Title: The World God Only Knows
Encompasses: First Season
Published by: Madman Entertainment (Australia/New Zealand), Sentai Filmworks (North America)
Based on: The manga series by Tamiki Wakaki
Genre: Comedy, Fantasy, Parody, Romance
Audio: English and Japanese Dubs
Aspect Ratio: Anamorphic Widescreen (16:9)
Runtime: 325 Minutes
Classification: PG for Mild coarse language and sexual references
Special Thanks: Madman Entertainment for kindly providing me with a copy of this title for review
Keima is a dating sim champion. Cute girls are rendered powerless by his irresistible game playing techniques. Too bad things aren’t that way in the real world… that is, until his tempting game playing causes a real live – and very bubbly – cute demon hunter named Elsie to materialize! Now Elsie wants Keima to help her free hot girls from sneaky demons who secretly possess them.
From the outside this series might seem like it would be a very bland experience… you have a male character and a whole bunch of female characters and the male tries to build relationships with them all. I too entered with rather low expectations and thought it would be something laid-back that I could casually watch while I try to ignore these word documents on my computer desktop all with the big word “THESIS” on them. However, after watching the first episode I found myself engaged enough to watch the entire series in one sitting. But more on that later.
The series follows protagonist Keima, an intellectual genius who instead of paying attention in class or doing anything else for that matter, he walks around town, sits in class and lounges around at home with a portable video game console or controller in his hand with his game of choice being visual novels. He has been known as a bit of an expert on the genre, often getting frequent emails from others asking for his opinion on a game or otherwise asking him to help them capture the interest of a character. By accident, Keima forms a contract with a mysterious girl named Elise who has come from Hell to capture Loose Souls that have hidden away in the hearts of females (Oddly enough, those that attend his school). While he may be known as The God of Conquests, he must now take his experience of visual novels to help save the girls and his own head… the problem being his has no real life romantic experience whatsoever.
The series is split up into four arcs, each dealing exclusively with a different female character – each with their own issues that Keima and Elise must solve in order to form a romantic attachment and purge the loose soul. Due to a convenient plot twist where the girl no longer remembers Keima upon completing their task, the arcs are very much episodic and all previous characters only get the occasional cameo appearance. I think it is something you will either enjoy or won’t, but while some of the plots are a bit shaky at times (Namely with timing where the first two arcs run at one and two episodes respectively, while the other two got more time to build the characters) – I really enjoyed most of them. The individual arcs felt like they had come straight out of a KEY visual novel series, where they build upon a number of girls with certain issues (Shyness, Maintaining Social Status etc) and have a male come along, they fall for them relatively quickly and then *poof* time resets and they have no recollection of what happened (The time reset would vary between releases).
Surprisingly it is Elise who gets the least character development in this series, with a few extra episodes intermingled between the four main arcs giving focus to his dedication to gaming, and general attitudes to everything non-game related. Granted, seeing his father lose any potential as a character thanks to Elise, seeing him struggle to beat a glitchy visual novel and so forth were actually good distractions that provided a consistent and quite often good sense of game-related humor throughout these episodes. If you don’t mind some cliche character personalities and a moderate game-oriented humor, this is a series you might want to consider looking into – however isn’t one I would go for a solid story or an emotional tale.
Over here in Australia we only saw the DVD version of this series released, in lieu of North America which had both DVD and Blu-ray versions released. Despite this unfortunate decision, I thought the design quality was above average, with a strong vivid colour palette and detailed environment designs, coupled with more simply detailed but more realistic character designs. While these are good, I would have liked to have seen more done with the character designs as they never extended past a few regular outfit designs, coupled with some strong animation that isn’t used as well as it could have been. The series is mostly devoid of fanservice which may have been a contributing factor in it earning a PG rating instead of M that similar series with fanservice would have.
The series soundtrack came with an interesting assortment of instrumental and lyrical tracks that I thought contributed well to the overall tone of the series. This set is also aided by a very “Eden of the East” animation inspired opening sequence “God Only Knows” which did what an opening is supposed to do initially… draw one in to watch. There were also a number of ending themes throughout the episodes which I will not mention individually however had varied success in keeping my attention. Furthermore, the English Dub quality was top notch – featuring a number of great voice actors and actresses for their respective roles. Highlights for me include Chris Patton as Keima (Bringing with it the same high quality was other comparable roles), Luci Christian as Elise, Hilary Haag as Shiori and…. Shelly Calene-Black as Mari Katsuragi. The overall quality however reminds me of that same degree of quality found in many of the KEY visual novel adaptations such as Kanon and Clannad (Albeit featuring many voice cast members from those shows).
This collections extra content within this collection consists of your normal assortment with nothing all that unique added to the mix. You are provided with textless opening and closing sequences, music videos performed by Kanon Nakagawa’s Japanese voice actress and trailers for a number of Madman Entertainment releases including Squid Girl, K-ON!, Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva and Summer Wars.
Overall, considering I am currently in the middle of hectic writing of what seems to be an endless number of Word documents – I thought this provided exactly what I was looking for and did it well: Comedy, Plot and something that didn’t feel too generic. Considering I had only average expectations for this series, I was more than pleased with what was provided and I do look forward to checking out the second season due for release in North America this August and I assume later-2012 for Australia.
Storyline / Character Development: B
Music/Voice Acting: A
Personal Preference: B+
Extra Content: C
Overall Score: B