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The World God Only Knows is back! Manga Entertainment's season two release continues to chronicle the adventures of high school student Keima Katsuragi across a two-disk set containing twelve episodes of comedy filled goodness. For those who missed the first season, or my review of it, Keima is an avid gamer who specializes in dating sims. Seriously, the guy takes video game obsession to a whole new level. Much as I may have a fondness for virtual entertainment, I've never played multiple consoles at the same time or had the gall to use a handheld in the middle of class like Katsuragi does (although in retrospect I might as well have because my GCSE grades prove I wasn't paying much attention in school.)
Keima has been unwittingly recruited by the Netherworld to capture Loose Souls who have escaped their realm and ended up on Earth. The spirits in question hide inside unsuspecting girls and can only be exorcised if their hosts' empty hearts can be filled with love. That's were Keima comes in. As a master of flirting with video game babes surely he has the skills to woo the afflicted lasses right? Well sadly no. Keima is a recluse with no interest in flesh and blood women. Hiring an antisocial geek to romance women is as ill advised as asking warmonger Tony Blair to promote peace in the Middle East (okay, that's just silly, that would never happen in reality.)
Surprisingly though, unlike Mr Blair, Keima is able to succeed in his goal by adapting his gaming techniques to real life relationships as evidenced in series one. He doesn't do it willingly though and needs to be "encouraged" by his partner in crime Elsie (a bubbly, yet dim witted, demon girl who masquerades as Keima's half sister.) Season two sees Keima having to free a trio of girls from spirit possession, namely a karate expert, classmate and even a student teacher. Educational staff fraternizing with their students? I'm not sure the NUT cases at the National Union of Teachers would approve. I myself am miffed that anime schools have such attractive educators. Perhaps if my tutors hadn't been so fugly I may have paid some attention in class and not flunked those aforementioned GCSEs.
Things start off with Keima approaching Kusunoki Kasuga, the captain of his school's female karate club. As a martial artist Kasuga strives to become the strongest fighter possible, shunning weakness in whatever form it takes. She is naturally horrified to learn that the spirit invading her body has created a phantasmal clone of Kasuga embodying her repressed feminine side. Whenever she is exposed to anything like a cute kitty, girly dress or thoughts of love the ghostly doppelganger manifests itself much to her embarrassment. In order to lure out the specter and challenge it to a bout of Mortal Kombat Kasuga agrees to go on a date with Keima, leading to some hilariously awkward moments as the couple engages in mushy stuff. Let's hope Keima has the sense to keep his hands to himself or he may end up on the receiving end of a karate kick up where the sun don't shine.
Next up is Katsuragi's courtship of classmate Chihiro Kosaka. Unlike Keima's other romantic conquests Chihiro is a run of the mill girl with no real distinguishing features. Her lack of personality leaves Keima flummoxed on how to approach her. She's so nondescript that he even likens her to a background NPC (non playable character) in the games he plays. In an interesting twist of fate we learn that Chihiro has a terrible track record when it comes to asking guys out. This gives Keima the opportunity to offer his services as a gaming love guru. The plan is to use his dating expertise to assist Chihiro in asking out her latest crush, with the aims of filling the emptiness in her heart by proxy. Seems like a raw deal to me. You do all the hard "hooking up" ground work and don't even get a kiss reward for your efforts. A kiss is a terrible thing to waste as Meatloaf used to say... hmmm I'm getting hungry all of a sudden.
The final story arc of this season revolves around Jun Nagase a twenty one year old student teacher visiting Keima's school for work experience purposes. Charming Nagase proves to be an uphill task given the hurdles of her profession and age. Keima speculates that it will take a long time for him to wear down those barriers and his efforts to expedite matters fail to bear fruit. Try as he might Nagase doesn't see Keima as a love interest, but rather a troubled child who she should try to befriend. Although this particular tale starts off full of the show's trademark humor (with plenty of gags emanating from Nagase's passion for pro-wrestling and over enthusiastic teaching style) it does take a dark turn later on when her ideals are slated by a disinterested student body, reigniting some painful memories from her past. How Keima resolves the issue is rather sweet and a good way of capping off the season.
Even though thematically season one and two of The World God Only Knows are similar there is one difference in the form of a newly introduced character named Haqua. She's a fellow graduate of the demon academy Elsie hails from. Unlike Elsie, who is a dunce, Haqua is an honor student as showcased by her proficiency in magical shawl manipulation and flying. What's interesting is that Haqua is having trouble adapting theory into practice. Despite her good grades she has failed to capture a single Loose Soul whilst Elsie has already snagged a handful thanks to her partnership with Keima. I enjoyed Haqua's addition to the cast as she doesn't devotedly worship Keima, like Elsie does, and is able to challenge him intellectually. Unfortunately she only appears in a few episodes, which is a shame. I was hoping she would get more screen time given that she dominates the DVD cover. I guess that was a ploy to sell more copies by flaunting a cute girl on the box art (dang the marketing got to me.)
Okay it's time to deliver a grade and after much thought I think season two deserves the same score as season one (four stars.) If you liked the original series you'll enjoy season two, as it is more of the same. The romantic aspect of the story is never overbearing as it gets hidden under oodles of comedy including parodies of other anime shows and games. The premise of a kid deceiving girls into liking him sounds creepy, but the series skirts around that by the manner in which Keima wins over the girls. It's not so much seducing them as opposed to helping them identify and overcome the source of their life's misery, making them a better person for it. As a fan of the show I am pleased to learn that a third season has been green lit. I'm hoping the next installment advances the Loose Souls plot as having Keima conquer "the girl of the week" is starting to feel a little formulaic. As an expert in love Keima should be aware that keeping things fresh is what turns a fun fling into a satisfying long-term relationship.