The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

The World God Only Knows II

Title: The World God Only Knows II aka Kami nomi zo Shiru Sekai II
Genre: Comedy/Drama
Company: Manglobe
Format: 12 episodes
Dates: 12 Apr 2011 – 28 Jun 2011

Synopsis: Katsuragi Keima, now stuck with Elsie, continues to capture the runaway spirits. This time, his task is to capture a girl who hates all cute things, another that seems too normal to fit any archetypes, and a new teacher who finds Keima’s gaming habits in class appalling. He is also confronted by an old friend of Elsie’s, who is looking for a runaway spirit that got away. Once again, Keima is forced to use his galge knowledge to worm his way into the hearts of these troubled girls, lest he lose his head.

The Highlights
Pacing: Shaky at the beginning, but corrects itself quickly.
Story structure: Changed for the better, but now overly reliant on its pitfalls.
Characters: Slightly more complex archetypes, but fall to the necessity of conflict.
Ending episode: Another non-ending, but representative of all the good traits of the show.

Conceptually, The World God Only Knows is a brilliant parody of anime female stereotypes. Its knowing winks, brutally honest approach and purposeful exaggeration make it both a tribute to the genre and a knock on its absurdity. Sadly, the first season failed to fully play out this potential. Suffering numerous pacing and character presentation issues, the show stumbled over many of the characteristics unique to a moving visual medium. It began to show consistency near the end, but fell more often into mediocrity.

So how does the sequel fare? If the first few episodes are any indication, not much better. The first arc goes back to the rushed pacing that the first arcs of the first season suffered. Its use of quick cuts of short sequences followed by a contrasting long event makes the audience question the speed of the story. This also plays poorly with the series’ intended methodical approach, which seeks to parallel the developments it parodies. The consequence is that the short snippets seem inconsequential and the long interaction seems too convenient, stripping it of its humor.

Luckily, The World God Only Knows seems to have learned from this, as later arcs are allocated with more episodes to minimize the uneven pacing. This is considerably helped by a slightly more complex mix of female anime tropes. Keima, whose intuition was often initially accurate in the first season, is now forced to dig deeper into his internal book of clichés to find the correct archetype. As such, more time is put into setting up his thought process and manipulations, and the archetypes actually have a chance to develop. This creates a much more natural flow in the pacing, as Keima’s deductions become much more reasonable and thus entertaining. On the flip side, the arcs begin to rely too heavily on his misassumption as the main obstacle. The result is that the show falls into the uneven pacing trap again. Keima, who needed to plan slowly at times even when he knew the answer, now resolves the conflicts immediately after he realizes his blunder.

Even with this problem, the overall better control of time helps significantly in building each girl. While the trappings are still evident to an experienced audience, the female characters no longer only exhibit the primary features of what they represent. Additional tropes are built onto simple archetypes, and while these additions are obvious, they make for slightly more complicated characters. This small step towards greater complexity allows the show to poke at more features of the archetype. With this change, the show becomes much more certain in how it wants to portray its characters, overcoming the other problem in its first season. Sadly, this change is also plagued by the show’s greater emphasis on Keima’s fallibility, as some characters seem to have traits merely tacked on to create conflict. This is stemmed by making Keima much more consistent in his portrayal. Much of his inconsistent blushes and uncertainty has been removed, and greater emphasis has been put on his eccentricity and knowledge of his games. A particularly fantastic display of this is in the final filler episode, where the series’ ability to take a self contained and ridiculous idea and run away with it is greatly helped by Keima’s equally ridiculous viewpoints.

Although The World God Only Knows’ first season introduced its concept clearly, its execution was stymied by its inability to grasp storytelling in the animation medium. The second season seems to have learned from its predecessors mistakes, but not without a few of its own flaws. Nevertheless, these problems are far smaller in magnitude, and much more easily correctable. Who knows? If a new season rolls around, perhaps The World God Only Knows will be able to finally justify the playful nature it wants to present without stunting itself with execution

The Rating: 6

Reviewed by: Elineas

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