The World God Only Knows and the Dubious Divinity of 2D

TWGOK key

 

  • Genre : Harem, comedy, supernatural, romance, some action
  • Episodes s1: 12
  • Episodes s2: 12
  • OVAs: 4
  • Episodes s3 Goddesses: 12
  • Studio: Manglobe

 

The real world is just a mess! People react in random unpredictable ways instead of how they are supposed to with the appropriate triggers, events are all over the place and you can’t even read a person’s inner monologue. How are you ever supposed to make any sort of meaningful connection with anyone? And on top of that, they won’t just let you play your precious video games in peace! I’m telling you, the real world stinks! And when you throw in a bunch of surprisingly sweet and well-meaning demons in the mix, you can just imagine what a headache everything becomes. And don’t even get me started on the ancient goddesses. No wonder Keinma doesn’t want anything to do with it.

Maybe you’ve been around this blog for a bit and you know that usually review shows one season at the time. The reason for that is simply that I usually like to take a break between seasons and watch a little something else. A bit of an anime sorbet if you will. But I just breezed through The World God Only Knows and before I knew it I had watched everything I could find. So you’re getting an overall review instead. Let me know if you have a preference!

The World God Only Knows ep1-7 (8)

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The World God Only Knows looks and sounds good. Deep analysis there I know! I mean the character designs aren’t that special but I find them all rather pretty. All the voice actors do a really good job and have great chemistry together. When the narrative calls for action, the movements are smooth and there is no skimping on the frame rate.  All in all, this is a good production with obvious access to resources.

I would specifically like to point out the music in the OPS, all of which have a vague hymn-like quality to go with the story. Similar music is also used in a few episodes, especially towards the end of seas 1. I found it quite interesting. It’s rare when not only the lyrics and tone tie into the story but the musical style of the OPs is also integrated into the narrative. For the record, OP1 is my favourite and I have been humming it for days!

There is a bit of a disconnect in the designs for me. Main character Keima is supposed to be a dweeb derided by all and unsuccessful with women and just people in general but he’s super attractive. Not only is the character design visibly more conventionally pretty boy than just about any other male character in the show (admittedly there are very few) but the characters in-universe often comment that he’s actually pretty good looking. I call foul on that one. No smart, really attractive and generally respectful teenage boy is going to get ostracized in a school that is 90% teenage girls just because he’s an avid gamer. I mean most people are avid gamers… Maybe not as much as him but it was still hard on my disbelief.

The World God Only Knows s3 Goddesses ep1-4 (42)

there are other vaguely religious themes

Finally, I would very much like to find an actual high school that incorporates a jabot in their school uniform. Clearly, I missed out!

I know I already wrote out a summary but let me give you a blunter one. Keima is a high school boy who only loves the world of dating sims spends all his life playing them. He has been deemed the God of Conquest. Due to a misunderstanding, he gets stuck helping demon Elsie (I love Elsie) who is trying to collect lost souls escaped from hell. These souls are now possessing various young girls and to bring them out and seal them away, Keima must conquer them, as in make them fall in love with him, which he does by basing himself on his expansive dating sim knowledge. At least that is the story for the first two seasons.

Now I know how this sounds but here’s the really weird thing. This has to be the harem with the most feminine gaze I have ever watched. I often find that when I venture into Harem or Ecchi genres, my tastes are the opposite of those more familiar with them. I’m not sure why. I’m saying this because I really liked the World God Only Knows which is mainly a harem, but I have a feeling my readers who are harem fans did not like it as much.

The World God Only Knows ep8-12 (6)

You tell them Elsie!

Here’s what I enjoyed. I really liked the production and although the charters are mostly archetypes, they were a bit more nuanced and complex than we often see and to me, they were mostly all pleasant. Because the girls forget everything that happened once the lost soul is no longer possessing them, we completely avoid storylines of jealousy or love triangles which are tropes I have little patience for.

But mostly, I liked that this harem anime was about the girls. Like really about the girls. In the two first season. Each little arc was much more about a young lady figuring herself out and fixing an issue that has been bothering her in her life than anything else. Keima helped them but he is more of a narrative device and somewhat incidental, as for the conquest part, that just a gimmick. It’s a way to draw in a certain audience and represents that a character is ready to love again. As such these girls all got a lot of development and care put into their personalities and backstories. They fell like complete people that couldn’t be defined merely by a physical description or a personality quirk.

Even though Keima was in fact saving each girl in a way, that was never the impression I was left with. If anything, it felt more like Keima had been lucky to get a chance to know these women and share just a bit of their lives.

The World God Only Knows s2 ep5-8 (16)

I’m having a tough time picking images. I have too many

On the flip side though, it does mean that main characters Keima and Elsie do stay just a touch underdeveloped by comparison and more one-note. It didn’t bother me for Keima and as Elsie’s one not was absolutely adorkable, I actually could have used more!

The humour is breezy, the heavier themes are treated in a light-hearted and superficial manner (it is a comedy and most girls only get an episode or two) but still respectfully and there is little to no fanservice to speak of which I found unusual.

I couldn’t get enough of this show and just steamrolled through a couple of seasons. Now you may have noticed I have been talking about the first two seasons mainly and that’s because season 3 “Goddesses”, changed a lot of stuff around. If the series had started out that way I may not have been as enthusiastic but by season 3 I was quite taken by the charters and ended up enjoying it a lot.

The World God Only Knows s3 Goddesses ep5-9 (31)

it was a pretty good season all things considered

Goddesses shifts gear from the harem girl of the week rhythm of the previous seasons, into a much more action-heavy continuous narrative, where the appearance of ancient goddesses suddenly has Keima trying to stop all hell breaking loose, literally. This plot device undoes some of the past mechanics and brings back the dreaded tropes. Mainly, the goddesses are possessing previously “conquered”  girls who now remember everything. Hello, constant jealousy fits and love trian..quadra.. dodecahedron.

The season also gets much more romantic as for the first time Keima has the possibility to pursue a relationship beyond the opening stages. As you can imagine, tears and angst ensue. Oh and there’s almost no Elsie. If I were to hold anything against Goddesses, it’s the severe lack of Elsie! Never enough Elsie…

In many respect, season 3 of The World Only God Knows is what I expected the show to be. A much more traditional harem, but a well made one with a fun supernatural twist. And I do think that fans of traditional harems would in fact enjoy the third season, unfortunately, it is difficult to follow along unless you’ve watched the previous seasons and OVAs. (I haven’t mentioned the OVAs but they are largely like season 2 episodes)

I’m not kidding when I say my tastes in harems are often opposite fans of the genre so I hesitate to recommend this one. Although it does have a decent rating so there’s that. For what it’s worth, I really liked this anime. I’m slightly bummed that there’s little chance more will come out.

The World God Only Knows ep8-12 (16)

Favourite character: Mari Katsuragi, but Elsie is a close second. I missed her so much during season 3.

What this anime taught me: It’s always better to eat fresh

If you don’t drink, how will your friends know you love them at 2 a.m.?

Suggested drink: Conqueror

  • Every time Keima’s glasses are reflective – get ready
  • Every time there’s a reference to a different anime or cartoon – take a sip
  • Every time a loose soul is captured – raise your glass
  • Every time anyone blushes – giggle
  • Every time a PFP (PSP) gets ruined – take a sip
  • Every time Keima teaches us something useful – take notes
  • Every time Keima gets hurt – wince
  • Every time Elsie uses her raiment – take a sip
  • Every time Mari gets made – take a sip
  • Every time Keima is not wearing his school uniform – take a sip
  • Every time Elsie cooks – get a snack
  • Every time Keima can see the ending – take a sip
  • Every time a character explodes in laughter – laugh along
  • Every time we see a fire truck – Cheer!
  • Every time we see a girl with green or blue hair (people always argue over which colour is which) – take a sip!

The World God Only Knows ep1-7 (1)

So I took 3 seasons and 4 OVAs worth of screencaps… Just saying. They’re on Pinterest.

Irina

I'm much nicer than I seem, we should be friends!

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21 Responses

  1. foovay says:

    If you loved it and breezed through it, I’m in. Actually, it does sound quite interesting and easy on the soul and I could use some of that. I just gulped down the latest season of Aggretsko though. So I might pick one of the darker, more serious animes on my list for seasoning before I jump into something easy. It’s on the list…

  2. Andy says:

    Well, great minds must think alike because I’m in the middle of rewatching this show and was planning to write a review myself. You beat me to the punch. I have to agree that this is an out-of-the-box choice show when it comes to harem shows, but I would still recommend it based on its humor, character development and satisfactory amount of time spent with each character. I’m happy we got 3 seasons of it and I’m actually not too upset with where it left off. I might explore the manga at some point. You can definitely expect a review to come out here soon from my end as well.

    Also Chihiro has the best arc.

  3. Dawnstorm says:

    I thought you’d like it at least a little, but I didn’t expect you to breeze through all three seasons all at once. I personally think it’s one of pillars of the harem genre of the 2010s. It’s always been pretty popular.

    Other than selected arcs of the first season, I’ve never rewatched any of it, so my memories are pretty spotty. And I’d actually agree with you about liking the 3rd season a little less than two previous ones.

    Overall, the serious is easy to wach and fun. My favourite arc was definitely the library arc (books!). Some books get shipped out to other libraries or second hand bookstores, while some books… disappear. (Image of a book called “Cobol for Dummies” or something like that.) A lot of it was just so relatable. Even more so now that e-books have a much bigger market than when the show first aired.

    • Irina says:

      I found it oddly comforting. Actually I’m watching another harem right now and I find this one comforting too. Maybe I just have weird comfort associations.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I’ve watched this anime and a couple other gaming related shows not too long ago like Gamers and D-Frag and it always facinates me seeing how gaming in Japan is not at all like gaming here in the west.
    I think alot of us could easily relate to Keimma since he’s mainly focused on games and his otaku centric interests instead of y’know socialization or dating.

    -K.Anthony

    • Anonymous says:

      In high school i should add there was many teachers like Kodama and they could hold a grudge against even after you graduated and take it all the way to the very grave.

      • Irina says:

        You kept seeing your teachers after you graduated? You are such a good student.

        • Anonymous says:

          I was a good student but i never bother to kept in contact at all with anybody in school be it elementary,highschool or college.

          • Irina says:

            Then how do you know what your teachers thought after you left?

            • Anonymous says:

              I’d made it a point to keep a low profile as much as i possibly could and just focus on my school work and kept my interactions as brieft and neutral as possible. The worst thing i did was really me being lazy. Academically wise i did very well thats where the good student part comes in but that didn’t stop them from giving me shit from time to time.
              I’m just glad i’m outta there especially with the virus going on.

    • Irina says:

      He ends up dating a lot

  5. ramon3ljamon says:

    Oh my, I remember recommending this show on your D-Frag post, a mere two years ago.

    I would normally quibble on your read for the 3rd season, but please allow me to bask in the glory of this accomplishment.

    • Irina says:

      Hey, I’m slow but I get there… Feel free to quibble with me enjoying the 3rd season a bit less but I’m pretty sure I did enjoy it a bit less…

  6. raistlin0903 says:

    “A bit of an anime sorbet if you will.”….I liked that line, gotta remember it!
    I just said one someone else’s post that I’m currently experimenting a lot watching things that I don’t usually watch and weirdly enough I think I have only watched one harem series since I started watching anime.
    So….who knows, with you breezing through this series so quickly I might end up watching it at some point as well. Not after Natsume’s Book of Friends though😊

  7. Scott says:

    I haven’t been into harems for a while, other then reverse harems sometimes, but I have been curious about this one for a while.

  1. September 13, 2020

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