This is review number three hundred and twenty three. This anime is part of the Fall 2010 lineup. It’s also the second highest voted show in my poll. The anime I’ll be reviewing is called Kami Nomi no Shiru Sekai or The World God Only Knows. It’s a twelve episode anime about a guy that plays a lot of video games and he lands hot chicks because of it. It’s pretty awesome. Let’s read on.
The anime follows Keima Katsuragi, an avid visual novel player. He can basically make any girl in the virtual world fall in love with him. Keima is confronted with a weird challenge though. Accidentally signing a contract with a demon, Keima must make real life girls fall in love with him. This is a tall order for a guy that doesn’t interact with real girls. His extensive knowledge of video games gives him an advantage though when he realizes you can also make real girls fall in love with you in the same approach.
Taking the Pants Off
This is one of the few anime in my long list of shows where I read the manga first. I was randomly lurking mangafox when I saw the title. It felt original by my standards so I decided to read it. I stopped reading when I heard an anime adaptation is coming out. I dropped the entire series altogether when, being happily satisfied with the anime, hardcore manga fans started hating on it calling it a poor adaptation. It’s a big reason why I don’t read manga. I don’t want to have the same bias stance they have. It’s annoying. Anyways, The World God Only Knows is a very wonderful anime. This title is a very good example that cliché can be good. It depends on how you use it. The entire premise of the show is based on cliché visual novel concepts. It took the familiar and overused tropes of the medium and created a story out of it. Having a hardcore dating sim addict apply all his knowledge of conquering girls and use it in real life sounds like a very original premise for me. It had this comedic type of wish fulfillment where you hope you can also use your useless video game skills in real life. I ultimately fell in love with the entire thing though because of the girls the main character has to swoon over. They’re living breathing stereotypes of the purest form and the anime functions more like a video game where the hero makes the girl fall for him. The familiarity on the tropes and the blatant use of the cliché is amazingly original as you see our main character kiss four different girls in the span of twelve episodes. It’s all thanks to playing video games. Doesn’t that just sound f*cking fantastic?
The show is pretty straightforward starting out. Keima Katsuragi is known as the “God of Conquest” for being able to finish visual novels at a perfect pace. He can get a happy ending with ease and visual novels are a b*tch to play especially master. Keima has spent his entire life addicted to dating games though so he has mastered everything there is to master in visual novels. He is also renowned for being able to conquer any target. Hell has somehow caught wind of his abilities and decided to put it to the test. He signed a contract where he must capture loose souls. Along with a demon companion, Keima must capture loose souls running amok in the city or else he’ll lose his head. By signing the contract, he is basically stuck capturing all loose souls until the contract is fulfilled. Here’s the fun part: the loose souls hide in girls. They shack up in the hearts of unsuspecting girls and Keima must drag them out. The only way to do that is to occupy the void the loose souls is staying in. He needs to fill it with love and he can only do that by getting the girls to kiss him. The soul hunter demon, Elsie, didn’t realize that the God of Conquest actually conquers video game girls. This video game nerd must now get a girl to fall in love with him with only the knowledge he had interacting with virtual girls. Keima takes it up a notch by actually utilizing video game knowledge in getting the girl to like him. The plan sounds absurd but life soon imitates art and an experienced Keima can easily spot the right route to get the target to fall in love with him.
It’s an incredibly ridiculous premise on paper but the anime has ways of convincing you. Anyone who has ever played visual novels can understand Keima’s approach and, luckily for us anime enthusiasts, most of the tropes used in the series has actually been applied to the anime medium as well. Before 2010, when this anime aired, we got a sh*t ton of VN adapted anime. Think of the light novel craze that is slowly becoming saturated at 2015. This phenomenon happened with VNs as well for a good decade until 2010. It was a horrible time for people unprepared for anime taking the incest route. Gawd help all our souls. Anyways, Keima’s approach is purely by the book. He uses VN knowledge to get a girl to like him. He follows the idea that hate can turn into love, the number of encounters with the girls can increase the chances of conquering her (route), and other VN staples like activating flags to get one step closer into making the girl fall for him. It’s honestly only missing the choices he had to make. The point though is that the anime is also making fun of VN stereotypes and the medium itself by utilizing the ridiculous staples a good VN game should have. Any experience VN player would laugh at Keima for doing something that can only work in a game. The show is very direct about the entire thing being stupid as well. Setting up banners for a girl to notice him? That sh*t doesn’t work in real life. The show would constantly poke fun of things like that. It does a flip though when it also showcases why the VN medium is so fun to play. The satisfying feeling for getting the girl to slowly fall for you, the heartfelt scenes you can only trigger by doing these ridiculous things and the feeling of getting a good ending on a route is also encapsulated in the anime. A seasoned VN player would immediately realize just how familiar Keima’s process of conquering a girl is to playing a VN. It has all the high moments, the tedious moments and the feeling of frustration when you are having a tough time with a girl’s route. It’s this familiarity with the pacing that makes this anime so unique. It functions like a VN and even feels like a VN but it’s actually an anime.
You don’t have to be a VN player to appreciate the anime though. The show also looks great because you’ll never guess what Keima will do next. Despite the cliché, Keima still remains unpredictable. He reacts to situations differently. He is surprisingly intuitive and he collects information on every turn. Doing so, he’ll then plan his next attack in trying to conquer the girl. You’ll never predict his actions and it’s even more awesome when his plans actually work. He can land a kiss with his expertise that the audience can’t follow and it’s that smart way of keeping the audience guessing that makes this show fun to watch. Can you really expect Keima to piss off a girl just so she can talk normally to him? It’s brilliant. The anime becomes rounded though with one more important element. Along with the VN tropes and Keima’s unpredictability, the show also utilizes familiarity with stereotypes. The girls he conquers are textbook stereotypes of various character types. He’ll meet the typical tsundere or the typical idol character and it’s often a treat being able to realize that the show showcases blatant stereotypical characters. The stereotype doesn’t end with the girls. It trickles down the story of conquering the girls. With the VN tropes and the character stereotypes making up the story, the experience goes on a different level when the process of making the girl like Keima feels familiar. Along with Keima’s unpredictable attitude, The World God Only Knows then creates a beautifully crafted premise that just feels so original.
The show is divided into two parts though and these things alternate one after the other. The first part would be Keima trying to get a girl to fall in love with him. It’s the main focus of the story. The second part would happen in between the conquests. It’ll be random fluff episodes involving Keima and Elsie or any other character they want to highlight. The first part is a straightforward one involving a very simple structure. Keima would be introduced to a pure stereotype girl that would have a loose soul inside her. The show would point out just how much of a stereotype she is but in an adorable and smart way. This would help Keima understand just what to do to finish the conquest. After a few weird incidents involving him and the girl, exposition is added regarding the girl. She’ll usually have a personal problem that she can’t solve or stubbornly don’t want to face. The exposition is minimal. It’s really just enough to understand the cliché-ness of the said problem. It doesn’t have to be built up in a complicated way. It’d be mentioned one moment then it meets with how Keima will finish the conquest. Keima will confront the girl and her problem then find the right time to smack a kiss. The conquest is done, the problem is fixed and the story ends happily. Keima conquered four different girls in this anime. The progression is pretty much the same in all of them. As I said, the cliché and the stereotype is a big aspect of the story. They’re all different simply because of how Keima approached each girl. Like a good VN where you can’t finish a route doing the same thing, Keima had to be hard, soft and bold depending on the situation. I can guarantee that you’ll end up smiling though after Keima is close enough to steal the kiss. A lot of the things about the first part will actually make smile. Whether it’s the wonderfully conceived stereotypical characters or how Keima keeps referencing VN culture in a way that’ll make you nod, the first part easily covers all the cool things you’ll love about the show.
The second part is usually a filler kind of thing. The show resets the excitement to make each conquest move about the same pace. To do this, after a conquest, the show will feature fluff episodes. It’d be about Keima and his unusual life or his relationship with Elsie. Either way, it’d be a lighthearted affair that aims to introduce the characters more. Most of these episodes would just be one of the characters doing something uneventful like Elsie baking a cake or Keima playing a bug ridden game. It just wants to give more dimensions to the characters in a light hearted manner. In the manga, this is actually a very tedious point because you want more girls conquered. The second part eventually becomes more important somewhere down the line when it is used as a place to dump heavy heavy exposition that eventually changes the tone of the series from a guy conquering girls to something bigger than that. I don’t know myself cause I stopped reading at the crucial turning point. This exposition dumping isn’t felt in the first season though. The fluff episodes also serve the pacing well because it’s a smart way to reset the status quo for the next conquest.
Keima is an interesting character. He basically embodies the ultimate wish fulfillment of a gamer. Keima has the ability to play all the games he can, even at school. He can actually use all that useless BS things he learned in games and apply it in real life and he doesn’t seem to be like any of us basement trolls that once tried to balance gaming and school life. Keima is also charming enough to land a girl so that’s every frustration of a gamer suddenly realized. The wonderful thing about Keima is that he indulges in his hobby but still have a steady grip at the responsibilities he have in real life. No gamer is that good and I think a bunch of us just really revel in the idea that one person can do it. I once marathoned the entire FF series up to FFX including the optional bosses and ultimate weapons obtained. I didn’t even finish the first one because gaming takes up too much time including the ones you need to function in real life. Keima also uses all his gaming knowledge in real life. That bit is particularly sweet. Wouldn’t you want to use your extensive knowledge of exploring dungeons at least once in your real life? You don’t have to be a VN gamer to know how sweet that deal is. Keima seems to have it all but you’re not jealous of the guy, you’re actually happy the idea of a balanced master gamer exists even if it’s fictional. In the anime though, Keima is interesting because he not only apply VN staples strategies but also the skills required to play VN. He is intuitive seemingly able to pick the right choices and route to conquer the girl, he pays attention to details to be a step ahead of everyone and he has patience and experience to know he is on the right path to conquering a girl. I once played a VN and I was trumped by the tsundere. There’s a point where you have to lower the relationship points to an absolute low because all the choices will make her mad and then just get them back up again to fully finish that b*tch’s route. With the steep learning curve, the game also demands you to give dedication to finish it. Having only played one VN game, I can already tell Keima is the perfectly idealized VN gamer. As impossible as he might seem, Keima possesses all the right things to finish a VN game. It’s his biggest appeal. Having to use it on real girls though makes him a notch more awesome.
Keima is also used as comic relief during the episodes. He has an eccentric personality and it often produces heavy referenced moments that just look absolutely stupid while giving the audience a crash course at various VN staples. He teaches them in a quirky manner which is a bit annoying at times. Keima is usually serious though but he gets especially weird when games are discussed. He even takes a jab at the VN culture from time to time. I do think he is at his most adorable when he’s with Elsie. She is just a big fluffy marshmallow. Elsie is Keima’s demon sidekick. She doesn’t do anything during the conquests except provide some magic when needed. She is portrayed as this useless cute girl that has her heart in the right place but she still screws up and ends up causing trouble for everyone. She is also the show’s mascot. Everything about Elsie just screams cute from her face to her personality to even her mannerisms. Everything is just meant to function in a cute way. She absolutely grows on you. She has an endearing personality that just makes you want to cheer her on. Her child-like personality is fun to watch when it interacts with Keima’s seriousness. They play off each other in a nice way especially when Keima goes weird and Elsie plays the straight man.
I would love to talk about the girls that Keima conquers but I’ll refrain. They’re the best part of the show. I took way too many screenshots though so I’ll just post some below. Remember, these are pure stereotype girls and there are four of them. There is the sports girl with a tomboyish personality:
There’s the absolute textbook tsundere. I believe it’s the modern definition of a tsundere who is rich and also snobbish:
The idol character:
And my personal favorite, the timid library girl:
It’s weird reviewing an anime from 2010. The standards in this year is different from the ones today so I have to keep reminding myself the animation isn’t up to snuff because it’s a really old show. It’s f*cking five years old now. It’s also weird seeing a Manglobe anime. The last anime I saw that was produced by this studio is Samurai Flamenco. This studio is all over the place often featuring decent to good shows. I think they want to stick to bishie heavy shows but maybe Brains Base beat them to the punch. I am amazed at how faithful they were in adapting the manga for this anime though. I think they really intended to cover as much as the original work because the pacing is precise and the second season is announced the moment this show ends. I think the third season also aired already so I have to watch that too. This anime is directed by Shigehito Takayanagi. He’s not that notable of a director since he does little work but I do remember him from the Galaxy Angel series. The fluff episodes especially reminds me of his distinct style of comedy where the characters’ personality tells more than the actual plot. I can already tell the second season is going to be as awesome as this first season considering how talented the director is. I can’t wait to see it.
Sight and Sound
Tamiki Wakaki’s character design is pretty damn awesome. I personally love the bulky type characters but he also draw inspiration from VN culture applying the various stereotypes to his characters. The visuals are often the biggest reason to love the pure stereotype characters. The tsundere has all the characteristics of a classic tsundere with blonde hair in pigtails and a wide forehead, the sporty girls has that big recognizable smile and tomboyish design, the library girl has a timid look and every single girl is given a definitive look of its stereotype. He makes it his own though by bulking up the characters, especially in the way the face is drawn, and then adding a touch of moe to make them younger and cuter. They act like VN stereotypes but Tamiki goes the extra mile to make them unique to his manga. One smart way he achieved that is by giving them all the heavily detailed uniform of his fictional school. I absolutely adore this uniform. The length of the blouse with the frills and the gothic inspired frills with an emblem on the neck just looks amazing. It highlights the slender frame of the girls while accentuating the innocence of the face. It’s a very smart design that dilutes the VN heavy inspiration and making the entire thing look original. The male uniform looks good as well especially with the red color. Keima himself is pretty damn hot. He has an amazing face that especially looks amazing when he’s serious. When he spouts “I can already see the ending”, he has this handsome face any girl can fall for. The uniform also gives him a slender frame but his soul piercing stare is so awesome to look at that it’ll captivate you. I read through the manga screencaptioning that gawd damn face at one time.
Animation is where things get a bit iffy. I finally understand why people weren’t impressed by the anime adaptation. The pacing is abruptly fast but it’s actually the preferred pace for the series. I think this applies to all manga. When you read it, you go at your own pace. Every single panel is given a time to be admired. You can re-read a moment and even just gaze at a character’s face at your own will. You control how you experience a manga. When you watch the same thing in an anime though, you have no control. The anime is one auto-mode so certain personal panels like a girl gazing with her blushed face is only seen for a second in the show. You can’t blame the anime. The series is meant to function that way. It did cut out small panels to shorten the time but, when you’re in love with the manga, I do think there’s a standard that should match the level of experience you had with the original source. It’s an auto-bias effect that I personally avoid in anime but, rotten manga fans, I finally see your point of view. You can all rest now. Anyways, animation is pretty good. My eyes is personally used to the 2014 standard of anime so it feels weird not seeing HD on things that should be HD. Despite that, the anime is able to capture the appeal of the manga. From the way the characters act to the various scenes of the girls blushing at Keima to him kissing them, it captured the panels to a tee. The way Tamiki envisions the series is exactly the same in the anime. Animation wise, there is no standout except the still frames of the girl’s close up faces. That’s not really all that impressive. The kisses are also not that flashy but Tamiki wanted it that way because it just wanted to capture the feeling of a VN victory not really bask in the good end route of the moment. I guess the way Elsie behaves is amazingly captured and Keima’s reference heavy goof moments are also brilliantly presented.
The anime’s OP song is “God only knows Daisanmaku” by Oratorio The World God Only Knows This is a weird techno song with English lyrics. I can’t hear it very well but I think it has all English lyrics. Anyways, I think the point is to capture a standard VN opening game sequence. It’s a bit misleading though because of the matrix like scenes. The song does grow on you though. The novelty of the song kinda stays with you after finishing the anime. The OP sequence just introduces the characters. I love the God of Conquest montage for introducing Keima and also the panning scene involving the four girls to be kissed in the series. They also appear in order so it’s a nice nod to manga fans and unfamiliar anime fans.
The anime’s ED song is “Koi no Shirushi feat. Kanon Nakagawa” by Kami no Mizo Shiri-tai. This song is sung by the female cast of the series. When the episodes feature them, the ending song would be headed by the VA actress portraying the character. Most EDs are different but this is the standard one. The song is about a love struck person falling hard for his significant other as she decides to give her everything to him. It’s a cute love song especially with how it relates to the anime. The ED sequence features the female cast playing with paint. It’s basically a fan service portion but notice that their cuteness is accentuated above all else because Tamiki also aims to do the same in his manga. VN gal game usually has sex in it but Tamiki didn’t want that in his work so the cuteness permeates. The ED is a good example of his belief that cuteness goes first before fan service.
8/10 “It has cliché and stereotypes as a foundation but the execution is flawless and the experience certainly one of a kind.”
This is a big wave hello to VN culture and it’s clichés in general. The execution is amazing though as it brings out the beauty of the medium and reminds us why we slave away trying to complete a route. With its standout characters and feel good moments, The World God Only Knows is an experience I urge everyone to try. If you’re a fan of simple love stories then you’ll enjoy this show. If you’re a gamer then you’ll appreciate Keima and his lifestyle. If you’re a fan of popular stereotypes then watch how this show make them refreshingly fun to watch. It has a lot of wonderful things in it you’ll be glad to watch so I highly recommend it.