Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The World God Only Knows III: Goddesses (2013)

The World God Only Knows III:  Goddesses is the third season in the series.  The high level summary is that the protagonist, Keima, is a heavy gamer specializing in dating sims.  One day, he encountered a demon called Elsie and forms a contract such that he had to help capture the loose souls that had escaped from hell.  These loose souls hide themselves within girls' hearts, feeding off their emptiness and negativity.  In order for the soul to reveal itself and be captured, Keima has to win the girl's heart, thus filling it with love and forcing the soul out.  The beginning of the first episode recaps the premise and then quickly skips over all the other targets that have occurred that we haven't seen before.  Keima has been busy, having completed 14 conquests now.

The anime introduces numerous new female characters and one or two points about their unique characteristics.  Doing this makes it feel like we are missing out on a lot and you don't gain the same respect and affection for those new characters.  It is recommended to have at least watched the two-part OVA covering the Tenri arc which helps at least flesh out one of the characters.  This third season is significant in that it introduces an important concept, Goddesses.  Coincidentally, all of Keima's past conquests can be a host for a Goddess, who in the past sealed away the evil demons, and now their powers are required again.  The telltale of a girl being a host for a Goddess is that they start to remember Keima's actions, and eventually recovers their full love for him.

The whole season focuses on Keima having to narrow down who is hosting a Goddess, and then bring out their full love for him again in order to awaken the Goddess.  It has a much faster pacing with developments in every episode; there are no filler episodes at all this season.  It felt like the first few episodes speeds by with all these new concepts such that you feel as if you have skipped a whole season of episodes.  It kind of assumes you're already well acquainted with the new characters and already grasped those concepts.  However, it is good to see past characters becoming recurring characters, taking on a bigger role.  It reduces the "girl of the week" format of the last two seasons.

Furthermore, Goddesses has some of the best situational humor we've had in the series and continues with the strong character songs.  There are good references to games, such as the RPG comment where Keima himself notes that it seems that he completes objective only to be given another, in a never-ending cycle.  That said, Keima feels a lot more competent and comfortable in his abilities and interactions with reality.  After two seasons where it feels like Keima doesn't get happy endings, here he gets multiple throughout the season.  As some of the characters are already introduced and well known by the viewer, these re-conquests works a lot better as more time is spent building the relationship rather than just showing off the girl's quirks.  There were some excellent scenes where Keima and the girl gravitate towards each other, perfectly conveying the mood and tension of the atmosphere as well as their feelings.

At times, it feels like even Keima isn't so sure that he is supposed to be acting, which leads to various sweet moments that'll bring a smile to your face.  Keima shows off that he isn't perfect as there are even events that he cannot predict.  This keeps Keima on his toes and also means viewers are more engaged as they wait to see how things develop.  There is a crushing moment towards the end where Keima screws up and has to be cruel.  Keima failed so badly and caused such a mess in his relationships that you're left wondering how he will be able to recover from this and make things better again.  This is exactly what the plot needed to keep things moving forward.  It is at this point that you realize that Keima can't really keep doing this as he'll hurt more people, especially now that they retain more powerful feelings.

As you progress, you also come to realize that you wish Keima gets to keep all his romantic interests.  Once again, it is hard to pick your favorite pairing since when each pairing takes the focus, you root for them but when the next sub-arc starts with another pairing, you root for them instead.  The plot escalates with the stakes being the highest they have ever been, forcing Keima to "skip" straight to the "endings".  The pacing is fast, building up a to fantastic final two episodes.  The ending will threaten to wet your eyes (depending on how much emotional attachment you had to a certain pairing), and this is where you really feel the indecision and pain felt by Keima.  Event though he tries to hide it, we are shown a glimpse of his regrets, which proves that he has changed as a person.

The final song had meaningful lyrics that really suited the events that had happened and the feelings of the characters.  Overall, The World God Only Knows III:  Goddesses is definitely the best season we've had and makes up for all the shortcomings of the first two seasons.  While the beginning was slightly overbearing due to rapid introductions in an effort to catch the viewer up on events that the anime didn't cover, the plot was engaging, fast paced and showed the dynamics of the relationships that Keima has to finely balance.  With the bittersweet ending, you really do not want to say goodbye to the characters.  It'll keep you thinking about Keima's relationships and how things had panned out, and whether anything could have been different for days after you've finished watching the last episode.  Once finished, viewers carry on the hope that they'll continue with future seasons (but it doesn't look like it'll be possible due to the animation studio closing down).


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