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Monday, May 9, 2011

The Stories of the Top 80 Anime: The World God Only Knows

28. The World God Only Knows is midway through its second season now, and has been doing great. The main character is a gamer, who has fully embraced his inner nerd, is proud of it, and defies anyone who seeks to criticize him for it. He's also extremely competent in other fields, like solving mysteries, charming ladies, and schoolwork. It's not that he can't do anything else but play dating simulations, it's that he doesn't want to, because dating simulations are better. Considering Clannad is a dating simulation, and also the greatest work of art ever made, I can't help but agree with the main character.

One day a demon forms a contract with him, and he's forced on pain of his life to help the demon world capture escaped demon souls that would wreak havoc on the human world otherwise. Conveniently, the way to do this is to charm a possessed girl into kissing you, at which point the demon soul can be exorcised. Once the demon is exorcised, the girl's memory is wiped, and the romance is silently undone. Even so, the main character doesn't just seduce these girls, he also solves their problems -- the reason they became possessed in the first place. This means that he's actually a healer, a sort of minister -- a Jesus who goes around casting out demons. In fact, the opening has him as a messiah like character sitting in the center of a halo of light. Keita is the male equivalent of Kobato, the angelic healing girl from Kobato, the series that ranks just a bit above this one. He uses his iron logic and proud refusal to back down to threats of dislike or violence by girls who refuse to listen to him. he just keeps pressuring them until they give in, and admit the errors of their ways. It's a very male version of healing, the complete opposite of Kobato who listens to them and tells them it will all be okay, sings to them, and acts as a go-between communicator to heal others. It's so interesting to compare the two, so similar stories, and thus ferret out what makes men and women so special.

In any event, the story has other advantages than just its plot. It has great music and a colorful, cheerful art style -- most of all, it has fantastic humor. The possessed girls are generally hilarious, the demon companion is hilarious, the main character's extreme-maximum-nerdiness level is hilarious, and the situations they find themselves in are commonly hilarious. It's a story that is simply doing everything right.

However, the memory erasures mean the story is very episodic. Nothing really carries over from previous episodes to later episodes. The World God Only Knows is just a series of scenarios using the same characters -- almost like an American TV series that features lawyers or doctors. I hate that sort of plot, and would hate to see its popularity grow in Japanese storytelling. It also means that Keita will never have a real romance, nor will there be any truly life threatening situations -- the story is just too silly for that. Which means the story can never be meaningful or moving. It will always just be fun. The World God Only Knows cuts itself off from too many important resources that a storyteller must draw upon to be truly good. With such a restricted toolkit, it just can't fashion a story like Clannad, or Crest of the Stars can fashion. I kind of pity artists who don't even try to write something important. Wouldn't it be better to try and fail than never to try at all? The World God Only Knows refuses to try any difficult subjects. That's a shame, because I really like it otherwise.

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