Kami Nomi zo Shiru Sekai Megami-hen or The World God Only Knows Goddess Arc is the third season of the series. I find it odd to single out just the one season, but the third season changed the dynamic of the series drastically. Elevating a mediocre show to, well, one of my all-time favorites. The story that is laid out in the first two seasons is that Keima Katsuragi is a brilliant young boy who only wants to use his keen mind for one purpose, to play video games. Specifically, Keima is a master of the dating simulator style of visual novel (often called galge or gal game). He has no interest in real girls and focuses all of his considerable talent into romancing the two-dimensional or 2D girls in his games. That is, until he unwittingly signs a contract with a demon. Now he has to use his romance skills to capture the escaped spirits that feed on a girl’s loneliness, or he will die. To force the evil spirits out of the girls he just hast to make them fall in love with him. After they are freed from the spirit (this is done with a kiss, get your mind out of the gutter), they lose all memory of the romance, leaving him free to target the next girl. He is surprisingly good at this, considering that he finds the real world (3D world) to be a nuisance and really just wants to get back to his games.
The third season starts with Keima and his demon partner being one of the best in the “lost souls” division with more than a dozen evil spirits captured. His clinical, Sherlockesque approach always seems to work out, but there is a new development. It appears that at least some girls have not forgotten him completely, and those girls are the key to stopping renegade demons who want to establish hell on earth. He now has to make all the girls that remember him fall for him again. All of this ups the stakes considerably. He is now trying to save the world, and the worst possible complication, his former “lovers” having memories of him, makes his job extremely difficult. As the opening music tells us, “this is not a game anymore.”
The World God Only Knows has a few issues. The biggest is that, in order to animate this arc from the manga, they had to skip an awful lot. Some of the girls in the third season are familiar, but some were introduced in the manga chapters that were skipped. This forces an awkward recap of the romances we never saw. It also doesn’t help that these girls were much less conventional than what happened in the first two seasons. Once the messy first couple of episodes are over though, the show really takes flight. The most enjoyable development is when our cocky protagonist finally slips up, leading to a heartbreaking decision. We also finally see that all this loveless romance is taking its toll on Keima. For a show with such a wacky premise and over the top characters, it handles the more serious tones exremely well.
Watching the show is a bit of a challenge. The best way, in my opinion, is to watch the shows listed below and treat The World God Only Knows as a 25 episode series. If you find the early episodes very entertaining, then you can watch all of seasons one and two. The biggest challenge though, is that while seasons one & two are on Crunchyroll, the two Tenri OVAs (original video animation) are not. I watched them, after considerable searching, on Youtube. Unfortunately, it may be necessary to turn to less savory methods to watch them. You do need to watch them, or read the relevant manga chapters. The developments in the two Tenri OVAs act as a prologue and are very helpful in negotiating the early episodes of the series.
9 Out of 10
The Backstory Watch List (in order):
Season 1, Episode 1, 5 – 7, 9 – 11
Season 2, Episodes 3 – 7
The Tenri OVAs, 1 & 2