What They Say:
Sixteen-year-old Ikkou Satonaka has raging hormones that make every other boy’s look simply weak in comparison. When he gets turned on, he’s literally turned into a super-powerful Buddhist monk capable of vanquishing the most evil of spirits! Ikkou’s parents send him to the Saienji Temple to train to become a proper monk under the watchful eye of his grandmother. One of his first challenges is to learn to control his lusty desires – but that’s easier said than done when he’s surrounded by a bevy of beautiful nun trainees who keep losing their clothes! Can Ikkou pull himself together, or will his pervy nature win out?
Contains episodes 1-26.
The audio presentation for this release is quite good and provides an extra boost to the original Japanese language track as we get it in stereo and encoded at 448kbps. We also get the previously created English language track which is in stereo and encoded at 192kbps. The Japanese track definitely has a bit extra oomph to it here with a slightly louder presentation and a bit more impact with some of the action scenes while the music in the opening and closings are definitely a bit more pronounced. The show is a fairly standard comedy series in the end though so it doesn’t really stretch itself much, but it does work well here with some good, clear and clean placements, solid dialogue throughout and no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2005 for the first season and 2006 for the second season, Ah My Buddha is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. This release is spread across six discs in a five/five/three/five/five/three format. Working off of better materials than the previous release, the show here has a strong and clearer look overall in addition to bringing in fixes with the subtitles being cleaned up. The series has a nice bright and colorful look but never crosses to that line where garish lives. The colors have a very solid feel throughout, skin tones in particular look really good, and the animation quality is quite good all things told so that helps to raise the bar a bit. The show has a good amount of detail in a lot of scenes and that carries through well here while the background noise that we had seen in previous releases is largely gone here. It’s definitely an improvement overall and it just has a more cohesive feeling about it.
The litebox packaging for this release definitely works out well as we get a nice, tight and weighty little package that brings us the six discs inside with the hinge holders. The front cover artwork has a light pink background to it that’s definitely good to have as the characters darker clothes bring down the pop and vibrancy level here significantly. There’s a lot of upbeat and positive character designs with faces that are appealing – and it’s easy to confuse Ikkou with Tenchi – but it generally looks good while not being as outgoing as it could be. The back cover goes for a softer yellow approach that gives it a little more of an elegant feeling while the top has a decent summary of the series premise and a breakdown of the extras. The character artwork gives us a look at a trio of the girls in mild states of undress as well as Ikkou looking on. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menu design for this release is pretty simple but it works nicely since we get six discs and each one changes up the artwork with a different character. That means the right side does a close-up shot of one of the girls with a big smile that comes across well with a definite mood-setting feeling about it. The background colors change to accommodate the character while the logo is along the left in its oversized and fluffy yellow font. Menu navigation is kept along the lower left which has the usual selections that are quick and easy to navigate. It’s also welcome to have an episode selection menu that features all episodes for the disc on one screen. The series defaults to the English language track with sign and song subtitles.
The extras are kept to the third and sixth discs where we get all the clean opening and closing sequences relevant for that season as well as the original promotional videos and the US trailer.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Originally known as Amaenaideyo!!, Ah My Buddha is a twenty-six episode series that contains the two seasons that the series ran. Those seasons ran for twelve episodes each as well as a bonus episode for each them. The series revolves around a young man named Ikkou who is training to become a priest. He’s a pretty average sixteen year old guy who is nice but definitely fits the image of someone who would be a monk, especially with the haircut he has. His life is one that is definitely in for some ups and downs as he moves to the temple where everyone that’s in training there is a young woman who will become a nun. They’re all aged around the same, some a little older and some a little younger, but they’re all attractive and they invariably end up in situations where they’re going to show off some skin. Ikkou is a nice guy though and tries to do things right, but the situations he finds himself in – often not of his own doing – only lead him down the path of pain and abuse. But it’s not necessarily a bad way to go.
In the first four episodes, we mostly get glimpses of the girls and their personalities simply because there’s only so much time. The main character that gets attention is Chitose, a young woman who is seemingly being pushed towards Ikkou as the two seem to get along well in that kind of childish way. The others get little nods here and there as they all live together and we get a feel for what their archetypes are like, but they don’t have much of a chance to really show much of themselves. Sumi makes out the best out of the rest in the fourth episode here which revolves around horror episodes as she ends up in a quasi-dream sequence where she’s older and married to Ikkou. On the plus side, they’re all very well designed characters and they come across well from what little we get to see of their personalities at this stage.
What the show uses as a bit more of a hook is that Ikkou and the girls are all able to perform exorcisms, so that means they’re in demand. They’re actually able to use supernatural abilities, albeit mildly most of the time, in order to do this. This is what drags them to the haunted house in the fourth episode where they’re asked to investigate and exorcise. Another episode has them dealing with a doll burning ceremony that goes awry. They’re not deep and engaging supernatural stories, but they give everyone a chance to work together and to show off what skills they have. Amusingly enough, sometimes they get to show off their chests as that can distract a particular spirit in a particular situation long enough for it to be properly resolved. The stories are all light in nature and have that sort of bouncy flair to them that the series is trying to strive for.
The show is pretty much episodic when you get down to it, though there are bigger moments as each of the seasons end. But honestly, if they took those out, you wouldn’t really lose anything. The fun is in the individual stories and arcs and the way the characters interact with each other through humor and fanservice. One episode that surprised me was the one that focused around Haruka and her love of the Kamen Ranger franchise that’s been running for decades. Her somewhat light bouncy approach to things is amusing in general, but she has a love of this that is quite cute to watch, but it’s also in watching how Chitose gets into it as well as she used to watch videos of it while living in the sticks and being years out of date. The two of them and Ikkou get sent off to a department store where there’s a haunting going on and end up running into a group of spirits from some seventeen years prior that used to be the traveling actors for the stage show who died before making it big. There’s the fun of the re-enactments and all the little geeky in-jokes related to the Kamen Rider franchise which is done with a bit of love to be certain. I normally really hate these kinds of episodes, and the sentai genre in general, but this one has a surprisingly nice feeling about it.
Another surprising episode brings us to Yuko for awhile as she’s suddenly received a love letter from another student. With her sporty and athletic nature, as well as her aggressive side, she’s really not sure what to make of this or whether she wants to make anything of it. She’s got the two sides inside her fighting over it and that just makes her feel even worse. She has the adorable moments of having makeup put on and getting the reactions from others at school, but she also finds she wants to keep being who she is. It’s a cute episode overall, but one that sends the wrong message about not being able to have both. There are certainly plenty of feminine women out there who are very sports oriented and aggressive and Yuko is the kind of character that could easily pull off both. While I disliked that aspect of it. I did like getting to know Yuko better in it and she became more personable along the way.
Another episode gives us the inevitable hot spring story where the group is sent to help out an old friend of Jyotoku’s. It’s a winter episode which gives it a bit more flavor as hot springs in the winter look really neat. Of course, the gang all thinks they’re in for a fun time but in reality the old man is working them hard in the place doing chores and more. But there’s a spirit there that’s causing trouble, even more so since the women have arrived. The conniving spirit is definitely male as he’s trying to egg on Ikkou by setting up situations where the girls outfits come loose with a little help. When it gets blatant, it gets very blatant as the spirit shreds things left and right and there’s so much skin you don’t know where to look after awhile. It’s comical watching the girls constantly freak out over it and Ikkou trying to battle his urges so he doesn’t climax constantly (or so quickly!).
The other pair of main episodes of the first season which finish off this disc are fairly fun but at the same time a bit forgettable. One of them does the obvious Christmas story that involves giant floats which are possessed and it has the usual kind of Santa related spiritual silliness where they have to deal with that. It does force Ikkou into a stronger role simply because they’re awakening his real power, but it’s sort of muted and understated at times as to what the real impact of it is. To balance this, another episode is given over to deal with the idea of finding ways of restraining Ikkou’s power, appropriately at the New Years time period which has its own history in dealing with such things. It’s an interesting episode in that they’re looking much more closely at Ikkou and what he’s really capable of and that angle is turning less and less comical as time goes out. Whether that’s to the benefit of the series or not remains to be seen, since it is a comedy series for the most part.
The OVA that caps off the first season doesn’t even need to have a story to be honest, though they try to wrap it up in some silliness about winning a game show and finding the group in a hotel where all sorts of things happen. What’s important about the OVA is that it’s not constrained by TV decency standards and they introduce the viewer to the girls with a lot less on and more things visible. Hair isn’t used to cover up breasts nearly as much and these girls are certainly perky. There’s also a bit more raunchiness in the situations, such as Sumi sleeping with her legs wide open and so forth. It’s very amusing and I like it when a fanservice oriented show can take things a step further and be a little more raunchy than it usually is. It’s why I advocate official hentai versions for most shows!
With the second season, it really is more of the same. And honestly, once again, that’s a positive thing. As it gets underway, much of the focus of these episodes is around the arrival of Kazuki, a nun who is a year behind Ikkou in age which puts her in the same class as Hinata. Kazuki is very much interested in Ikkou right from the start and she does everything she can to get close to him by using every bit of her sexuality. This naturally puts off everyone else who sees it happening, particularly Chitose as she’s more and more interested in him even if she tries not to believe it, but Kazuki does it all with such a simple happy grace that it’s hard for most people to stay mad at her. Ikkou is unable to defend himself against her wiles since he’s pretty much your standard male who has an attractive blonde taking his hand and putting it on her breasts. Kazuki is doing all of this for a reason though as she’s trying to awaken him again and again so that his true power can come out for whatever reasons that she wants this to happen.
There’s some good behind the scenes sort of posturing going on as well which explains some of what Kazuki is up to, though you can practically guarantee she won’t go through with it at the end. Within the shrines and the larger branches and main organization, there is a power play going on among some of those who are rising in power and Lady Jyotoku and what she’s doing is a big issue for some of them. As some of them ascend in power, they try to change the dynamic because of old slights, including one slimy priest who obviously has issues with Jyotoku and is using his new position of power above her to get her to acknowledge him. It’s a pretty classic setup but it has the added twist of Jyotoku having a very powerful person in her midst with Ikkou and his awakened powers that they’re trying to rein in.
Much of this show does revolve around the spirits, the fun and the fanservice as opposed to the darker material. It does pay attention to it since it’s becoming the subplot that will likely be key towards the end, but right now it’s being fun for the most part. Kazuki’s arrival raises the fanservice a few notches because she does actively go after Ikkou which is in contrast to how the other girls are that he lives with. Ikkou for his part is all too accepting of it and the situations that get him into these kinds of moments but it’s amusing to see him react to a girl who doesn’t hit him or run away the minute he leers even a little bit. It doesn’t hurt that Kazuki’s forward nature and her design make her doubly appealing.
The one story that really stays true to the nature of this series is towards the end of the second season that involves Sumi. With her spiritual abilities not completely in check yet either, she has a very different problem when they come to light. And that’s due to her strong connection to the animal world. In the spring, she essentially gives off a pretty strong pheromone to the world and dogs from up to three towns away come in search of her as they sense that she’s in heat, which she isn’t. It’s completely out of her control and it’s completely surreal to watch lots of dogs essentially trying to get with her. Poor Ikkou doesn’t stand a chance in watching this happen as the really do molest in her quite some dirty ways. It’s all about the dog on woman relations here and honestly, the rest of the plot doesn’t even matter at that point. Woof.
As it gets down towards the end of its run though, it does work things fairly well to tie it all together, though none are altogether all that strong. One episode has the girls along with Ikkou caring for a baby left at the temple and all of them are showing just how basic their incompetence is. When Ikkou is sent out to get things, such as diapers, he doesn’t even know whether to get girl or boy diapers so he buys them all – plus adult diapers. The baby is of course hard to handle because of all this and they go for the obvious gag of having Haruka be a natural because the baby is attracted to her sizable breasts, so there isn’t anything really surprising here. It’s all pretty much par for the course, but they do have a lot of fun being so overt in the fanservice aspect.
Kazuki works a couple of other angles to try and awaken Ikkou, including altering some ghosts in order to cause havoc for the girls that surround Ikkou. Making them look like Western Ghosts, there are some cute moments since the ghosts don’t realize what they are. There’s another episode where Kazuki works up a plan to remove Chitose from the mix so she can get closer to Ikkou as Chitose is who she views as the main foil to all her plans. It’s a completely foolish plan that works only because Chitose is a fool, but it does lead to the big moment of this particular season as Ikkou comes his closest to awakening and threatens a lot of destruction to follow unless everyone stops him.
The final episode here is where all the payoff is, at least if you consider this show little more than a fanservice fest. While there is a reason for it, this DVD original episode is all about the fanservice as it shows that show being a show filmed by actors. The main cast all talks about their roles, Jyotoku and Devilkin have great moments as the elder cast members and there are some hilarious sight gags revolving around the show within the show concept that works well. Doing this alternate take on the series, being so upfront about the sexuality and silliness of it, is the perfect way to cap off everything and definitely left me with a smile on my face.
Ah My Buddha is a series that I enjoyed a fair bit the first time around and enjoyed it quite a bit now several years later. Marathoning it may not be the best thing since it is a lot of material and it plays to familiar ideas regularly since the girls beat up on Ikkou for all manner of things, some innocent and some not, but it does provide for a good bit of laughs, some appealing character designs and a nice enough hook to it that you can get into it without worrying about the big picture storyline. They do shoehorn things in a bit more towards the end of each season, but it’s not critical and you can just smile your way through it. Lucky Penny’s release brings us the simple charms of a show almost ten years old that holds up well today. It’s definitely a cleaned up, better looking and more affordable version and it’s also a lot more compact, which helps for those with large collections. It may not be an earth shaking world changing kind of show, but it’s brought a smile to my face and it’s a whole lot of enjoyable material on the cheap.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Openings, Clean Closings, Promotional Videos
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B
Released By: Lucky Penny Entertainment
Release Date: June 3rd, 2014
Running Time: 650 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 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.