A classic style premium network series about mortality and who we are.
What They Say:
Dressed all in white with scythe in hand, she is one of the spirits entrusted with guiding the souls of the no longer living to the other side. But unlike other shinigami who approach their grim duty with detachment or even malevolence, Momo chooses to open her heart to those about to cross over. Nor are solace and sympathy the only gifts she offers. If the need is great enough, she may allow a last visit, a message to loved ones, or even a chance to make amends. But how far can even the most well-meaning shinigami bend the rules of life and death before she, herself, is called to task?
Momo and her flying cat Daniel may soon learn the answer as they find themselves continually becoming involved in the world of the living, even as they attempt to deal with the not always willing souls in the process of departing it.
Contains episodes 1-6.
The audio presentation for this release steps up a bit as we get the original Japanese language in stereo as well as a new English language dub, both of which are encoded at 224kbps. The show is one that is primarily dialogue driven without hardly anything that would qualify as action, so it has to do well in this regard. But it is a show that does the dialogue decently as it goes for more straightforward and basic approach, not exactly flat but a bit restrained, which makes the more emotional aspects stand out all the more. The mix is also well balanced with the music and incidental sound effects that gives it a bit more life without standing out in a huge way, allowing it to come across more naturally. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2006, the transfer for this six episode TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The show is on a single disc here and has a good look to it as animated by Group TAC. There’s a real world style applied here with some fairly muted colors overall and it comes across well with the various school structures and outdoor locations that hit up familiar places. Colors are good looking and solid and the more vibrant areas that come into play, such as Momo’s design itself, stand out in contrast nicely. There’s little in the way of issues here outside of some minor line noise in a few scenes and a touch of noise in a few of the darker colored backgrounds, but it’s a minimal complaint against an otherwise good looking release.
The packaging for this release is a bit simple but works well to show something a bit different from the norm. The single sized keepcase cover art has a look at the main characters of the series from several of the stories but it’s done against a white background with very minimal and muted designs to it when it comes to the colors, giving it a softer feel but one with a kind of somber nature to it. The logo along the top is nicely done as it has the scythe through part of it and it uses both the titles for the show. The back cover is a little more traditional as we get a thin kind of background image with Momo and Daniel from behind looking out over the city as the snow falls. There’s an array of shots from the show and some nice little taglines above the fairly detailed summary of the premise. The discs extras are labeled clearly and the bottom has the usual but well done array of production credits and the technical grid. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menu design avoids reusing the artwork from the front or back cover as it gives us a look at Momo with a bit of a smile to her face. It uses the same kind of soft white background as it fills the top two thirds of the static menu screen and because it has her learning in from the left side, it has a kind of off feeling to it. The navigation along the bottom is fairly standard as we get the black and pink strip that has the individual episode selection and the language and extras submenus below that. These load quickly and easily and the layout works smoothly, though it just has a kind of a weird feeling about it overall.
The extras for this release are varied yet similar as we get the clean opening and closing sequences, the extended previews from its original run and a series of trailer, promos and commercials that even includes the website commercial. They’re all short and to the point.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the light novel series of the same name by K-Ske Hasegawa, Momo is a six episode limited run series that aired on the WOWOW satellite network back in 2006 when there were a few more experimental things going on. The light novel series began back in 2003, which gave them plenty of material to work with, and it ended in 2009 with twelve volumes to its name and a three volume manga adaptation. The property even got a live action short run TV series a few years ago, adding to its general appeal since it’s a very easy thing to adapt to that format as there’s little out of the ordinary here when you get down to it. The series has a very simple premise to it overall but it manages to do things in a slightly different way than usual that works in its favor.
The show revolves around two primary characters that have varying levels of participation in each episode. Momo is a Reaper that works with her associated, a bat-cat named Daniel. As a familiar, Daniel provides a bit of the levity at times and some of the quirks as well since he can transform into a human form and that makes it easier for him to interact with others. Momo is by all appearances a highly ranked Reaper and has been at the game a bit, but it comes from her particular attention to detail to things. While Momo is the one that is there at the moment of death for people, she’s also one that takes their connections to the living world quite seriously. When they move on with regrets about what they left behind, she’ll occasionally show up to help guide various people through their resolution issues so they can move on with their own lives until it’s their time.
With Momo and Daniel as the leads, they’re the type that come in at different times and stay for varying lengths. Sometimes they’re there for just a bit, almost like a bookends kind of aspect, other times they’re there for the whole episode, such as one of them where they walk around with a girl who has died but not moved on yet and she gets to see what life is like without her there anymore. That one is a bit awkward with the design of it and the “gimmick” of it, but Momo pretty much gets to hold the girls hand as she makes her goodbyes to the various people and family that mean something to her. Her initial moments in the episode are amusing since she doesn’t realize what’s happened and goes through it trying to touch and interact with things only to find that she can’t. Her dealing with the situation is a bit restrained as it goes on, but the show does well to coax in the emotion as it progresses.
The series deals with mostly school age kids, working across all three main levels from elementary through high school. The elementary segment opens it up and we get to see a story with a young boy who is keeping an an eye on her since she had some problems recently and the two take on a kind of relationship as they take care of an abandoned kitten and play family with it. It’s an awkward relationship as you see it with the way that Kouta is avoiding friends and others, being focused on making sure she’s safe, but it’s the mommy/daddy aspect that just comes across as a bit off and almost clingy. But it takes the obvious darker turn when one of them dies and they have to cope with the situation, which is exacerbated by Momo showing up. It’s from here that we get to understand what she is as a shinigami and how she operates. The idea plays throughout the rest of the episodes as we get more characters, sometimes with a meager connection to someone else, and they deal with loss in their lives.
Momo: The God Girl of Death is the kind of old style series that feels like a 90’s OVA in a way with how it deals with standalone stories with a simple wrapper concept around it while keeping the focus on the characters of the story at hand. There’s something that’s just old school in its approach as it works with the younger characters and uses Momo and her familiar as observers more than anything else and handles the way they interact with the living in a light but engaging way. There’s a lot to like with the show in what it does and the kind of feeling it generates, especially since it doesn’t overstay its welcome by being just six episodes. The shift from OVAs to single season shows has largely worked out well, but I do miss that kind of show where it just gets in, does its thing and then moves on. Momo does just that and it’s a welcome little detour.
Japanaese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing, Extended Previews, Promos, Trailers
Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Maiden Japan
Release Date: June 25th, 2013
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70″ LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.