Dating sim master Keima Katsuragi wants nothing more than to immerse himself in the 2D world, chasing digital girlfriends. But when the so-called 'Capturing God' answers a mysterious email from an unknown sender, Keima finds himself chasing down real-life ladies in an attempt to help the peppy demon Elsie de Lute Irma capture 'lost souls' escaped from the depths of hell. Now, lest the explosive collar around his neck detonate, Keima must convince various girls to fall in love with him in order to scare out the souls hiding in their hearts.
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) VERDICT: 4/10
Keeping in mind the source material, this is a faithful and enjoyable rendition. As an adaptation of a lengthy manga, it is hard to stand on your own legs as an anime at the 12 ep mark. Nevertheless, I highly recommend this series to anime fans whether they've read the manga or not. Story: 5/10Keima Katsuragi is a gamer of the highest caliber roped into using his gaming knowledge to woo real women. The driving force of the story is Keima's contract with Hell and its 'special' envoy, Elsie, to gather escaped souls from their invariably attractive, female hosts. A comedy gold mine, but episodic and lacking in depth. The progress of the story across the series is practically non-existent, but the story doesn't kick off in the source material until much, much later, so we can't really blame them. Like the galge that it simultaneously parodies and pays tribute to, the individual heroines carry the weight of the story on their shoulders. If you like the heroines, you'll like the story. Otherwise, probably not. There is hope, however, as the story will eventually come out if the anime continues long enough to catch up to the manga.Animation: 7/10 Believable, if not terribly exceptional. Art direction is normal, though the uniform design in particular bears mention as being quite eye-catching. The execution wobbles a bit between realism and abstract SD, but manages to maintain a relatively consistent tone overall. While not really a selling point, there is little to complain about barring a single scene in which one of the heroines emotes strangely (too much head bob!)Sound: 8/10 Consistently good OP/ED pairings are, sadly, rare in modern anime. Kaminomi delivers. The OP in particular stuck with me and I deliberately watched it through every time for every episode, which I rarely do. In-show music is understated to good effect. It sets the mood without stealing the show. This is no Noir or .Hack, and fans of sweeping orchestral moodmaking will go disappointed, but it works.Characters: 8/10 As previously mentioned, the heroines are the bulk of the content here. Getting to know and understand each conquest target as Keima methodically assembles his routes and ending is a delight. Each of the 4 featured girls in season 1 are solid and carry their respective routes quite respectably. The Keima/Elsie duo stays far away from romance (though there are occasional hints that Elsie would not be averse to the idea), and specifically targets comedic content. Elsie is adorable and ditzy but begins to grate by the end of season 1 due to a complete lack of relevance to any given scene. Keima steals the spotlight 100% of the time, leaving Elsie with nothing to do except motivate the perpetually uncooperative God of Conquest to do his job. Overall: 7/10Though hampered by the slow pacing and the source material's lengthy spin-up time, Kaminomi manages to strike a solid balance between a manga and an anime. It certainly isn't the blockbuster hit that many fans hoped for, but perhaps it will become so if the series manages to catch up to the story before fans get bored. Watch it, enjoy it, don't think too hard about it.
The World God Only Knows looks to be a promising series. This opening season was a great introduction and I'm really looking forward to season 2 coming up in the Spring. The series takes the format of a collection of mini-stories, each one involving Keima (the main character) wooing a female character in order to rid her of her inner demons (literally, loose souls is the term that is used). After which, the female character's memory of Keima is erased. As such, the way I'd like to approach this review is to focus on each mini-story as its own entity. "Capture" 1 - Ayumi Takahara This first capture might only be one ep and it's mostly just an introduction to what becomes the norm for plot progression in the series. But, the story's kinda cute and even though this capture obviously lacks the depth of the later captures, it's able to plant the seed of intrigue to keep you watching. "Capture" 2 - Mio Aoyama The second capture is two eps and considering that Mio is a rich prick, you might be surprised that this capture manages to get quite emotional. You've gotta feel at least some pity for the girl. Trying to uphold an image she can no longer sustain, living in the past because that's all she knows, etc. And the greater significance of this capture is that you begin to get the sense that Keima really does have some mutual feelings as much as he may try to deny it. "Capture" 3 - Kanon Nakagawa The Idol. This capture for me (and I'm sure for most of you who have watched this series) was the hook. Ironically, there's a Nazi parody in the 1st ep of this mini-story that I found to be in such poor taste I nearly stopped watching this anime. I'm not a Jew, but I'm sorry that's one line you just don't cross. I'm not trying to be self-righteous here; this was a minor blemish on a great series. Moving along, this capture is the longest (I think, it might be a tie) at 4 eps. Kanon-chan is so paranoid about not being a true Idol that she literally disappears into obscurity when the paranoia kicks in. This capture is also difficult on Keima's end because he hates Idols. But, in less than probable circumstances, Keima and Kanon-chan start to go out. And in the end when Kanon-chan is facing the greatest challenge to her self-doubt, Keima's there to save the day. And when Kanon-chan sings "Love Call," I found it to be one of the most touching moments in anime. On that note, Kanon-chan's character album is now available and overall is good for the pop Idol genre. If I had to choose one character that I wanted to come back in a significant way in this series, it would certainly be Kanon-chan. At this point, you're certain that Keima left some of his heart out on the line. "Capture" 4 - Shiori Shiomiya From the Idol to the Bookworm. It's a stark transition, and it takes a little while to adjust, but once you do, you realize how unique this final capture is. This capture is also 3-4 eps. The majority of the first 2 eps of this mini-story has almost no verbal dialog. But Keima is able to frustrate Shiori so much that she is finally able to find her voice. The conclusion to this capture is a bit abstract which is an interesting change of pace. I'm not quite sure where I stand in terms of good or bad. But certainly, Shiori came to be compelling character after all. Some final notes, the OP is really unique and I quite liked it. The full version is like 8 min which is certainly rare. There's also the matter of Keima's shinigami partner whom I haven't mentioned, Elsie. She's a cute, awkward little character, but doesn't yet have her coming of age in season 1. So that's surely something to expect in season 2. Lastly, I'm not gonna pick on the ending too much this time around, but it was appaulingly bad. It was more like a really crappy OVA than a last ep of the season. But all in all, I'd give season 1 of The World God Only Knows an 8 out of 10 both for content and promise.
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