I resisted this one for a while, as the title initially put me off. “The World God Only Knows” sounded like one of those megalomaniac shows, where some power-hungry fiend wants to take over the world. No, it is a delightful romantic comedy that isn’t really all that romantic, but is quite funny, and a rarity that the second season is better than the first.
It tells the story of Keima Katsuragi. He is a caliber of NEET, in that he shuns all human interaction. Oh, he goes to school and gets amazing grades, but his entire focus is on conquering the hearts of ladies. He has, in fact, conquered 10,000 of them……..too bad they are all VIDEO GAME girls. He is so good, that he has a title, The God of Conquest. Everyone comes to him to ask for help in how to beat the latest dating Sims games. He has played them all, on all platforms and has almost every copy of them. (His room could be a caliber of museum, as he has every gaming system. I am sure there is an Atari 2600 in there).
One day, while going through his e-mail, he gets an oddly worded challenge, daring him to take on the task on wooing girls who have a void in their hearts. He takes the challenge, not knowing what it all means. The letter has come from the Demon World. It seems, owing to some bureaucratic bungle, souls have escaped from Hell and they need his help to recapture them. Demons, however, are not the sharpest bowling balls on the rack and they somehow thought he has conquered 10,000 REAL GIRLS. Also, he has to take on an assistant, the rather ditzy and clueless Elucia de Lute Ima, better known as Elsie (who has spent at least the last 300 years as a maid).
Sadly, all demon contracts are binding and unbreakable (you remember that from “The Little Mermaid”, right?) and if he fails to complete the contract, the purple collar he wears about his neck will sever his head clean off. (PS, his demon aide is in the same boat, so there is a huge desire to come through on this). He eschews the real world, as it is unpredictable and boring. (“The world is a crappy video game.”) Yet, since he wants to be free of this deal, he accedes to their wishes and starts to pursue the ladies, using all that he has learned in dating Sims to help him in life.
Katsuragi is everything you do NOT want in a boyfriend: he is rude, blunt, disgusted with people, repelled by physical contact, aloof, stand-offish and does not suffer fools gladly. However, he possesses keen insights into how to get these trapped spirits out and satisfy the contract.
The second season is better, not just because we have established the characters, but the cast and crew are willing to be playful with the art. Whereas the first season played it rather straightforward with the artwork, the second season was willing to not only go chibi, but to parody other shows. (When Katsuragi learns that 60,000 souls must be captured, he comments “I don’t have to gather up 60,000 balls to summon the dragon!”). Also, the fan service is kept at a real minimum. We don’t see anything close to it until the second season OVA. OK, there is a scene when Mom is naked in the bath, but it is a one-time shot and we only see her from the back.
My only complaint is that Mom is badly underplayed. We go to all the trouble to let us know that she used to be a Biker Chick and we do nothing with it, although she was really tough to take on a demon while naked. I would have liked to have seen a filler show about how Mom and Dad met (I mean, we have a filler show where Katsuragi has to make up for six months’ worth of missed games and plays like 200 of them in a single day), especially since Mom is quite willing to accept the ‘fact’ that Dad has slept around and has loads of illegitimate kids (that’s how Elsie gets into the house as a step-sister, with that horrid lie).
The show looks really good, and since we are treating this like a dating Sims (the cross-over from season one to season two is tagged with a reminded that if you want to continue, you need to put in Disc Two at this point), we have to have the girls look cute. Even when they look tough and hard, there is still a big moe factor.
This is a relatively fresh show, coming out last year, and there is an implication of a third season (I mean, 60K worth of demons have to be corralled. Fortunately, he is not on the hook for all of them; many Lost Soul Hunters and working towards this goal….at the pathetic rate of 15 a month!)
Even with the conclusion of the second season, there is still room for a third year. Despite the potentiality of repetition, there is never a dull moment, as the show is kept on a near break-neck pace. It is well worth your time and the shows just flew by while watching.
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 9 (Very strong initial character design and graphics)
Conclusion 8 (It reaches a ‘save point’, but doesn’t really end)
Fan Service 2 (A similar show would be “Okamisan”)
Overall 9 (A bit more background would have been nice)
And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. And don’t bother me while I’m playing.