A gamer’s work is never done.
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!
The release of this television series contains two language options- English and Japanese- though both tracks are limited to only a stereo mix likely due to the materials only being available to Sentai in that manner given how the original Japanese track was constructed. For the purpose of this review the Japanese track was selected and it is a solid representation of stereo tracks as splits the dialogue and other sounds nicely in such a way as to give a decent illusion of depth. The track also works well to provide directionality when appropriate and it covers the low sounding effects as well as the higher pitched ones in a way that provides a nice balance. On top of this the dialogue is presented clearly and there were no dropouts or distortions noticed during playback.
Originally premiering on Japanese television during the 2011 season, the series is presented here in its original 1.78:1 ratio with an anamorphic widescreen encode. The series itself is one that likes to make use of quite a bit of the color spectrum including rather bright colors as well as also making use of more subtle ones with some of the clothing choices and for the most part colors come across well and the blacks are solid and vibrant as well. The DVD release has a few encode issues though, most noticeably a rather distracting level of noise that has the ability to really make its presence known and be disruptive on occasion. In addition to this, though not nearly as distracting, is the presence of blocking, aliasing, dot crawl, banding, bleeding, artifacting, moiré, and some minor ghosting. It certainly doesn’t reach anywhere near “unwatchable” scale but it is prevalent enough that I would suggest going for the Blu Ray upgrade to those whose setups will accommodate the format.
The release comes packaged in an eco DVD case that includes a middle flipper page to hold one disc while the other disc is held on the back inside portion of the case. The front cover features Elsie as well as a fellow demon/Loose Soul hunter Haqua du Rot Herminium as they stand close facing toward the viewer with their bodies facing each other while holding hands against a warm crème- orange colored sky with the series title and key logo present in a banner at the bottom of the cover. The spine meanwhile features a smiling image of Kemia against the same orange sky backdrop at the top in an almost noble type pose with his right leg lifted as if placed on a step to give him a bit of a regal air with the title being present just under this.
The back cover features an angled image that has Haqua on the left riding her scythe while the right has an image of Elsie riding her broom (and showing off a lot of leg in the process for fanservice) against a crème orange backdrop with white lines as they form almost the sides of a triangle in their presentation. Above the two the series copy is listed against a white backdrop while the space between the two demons is filled with 8 stills of various sizes taken from the episodes within while below that are the listings for Extras, copyright information and the discs technical specs.
The series is presented on two discs in an even 6 episodes each split, the first disc using an image of Kusunoki Kasuga who is kneeling on the ground while leaning slightly forward against the wind with a small kitten clutching the back flap of her school uniform for the label while the second disc features an image of Jun Nagase with her class roster held high in her right hand and her pink PFP behind her back in her left as she stands in front of a large school window with a blue sky with white clouds and whiter birds.
The menus for the discs are similar in presentation and function as they are static affairs in terms of the images present on them. Disc one uses an image of Haqua on the left as she sits leaning back almost like she is about to lean on the part of a large circle that is partially presented which contains the episodes that are included listed on the right in a stacked fashion as a short bit from the opening plays as background music. As a game joke the episodes are again referred to as “Flags” which is a term from the type of game that the main character plays and which was used in the series itself. The sub screens use an image of a smiling Chihiro looking over her left shoulder for the Language one and Kusunoki Kasuga from the cover of disc one for the Special Features as a portion of the close plays for both screens.
Disc two’s main image features Elsie behind and slightly above Keima who stands in a powerful pose at an angle with his right hand held against his temple while his left thrusts his PFP toward the viewer. The Language screen uses the image of Elsie and Haqua from the packages cover and the Special Features screen uses the image of Jun Nagase from the disc label though it places her against a crème-orange background with white lines like is found on the back of the DVD packaging cover. Disc two also uses the same audio tracks in the same places as disc one and both menus use a small skull icon to indicate the currently highlighted option which changes color when selected. The icon is quick to respond to selection changes and the implementation of selection choices is made with minimal delay.
In addition to the almost industry standard clean open and closings Sentai also includes a pair of short extras that collect commercials used to promote both the series itself both before and during its airing in the TV Spots extra as well as a selection named Japanese Release Spots which collect some of the commercials used to promote the home video release of the series as well as some of the CDs theme and character songs associated with the series.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
There are still Loose Souls rampaging about and as such Keima Katsuragi is still bound by his contract with Hell to pair up with Elsie and recapture them if he ever hopes to have his time back to himself to play his games to his heart’s content not to mention if he wants to keep his head. To this end the second season brings with it some familiar tasks as he must still use his gaming skills to try to free unfortunate girls from the Souls that have wormed their way into the empty spots in their hearts.
This time around though there may be some new events with twists that Kemia has to navigate as the concepts that he knows so well when it comes to games may have higher stakes in the real world as there is no “reset” option to undo a bad decision if he misjudges things and some of the actions that appear in games may have more painful consequences in the real world. Still with his life on the line and more importantly his free time at stake Kemia is going to have to use all his skills to help those around him who become trapped by souls from hell while trying as best he can to pretend that he can hide the effects his efforts have on his own heart while also making time for his precious games.
The World God Only Knows hits its second season in full stride using the structure that the series set up in the first season to allow it to leap right into events. This is both a good thing in that it allows the series to get right into the meat of things again but it does run a risk of pushing things to a point where the rather repetitive nature of the setup and its lack of developing a deeper core may finally be working against it. That most story arcs revolve around a character type that has become a staple (if not stereotypical archetype of its own) doesn’t make for the greatest of starts as the lack of having many reoccurring characters or repercussions takes some of the emotion out of events.
Whether it is to answer that start or to try to push the series in a new direction, a pair of story arcs early in the second season look like they might allow for events to change as the introduction of new character Haqua along with a new type of Loose Soul allows both for some explanation behind the series setup as well as the potential ability to shake things out of their groove but it is the story that follows that where the true brilliance and possibilities of the series concept shine. In that tale Kemia finds himself in a brand new position of both having to deal with a lack of desire to help someone caught up in events as well as having to really focus on his own tendency to only see things from the point of his gaming history rather than recognize that some events will fall outside of that and people can be so very much more than a collection of tropes that make for easy storytelling devices.
In addition to this, the series also throws in a pair of tales that are used as comical little moments of satire that attempt to poke fun at times of the anime or gaming world in general which provide some hit or miss comedy but it is actually the quiet moments of a series that uses a lot of energy and humor that I find the most attractive. While the series is built on its humor the moments that really bring the characters to life are found in between the frenetic pace of events when the characters pause and take a bit of reflection, particularly in Kemia’s case as his general level of conceit and self absorbed nature could easily make for a better antagonist character but when he drops his defenses and shows just how human he is and how much events have impacted him that the series really stands out and which the series could have used more moments of to step out and seize some fantastic character potential.
This season much like its predecessor walks a very fine line at times as the idea that a person can be classified to a point where someone can say just a couple of right words at the right time to win their heart is pretty borderline insulting to its characters and also audience. The saving grace is often just how delicately the writers work to handle events and how they can show that Kemia is more than just cynically treating “real” people the way he does those he manipulates on his game screens. It takes a really deft touch which the series doesn’t always manage as skillfully as one might wish but when added to the humor and heart that is inserted to lay behind each of the tales the series avoids falling completely into a pitfall. The only other major weakness here is in the need to follow the manga as a seemingly major character is introduced in Haqua who then almost completely disappears in the stories that follow which leaves a kind of empty spot in her wake after the amount of setup she receives. Still those who enjoyed the first season of the show will likely find that much of what they loved exists here as well though the repetition of the basic concept may be close to wearing out its welcome.
The second season of The World God Only Knows arrives on home video and brings with it most of the same concepts from the original season as it also takes care to mix in some new twists and facets so it doesn’t become just “more of the same.” Those who loved the first season will find much to like here as the series continues its pursuit of its theme though in doing so it may wear on some viewer’s patience. In a number of cases this season feels like one that covers a fair amount of the same ground as the original and as such which lacks some of the initial sparkle the first created but fans may find that this season contains a few moments where it is able to surpass the original, even if the whole of the season can’t quite manage to do so.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 language, English Subtitles, Japanese Promo, TV Spots, Release Spots, Clean Opening Animation, Clean Closing Animation
Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: C-
Packaging Grade: B-
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: August 7th, 2012
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Samsung 50″ Plasma HDTV, Denon AVR-790 Receiver with 5.1 Sony Surround Sound Speakers, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080.