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DVD Review

DVD cover

The World God Only Knows
Complete Series Two


Starring (voice): Hiro Shimono, Kanae Ito and Saori Hayami
Manga Entertainment
RRP: £24.99
Certificate: 12
Available 21 January 2013

The God of Conquests Returns! Every otaku's favourite dating sims champion is back! And Keima still has his adorable lost soul-hunting, demon cutie with him! Together, they continue their pursuit of finding escaped lost souls who are hiding within beautiful, young school girls. But how to release these trapped spirits? Why, they have to get the girls to fall in love of course! And this time when lost souls turn up in everyone from the school's bully to the school's hottest new student teacher, Keima finds even his romantic powers are going to have to be working over time. And when a giant loose soul turns the entire school into a group of love-starved zombies, it's a good thing a new demon shows up to help Keima and Elsie! It's two times the adventure, two times the excitement, and two times the romance in The World God Only Knows Season Two...!

Continuing with barely a break from the conclusion to the first season, The World God Only Knows resumes with a typical case for demon-hunting duo Keima and Elsie - the fierce karate champion Kusunoki, who despises weakness and mediocrity but who, like every girl Keima stumbles across, has an empty place in her heart that makes her an ideal hiding place for rogue souls. It's a somewhat weak opening to the second season, inevitable due to the necessity of following the manga's continuity, but probably not the ideal way to resume the anime and draw in new viewers.

The story arc that follows, featuring the first appearance of Elsie's headstrong fellow demon Haqua, is much stronger, expanding the cast and delivering a fair portion of exposition on the nature of the demon world and the fugitive souls Keima and Elsie are tasked to track down. Keima takes a secondary role for the most part here, allowing more development for Elsie as her misguided confidence in the prideful Haqua leads to the first hint of real danger in the series, in the shape of a powerful demon that threatens to swallow up the entire school. Of course, Keima's expert grasp of psychology, despite being honed solely through gaming, still plays a major role in Haqua's recognition and overcoming of her flaws.

While TWGOK still doesn't seem in the mood to be reflective about its questionable blend of mechanistic pick-up artistry and disdainful attitude towards the chaotic world of emotions as represented by living '3D' women, the remaining stories in this second season at least show hints of greater depth and ambiguity. Keima's flirtatious classmate Chihiro infuriates him with both her casual attitude to romance and lack of simplistic characteristics for him to get a handle on, leading to a Cyrano de Bergerac-like scenario as he directs her in her own pursuit of a handsome boy; the payoff, while expected, is more satisfying than any of the romantic storylines' so far. Finally, naïve student teacher Jun Nagase, whose determined (and professionally misguided) efforts to coax Keima out of his shell lay bare her own emotional weaknesses, provides a winning guest character - with Keima's motivations closed to her and the focus on Jun's own inner turmoil, it's a well-written conclusion to the second season. The final episode, in keeping with the first season's finale, is a light-hearted look at the ins and outs of Keima's gaming obsession, crammed full of otaku-pleasing references, not least an extended homage to Mobile Suit Gundam that provides a good few chuckles.

Although nowhere near as biting an otaku-focused series as the likes of Welcome to the NHK!, The World God Only Knows is a sweet and well-made show and has a memorable central character who once in a while persuades you that there might be something oddly admirable about his determination to stick to his asocial chosen path. It's very enjoyable and with further anime specials already confirmed, bound to be on the landscape for some time to come. Just don't expect anything too self-aware and you'll be pleasantly entertained.


Richard Hunt

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