Kami nomi zo Shiru Sekai – 01 (Revisited)

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Antisocial high school student and self-styled dating sim “God of Conquest” Katsuragi Keima unknowingly signs a contract with a demon from hell, Elucia “Elsie” de Lute Ima, to assist her in the retrieval of loose souls, which embed themselves within the hearts of troubled girls. To release the souls (and for Elsie and Keima to keep their heads) he must take their place in the girls’ hearts, i.e., make the girls fall in love with him. Their first target is his classmate and track team hopeful Takahara Ayumi, who looks down on Keima, calling him a “dweeb.”

Keima commences a campaign of intensive cheering for Ayumi, who initially thinks he’s mocking her. When her senpai accuses her of getting cocky after a fluke performance, Ayumi trips on a hurdle intentionally to take her out of the meet, so she won’t cause them trouble. Keima encourages her and confesses his love, and when he starts to fall down the stairs, Ayumi catches him and they embrace in a kiss, releasing the loose soul, which Elsie captures. Afterwards, Ayumi wins a medal at the meet, but has no memory of the “conquest.” Elsie enrolls in Keima’s class posing as his sister.

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With only one week until the completion of its third season, we thought we’d look back on the episode that started it all. We first watched and reviewed this episode way back on 8 October 2010, and gave it a 3 out of 4 on our old rating system, but aside from that date and rating, we decided not to read what we wrote back then until writing about our impressions this time around. From the perspective of those now very familiar with the franchise, you’d think we’d find highly introductory (by necessity, as it’s the first) nature of this episode would make it a bit of a bore to watch. Not so. On the contrary: we enjoyed it more the second time.

We were always impressed by the guile and confidence with which this series got out of the gate, which parallels Keima’s confidence in throwing himself into his very first mission, despite having never even held a real girl’s hand. We forgot that Ayumi was first conquered in just this one episode – a breeze compared to Keima’s present struggles in the Goddesses Arc. We also forgot that Elsie was prepared to give up and die with Keima after learning his experience was limited to dating sims, but Keima said ‘screw that’ and stepped up, not just to save his own head, but Elsie’s too. And the rest is history.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

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Kami nomi zo Shiru Sekai: Megami-hen – 10

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Keima tries to accelerate a quick route to conquest at the school festival, but Ayumi hates him and Chihiro keeps showing up at the worst times. After failing to form an alliance with Chihiro, he seeks out Ayumi, but Chihiro gets to her first. Vintage, led by Lune, launches a coordinated attack on the goddesses, capturing all of Keima’s past conquests along with Keima, Chihiro and Ayumi.

The trio is rescued by Haqua, who was quietly smuggled out of Hell by her boss Dokuro and charged with stopping Vintage. Katsuragi lets Ayumi leave but takes Chihiro and Haqua home, where they find Kanon missing. Diana appears, having not been kidnapped, and she and Haqua argue over who’ll launch a potentially suicidal assault on the Vintage base at Point Rock. Keima decides the best route is to continue his conquest of Ayumi, release Mercurius, and unite the goddesses as planned.

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This is the second time in two days we’ve dealt with an episode in which the bad guys execute a stunning and devastating move that puts our heroes’ backs up against the wall. Last week, Keima was uninterested in the miscellaneous affairs beyond his conquest of the goddess hosts. This week, he has no choice, as Vintage forces the issue, threatening not only his original (and relatively small-scale) mission, but also New Hell and Earth itself.

Last week’s diversion to Point Rock was a little flimsy, but the raised stakes work here. Not only that, the episode pulls Haqua from out of nowhere and suddenly has us actually caring about her. Turns out her boss wasn’t a crook after all, and makes sure her most trusted officer is on Earth where she can be of the greatest use. If it weren’t for Haqua, it would be Game Over for Keima. But both she and Diana want to start a war with Vintage; a war Keima doesn’t believe either of them can win on their own.

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In addition to making things we hadn’t deemed relevant relevant, the episode balanced action and exposition with a fair amount of comedy, as Keima digs a deeper and deeper hole for himself versus Ayumi, until all hell breaks loose, and in the chaos, Keima completely abandons pretense and tact. He mutters things out loud that he’d normally only think; he tries to get Chihiro to “form an alliance” (and gets pummeled for it); and at episode’s end Chihiro is essentially his (very confused) hostage.

But in the end, he’s the cooler head who rejects going out in a blaze of glory, as Haqua or Diana would do. He’s getting his game back on the rails, and will not deviate. He’ll release that last goddess from within Ayumi or die trying – in which case the world may well die with him. You gotta work with what you know…and he knows how to win the girls.

9_superiorRating: 9 (Superior)

Kami nomi zo Shiru Sekai: Megami-hen – 09

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When Keima is about to kiss Chihiro, she tells him it’s her first, meaning she isn’t hosting a goddess. Shocked by her unexpected declaration of love, Keima rejects her outright. Ayumi saw how he treated Chihiro and kicks him. While bathing, Diana tries to get Keima to “love Tenri more” so she’ll sprout wings; refuses. While at school with Elcie, examining their school emblem starts him on a route that discovers an enormous plot involving Vintage raising loose souls beneath Point Rock, but drops the investigation and gets back to his conquest of Ayumi.

So, the show did pull the twist and make Ayumi the host. Again, not particularly surprising. Once Keima realizes kissing Chihiro won’t release a goddess, his calculating mind decides to slam on the brakes and make a quick u-turn, running right over Chihiro’s feelings. It’s a cruel and not totally-out-of-character move by a guy who has said many times he’ll never fall for a real girl. He does consider Chihiro’s feelings – briefly – in his mind, but in the end, he ignores his conscience and brings the hammer down, hard.

We wouldn’t be surprised if Chihiro now hates his guts, meaning he ruined a potential post-goddess arc romance not sullied by the supernatural. But hey, apparently he doesn’t want that, so on with the mission! About that: while he couldn’t have known Ayumi was spying on him, he could have helped his cause much better had he not so harshly and mercilessly rejected Chihiro. In doing his u-turn, he obviously forgot the two are close friends, and Ayumi isn’t just going to leap in his arms because he says he loves her. Now his job to conquer her will be that much tougher.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • We think Ayumi went a bit too far following and spying on Keima and Chihiro. It felt like the plot needed her to see Keima reject Chihiro in order to complicate things for him later, so…there she was.
  • We liked how all of her celebrity treatment has rubbed of on her to the point she’s started acting and talking like one. 
  • We lost some respect for Keima for so deeply hurting Chihiro, but gained a lot back when he started that convoluted sidequest…only to drop it immediately. He can’t be bothered to worry about all that supernatural Vintage conspiracy crap…just like us!

The World God Only Knows II 12 (Fin)

I wasn’t expecting a masterpiece, and I was expecting just an isolated, mostly irrelevant slice-of-life episode that drove home Keima’s ideals once more (like last season’s finale), and I shouldn’t have expected the series to resolve itself in just one episode, but I was still pretty disappointed with this final week. Last season’s finale was more unhinged. This one was kind of recycling ideas, and the presentation of his ideal dating sim was a major let-down. It just felt kinda lame, and the horribly-drawn character just seemed like an excuse to…horribly draw something.

There’s a semi-serious mention of the show “continuing” for yet another season, which explains the filler-like nature of this episode. After all, Keima and Elcie still have collars that bind them together until a certain number of souls are caught. Now, considering the number 50,000 has been tossed around, perhaps their contract will never be fulfilled, and Keima is simply doomed for life to make girls fall in love with him and then lose them.

And that’s the flaw of this season: for all the girls whose lives he’s changed by releasing them from loose souls, Keima remains stubbornly static. He just goes through the motions. He hasn’t changed one bit. This season resolved nothing. At the end of every arc, he seems to dump whatever emotional investment. I can’t help but wish he’d develop a little more beyond discovering new schemes for conquering. But he doesn’t care about reality, and so none of the relationships he forms ever have any lasting emotional effect on him.

It’s a shame, and if another season is just going to continue the by-now tired formula, it’s going to be very hard to watch.
Ah, screw it. It’s just good, dumb, light entertainment. I’m actually glad that something deeper and more serious isn’t being attempted; I can go elsewhere for that…and I will. Whether I watch next season totally depends on how much is airing that’s better than this. Rating: 2.5