Notice: The review covers all three seasons. They don’t deserve separate entries.
Animated by Manglobe, a studio that made lots of entertaining but eventually passable titles, with the exception of Ergo Proxy, the only great anime they ever made.
An average viewer looking at the majority of early comments and reviews for this show, would be made to think it is a masterpiece or something. I myself couldn’t believe how many tens of thousands were worshiping it and anticipating it to be the best anime of 2010. While the first season was still airing there was this ridiculous hype going around, making it look like THE MOST AWESOME ANIME EVER MADE AND EVER WILL BE. I of course was not that dumb to fall for such silly tricks since this is clearly a fan catering show, which in effect makes it not great by default. And here is a list of all the things it did wrong just to prove you that.
1) The premise
The protagonist is good at seducing women. 2D galge women that is; he has zero experience or interest in real women. So one day this spirit chick appears and demands from him to gather lost souls from girls he manages to kiss. He of course uses the methods he learned from the games … which surprisingly work most of the times, even if he occasionally improvises. The premise is very interesting; an anti-social is expected to deal with real women and not fictional ones. It is very intriguing to see how someone who has spent his life in a fantasy land, suddenly has to deal with actual problems … Too bad the anime is as unrealistic as the games.
Unfortunately, this is not a cathartic show like Welcome to the NHK. It doesn’t offer a realistic vision of how a man needs to face reality. Why? Because in effect it is a harem/galge parody! It makes fun of clichés and thus it is not serious. At the same time it is not trying much to show the negative side of hentai games; so it feels like it’s just an anecdote for the fans. No sir, galge games are very entertaining, even when they don’t teach you anything practical about women. But otherwise work most of the times!
2) The presentation
So why is that a bad thing you may ask? Why can’t it be funny for being simply a parody? Well, let’s start by saying it’s not funny to the most part. It is equally shallow and passable as most harem or ecchi shows out there, full of tired jokes around stereotypical characters. Every girl is a walking collection of clichés and they are trying to make fun of them in the most obvious way imaginable. Plus, the very way they tell the jokes is not interesting, since more than half of the show lacks background music to make the humor bolder. Not even the production values are that good to help you get into the mood. The character designs may look perky and lively, yet the actual animation is crummy, full of stills and jerky motions, simple coloring and lots of deformity. Not even the punch lines work wel,l as many times the characters talk in a plastic way. Their tone of voice is just too out there which definitely doesn’t sound like how real people talk in the real world. And it doesn’t even sound natural; they feel like they are just reading from a script.
3) The cast
Ok, so the premise is stupid and the presentation sucks but perhaps the characters make up for it. Something like being lively, developed and different than the norm which will make them memorable. Nope, they ain’t, they are all stock material, commonplace in all harems and ecchis. Although I understand why they can fool the average viewer to believe they are not.
The protagonist is not a typical indecisive lead but a determined male, willing to do what it takes to win the heart and the lips of any girl. He is also awesome enough to be called THE GOD OF CONQUEST. Other than that he is just an eccentric caricature and not a developed individual. He is clearly handsome and can have any girl he wants, yet he never did so and wasted his youth on fake ones. That is pure fan catering, since people who are playing these games a lot are actually very ugly, or anti-social, or very disappointed with real women. You are just supposed to root for a handsome guy to seduce girls? Try doing that with pimples and a huge belly! Yes, it’s supposed to be a joke, but it’s hard to empathise with something so obviously fictional.
What is even worse is why and how he does anything he does in the story. He constantly tries to win the affection of girls NOT because he really cares about them. He just wants to manipulate their emotions, to seduce them and exploit them, just so his spirit chick can extract their soul when he kisses them. Ain’t that purely satanic? Manipulating emotions so you can steal souls? How is that funny in any way? They keep saying this is some sort of a cure but it is amongst the lamest excuses they can use in any galge. They might as well have said that girls have issues, and having their mental barriers collapsing for you if you talk to them enough times, spreading their legs as reward for miraculously curing their anxiety. The excuse that he will die if he doesn’t keep seducing more girls is doing nothing but adding more fuel to the lameness. Oh, so you are FORCED to have a wonderful time living your own harem? How tragic, keep manipulating girls, or you will die for being honest and modest.
Even the girls he targets are not interesting. Despite the attempt to make a joke out of galge stereotypes, they all pretty much act the same way as in any game or harem. They are simplistic, with colorful hair, high-pitched voice, simple personality, and nothing to make them any more real that those fictional ones in the game. Not only that, it also presents them as equally easy to fall for you as is in the games. Even worse, when the lead actually manages to seduce and kiss them, then they GET AMNESIA and FORGET EVERYTHING! Ain’t that the pettiest thing ever? You exploit women, have sex with them, and then you get away free since they don’t even remember it. Hentai in the making.
How can you possibly like these sorts of characters? They are awfully chauvinistic in nature and the show itself is shallow enough to use amnesia as means to negate character development and reset everything, like they don’t matter at all. THIS IS NOT FUNNY AT ALL! I keep hearing the amnesia routine is used purely for excusing each girl being thrown out of the story instead of stalking the lead afterwards and steadily increasing his harem. That is a piss poor excuse to negate their importance as characters to begin with. How about they remain friends? How about they aid him in some way? They are simply erased from the story, like they never existed, just like their memories. Thank you very much; I don’t care about them this way.
Even the protagonist who retains his memory doesn’t change at all. In fact, despite the numerous interactions and kisses and out of screen sex, he is still playing galge like a maniac. Heck, the last episode of every season is purely about him playing fifty games at the same time to cover for all the hours he wasted on trying to “help” real girls. Yeah, 3D is so boring. IT’S NOT FUNNY!
And by the way, the amnesia fuss in negated in the third season, thus the girls gain back their memories and our noble protagonist needs to face the consequences of his actions. That is why the third season is amazing and an actual deconstruction of the stereotypes. But you still need to suffer through two seasons of cringe before getting there, and by then the chances of giving up or not caring anymore are very high.
4) The story
The anime is just a harem/galge parody and the story either does not exist or doesn’t matter. Besides the interesting premise, the show is completely unrealistic and far-fetched, with the plot being practically stand-alone arcs where the hero tries to seduce a different girl or deals with some galge related topic. There is no arcing plot in the first two seasons, other than a line of jokes around stereotypes. So again, the third season makes things a hundred times more interesting since the girls regain their memories and that leads to actual character development.
5) The value
This anime made the mistake of coming out at a time where far many more fan catering shows were in the market. If it was alone, then it would definitely feel more interesting and even original. Yet when pitted against Oreimo’s far better production values and bolder otaku culture, it just feels like it doesn’t have a chance; a thing reflected in its sales. It also has very little replay value since there isn’t anything cool enough in it to deserve a second watch. And it sure as hell doesn’t have enough fan service to keep the majority awake even if they are bored with all the rest.
6) The enjoyment
Mediocre to good production values, aimless story to the most part, obnoxious and undeveloped stereotypical characters, not that good next to other fan catering shows. The show ends up being the most disappointing anticipated series for many years. Not for me of course; I am smart enough to know fan catering never means something great. Good anime have a voice of their own and don’t rub clichés at your crotch as a cheap effort to sell. Although there are several good jokes around galge scattered throughout the series, it is hardly enough to deem the anime great. It has a very messy storyboard and cheap animation at many occasions, thus the jokes don’t come out as funny as they could have. Heck, not even the very title of the anime was done right. The World God Only Knows??? When will you Japs learn your English? The third season is worth it but having to suffer two seasons of cringe to get there, does not.
And as always, don’t blindly trust the majority. Despite the raving fandom, the series is a disaster sales-wise and even the ratings dropped vertically after the anime was completed. It is both a bad adaptation of the manga as well as completely boring compared with what came out around the same time. And I am not saying the show is bad because the majority is not interested (many great anime have poor sales). I am not saying it is great because many fans love it (beats me why Gintama is even in the top 50). I am just pointing out that this is clearly an overrated series and one should NOT start watching it with the assumption it is awesome. Because it ain’t. Overall, an average time killer at best.
And now for some excused scorings.
ART SECTION: 5/10
General Artwork 1/2 (generic)
Character Figures 1/2 (generic)
Backgrounds 1/2 (basic)
Animation 1/2 (basic)
Visual Effects 1/2 (basic)
SOUND SECTION: 5/10
Voice Acting 2/5 (dull)
Music Themes 3/5 (typical)
STORY SECTION: 4/10
Premise 2/2 (interesting)
Pacing 0/2 (mostly episodic)
Complexity 1/2 (not much)
Plausibility 0/2 (none)
Conclusion 1/2 (rewarding but too long to get there)
CHARACTER SECTION: 7/10
Presence 2/2 (cool / cute)
Personality 2/2 (cheesy but well founded)
Backdrop 1/2 (generic and simplistic but it’s there)
Development 1/2 (rendered useless, but exists somewhat in the third season)
Catharsis 1/2 (rendered useless, but exists somewhat in the third season)
VALUE SECTION: 3/10
Historical Value 0/3 (none)
Rewatchability 1/3 (maybe just for the galge jokes)
Memorability 2/4 (a bit uncommon on first glance but overall nothing much)
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 1/10
Art 0/1 (looks lazy)
Sound 0/2 (sounds meh)
Story 1/3 (good premise but light presentation)
Characters 0/4 (stereotypes)