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The World God Only Knows Season 1 Blu-ray Anime Review

9 min read

Taking what you learn in video games and applying it to real life, dating sim style!

What They Say:
Keima is a dating sim champion. Cute girls are rendered powerless by his irresistible game playing techniques. Too bad things aren’t that way in the real world… that is, until his tempting game playing causes a real live – and very bubbly – cute demon hunter named Elsie to materialize! Now Elsie wants Keima to help her free hot girls from sneaky demons who secretly possess them.

Contains episodes 1-12.

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this release is pretty solid as it gives us a bilingual release with both languages in stereo using the DTS-HD MA codec to give us a pair of lossless tracks. The show has a very good forward soundstage design for a lot of it where the dialogue feels rich and warm where appropriate while the action has a certain magical feeling to it. Dialogue is well placed and scenes with depth and placement are done very well. The show has a couple of standout moments to it, especially when it comes to the music and the idol segments, but the majority of it is very fun and well executed dialogue and incidental bits that play out well. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any issues with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2010, the transfer for this twelve episode series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The series is spread across two discs with nine on the first and the remainder on the second with the extras. The show has a very bright, clean and smooth look to it and the transfer captures it really well. There’s some very distinct colors used throughout it with the pinks from Elsie’s outfit being very prominent but also just the blue skies figuring into things strongly. The transfer for the series is in great shape and looks really good throughout outside of some very minor shimmering you see in a few areas when there’s some mild panning/zooming going on. It’s not from encoding issues but source issues. The transfer really shines here overall and definitely makes for a very enjoyable experience.

Packaging:
The first season of the series is presented in a standard Blu-ray case the has the discs against the interiors of it with no hinges included. The front cover is a dark and busy piece which does fit but also belies some of its brighter and more fun elements. With Keima as the center, looking quite serious, he’s surrounded by monitors that focus on the various girls that he has to deal with. The dark green background behind them adds to the dark and ominous nature that the cover gives off overall. The logo is kept simple but effective along the bottom, which is useful since it’s a lengthy name, and it also includes which season it is and a look at the number of episodes and discs. The back cover goes in the opposite direction with a lot of light, bright and outgoing pieces with Elsie dominating one side and even Keima not looking too awful dark and ominous. A few shots from the show are included but they’re so tiny as to not be much use. The summary has a lot to it but it covers it well and makes it a show that you want to check out. The remainder of the cover is given over to the production credits and the technical grid which lists everything clearly and accurately. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.

Menu:
The menu design for the series is very, very simple where it just has character artwork that’s static with no music or sound effects used for it, keeping it from properly setting the mood. The main menu of the first disc has a very good looking shot of Elsie along the left side with some pinks and purples giving it a soft but pleasing feeling overall while the right side has the breakdown of episodes by number and title, using both greenish blues and pinks to drive it home. Language selection is also included here in a submenu of its own with the disc reading our players’ language presets. It’s certainly not a bad menu but it falls short of some of the better menu designs done for Sentai Blu-ray releases lately and lacks any real personality to set the mood and atmosphere for the show that you’re about to watch.

Extras:
The extras for this release are decent as we get the basics with the clean versions of the opening and closing segments but we also get some music videos. It basically extracts the music portions of the Kanon arc and puts it into at thirteen minute piece, with chapter marks to separate them, as well as some additional text to tie it all together into proper music videos.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the light novel series by Tamiki Wakaki, The World God Only Knows is a twelve episode TV series that works familiar concepts with a neat twist and just has fun with it. In dealing with the usual introvert and geek type, going for an extreme of course because you want to stand out, it applies the knowledge from a virtual world to a real world while mixing in the supernatural as well. When the show first aired it was the kind that really caught people off guard and it became a solid hit, getting picked up for a second season which came further down the line. Take all of that and combine it with some solid animation and overall design from Manglobe, and show it off here in high definition, and you have a winning combination. This was one of those series we saw in simulcast that quickly earned a must-own desire in me.

The series revolves around high school student Keima, a self proclaimed God of Conquest when it comes to women. Virtual women, that is. His years have been spent mastering dating sims (and other games as we eventually see) and his flawless skills and dedication that comes comes from it has earned him that reputation among others in the community. He plays constantly on his PFP portable unit, but he’s also a connoisseur of many other systems with a gaming setup to die for. Unfortunately, this skill has drawn the attention of the demon world as he finds himself agreeing to a contract with them without realizing it, since it came as a message on his PFP, and now everything has changed. The problem comes in that they thought he really was a god of conquest when it comes to women, not realizing it was the virtual kind.

Keima gets to learn the truth of all this from a cute demon girl that arrives named Elsie. The gist of the series is that the pair have to work together (or they both face death since they explosive collars around their necks) to hunt down Loose Souls that have escaped from the demon world. Keima’s foolish in never asking in this season how many there are but he does learn that the Loose Souls find their way into women and subtly change their personality. With his skill with virtual women, he has to make them fall in love with him and then he has to seal the deal with a kiss which in turn will cause the Loose Soul to flee. It’s a rather fun setup and what works in its favor is that they don’t do it as a love of the week kind of thing but rather spread over a few episodes with some unrelated material in between those arcs.

Over the course of the set, the show hits a couple of different girls in good form. The opening arc deals with a bit of sports, we get the distant and short rich girl dealing with issues and there’s even a really fun storyline involving a library girl who is coping with some issues. With all of them, Keima has to figure out what kind of personality they are and deduce their problem, all while viewing it through the angle of his dating sim games. There’s nothing really surprising here and part of that goes to the idea that the dating sims use common real world things that girls go through in these kinds of situations with girls that are easily susceptible to the Loose Souls. It plays predictably in its own way, but it has a certain sense of style and charm about it that lets it work, especially with Keima’s personality and the cuteness that Elsie brings to it, though they don’t overuse her which is a big plus.

Similar to my experience with the simulcast, one story arc in particular did not work for me, though it didn’t drag the show down as a whole like I felt it did over the weekly broadcast run. The introduction of Kanon into the series brings Keima into contact with a very popular idol singer who, of course, hides her identity and goes to the same school as him. Like the other girls, she has an issue that the Loose Soul is taking advantage of, and Keima has to figure out how to deal with it. I found her to be the most annoying of the girls, both in her personal and professional incarnations, as she hits all of the cliches on a regular basis. It’s not to say the other girls don’t, but what they have here is made worse by the music side, the interviews and the singing. Keima handles it well with how he works his understanding of her and trying to figure out what it is that’s getting to her, but Kanon is the kind of character that just rubs me the wrong way every minute she’s on screen.

In Summary:
The World God Only Knows is a series in its first season that works familiar ideas in a really fun way and just hits all the right marks. Good characters, solid pacing, a neat angle and a really enjoyable sense of design that comes together in a wonderful package. The main storylines are a lot of fun to watch even with the obvious direction they’ll take and the use of the supernatural element is well handled since it doesn’t dominate and often doesn’t go over the top in a bad way. It’s a series that knows how to have fun, has plenty of little in-jokes to deal with the gaming and anime side that enhances but doesn’t distract or cause problems, and just does most things right. It’s not flawless, especially if there are certain character types that you don’t care for as it works the various archetypes, but in the end it’s a series that’s confident, competent and well executed. The kind of show that most aspire to be in this realm.

Features:
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing, Music Videos

Content Grade: A-
Audio Grade: A-
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-

Readers Rating: [ratings]

Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: January 24th, 2012
MSRP: $69.98
Running Time: 300 minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70″ LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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