The World Only God Knows ( Kami Nomi zo Shiru Sekai, or Kaminomi for short) is a charming manga series. It is also an anime series. It follows Keima Katsurgi, an obsessed bishojo gamer known online as the “God of Conquests.” He is able to conquer any dating sim. He is sharply intelligent, but appears to be aloof and lonesome. He avoids the “real” at all costs.
That is, until he accepts a contract from hell.
A click ties him to the demon Elsie in a life or death struggle to find spirits that have escaped Hell. If he refuses, a pact collar they two wear will take both his and Elsie’s head. These spirits from Hell lodge themselves in the spaces of girls’ hearts in an effort to be reborn and/or possess the girl. Keima’s job, as the God of Conquests is to drive out the spirits with his skill making girls love him. Only real life isn’t quite so easy as the game world…
The World Only God Knows keeps itself from becoming overly sappy or trite by how it pokes fun at its ridiculousness. Situations that Keima finds himself in reflect those in the games he plays, but with enough “real” to throw him off. Unlike games, as he often laments, there is no way to reset. Luckily, most girls forget about the conquest when the spirit leaves them…except those who harbor the daughters of the god Jupiter.
More importantly, the conquests slowly affect Keima. Each chain of events escalates and pulls Keima out of his gamer world into into the real. He kicks and screams the entire way, in true otaku style. However, events show he is actually a soft hearted guy who loves intensely despite appearing to be manipulative and uncaring. There is even a scene where he shows how deeply the conquests can hurt him.
Kaminomi pokes fun at dating sims, their cliches, and anime character stereotypes. The satire keeps the series from taking itself too seriously.
The manga has a fair bit of light fan service, which it promptly makes fun of. The art is decent. Backgrounds are surprisingly detailed. The girls are surprisingly varied considering the number of them! They are certainly among the stereotypes the manga pokes fun at, but they are twisted just enough to keep them personable and interesting.The art has its own look and feel. It is easily recognizable; quite a good thing I must say!
Elsie and especially Keima are subject to deformations for comedic and character effect. Keima often takes the “pervert” deformation when acting out silly events like “accidentally” falling into a girl’s chest.
The World Only God Knows is a fun shonen title. It can be sappy and even trippy, but the manga is aware of that. That awareness along with the cast of interesting and likable characters makes the manga an enjoyable romp. It doesn’t address the deeper questions of love or anything, but it isn’t meant to be a philosophical or slice of life look. The manga has some pacing problems and requires an understanding of bishojo games and pop culture stereotypes to get all the jokes. Some of the arcs may be too slow paced for some readers. I actually prefer slower, careful story telling.
However, I found the series to be quite enjoyable. I look forward to future installments. I just hope the series doesn’t fall victim to the problem many shonen series have: running themselves into the ground instead of ending properly.