Cross stitch pattern of Elsie from The World God Only Knows. Trust me, that’s the least derpy face I could make. The design is based on her appearance in the artbook. Read my review below and download the PDF here: Elsie Pattern
Grid Size: 87W x 114H
Design Area: 6.07″ x 8.00″ (85 x 112 stitches)
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I usually review just the first three episodes of a series, since I think they’re the most important. The purpose of the first three episodes of any show is to get viewers hooked and show them a taste of what’s to come if they keep watching. Some shows are admittedly better than others at this. Let’s see how the first episodes of The World God Only Knows fairs. Remember, this is based on me only seeing these episodes and is just my opinion.
So the premise of The World God Only Knows is that there’s this kid Keima who is the best at dating sims. He agrees to an online challenge and unwittingly seals himself to a demon. You know, easy mistake to make. In order to free himself he has to complete the contract by wooing a bunch of high school girls. It’s not the stupidest set up for a show, but it’s up there.
What sets The World God Only Knows apart from the countless other high school harem anime is the characters and surprisingly enough, the pacing. Too often in shows like this everyone gets introduced too quickly. You get a whole cast of characters introduced all at once in the interest of making the viewer certain that a girl for their particular fetish will be present, but then I end up caring about none of them. The World God Only Knows gets three episodes in and we only have four primary characters, like two secondary characters, and a bunch of background randos. This slow introduction of characters lets me actually get to know them as people. I want to see Keima succeed because he’s going one girl at a time and letting each one shine.
What’s weird is that because the pacing is so good, the message kind of gets a little muddled. Originally I thought that the show was going to try and say that the real world is different from a game world. But the structure of the show doesn’t support that. In fact, I think it’s trying to say the exact opposite, that real life is just like a game. Each girl loses her memory after being won like restarting a dating sim to go for another girl. There’s only been two conquests but each of them end with a kiss in under a week of interacting. Each girl can be won over with gifts or acts of service. I know love languages are basically pseudoscience, but what’s going to happen when he targets a girl who’s idea of love is spending quality time together? Keima is going to have to spend hours with a girl he doesn’t really love. And, yeah, that’s going to be pretty hard for him.
So far, The World God Only Knows has some great characters, but one of them stands out as not quite right: Elsie. Elsie is a demon who is supposed to be so bad at being a demon that she was given cleaning duty for 300 years. But this is a lie! It has to be, because everything so far has shown that she is completely capable of doing her job. She never leads Keima to the wrong target. She never fails to capture a soul. Every time she uses her magic, it’s always pretty accurate to what Keima wants. She blew a hole in the wall once, but that was because she wasn’t using her cleaning equipment right. She’s actually really good at being a demon. Prediction: I don’t know what her deal is, but I really want to see her do a face heel turn and just start destroying things.
On a side note, I really like this upperclassman with the buttons. She says almost nothing, but I really want to see her again. I also hope that Keima’s cheating father subplot doesn’t get dropped. That needs some resolution. All in all, I’m going to watch the rest of this and you probably should too. Peace!
You know what? I usually don’t do this, but how about a last three episodes review?
How spoilery do you think this review is going to be?
Spoilerific! You have been warned.
“Prediction: I don’t know what her deal is, but I really want to see her do a face heel turn and just start destroying things.” Okay, so that didn’t happen, but at least we got to see someone notice Elsie’s talents which is nice. Though I’m sad that her backstory got dropped. We never got to meet her older sister that she’s been living in the shadows of and I know they probably go into this in the manga, but I want to judge this show as just the anime and how it holds up as a separate piece. I feel like Elsie got shafted a bit when it comes to character development. She learns that she’s better at her job than the girl she used to look up to, but this doesn’t directly correlate to her becoming more confident. It’s probably what gives her the courage to become Kanon in the third season, but that’s never actually shown. She just agrees to do it and then does it. Don’t get me wrong, she knocks it out of the park and no one suspects a thing, but I would have liked to have a little scene where she doubts herself then remembers how she couldn’t see her talents before and then Haqua encourages her and she gets fired up for her task. A little continuity could have gone a long way.
I love the other female characters, though I feel like some of them would have been more effective if their stories were a little shorter. Especially Nagase: the teacher girl and Kanon: the idol girl. Okay wait, let me get this out of the way. Kanon’s conquest was my least favorite of all of them for multiple reasons. One, Kanon is loved by absolutely everyone in school. I don’t care how famous you are. There are going to be people who don’t care about you, yet Keima is shown to be the only person in school who ignores her. Kanon is a pop star. Are you trying to tell me that there are no kids in this school who like metal or rap better? Two, Kanon spends too much of her screen time singing songs. I know she’s a singer but the plot only needed her to sing two songs max. The rest are just filler. And three, oh my God just use the raiment to find her, you idiots! This is one of my worst pet peeves, when a character forgets something that is super obvious to the viewer. Elsie just used her tracking power a few episodes ago! Why are you all running around trying to find her the old fashioned way? And then Elsie blows it all off in the end like “oh silly me” and I could forgive her for forgetting, but Keima, you’re supposed to be the rational one here!
You might think from all this that I don’t like The World God Only Knows, but no, I really enjoyed it. I just get critical of things that are so close to being great. I love all the girls… even Kanon, (though I am grateful she’s unconscious for like the whole third season). Let’s see, favorite girl has to be… Shiori: the library girl. Her constant stream of consciousness can be hilarious at times. I love how her character changes as she learns to open up over the course of the series. A lot of times shy characters really annoy me, but Shiori makes enough visible and permanent progress that I ended up rooting for her. I think her character would have been severely hurt if they had decided not to let the audience into her inner world and I am so glad they gave us the opportunity to know information about her that Keima does not.
My second favorite is Chihiro: the umbrella girl. I’m glad that the idea of the love not having to come from Keima was touched upon. It didn’t actually go anywhere, but I’m glad it was at least addressed. It was interesting to watch Keima grow a little through teaching. And maybe it’s not so much Chihiro that I like, but rather the impact she has on Keima. I love how he gets fired up trying to figure out his favorite pastime from a different perspective. He really wants her to win this guy over and puts so much effort into it. A lot of Keima’s character growth in the series can be hard to spot since he just goes back to playing games in the end. His growth doesn’t come from him changing his ways but rather it comes from him learning new things and seeing the world from different perspectives. This is why I love Yui: the boy girl because she makes him think about the other side of his hobby. She lets him see what its like to be the one who is chased rather than the one who chases. I think that Keima has become better at dating sims through his interactions with Yui and Chihiro.
This odd perspective on character growth is what makes an episode like Summer Wars so irritating. Keima gets an email from a game developer asking for his advice on what makes a good dating sim. This is probably just a marketing ploy, reaching out to him because he has a large online presence, but Keima takes it super seriously. He debates on settings and types of girls and can’t make a decision. Now a real reviewer would definitely have something to say even if it doesn’t have anything to do with the characters. “I liked your previous games but I wish the inventory screen was more intuitive.” Stuff like that. This was his opportunity to tell a specific game developer what they need to work on and what does he tell them? “Make a good game.”… Oh yeah that’s really going to help them!
And here we come to the last three episodes, because despite how good they are, I can’t help but feel unfulfilled. So in the end, because you’ve watched it already right? In the end we find out that Chihiro does not actually hold a goddess in her. It’s not really a surprise but I’m not complaining. It turns out that she had a thing for Keima even before her conquest and that’s what was throwing him off. What results is a tricky about face where Keima has to woo Ayumi while Chihiro still loves him. The problem here is that there’s a lot of secrecy that isn’t properly explained. We just have to take Keima’s word that the conquest would take longer if Ayumi knows the truth or if she says whatever. And Keima just has to drag Chihiro around everywhere even though she does zip squat to help. I mean I know why she’s there, to hint that Keima and her might get together in the end, but they don’t actually get together in the end! Why is she still there?
At least in the last few episodes they have the foresight to put almost no emphasis on what the goddesses are doing. Keima unlocks Ayumi’s goddess and then they go off and save the world in what probably was an epic battle, but we don’t get to see much of it because no one cares. Keima goes back to being an unsocial shut in and well, that’s it. They imply that Chihiro still has a thing for him, but we never see it. I really wanted a short after-credits scene where Chihiro knocks on his door or walks up to his house and then turns away, something to show that she could make it work with him. I’m sure that the manga continues on and maybe the manga ending is better, but the anime should be able to stand on it’s own like the first Fullmetal Alchemist or Host Club. Ending an anime at a different point than it’s corresponding manga is not uncommon. There are ways to do it. I just feel like they could have done it better here.
And now you’re thinking “Wow, you really didn’t like it.” No, no it’s not like that. I love The World God Only Knows! I can overlook a lot of flaws if the over all product is good. The weird time skip, the awkward filler episodes, the weak ending, it’s all forgivable, because the characters are so good and the writing is top notch. I’ll probably go read the manga to see how it really ends. And even if harem anime isn’t your thing, I give it a yes, check it out out of ten.