Fall 2010 At A Glance: The World Only God Knows
Have you ever felt yourself wishing that all those hours you’ve invested into videogaming could actually be put to use in a positive way? That somehow the countless hours you spent earning 100% completions for each game you buy would contribute to saving the world? Not to burst anyone’s bubble but that is probably never going to happen. But if you take the time to watch one of this season’s hottest new shows, The World Only God Knows (Kami nomi zo Shiru Sekai) , you will get the very amusing opportunity to see just what it “might” be like.
The World Only God Knows, an anime adaptation of the best selling manga by Tamiki Wakaki, is the story of Keima Katsuragi, an otaku gamer whose disdain for the real world is matched only by his potential to save it. Known across the net as “The Capturing God”, conqueror of over 10000 galges (short for “Gal Games”, essentially a dating sim), Keima is mislead into signing a binding contract with a demon from hell, in order to hunt down and capture “runaway spirits”. Selected for his purported ability to “conquer” any girl’s heart, he and his demon buddy, the adorable but air-headed Elsie set about the task of chasing out the evil spirts from the gaps within girl’s hearts, a task that quite often requires true love’s kiss. For the first time in his life a very reluctant Keima must put the skills he has honed in the virtual world to use in the reality he despises, as his very survival is dependent on the fulfillment of his contract with Elsie and her taskmasters in hell.
descent’s take: I approached “The World Only God Knows” (TWOGK) with alot of apprehension. Often times a show that tries to go beyond normal Otaku-pandering, straight into the realm of having an Otaku protagonist can fail rather miserably. While entertaining in its own right, it can carry with it a sense of exclusivity, where if you “don’t get the joke” you just can’t get into it. This mistake is one that TWOGK most definitely doesn’t make. The show is not lacking the modern era’s moe-ness, but when it comes to otaku references these are largely introduced to the audience in a way that does not alienate anyone. Seeing someone playing their PSP non-stop is an activity that most people can understand, and related to much better than some of the more specific activities exclusive to otakus. Gal game and dating sim concepts are not introduced without explanation and the show does not infodump, choosing instead to introduce these gaming concepts through Keima’s “words of wisdom”, hilarious re-enactments, or comedic asides. Instead of needing to know about Gal games to enjoy the show, by enjoying the show you were perhaps leave with a positive impression of the genre.
I will not get on here and try to claim that the romance in TWOGK is in anyway “realistic”. However as Keima sets about the task of conquering the indwelt girls at his high school you can’t help but be enchanted by the different tactics he employs. As unwilling as he professes to be about the task, Keima truly puts all of his accumulated knowledge and dogged gamer determination to use in conquering his objectives. On each “mission” he quickly puts each girl into her “category” (i.e. stuck up rich girl, athletic girl, ect, ect) and puts together what is often the most complex of plans to quickly capture her heart. Pretty soon you will get used to hearing his distinctive catch-phrase “I can see the ending!”, a fairly strong indication that he has finally solved the romantic riddle long before the audience has. While I doubt you can put galge knowledge to use in your everyday life, the show does make it work quite well. The story of each girl is usually as believable and sympathetic as anime will allow and the approaches Keima takes have a very logical albeit amusing feel to them. The creator wasn’t lacking for ideas either, as each new conquest and female personality is quite different than the one that came before.
Production values for TWOGK aren’t eye popping but the animation is fairly solid. Viewers who love “moe”, but perhaps not to K-On diabetes-inducing levels, will definitely like the character designs as well. Each girl, main character or not is unique and well-varied in design. TWOGK and its mangaka are definitely in the new “blushing all the time” camp of heroine/girl design. You may hate it, but you may also find yourself craving it before you know. You will find yourself liking each of the girls and their “route” for very different reasons and outside of the comedy this definitely serves as one of the show’s strong points. While sometimes quite formulaic, the show never gets old. The OP and ED videos are both fairly good from a musical perspective. The OP’s “gaming/futuristic” theme doesn’t make as much sense as you would think but the “Engrish” being sung isn’t too bad. The ED is adorable in one sense, artistic in another, but also with creepy foot-fetish undertones that turn you off a bit. The setting is what you’d expect, fancy private highschool and classic Japanese suburban neighborhood. Nothing special, but it works for this kind of series.
There is definitely nothing “new” in TWOGK, but as a whole it sure finds a refreshing way to combine its cliche components. More importantly TWOGK and its frequent romantic conquests is a refreshing development in the dysfunctional world of anime romance. While you know its not going to last, there is something satisfying about seeing the guy and girl actually get together every once in awhile, often in a touching way as well. I can promise you that you won’t find much new in the concepts that make up the show but you will find yourself drawn in more and more each week as TWOGK gives you something that is always a bit more than what you expected. If you like the show and want to get ahead in the development (season two has already been greenlit btw), the manga is perhaps as good or better than the show itself. Definitely worth the read.
descent’s score: 9.5/10 Nothing new, but it sure does revitalize a few different genres. Once you start, you definitely won’t be able to stop with this one.