Reviewby Luke Carroll, Aug 16th 2012
The World God Only Knows - Season 1 Collection
The God of Gaming has arrived!
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.
Anime based on dating sims have always been met with mixed results. By their very nature, many struggle to break the mould of predictability and inherent simplicity that the games they derive from ultimately supply. So what if a show was to take this fact, and parody the hell out of it like there's no tomorrow? Well you would wind up with something like The World God Only Knows; a series that manages to satire the entire logic of the dating-sim genre and does so without making itself look like an arse in the process.
So how does this series manage to achieve such a feat? Well a lot of it comes down to our main protagonist Keima Katsuragi. Regularly referred to as 'The God of Conquest' due to his legendary ability to conquer any girl in a dating sim game, Keima could easily be seen as an otaku of major proportions. It however is made clear early on that his interests only extend to games and that real life items such as pop idols don't register with him at all. What separates Keima from your regular lead character however is his ability to treat the girls he meets with the same thought process as he would in his games, as an item that requires a number of flags to be triggered before he can succeed. It's a rather clever crossing of mediums and a welcomed change to what has been a rather stale genre for many years now.
The series breaks itself down into four main arcs, each corresponding with a girl Keima must woo. Much like a game each girl is tougher than the next and Keima has to work harder each time to crack their path to victory. Thankfully he isn't alone in this task. You see, Keima got himself into this whole mess when he accidentally accepted a contract with the cutesy demon Elise to help her capture evil Loose Souls that have embedded themselves in girls hearts. With a magic broom in hand, she'll do just about anything to help Keima out as doing otherwise would break their contract and unfortunately kill them both; and Keima has way too many games to play before he dies.
Visually, The World God Only Knows is nothing short of a treat to the eyes. It's colourful, fluid, and rarely appears to cut any corners. Character designs are rather good, although don't expect much originality from anyone but the main cast. Having the show taking place mainly during school hours doesn't help at all in this regard, but Keima's take on the uniform is certainly striking. The series is all but devoid of fan-service, somewhat of a surprise considering the material it is parodying and the content regularly provided in them.
Visuals however are only half the package and thankfully the audio is certainly no slouch either. Full of small orchestral numbers and piano pieces, the series rarely seems to put a foot out of place. There are even a few j-pop songs thrown into the mix courtesy of one of Keima's targets being an idol. On the dubbing side of things, the English cast spearheaded by veterans Chris Patton and Luci Christian do a solid job as Keima and Elsie respectively. The rest of the cast is also quite bearable, and the scripting is certainly one of the more tightened attempts, with very little deviation from the subtitles. Insert songs though are not dubbed, but maybe that's a good thing...
On the extras side of things, included is a number of music videos, clean opening and closing clips for most of the songs throughout the series and a number of madman anime trailers. The music videos all relate to the Kanon idol arc and their corresponding insert songs. Disappointedly, these tracks are all presented with cut footage from the series rather than anything new and the same songs are included multiple times.
Overall, the first season of The World God Only Knows is a very satisfying experience. Although the series does not hit its full potential for the most part, it does more than enough to put it up there with some of the best releases this year. With the second season already scheduled to be released in the states within weeks, one can only hope the wait for it to hit here will be a rather short one. After all, Keima's contract is far from complete and the girls aren't going to conquer themselves.
Overall (dub) : B
Overall (sub) : B-
Story : B
Animation : B
Art : B
Music : B+
+ A fresh take on a stale genre, solid presentation on all accounts.
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