Thursday, March 7, 2013

MY FIVE FAVORITE MANGA #4: The World God Only Knows

"I can see the ending."

Actually, I can't; but that's a good thing in this case. Today I'm going to do a review of my fourth favorite manga out there, The World God Only Knows (or Kami Nomi zo Shiru Sekai)




The World God Only Knows follows video game expert Keima Katsuragi, who is scouted by the authority of the kinder, gentler New Hell to capture escaped spirits who threaten to possess a multitude of beautiful young women. There to supervise Keima is the demon Elsie, who is bound to him as his "Buddy." Using his thorough knowledge of dating simulations, Keima must woo the possessed damsels and help them shake off their mental baggage to save the day, or literally lose his head if he fails.


I've been reading The World God Only Knows (hereby referred to as TWGOK) for a few years now, but right from the get go I knew I was hooked. The story is an atypical harem romantic comedy with a truly singular lead seducing the multitude of girls found throughout. Keima Katsuragi is snarky, arrogant, rude, and only interested in playing dating simulation games. He has gained fame in the gaming community as "The Capturing God" for being able to completely clear games mere hours after their release, and doesn't give a second thought to the real women around him.

Initially, one would expect him to be terribly awkward and horrible at talking to girls and fail miserably, but amazingly, Keima has enough charm and charisma to pull his conquests off after figuring out each girl's particular problem. It may also have to do with the fact that he looks like a much cleaned up Austin Powers.

 What's really great about Keima is that he is a confident, take charge hero once he gets going and doesn't have that fear of the opposite sex so many leads in this genre suffer from. Over time, Keima even begins to care more and more for the girls he gets involved with and becomes depressed as they forget him when their particular spirit is captured, making Keima a well rounded character with a well written character arc that is played out through the series.

Elsie is also a very fun character whose ditziness make a great foil for Keima's sardonic wit. Unlike stereotypical demons, Elsie is a kind hearted, devoted girl who will do anything for Keima, who she adopts as her older brother or "Kami-Nii-Sama." She also brings a lot of the humor to the story through her inexplicable love for fire trucks and  dimwittedness. Though her character arc isn't quite as important or central to the story as Keima's, Elsie does have occasional moments of character development, small as the changes may be.

Author Wakaki also gives a good amount of development to each of Keima's love interests, who each have their own interesting personal problems and ways of interacting with our hero. The nature of their possessions also begin to pose more and more of a problem as the story continues, eventually raising the specter of global destruction.

One of the best characteristics of this comic is it's unpredictability, as each trial Keima and Elsie must face will inevitability throw a curve ball their way and dramatic plot twists show up with little warning, leading to developments that seem outlandish (but not ill suited) in this type of story. Whereas yesterday's comic, Prunus Girl, was made great because of it's simplicity, it is TGWOK's  surprising depth that has earned my admiration.

Being a comic, everything is brought together by the art and Wakaki delivers here in spades. His character designs are cute and attractive, and make the most of his simplistic, clean lines but also work well to evoke emotion where it counts. The panel layouts are dynamic and laid out well with little-to- no clutter to distract or interrupt the reader. Wakaki's digitally-painted color pages are also a treat to behold, and feature lovely color palettes and composition.


TGWOK's official website can be found Here and the comic's graphic novel compilations can be purchased in the United States from Kinokuniya's Book Web.


TGWOK gives us a fresh look at a genre I had all but given up on, and delivers a comic with surprising depth, lots of heart, and lovely artwork. Keima is definitely a unique hero dropped into a story where it truly feels like anything can happen. If you have been on the fence about this comic, or haven't given it a try yet, I can definitely tell you, you are missing out. So, do yourself a favor and go read The World God Only Knows.

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