Two ones and a fourteen: The World God Only Knows, Amagami, Fortune Arterial

The World God Only Knows 1 is about Keima, a nerdy student who can win over any 2-D game girl he wants. And now he’s signed a pact with the devil to win the hearts of real girls. This raises a number of questions, first, with his reputation, how is he going to do it?

The uniform doesn't help, either.

He’s not exactly handsome or even social. But if he doesn’t win over Ayumi, a track team member, not only will he die but so will Elci, his adorable demon assistant. This is what happens when you click “Agree” on a message on your PFP. Let it be a warning to you. So he tries, using strategies taken from games.

The show might be able to generate some fun from Keima’s mistaken attempts taken from fiction not working in the real world, and to an extent that does happen. On the other hand his sheer persistence does soften Ayumi’s stance. And when she does turn to him it’s not because of his game techniques but because of his careful and gentle observations about her situation, even if the scene, and her situation, come off as unbelievable. Maybe the best bit comes at the end. After the loose spirit is captured (the reason Keima and Elci are targeting girls in the first place) Ayuma forgets all about the romance, certainly convenient for Keima and his quest. On the other hand, he shows a flash of frustration. For once he had a real girl, then he lost her. Maybe he doesn’t hate 3-D girls so much after all. Nevertheless I doubt that I’ll watch more than a couple episodes of this.

Amagami SS is also all about getting the girl. Those of you who think this show is an unrealistic representation of courtship ought to watch it after watching The World God Only Knows. It feels almost profound, even though in episode 14 Junichi sets all sorts of records for stupid behavior.

But it’s not entirely his fault. Girls aid and abet his actions. First in the library where he, Masayoshi (forever the sidekick), and Kaoru, of all people, go to the library to check out (get it?) the new assistant. It ends nicely as it gets Junichi and Ai together to study math. And we begin to see what it is about Junichi that is making Ai fall for him, the fact that he can act so responsibly one moment and like a child the next. The second woman to mess with him is his teacher, who tells him to shape up then slaps his fanny. Geez, lady. But the topper is sort of a two-parter. Junichi meets Sae for the first time and stares at her boobs, leading Miya, his sister, to go on about how big and soft they are. Poor Sae. But, see? It’s not all Junichi’s fault … well, the next bit is, when he tries to make it up to flat-chested Ai.

He's not just saying that to Ai, but to the ENTIRE SWIM TEAM.

At this point I’m wondering if he’s deliberately acting like a loon to prove some point, but no. It’s just Junichi being his honest self. Really, it’s hard not to like him nonetheless. And the two make it up in a park scene where Junichi teaches Ai some transformation moves, to the delight of some young boys watching nearby. As Ai is having trouble with his younger brother this comes as a nice antidote. And so the romance continues. I thought I’d have trouble getting into the series after a week off and the avalanche of new shows, but I fell back into the show’s leisurely, playful routine with no trouble.

Fortune Arterial 1 starts with vampire stuff but shifts immediately to your typical transfer student introduction episode before veering back in the last scene.

Transfer student stuff.

Kohei, our transfer student, transfers to Tamatsu Island to attend a luxurious school. We get the usual wacky introductions with one dark overtone. Erika, the vice-president touches him and freaks out. After that it’s all hijinks as Kohei meets one student after another. It’s another of those “I lived here briefly years ago” shows, so naturally a couple of the girls, Haruna and Kanade, remember him. He meets more while touring the campus (He has to follow a map and take pictures of the landmarks, a nice idea, actually): Little Shiro and her bunny, her older brother Sei, who warns him about visiting one particular building nicknamed “Pandemonium,” but it turns out his reasons are quite innocent. Indeed, between the vampire in the prologue and the one at the end the episode played with darkness only to turn it into a joke. There’s also the nun Amaike, so we know we’re going to get a gothic influence later, and Lori, Student Council President, who messes with Kohei’s mind by changing the signs in the bathhouse and sort of flirting with him. What happened to the vampire stuff?

Vampire stuff.

Even here they undercut Kohei’s discovery (in the church, of course) with a comic bit you’d find in any high school comedy. I rather like the contrast. They’ll probably start merging the dark and the comic starting now, but it was a not-bad first episode.

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