The Adventures of Mini Goddess Anime Review
Aa, Megamisama - Chitchaitte Koto wa Benri Da ne
Oh Goddess - Being Small is Convenient, Isn't It
US Release By
48 7 1/2-minute episodes
1998-04-06 - 1999-03-29
When Keiichi is away during the day, to amuse themselves, the Goddesses make themselves very small and get involved in tiny adventures with Gan-chan the rat.
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Adventures of the Mini Goddesses is an oddball spin-off series that has essentially nothing to do with the original and about as "for fun only" as anime comes. Composed of 100% random side stories, this vaguely Tom and Jerry-esque series is basically a collection of 6-minute parodies of pretty much every genre you can think of, all enacted by the miniaturized goddesses (mostly Urd and Skuld in the first half) along with beleaguered Gan the rat as the butt of every joke. It's not very clever, it's not even all that funny most of the time, but it is random, cute, and full of spunk.
Adventures of the Mini Goddesses is the anime equivalent of unbuttered popcorn: Comes in bite sized pieces, has no nutritional value, doesn't even taste all that great, but is easy to keep snacking on. It's not a memorable series, but at 6-minutes a pop you can squeeze an episode into just about any free moment of the day.
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If you think that plot synopsis is short, you haven't seen an episode. Adventures of the Mini Goddesses is one of the oddest spin-off ideas I've ever heard of, and about as "for fun only" as anime comes. Composed of 100% random side stories, this vaguely Tom and Jerry-esque series never breaks from its silly premise--none of the action takes place at full size and pretty much the only characters are Urd, Skuld, Gan the rat, and Belldandy. The result is the anime equivalent of unbuttered popcorn: Comes in bite-sized pieces, has no nutritional value, doesn't even taste all that great, but is easy to keep snacking on.
Each episode amounts to a 6 minute parody of an anime or classic movie genre, with slightly SD, 4-inch tall versions of everybody's favorite goddesses willingly cast as the heroes and poor Gan the beleaguered rat drug along as the target of every pratfall. It hits just about everything you can think of--romance, mecha, baseball, and monster movie, to name some--and there are a number of "sequel" episodes for genres that can take the additional punishment. There's all kinds of story-appropriate pseudo-drama, with Urd and Skuld happily doing whatever it takes to blow the smallest events up to "epic" proportions. Belldandy, meanwhile, plays along looking as unfailingly pleasant as always, though she doesn't appear much in the first half of the show (apparently Kikuko Inoue was on maternity leave).
It's 100% episodic, none of the parodies are particularly clever, and there isn't a serious moment in it--even to the characters, it's all just goofing around. Well, except for Gan, who ends up with the short end of every stick (unless he's breaking the fourth wall, which the show does occasionally).
The sole exception, and the series' one artistic fling, is an episode with no dialogue at all that follows Urd on a melancholy rainy-day journey to where the rainwater takes her. It's a surprisingly nice little "mood" piece, but the series promptly returns to cotton-candy send-ups never to look back.
Whether you find the series funny is going to depend on your taste, but for me at least the answer is a resounding "yeah... sorta." Some episodes are decidedly funnier than others, and even at its best the jokes are so basic and lightweight that I almost never got more than a chuckle out of them. Still, the unrelenting spunk and unabashed silliness of replaying a sci-fi horror movie in a dusty attic with 6-inch mecha, and similar set-ups, kept me squeezing one episode after another into available free moments during the day. The fact that you could watch a full episode during the average commercial break certainly doesn't hurt. And I have to give credit to the occasional bit of inspired randomness--a few episodes (such as marrying Gan off to a teapot) left me with an impressed feeling of "Huh?" even if I wasn't laughing very hard.
The series looks nice enough visually, with extra-cute versions of the three goddesses (they're youngish-looking but light on the SD), nice enough art, and half-decent animation (a bit surprising considering the style). The music is appropriately light, with two full-length end themes that are pleasantly mellow (though disappointingly generic by other Goddess anime standards). Amusingly enough, the full theme plays after every episode--it takes up almost a quarter of the runtime.
One interesting thing about this series is that's it's basically a 4-voice-actor show. Aya Hisakawa and Yumi Touma, returning as Skuld and Urd, do a fine job of overdramatizing situations and generally being cute in their various roles-within-roles. Mitsuo Iwata is a good counterpoint as Gan's generally idiotic, slightly deranged voice. During the first half of the series Akemi Okamura substitutes for Belldandy; she's a capable stand-in but only has a few lines. In the second half Kikuko Inoue returns to the role her sweet-as-honey voice defined, at which point Belldandy starts to do a lot more.
As often as not those four are the only characters in the episode, and the only other reoccurring character is the incompetent villain. Keiichi, incidentally, is only heard offscreen a couple of times, although his voice actor, Masami Kikuchi, does appear in a couple of bit parts.
The English dub isn't quite as good as the Japanese, but the voices are solid matches for the characters (Gan is a bit less dumb-sounding, but still distinctive), and it isn't bad all-around. I was a little surprised that they decided to stick with "Gan-chan," which comes across as just a little bit awkward.
All in all, this random spin-off has no substance, but for fans of SD humor, not-so-clever parodies, and overdramatized situations involving common household items, there's lots of cute, spunky fun to be had. Heck, even if you don't get a huge kick out of it, an episode is a better way to waste 6 minutes than polishing your toenails.
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There aren't a lot of well known SD parodies, but one that was available in the US way back when is Scramble Wars/10 Little Gall Force. Record of Lodoss War: Chronicles of the Heroic Knight (the TV version) also includes a couple-minute SD parody of itself at the end of every episode. Good non-SD multi-genre parodies include the more serious Project A-ko series and the frighteningly deranged Excel Saga.
Notes and Trivia
Based on a manga spin-off of the Oh My Goddess ("Aa! Megami-sama!") manga by Kouske Fujishima. There is also, of course, the far more serious Oh My Goddess! OAV series, movie, and TV series.
In later episodes, it's mentioned that Gan the rat's real name is Mitsuo Iwata; this is, of course, also his Japanese voice actor's name.
SD, for those unfamiliar with the term, is an abbreviation for Super Deformed, an anime term (originated by the Japanese) referring to the parody art style involving cute miniature versions of characters with disproportionately large heads and tiny, simplified bodies. The characters in this series would be more accurately described as "chibi"--an English fan-term for small, cute characters.
US DVD Review
The four DVDs are basic but solid productions; each includes a dozen episodes in their entirety (which only amounts to 85 minutes of runtime, much of which is credits), including full untranslated credits. The video is bright and very clean, as are the Japanese and English stereo soundtracks. Extras include short bios of the characters, and a selection of nice pictures. The only significant problem is that the English credits at the end of the disc only translate the credits for the four main characters (we've filled in a few here). The discs are also available in a box set consisting of the four individual discs in a clear plastic slipcase with a cover insert.
Rated 13-up by Pioneer, which seems way too strict--I'd call it 10-up at most, and really it's appropriate for just about any age.
Violence: 1 - There's lots of slapstick and parody violence, but it's all pretty silly.
Nudity: 1 - Hard to call... Urd wears her trademark risque outfits, but she's so cute and SD it's hard to notice.
Sex/Mature Themes: 1 - Essentially nothing past jokes about romance.
Language: 0 - Clean as far as the subtitles go; at worst Urd speaks a bit harshly.
Staff & Cast
Original Japanese Cast
Urd: Touma Yumi
Skuld: Hisakawa Aya
Belldandy: Akemi Okamura
Gan-chan: Mitsuo Iwata
Narrator: Tadashi Nakamura
Mrs. Kettle: Mako Hyoudou
Rat: Takeharu Ohnishi
Vermin 1: Kouichi Nagano
Rats: Takeharu Ohnishi, Kouichi Nagano, Mako Hyoudou
Computer: Masami Kikuchi
Gabira: Mitsuo Iwata
Gabira: Mitsuo Iwata
Keiichi: Masami Kikuchi
Baby: Wakako Taniguchi
Black Cat: Takeharu Ohnishi
Gabira: Mitsuo Iwata
Mecha Gabira: Takeharu Ohnishi
Umpire: Takeharu Ohnishi
English Dub Cast
Anthony Mozdy, Wendee Lee, Rafael Antonio Oliver, John Smallberries, Peter Elliott, Steve Cannon, William Frederick, Ruby Marlowe.
Based on The Adventures of Mini-Goddesses by Kosuke Fujishima
Producer: Seiichi Horiguchi, Shinichi Nakamura, Shukichi Kanda
Director: Yasuhiro Matsumura
Teleplay: Shouji Yonemura, Chinatsu Houjou, Atsuhiro Tomioka, Shinzo Fujita
Storyboard: Kazuaki Mouri, Kiyotaka Isako, Minoru Senboku
Character Designer/Chief Animator: Hiroko Kazui
Art Director: Shichio Kobayashi
Music: Tatsuya Murayama
Animation Production by OLM