Anime Worth Watching: The World God Only Knows

The World God Only Knows (神のみぞ知るセカイ) is a 41 episode comedy series spread out across 3 seasons and 3 OVAs from 2010-2013 by Studio Manglobe and based on the original manga by Tamiki Wakaki.

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Elsie was a cleaning demon for 300 years. Its that kind of show.

Synopsis

Keima Katsuragi is a hardcore gamer known as the God of Conquest for his ability to beat any game, specifically visual novels. When he opens a strange email asking for help in conquering a girl he thinks is talking about a video game, a demon named Elsie appears and tells him he’s signed a contract with Hell to help her hunt down loose souls now. Turns out the loose souls like to hide in the cracks in girls hearts so they can be reborn as the girls children and by making the girls fall in love the souls can be forced out, when Elsie’s boss was trolling around on the internet they mistook what Keimas title was referring to and thought he could seduce any real woman instead of video game ones. Problem is, Keima despises the real world and real girls in particular and wants nothing to do with this whole affair, only begrudgingly agreeing to use his video game tactics on girls after being told the contract would kill him if he doesn’t follow through.

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He can play a dozen games simultaneously, he’s not screwing around

Appeal

Two words: Keima Katsuragi. He is not your usual lead character, even after the anime smoothed down some of his rougher edges he’s still a brash individual who doesn’t care what others think of him and frequently uses that to his advantage as he’s willing to absorb a tremendous amount of physical punishment in his goal of making girls fall in love. His fanaticism for video games is hilariously over the top as he constantly treats real life as a video game with really bad production values and his rants/haikus about character types are utterly random and yet understandable.

The series also thrives in comedic escalation, always ramping things up to absurd levels and then going yet another step forward. In one episode Keima is chauffeuring a rich girl to school and it goes from her riding on a rickshaw behind his bike, to a large carriage, to a giant Zaku head, to him pulling a freight train with his bike.  The best episodes are frequently the ones that dont even have him doing anything with the stated mission of the show, as him desperately trying to beat a game so riddled with bugs its unplayable allows for some truly absurd escalation with the kinds of bugs he deals with.

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Keima refuses to let a little thing like being in school, or his teachers assaults, stop him from his video games.

Downside

Two words: Keima Katsuragi. He really carries the bulk of the show and if you don’t like his frequently jerk attitude or ramblings then most of the comedy wont work at all. Seasons 1 and 2 also dont have a lot of connected plot playing as more independent arcs, its only in season 3 that there’s a single storyline all season long serving as a culmination of everything that came before, albeit they had to skip a large chunk of the manga between seasons 2 and 3 so 3 can sometimes be rough to follow if youre not super familiar with all the characters.

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For a pretty large cast, everyone is actually fairly distinct and well done.

Conclusion

Weeb Level: 5/10- there’s a LOT of video game and anime references that while you dont really need to know them to get jokes, they do help a lot.

Fanservice: 4/10- While not direct nudity, there are a number of bath scenes (although I think more feature Keima than the girls) and some of the outfits are a tad more male gaze-y than normal.

Quality: 9/10- If the humor clicks with you then its pretty consistently funny throughout its entire run and the characters are fun to spend time with.

Where to Watch: Crunchyroll has all 3 seasons and the Blu-Rays are available from Sentai Filmworks. The OVAs however were never released in the US (which can make season 3 extra confusing sometimes as a major character actually first appeared in one of them).