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I don't mean to alarm you dear reader, but as a fellow resident of the mortal plain I feel it only fair to warn you about the disaster that has struck Earth. A legion of lost souls has managed to escape imprisonment from Hell and have now hidden themselves in the hearts of unsuspecting Japanese girls. Thankfully the underworld bigwigs have come up with a plan to free the oriental babes from the clutches of spirit possession. If the victims in question can fall in love, their hearts will be filled exorcising them from the mean phantasms. Now all we need is a Casanova to woo the affected ladies. Step up Keima Katsuragi - the self proclaimed God of Conquest.
Keima, a high school student who shares more than a passing resemblance to Austin Powers, seems like the ideal candidate for the job. His website boasts an impressive resume of chicks he has managed to court. Impressed by his track record, Hell's management sends him an email asking for assistance with their ghost-hunting predicament. Little do they know that dorky Keima actually has no experience with real life women as he spends his free time compulsively playing video games. The claims on his site relate to his prowess at completing dating sims - a genre of adventure game were players try to attract virtual hotties by answering a series of multiple choice questions.
After reading the message Keima accepts the proposition, mistaking it for a challenge by a fellow gamer. Once he realizes the reality of the situation it's too late to back out as he is locked into a cast iron contract. Failure to comply with the agreed terms will result in an explosive collar attached to his neck detonating. That won't do! Missing a cranium will make playing games on his beloved PFP handheld system most difficult. Thankfully he is not alone in this endeavor. Dispatched from hell to assist him is Elsie a female demon equipped with a skull shaped hairpin (that buzzes when in the presence of loose souls) and oversized glass jars used for trapping said apparitions.
SERIES OVERVIEW & CHARACTERS
One thing I enjoyed about The World God Only Knows is how it steers clear of the clichés usually associated with romantic comedy animes. Typically a show of this nature would consist of a small group of girls chasing after the affections of one guy (oh how I wish real life would mirror that formula.) Instead, what we get here is Keima having to convince his targets what a fabulous catch he is, given that most members of the opposite sex see him as a geeky loser. The series also avoids being a fish out of water tale. Reading the synopsis I surmised that the inexperienced Keima would fail horribly at flirting and would have to rely on his demonic assistant to save the day. The opposite is actually true.
Elsie isn't exactly proficient at spirit hunting, after spending most of her 300-year-old life sweeping floors as a cleaner. Despite being able to fly and manipulate reality, using a magical shawl, she isn't much help in the romantic challenges. Ditzy and rather naïve she is easily distracted by shiny objects (such as bright red fire engines.) Surprisingly Keima is rather good at hooking up with girls when he sets his mind to it, successfully incorporating the techniques learned from dating sims to real life. He's confident and intelligent in stark contrast to the typical video game recluse you normally find in other shows.
This season one set contains twelve episodes, which adapt the early chapters of The World God Only Knows manga comic. It covers Keima's pursuit of four girls consisting of :-
1. A sprinter in the school track team that is being given a hard time by some mean upper classmen.
2. A spoiled brat who keeps the appearance of being rich despite falling onto hard times after the passing of her wealthy father.
3. A pop idol who fears becoming a nobody should she screw up her chance at the big time.
4. A shy librarian who struggles to communicate with others.
I really dug how Keima would study each girl's unique personality and deduce how best to approach her. Sandwiched amongst those stories are also some comedic episodes, which mostly revolve around Keima's obsession with video games. There's also a tale of Elsie's failed attempts at cooking, which often result in Keima dashing to the loo with a bad case of diarrhea.
Much like Rosario Vampire, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed a series that is categorized as a romantic comedy. Mushy stuff usually isn't my thing, but the laughs are sufficient to carry the show for me. Elsie's cute interactions with the uptight Keima are always a hoot and I also appreciated the brief parodies of other animes (like Ghost in the Shell and Blackjack) that they managed to sneak in there. The romance angle isn't a big deal anyway as the story doesn't dwell on relationships. Once Keima frees a girl from a spirit, she forgets about their affair allowing him to move onto the next one (just as well as hitting on other chicks when your previous conquests are smitten with you could be problematic.)
Having enjoyed season one I eagerly anticipate adding the next series to my DVD collection next year. The introduction of a new character amps up the comedy even further and the stories are arguably a little better because the final arc of this set was hampered by slow pacing. Well enough about that, I'll leave my opinions on that season for a potential future review. Thanks for reading and if any of you readers happen to be cute girls, with a loose soul to shift, drop me a message. I'm always willing to volunteer my smooching lips to clear a case of cardiac specters.