Kami nomi zo Shiru Sekai Review: The God of Conquest and 2D vs 3D
I mentioned before that I’ve been watching Haruhi for my school’s anime club, and this time around I’ll be talking about the other series I’ve been watching there. A week before the club actually got around to finishing it, I watched through Kami nomi zo Shiru Sekai, also known as The World God Only Knows, on my own. It has been a while since I finished TWGOK, as it has been nearly a month since I finished it myself, though I am definitely catching up to my series as far as the blogging goes, even if that list continues to increase as I see more series. Just like Haruhi, TWGOK ended up being a pretty enjoyable watch for me. The two definitely had their share of humor and both were great ways to spend some time relaxing after a long day of school. Of course, the two series are very different aside from that. TWGOK is, well, an interesting case. I suppose one might consider it an unconventional harem, though I would need to provide more elaboration on that as this is a very vague description. It’s often a silly series but it does have its share of touching moments when necessary.
TWGOK revolves around Keima Katsuragi, a boy that is completely obsessed with dating sims and spends as much time as possible playing video games. Keima is known as the God of Conquest due to his exceptional ability to capture the heart of any girl……in the 2D realm of course. A demon girl named Elucia de Lute Ima, better known as Elsie, is sent to get the help of this supposed God of Conquest. Elsie’s mission is to retrieve loose souls, which reside in the hearts of girls and can only be forced out when the girls fall in love. Much to Elsie’s dismay, Keima is not at all the skilled individual she had anticipated, and it does not help either of them that they have collars that will behead them should they be unsuccessful. Keima, with no actual experience in capturing the hearts of real girls, must now figure out how to carry out this mission, all the while trying to find time to play his video games as per the usual.
The story of TWGOK is pretty simple for the most part. What you see is essentially what you get, as the season focuses primarily on Keima’s plans to make the girls fall for him. Any content not occupied by the 4 heroine arcs is pretty much comedy filler, though it’s often very entertaining comedy filler. There isn’t a whole lot to say about them since it is best to simply enjoy those as they are without hearing about them beforehand. Anywho, back to the main story. So this season only focuses on 4 girls for Keima to capture, though undoubtedly there are many more. Each arc involves Keima planning out how he can get closer to the girls and in the process, he helps them through whatever conflict or insecurities they are dealing with at the time. Some of the most enjoyable aspects of the story are the bits in which Keima helps the girls overcome whatever struggles they are going through and while much of the series contains humorous content, the more emotional and serious moments are some of the most meaningful in the anime and are responsible for the interesting developments that occur. Rather than simply getting the girl, Keima’s interactions with them give them strength and allow them to mature and persevere in spite of whatever situation they have to deal with, though they do not remember Keima’s involvement in this process as their memories are erased after the conquest is complete. Like I mentioned before, one might consider TWGOK to be an unconventional harem. It is a harem in the sense that the male protagonist encounters a number of girls that are attracted to him, though it is not quite the same as most others. For starters, Keima only pursues one girl at a time, so the story only focuses on whatever immediate heroine is present. As such, there isn’t any conflict or rivalry between the girls as far as romantic interests go. This may change in the seasons ahead, however, as the first season seems to just barely touch on the manga’s story. Another thing is that while Keima does pursue the girls because he has to, he does not seem to hold any significant romantic feelings for them, unlike in other harems where, indecisive though the protagonist might be, some sort of relationship could be plausible in terms of mutual feelings. While that’s not to say that Keima being with any of the given girls would be an impossibility, Keima simply does not have the romantic interest that would be characteristic of a character in a harem setting.
The characters, while not the deepest overall, are easily likable and fit perfectly with the story. Keima is a very entertaining protagonist and one of the main reasons TWGOK was an entertaining watch for me. Keima’s fixation on video games and lack of interest in the real world and girls in real life is consistently amusing and it is equally amusing to see how Keima plots his next moves for conquest in a manner reminiscent of mastermind strategists such as Light from Death Note or Lelouch from Code Geass. Despite his seeming indifference to the world around him, however, Keima does prove to be caring and respectable beyond his exaggerated gamer characteristics. Elsie serves as a very nice foil to Keima. While Keima is the cold, logical, unsociable character, Elsie is a pleasant, optimistic, and excitable girl that adds energy to the story and often unintentionally causes Keima immense trouble, much to the audience’s amusement but not at all to his. The interactions between the two are often comedic as their interests and thought processes are almost entirely opposite, though they do have some nice moments together in the best situations. The four girls that Keima captures are also likable and are all very different characters, so it is quite likely that the viewers can find at least one to like. The upbeat and athletic Ayumi Takahara, the proud rich tsundere Mio Aoyama, the idol Kanon Nakagawa, and the shy bookworm Shiori Shiomiya all get some form of development during their portions of the story. Ayumi’s arc was very short, but the rest have a good amount of screentime to display their backstories and to develop. This is not to say Ayumi does not develop either, though her’s is limited quite a bit in comparison. My personal favorite was Shiori as she was voiced by Kana Hanazawa (my favorite seiyuu) and I felt that she was the most relatable of the cast developmentwise. Another character with some screentime is Mari Katsuragi, Keima’s mother. While she typically plays the role of a loving, worried mother, her personality shifts dramatically when she gets angry, as she becomes very violent and displays characteristics of when she was a motorcycle game member. The other characters are much less crucial to the story and are primarily only present for a single arc as individuals connected in some way to the current heroine.
One aspect I found particularly interesting about TWGOK was the emphasis on the divide between 2D and 3D, or more specifically, between reality and games (which could be applied to other areas of fictional entertainment as well I suppose). Of course, much of the comedy connects in some way to Keima’s steadfast devotion to video games and his view on reality as a bad game of sorts. This was quite entertaining for me, as I am also quite fixated on the realm of Japanese entertainment and fiction myself and could relate to some extent, though I am by no means quite as extreme as Keima for obvious reasons. Beyond that, however, I felt the focus on differentiating between reality and fiction provided an entirely new dimension thematically. TWGOK is certainly a story about how a gamer freak is forced to step out of his comfort zone and retrieve the loose souls by making the girls fall in love with him (and in turn conquer their own inner demons), yet that’s not the only aspect to it. Keima constantly mentions how the video game world is ideal and how the women he loves from dating sims are flawless to him. In comparison, it is clear that the real world is one of hardship, imperfection, uncertainty, and many other unpleasant aspects that one might wish to retreat from. Real life is filled with many struggles and it is by no means the perfect wonderland that many would like it to be. That said, however, does that mean there is not value in embracing such a world? Though Keima’s extreme rejection of the real world can often be dismissed, the contrast between reality and fiction remains an interesting question, and I liked that one of the arcs does, to some extent, explore this aspect. Even if people are not perfect and circumstances are harsh and unforgiving, there is room for improvement and the beauty of it all is seeing how people can triumph over what goes against them and grow as a result of their experiences. There is development, growth, and other such aspects in fiction as well (and such things are why I find particular stories to be very endearing), though those are unrelated to the clearly idealized video game world presented in TWGOK, or at least season 1.
TWGOK was quite an entertaining watch for me and I found it a very worthwhile experience. While much of my entertainment was indeed the amusement of seeing the silly cast and the outrageous situations our two leads got into, there was also emotional development to enjoy as well as some interesting themes, even if said themes weren’t necessarily a primary focus. Keima in particular was quite a likable character and he certainly stands out compared to many other harem leads, so I will certainly enjoy seeing more of him and the other characters in the future. It’s sad that I only have one more week left to enjoy of my winter break, but at the very least, the return of school means I will finally continue my journey with TWGOK in anime club and begin season 2. Until then, I will enjoy spending as much time on anime, manga, and visual novels as I can during this winter break and be content with my TWGOK S1 experience, which I would rate an 8/10. Looking forward to what’s to come, especially S3 as I hear it actually takes a very different approach from the first two seasons.