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The World God Only Knows Season 2 Blu-ray Anime Review

15 min read

The Loose Souls continue to find their way into the school and cause all sorts of trouble.

What They Say:
Every otaku’s favorite dating-sims champion is back! Keima still has his adorable lost soul-hunting, demon cutie with him, and together, they continue their pursuit of finding escaped lost souls who are hiding within beautiful, young school girls. But how to release these trapped spirits? Why, they have to get the girls to fall in love, of course!

This time when lost souls turn up in everyone from the school’s sexy bully to the school’s hottest new student teacher, Keima finds even his romantic powers are going to have to work over time. And when a giant loose soul turns the entire school into a group of love-starved zombies, Keima and Elsie have to recruit a new demon to help!

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 2011, 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 ten 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 second 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 brighter piece than the first as it brings us the pairing of Elsie and Haqua together with Elsie quite pleased and Haqua all blushy and nervous about being with her. The colors here are soft and pleasant with lots of pinks and purples that are tied to the characters so it works well and has a good blending to it. 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 with more of the same colors as there’s a lot of bright and outgoing pieces with Elsie on one side and Haqua on the other. 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 additional Japanese TV spots and release spots.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the first season of the series, I really felt like The World God Only Knows started off very strong, but it ended up spending too much time with characters and extended storylines that didn’t add much, particularly with an idol character that frustrated me with her personality more than anything else. Keima’s life has undergone a change since the introduction of Elsie where he has to help various girls who have lost souls within them is a fun concept, especially since it deals with a young man who wants no real world social interactions and has to kiss them in order to draw out the soul, but it spent too much time with some stories. You don’t want a girl of the week mentality, but you do want the girls to be interesting rather than grating and you don’t want to spend a quarter of the season on one girl, unless there’s some significant meaning to it.

As Elsie mentions at the start, they’ve managed to deal with four lost souls so far in the first season and now she’s ready to handle some more because of the contract she has with him. Keima’s frustration feels plenty natural since he wants nothing to do with this, but we’re quickly reminded of just how he perceives the world when a couple of school ruffians try to give him grief. He sees them as just bit player NPCs and little else, though they quickly show him otherwise. All of this sets the stage for the introduction of Kasuga, a rather strong female student who steps in to save the day but gives Keima grief because of how he can’t stand up for himself. Amusingly, he’s more interested in saving his game than the pain she’s causing him.

Kasuga’s strength has her viewing the world in a particular way where she dislikes weakness, which isn’t a surprise since she’s also the captain of the karate club and has a very definite take on things. Keima’s pushed into dealing with her because of the lost soul issue, which is fun when he prostrates himself in front of her in order to get on her good side a bit so he can get closer. Learning about her life leads to some very amusingly animated sequences. Kasuga’s a fairly fun character since she is a strong personality and takes things out on Keima easily enough. Keima’s played this game before though, and he knows she has a soft side, it’s just a matter of discovering it and playing the right moves in order to sway her to what he needs in order to deal with the lost soul. The fun comes in watching how Kasuga interacts with Keima, though it is all fairly predictable on her part. Keima’s reactions and the way he views it all as a game of sorts based on his knowledge base is what sells it.

As they move along, it’s a good bit of fun when certain things intersect. There’s some games that combine with martial arts that draws her eye and neither of them have any interest in the movie that they see, as Kasuga rails against the weak characters and Keima just plays his game. Elsie of course is heavily connected to it and is a puddle of tears throughout it. But no matter what they do, they can’t get rid of the Lost Soul and Keima’s talking about giving up, something that Kasuga can’t bring herself to do since she desperately wants to get rid of it. Bringing their time together to a proper sunset in the park kind of date, where they actually have to lick an ice cream cone together at Kasuga’s suggestion, is one of the reasons I really like this show when it gets down to it. It builds up a great atmosphere and challenges the characters to step outside of their comfort zones in order to face the challenge.

The internal struggle that Kasuga goes through, amplified by the Lost Soul, is a well done one overall for what it is. With the Lost Soul trying to make her out to be more of a woman than she is, and Kasuga interested in just being strong which she believes is something that a typical woman can’t be, Keima has to get them to be on the same page in the end to try and get them to figure out how to deal with the situation. There’s some really cute moments mixed into this, especially with Kasuga as a child, but seeing them both so focused and serious when it comes to Keima, working together to deal with him, gives it a nice twist. We haven’t seen this kind of incident happen all that much in the series yet and Kasuga’s certainly stubborn enough for it to feel like the right character to do it with.

With the storyline from the first two episodes wrapped up, and a storyline that I really enjoyed, The World God Only Knows walks that dangerous path for the viewer where you don’t know what’s coming next. It could be a character and situation that’s not all that appealing, which happened in the first season, and that could drive the enjoyment down. There’s a lot of fun to be had even in those episodes with Keima and Elsie, but when you don’t connect with the girl in question, it reduces the overall enjoyment. So what do they do here? They introduce a new demon like Elsie that’s come to Earth to visit her friend.

Haqua’s an interesting character since she comes across as that well to do classmate that learned alongside Elsie who is likely to be better than her in every way. When she gets a look at Keima and his odd personality, it doesn’t help the impression at all. When Elsie talks about how poorly she’s doing, capturing only five Loose Souls, Haqua is shocked that she’s caught that many and comes across as impressed and angry that someone she felt was a friend, an inferior one at that, managed to do better than her. Elsie’s confusion in the midst of it all is amusing to watch and it’s a nice little twist on how it usually goes with Elsie desperately trying to get Haqua’s approval since she’s such a superior type with all the right connections and moves.

There’s more than meets the eye elsewhere as well as Haqua isn’t in the area just to socialize, but rather to track down a Loose Soul that got loose because of her. She’s hiding that fact from Elsie, but it’s Keima that figures it out, and quickly, which leads to the two of them working together for the moment while distracting Elsie so she doesn’t know. There’s actually a pretty good rhythm between Haqua and Keima as they finally start working together though, enough so that you’d think they could carry the series easily, albeit with a more serious tone to it and a different kind of humor. While the Loose Soul aspect is fairly predictable, what makes the episode work is the way the characters interact with each other. Haqua brings something different to the table from what we’ve seen with Elsie, but she’s not the usual stereotype either and that goes a long way towards making a predictable episode a whole lot more fun.

Not surprisingly, one of the areas avoided in the first season and for a few episodes here is just how many Loose Souls are out there to be collected by the demons and those that they bring on to help them with. With Elsie having recovered five of them herself and Haqua making a save of her own in the previous arc, Keima’s actually fairly hopeful that they could be halfway done by now and he can be rid of that binding collar around his neck. So when Elsi reveals that there are sixty thousand Loose Souls out there, you can easily feel the weight that crushes against Keima since this is a hunt that would go on for dozens upon dozens of lifetimes before it could be properly done, even with other demons out there hunting them up.

With that as the background, Keima’s depression is pretty profound and when Elsie asks his classmate Chihiro to help out, flatly refuses since she doesn’t want to catch his “dweeb cooties” as she puts it. She’s pretty harsh on him, which isn’t a surprise as he’s definitely not your average kid and easy for others to deride, but it just compounds the way he feels and makes it all worse. For better or worse though, he and Elsie discover that she has a Loose Soul possessing her which has made things worse for her, and that starts them down the path of trying to figure out how to deal with the situation. While we’ve had moody pieces before, this one feels even more so as the skies are overcast for much of it and the sound of rain continues to make it a very dark piece when combined with the piano music used to accent it. Keima’s darkened personality is just the icing on the cake with it all.

The show does get things back on track after Elsie does her best to shake him out of it in some fun ways, including a lot of game time. And one of the things it does is to deal with the idea of a student teacher in order to give Keima a real challenge, something that completely throws off his game path that he sees with everyone. So, enter Nagase, a new student teacher at the school Keima goes to who was actually a student there herself, so she’s very familiar with the school overall and now looks at it through rose colored glasses as she sees all the students. The exception to her excitement is that of Keima who is so mired in his world of gaming and virtual reality that she can’t quite grasp that he’s there like that while everyone else studies and nobody says anything. She’s kind of silly about it too since she thinks he may be a ghost at first in a cute sort of way before finding out the truth about him from his teacher. While she’s told not to worry about him, Nagase sees this as a challenge as she comes up with all sorts of ideas about what he’s like based on what teachers tell her about him. Suffice to say, his reputation is not a good one, though he achieves his grades easily.

Of course, you know Nagase will get hit by a Loose Soul and I think this is one of the few, if not the first, times we’ve seen someone actually have the Loose Soul enter their body. We’ve seen them exit several times though, but this was nicely done as it got Nagase as she was thinking of ways to help “save” Keima from his problem. With her now infected, things change for Elsie as her alarms go off with Nagase around at first and that puts Keima in the position of having to deal with it. Though again, he’s far more interested in just playing his games while Elsie is all keen on doing the work that needs to be done. The interplay between the two continues to be fun to watch since it’s the right level of silly and serious, especially with how Keima views so many things through the eyes of a hardcore dating sim gamer.

Unfortunately for Keima, the things he’s doing to try and get a reaction out of Jun aren’t having the desired effect since she’s doing her absolute best to help him with his problems as she sees them in her eyes. What becomes more apparent to Keima as time goes on is that he’s lost control of this particular story as Jun isn’t playing by the normal rules that he knows. She’s continually putting him on the defense, reacting to what she does, rather than making the moves himself and directing things. For someone so familiar with the rules of the game and the way things should play out, it’s a frustrating thing for him. Even worse is when she challenges him to a game challenge and she can’t even hold the portable the right way, never mind figure out how to turn it on.

This all forces Keima into going into an unusual direction for him in going after Nikaido, who as we know from the previous episode is Jun’s sempai from when she was in school. Trying to win over Nikaido to help him in his conquest of Jun isn’t going to end well, and his visualized version of it is priceless as he has a Giant Robo-like Nikaido robot that he can use as he needs. It’s actually amusing as he does what he can to win over Nikaido to help him and she spends her time playing his games while criticizing how bad the dialogue is written in terms of grammar. His efforts are in good faith though since he wants to find out something from her that could help him deal with Jun, but she’s the sadistic kind of teacher that doesn’t give anything away. The relationship between the two continues to be a fun point of the series that I’m definitely glad had a bit more than a passing reference this time around.

In Summary:
While parts of the first season frustrated me at times, especially some of the longer stories, the second season is one that really comes together well. And one that I think was made even better when viewed in marathon form like this. Keima comes across as a more defined character as we see him deal with a creative array of girls possessed by Loose Souls. While I agree that the story with Chihiro is a little hard because she’s a non-standard game character in a way, it really added a lot to things overall. What helps a lot with this season is that we do get an expansion on what’s going on with the Loose Souls but not enough to radically change it. It shows the problem that Keima is facing in being tied to Elsie and the fun of the spiral he’s sent into with it. But overall, it is a lot more of the same, but without some of the problematic characters I had in the first season. This was definitely a very fun season to watch that left me really wanting more.

Features:
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Japanese Promo, TV Spots, Release Spots, Clean Opening Animation, Clean Closing Animation

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

Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: August 7th, 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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