Katsuragi Keima is known on the net as the god of getting the girls while in real life he's known as otamegane and he hates all real girls. However he is approached by Elsie, a devil from hell, to help her in catching runaway spirits that hide in people. Apparently the spirits only hide in the hearts of girls and the only way to get the souls out is by making the girl fall in love so the spirit gets forced out. And he's not allowed to fail or he will lose his head.
"Gotta catch em all!" This famous pokemon phrase might be fitting with this series in such a weird way. Instead, we get 'I can see the ending'.
Shonen Sunday has been getting quite bad financially. After the long running of a few hit series such as Conan, Kenichi, Hayate, Inuyasha, and bunch of others, they were not getting notable works. As all those long running series are encountering mannerism, it is pretty obvious they are getting less and less viewers due to lack of importing of fresh new series with good idea. This manga, Kami Nomi zo Shiru Sekai, is also meeting the point where manga gets over the cut-line to be called "long-term-serialisation" and encounter mannerism.
Well, guess what? Kami Nomi zo Shiru Sekai, is actually getting even more interesting. This review will not only include why this series is successful, and also reason why it is different from any other series that is on the same magazine.
The original concept of Kami Nomi zo Shiru Sekai is solely concentrated on single most strongest character of the series, Katsuragi Keima, who is created by amalgamating past hikikomori/neet/otaku-self of author, Wakaki Tamiki, and character of Lelouch (Keima's pose when calling 'I can see the ending' is a parody of Lelouch's geass pose). The simple, but most unique idea of this manga was bringing this crazy otaku to 'GOD' of Girl games and apply this knowledge to actual reality; 'capturing' girls in 3D world. Author brings concept of hell and heaven to explain proper logics for a reason why Keima has to capture these girls all the time; old devils will try to regain their power by staying in the empty spaces of girl's heart, thus new devils has to send groups to capture them again by feeling their heart.
Now, this unique concept worked so well. Keima's force is just so strong, he just shadows all the moe-figures of all those cute girls he met. We see how each capturing applies overused cliche in much refreshing way. Even though their are many moe stereotypes that many western people might get turned off, they are not even noticed due to the fact that major focus of the series is none other than Katsuragi Keima himself. Despite being harem series, this manga managed to twist the cliche of harem series by overseeing various cliche in 'different perspective', which is a key point to this manga's success.
However, no matter how interesting concept that any manga has, if it is 'repeated', it will become 'old' at some point. That's what many other series in Shonen Sunday failed. At some point, they had to switch this repeated concept to actually build plot and give possibility to 'end' the series. This promise of 'ending' is so important, as it gives readers actual motivation to read through and understand the development it had to reach the conclusion. We see that promise, in Kami Nomi zo Shiru Sekai.
First of all, we have 'mission'. Keima's 'mission' is to capture 'all wondering spirits'. The problem is how to reach that. Surprisingly, we can see that author already had on his mind how to end this series, even in the first chapter. When I can say it aloud due to spoiler, he already had clear structure and idea on the setting of 'heaven and hell', and explanation of this relationship is brilliant.
Second, character of Elsie is very significant. One of the important ability for writer is 'not wasting characters'. Kami Nomi zo Shiru Sekai, never wastes any characters, almost. All heroines who got conquered had their own moe archetype, charm and theme. In case of Elsie, she is the reason why author could have flexible changes in plot to be more solid during the serialisation. Elsie is cute, but dojikko. It is very important that we CANNOT believe her entirely due to her purity and stupidity in some parts. She makes up the parts that Keima lacks - since our capturing god seems to be so perfect in many way, he needs side kick who can balance that perfection out. That existence, is Elsie. Due to her, the development of Kami Nomi zo Shiru Sekai could enter entirely new phase where plot actually moves on and able to see the ending of series itself.
Plot is extremely delicate. There are a lot of devices that are critical to plot and overall development but people don't really notice it at first. Why? Because author intentionally lowers the tension whenever important stuff comes out. But at the same time, still marks it onto our mind saying it is important, indirectly. Those devices piled up more and more, finally reaching current development which I can simply describe as - amazing.
Discussing about art, there is once when author, Wakaki said, "Mangakas cannot survive if they cannot draw bishojo or bishonen. If you can draw bishoujo or bishonen, you can at least live and earn money as 3rd-grade mangaka like me". When he is criticising manga industry, he is also criticising himself; his drawing changed hugely since the start of Kami Nomi. Characters are now more closer to bishoujo and bishonen, especially Keima and Chihiro. However, the strength of Wakaki in drawing is direction as a whole. Cut division, use of Chibi, cartoon devices and appropriate parody and gag scenes. Those features are integrated without awkward.
Enjoyment of this series not just come from Keima Katsuragi and twists of genre. It has everything that good shonen manga must have; tension, 'serious humour', complex plot, delicate and solid foundation for the structure of open setting, attention grabbing events, and more. I can easily say how well made this series is and how clever the author of this manga is. My satisfaction for deciding to follow this series to the end is already 100 percent full.
The major theme of this series is 'ideal and reality'. I really want to see how author will manage to deliver this message from heart of his experience, yet keeping charm and enjoyment that this amazing series has.read more
There comes that one manga you find at the corner of your eye to where you can enjoy it whether you like the genre it consists of or not, all in the essence of parody and satire. Parody can be an extremely difficult comedic flavor to pull off perfectly. Not only do writers have to analyze the aspects of the things that they are trying to parody in the first place, but they have to make all of the things that make a good comedy work. These things include great comedic timing, sharp jokes that don't feel forced, and great pacing in-between comedy segments. For manga that is focused on comedy, it can be quite a herculean task; but luckily with manga, you can go buck wild with the stroke of your drawing utensil and think of what works best. It takes a man like Tamiki Wakaki to make it seem like a pure cake walk to envision a perfect parody with The World God Only Knows.
The two things that best describe how the parody really works in The World God Only Knows comes down to the writing and the actual artwork that Tamiki has within his talent. Jokes all span out dealing with every day otaku tropes that are funny and also quite insightful in how it dabbles into gaming culture at large. Other times it pokes fun at it to the point of almost mocking it without it being too facetious with its own jokes, and they all add so much great humor within them. One reason why the artwork comes into play with the dialogue's humor is how Tamiki's style of drawing has a very wacky ascetic to his character designs that feels simply magnificent. Similar to how you see chibi-style designs in something like Aria whenever a comedic moment happens, The World God Only Knows plays with the same formula and never loses its steam throughout the manga.
Although the manga is generally a comedy, it does have its great share of drama mixed in. That is not to say it still pulls in satirical themes into those segments, at least in the first arc of the story. In the beginning, we follow Keima and his partner in crime, Elsie, as they try to collect "Loose Souls" from within their psyche. It is very straightforward and generally formulaic at face value, but what makes it work is just how tongue-in-cheek the character interactions are and the dialogue involving how Keima plans his tactics based on his gaming otaku logic. Even when its being dramatic in the arc, it still doesn't lose focus of what it originally intended to be: a parody of dating sims where you get to the confession scenes in those games. It is a rare instance where genuine drama and wacky humor feel close at home together in one great package.
As the story goes on to the 2nd arc, where Keima has to awaken the five goddesses, we are quickly put into a scenario where there is a minimal formulaic structure than beforehand. Like I said before, the comedy is still hilarious throughout the entire manga with memorable scenes that all go down into straight up hilarity. The story is still quite strong and even emotional in some places, introducing a heartwarming romance between Chihiro and Keima and great chemistry between Haqua and Keima when they both become buddies for the time being. But then after that plot arc is done and we get to the last two arcs, it all goes a little downhill in terms of pacing and comprehension. I have the feeling that Tamiki didn't really know where he wanted the story to go, so he just pulls up random plot conveniences that don't really add up once you sit back and think about it for a second. Though the later plot arcs were not terrible by any means, there were also new characters that were still funny, they do not follow up as anything other than weak.
For a story that wants to be self-absurd with an atmosphere that wants to be fun and energetic in its humor, characters should be the one characteristic that should reign most important. The World God Only Knows manages to not only give us a wide range of characters that exceed way above 20+ of the main cast, but they actually give each and every one of them great development and personality to make all of them equally memorable. Normally a story that attempts to bring a large main cast have a habit of not having an equal amount of focus for some characters, making them forgettable in the long run. While someone could make the case that the manga does that in the later arcs, where we're mainly following the other main girls in Keima's conquest, that shouldn't be a negative in the sense that we've already had enough development for those characters from the very beginning where they were introduced.
Now here's why The World God Only Knows sets its greatness to new heights is its lovable, but also hated in a few cases, protagonist, Keima Katsuragi. With great clarity and logical precision in how Keima is written, he is by far one of the best harem protagonists just from the sheer value of heart given to his role. Even when there are moments where Keima might act irrational against what many would consider normal attitudes towards how romance is like, we still want him to succeed in his conquest. One main reason why this is so is because of how Tamiki writes his dialogue in really silly ways that make him so full of charm and wit to how he grows as a character; both in terms of a comedic and general character.
As for Keima's main sidekick, Elsie, she has great chemistry with Keima with her cutesy personality that manages to stay consistent and not overbearing to the point where she becomes a nuisance after several chapters. The other soul capturing buddy is the hilarious tsundere devil, Haqua. Almost as equally lovable as Elsie, but with a different twist: She's smarter on the level of Keima's intellect. For that reason, Keima and Haqua actually prove to have a little better chemistry with one another than Elsie because of the fact that Haqua still becomes the bumbling sidekick despite her intelligent stature compared to Elsie's.
This manga is one of those instances where even if you are not a fan of the harem genre in general or if you love it to death, there is still many elements to The World God Only Knows that can be looked at with great enthusiasm on either side. Its wonderful characters leave a wondrous joy ride into hilarity thanks to the fact that they all have their own unique characteristic to enhance their significant presence in the story. Plus its satirical nature adds so much depth to the layer of comedy that can be conceived in this manga, even though the plot never reaches that same level of greatness as one could've hoped for with the first arc building up so much potential. But all in all, there is still plenty of wonderful humor to be found in The World God Only Knows and all in the name of the God of Conquest.
Before reading any of my reviews, please keep in mind that I am a VERY harsh critic. I do not hand out 10's easily and anything I rate 7 or higher I consider recommendation worthy.
Humor level is VERY high for anyone who (like me) is familiar with the visual novel genre. I've often joked around saying stuff like "Real girls are overrated, the only girl I'd ever want is an animé/manga/visual novel girl!" because I get attached to them rather easily (<3 Akane from ONE ~to the radiant season~, Mahoro from Mahoromatic and Hisui from Tsukihime). So after reading a couple chapters the only thing I was thinking was; "Why has nobody thought of doing this before?" and "Wow. This guy is me, only TO THE EXTREME!" I never thought that a series parodying the entire visual novel genre could rip off just about EVERYTHING I've ever watched and read and still prove to be a very unique and refreshing reading experience. I really like how Keima takes a complete visual novel approach to winning the girls (and everything really). When he continuously throws in visual novel terms like "route", "event", "encounter", etc. it really makes me chuckle. And his "I can already see the ending!" is classic. The fact that the girls all forget afterwards is a little convenient, but it's not really any different from starting a new route in a visual novel now is it? So it's acceptable simply because it hammers home the visual novel feel it's trying to give off. Just like how calling the chapters "flags" also helps. The only real problem I have with the story is that in trying to compress an entire visual novel route in 1-3 chapters a lot of stuff naturally has to be left out relation development wise. We get to see all of the event encounters, but are missing most of the backstory and character development scenes. Leaving the reader to fill in the blanks by themselves which may be a little difficult for those not familiar with the visual novel clichés and stereotypes. Overall though I have to give the story a 9/10 for originality and potential. I'm hoping it only gets better from here.
Okay. I admit it. Erushi is cute. DAMN cute. But other than that the art is pretty good but really isn't anything to special. The switching between simplicity and complexity stands out at times, but for the most part is rather pleasing to the eye (especially Erushi!) and doesn't take away from the story. The character design is rather cute, which is a really good thing (for me anyway) and their expressions are pretty good (especially Erushi!). Passing grade, 7/10.
8/10 is as high as I can possibly go on this. . . Erushi and Keima are a 10/10 and 11/10 respectively, but everyone else so far are waaaaaay too flat. Like I said, compressing a visual novel route into 1-3 chapters removes most of the character development. Also, I find Kanon to be rather annoying. Love the stun guns (yes gunS, plural), but she's easily the worst character I've seen so far. 12 chapters in and I'm hoping they soon add another recurring character. This story is great, but they're going to need more than Erushi and Keima if they want to keep this story going for any length of time.
Enjoyment level is high simply because Erushi is extremely cute, Keima is absolutely hilarious and the story is unique, funny and has a lot of potential. I am a huge fan of romance series and the visual novel genre and I can kind of relate to Keima (which is kind of scary o.o;) and that really helps me to enjoy this series. Certain things (characters like Kanon. . . and the holes in character development) take away from the enjoyment of the series and prevents full marks. But overall this series is worth reading and I am anxiously awaiting the next translation release. 9/10 and hoping they keep up the good work!
As much as I'd LIKE to give this a 9, the nearly non-existent support cast, combined with the holes in character development is forcing me to rate it an 8/10 overall. I wish there were decimals here, because I feel it's an 8.5 honestly. I highly recommend this series to anyone who is familiar with the visual novel genre. Anyone can read this series and enjoy it, but to those who are familiar with the genre it would probably be all the more enjoyable. I know this series has a long way to go. I'm only 12 "flags" in and it's still possible that the series may end badly. But I'll keep reading every "flag" hoping that Keima keeps building up Erushi's "event flags" and unlocks her "good end". Sans the H-scene of course. :)read more
Katsuragi Keima, a high school boy known to everyone as 'otamegane' (Otaku which means a die-hard anime fan, in his case a die-hard gal-ge fan, and Megane which means glasses) lives in the 2D world of gal-ge. One day, he suddenly receives an email on his PFP (parody of PSP) stating that he must choose whether or not to accept a challenge. Thinking that this was just another gamer giving him a gal-ge to play, he instantly accepts the challenge. To his surprise, a demon appeared before him and told him to make girls from the real world fall in love with him. (Sorry, couldn't resist writing a synopsis)
The story was very unique and interesting. Unlike regular romances, the protagonist started having no interest in girls from the 3D world. Along his line of flags, he occasionally blushes upon more intense events showing that he has taken a slight interest to a few of the girls. However, in the later chapters, he seems to take less interest in the girls, which I find less entertaining. Also, for a harem, this one probably makes the most sense. By that, I don't mean bumping into demons would be normal. The protagonist of this Manga actually goes through many different events with every girl he has captured, unlike a lot of other Mangas in which the protagonist just sits there and have girls surrounding him for no apparent reason.
The art in this Manga is very well done. While it often alternates between simple and detailed art structures, it was used at appropriate times. For the more comedic and humorous scenes, the more simple form of art was used, and for the romantic or serious scenes, the detailed form of art was used. The art used in some cases can amplify the mood the author/artist is trying to express.
The characters in this Manga were all very different. Some were very unique while others were a bit cliched. Characters such as Sumire (ramen girl) don't appear much in Anime or Manga; she eats so much ramen, yet she's conscious about her weight. Other characters such as Mio (daughter of company president) was a typical Ojou-sama/tsundere character, however it is later revealed that she was completely different from what others perceived of her. The simplest character in my opinion would be Elsea. Demon, lived for 300 years but looks like a high-school student, quite clueless, yet there's just something about her that makes you love her. The only character that I disliked in the Manga was Chihiro because she annoyed me with her attitude of liking too many guys, but later on I found her to be an interesting character. All the characters in this Manga were all very different and amusing to read about.
Because this is fully based on my opinion, I thoroughly enjoyed this Manga. Every chapter kept me intrigued and wanting more. The main idea of the Manga was a bit loose in later chapters but Mangas that don't gradually change overtime would eventually get boring and the readers wouldn't enjoy them as much.
Overall, I would say that this is one of the most unique and interesting Mangas out there and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading romances/harems.read more