication of Oh My Goddess!, was released. It was directed by Hiroaki Gōda, animated by Anime International Company, and produced by Tokyo Broadcasting System. The episodes aired on December 8, 2007 and Bandai Visual released the episodes on a single DVD in Japan on February 22, 2008. The episodes have not been licensed for a Region 1 release.
It was announced, earlier this year on (March 2010), that TBS was producing a brand new 7-minute OVA for release only with a repackaged and redesigned boxed set for Season 1. Currently, no plans exist for licensing that special OVA episode. The OVA is the first new anime production since "Fighting Wings" was produced for the 20th anniversary of the manga series.
It's also been announced that a special single episode AMG OAD Anime (original anime produced, packaged and released with the manga) is scheduled to be released in February 2011 with Volume 42 of the original tankouban manga series. This will be the first OAD produced for the anime series and will be packaged with the limited edition release of the manga. A standard version, without the anime OAD DVD, will also be released.
In February 2007 an Ah! My Goddess game developed by Marvelous Interactive was released in Japan for the PlayStation 2. The game was only released in Japan and was released in 2 editions, the limited edition (also known as the "Holy Box" edition) and the regular DVD edition. Currently there have not been any plans for the game to be licensed and translated into English.
In 2009, Ah! My Goddess won Kodansha's award for Best General Manga, and the most recent volume, 41, was the tenth best-selling manga in Japan upon its release that week according to the Oricon Japanese Comic Rankings charts.
- Oh My Goddess! manga Volume 31 Chapter 196 Page 33, ISBN4-06-321169-X, reprint of original ad
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- Official TBS Oh My Goddess! anime website (Japanese)
- Oh My Goddess! (manga) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
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