Home > Episode Reviews, First Impressions > The World God Only Knows Episodes 1 and 2 – Lost Cause

The World God Only Knows Episodes 1 and 2 – Lost Cause

There are quite a few shows this season about otaku, or dating games, or other various aspects of otaku culture. Most are unflinching apologia for the eccentricities or social perversions of the very culture they spawn from, a nice warm blanket for otaku to stay under rather than have to face the cold reality of their situation.

A few shows are honest enough to admit the peculiarities of otakus and the culture. Oreimo, which I covered earlier, is pretty good about admitting that otaku are into some stuff that most people might (justifiably) find a little sketchy, although it suffers from the problem of having to then defend it.

The World God Only Knows, from the outset, never tries to reach for such lofty goals. It’s a show about a boy, portrayed as some kind of whiz kid, whose claim to fame is his mastery of dating games. A demon girl mistakes that prowess with the ability to attract actual women, and forces him to woo real girls in order to capture the lost souls attracted to them. Or something.

Our hero. He takes himself so seriously that we don’t have to

The premise doesn’t really make sense, so it’s probably for the best that the show doesn’t dwell on it. The idea here is simple: antisocial otaku who only cares about 2D girls has to seduce 3D ones, hilarity ensues, profit, etc.

I also want to explain for the benefit of readers who are unfamiliar with dating games (hopefully a large majority) how these things work. You click a lot to get text to scroll, and every once in a while a choice pops up, letting you pick one of a handful of pre-selected decisions. If you choose right, you’ll trigger some flags in the game’s code, or increase some kind of relationship stat. Hit enough flags or get that stat high enough, and you win.

Elsie is the kind of subservient, cheerful doe-eyed girl beloved of otaku. She’s also a demon

I’m sure some games make the logic behind them a little trickier, but it’s still just a matter of knowing the right archetypes and cliches that character fits into, and what it takes to get the desired result. It’s something you can easily brute force through sheer repetition even if you don’t have an encyclopedic knowledge of anime tropes.

So, being good at those kinds of games isn’t a skill like being good at pool is a skill. It’s a skill like being good at Guess Who? is a skill.

Elsie arrives the classic demon way: in an explosion that blows away everything in the radius of a city block

For some reason, the kid assumes that 3D girls will behave like 2D ones. If you weren’t already aware, know that girls in most anime are an amalgam of culturally inbred fetishes, conventions and cosmetic adornments, devoid of the personality, self-respect and ability to not love the protagonist that makes real girls so awesome (and scary). They resemble actual human females even less than the oafish fathers of American sitcoms resemble actual people, because sitcom writers are presumably familiar with fathers (having had one), whereas most anime writers seem only to know about girls in theory.

So that means that the “real” girls of this world are deep, well-rounded characters, right? Or at least sufficiently different from anime cliches to make this show, which stars someone whose sole skill is a mastery of anime tropes, interesting?

Telling a track girl ‘you won first place in my heart’ is a sure-fire winner, no matter the genre

Not really, sadly. Each of the targets in the first two episodes are nothing more than a classic archetype from anime or dating games, with some slight twist that means that our hero isn’t immediately capable of rendering them smitten by the sheer force of his pattern matching ability. He then proceeds to win them over with the same cheesy lines and hackneyed contrivances that win girls over in dating games, and let girls in real life know that you’re the kind of person who not only plays dating games, but has zero ability to relate to anyone who isn’t in a dating game.

So, the real girls in this show about an otaku forced to face the terrifying prospect of courting real women are actually nothing more than repackaged anime cliches? Is this just typically lazy anime writing, the kind that realizes fans will eat it up even more if everyone is some kind of easily understood stereotype? Or are otaku no longer even capable of caring, or telling the difference?

And when they’re not corny, his attempts are more stalking than flirting

It’s not just the “real” girls who suffer from this, of course. Elsie, the demon girl who follows the main character around, has to set some kind of record for hapless anime cliché mash-ups. She’s the fish out of water demon girl, the obnoxious klutz and creepily subservient, fetishized little sister all in one. Her efforts to act as the protagonist’s adoring little sister get that much creepier when the show makes painfully obvious her irrational attraction to him. Then the fan service kicks in in the second episode, and things start to get really icky.

Now, you might get defensive and say that The World God Only Knows is a comedy, and therefore doesn’t have to take its characters seriously. First off, lazy writing is lazy writing, no matter what genre you’re in. If you have to undermine your show’s premise just to make your plots work, you should probably rethink what you’re doing.

This show has some weird transitions. ‘Quick, throw in a vampire wipe’

Even if most comedies get away with terrible writing, it’s because they’re funny, but this show isn’t funny. It’s just bad slapstick and humor that plays off awkwardness, where someone crashing into things is what passes for humor, or a student reading someone else’s note aloud in class. It’s like so much else in the show: a complete waste of time.

Either way, I’m sick of this garbage. No more painfully un-self-aware shows aimed at male antisocial perverts with ridiculously unrealistic ideas of femininity. Next, I’m going to write about a painfully un-self-aware show aimed at female antisocial perverts with ridiculously unrealistic ideas of masculinity. That’s what we in the anime writing business call “options”.

Edit: Crunchyroll has since licensed this series, which you can find here. You know, if you go for that sort of thing.

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