We want to sing the love of danger, the habit of energy and rashness. The essential elements of our blogging will be courage, audacity and revolt. Blogging has up to now magnified pensive immobility, ecstasy and slumber. We want to exalt movements of aggression, feverish sleeplessness, the double march, the perilous leap, the slap and the blow with the fist. We declare that the splendor of the world has been enriched by a new beauty: the beauty of speed. A racing automobile with its bonnet adorned with great tubes like serpents with explosive breath ... a roaring motor car which seems to run on machine-gun fire, is more beautiful than the Victory of Samothrace. We want to sing the man at the wheel, the ideal axis of which crosses the earth, itself hurled along its orbit. The blogger must spend himself with warmth, glamour and prodigality to increase the enthusiastic fervor of the primordial elements. Beauty exists only in struggle. There is no masterpiece that has not an aggressive character. Blogging must be a violent assault on the forces of the unknown, to force them to bow before man. Standing on the world's summit we launch once again our insolent challenge to the stars!
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Keima with a bunch of dating sim heroines.
Oh, geez, another critical post. They might be right when they say all I do is complain. Sorry for that, by the way.
Anyways, I spent most of today reading The World God Only Knows and managed to get up to Chapter 70. It’s a delightful manga, with lots of humour and adorable characters, and it even manages to bring a lot of variation to its very linear premise. The thing that truly makes TWGOK into what it is, however, is this premise: dating sim addict Keima Katsuragi is ‘forced’ into using his ‘skills’ to woo ‘real’ girls.
While it’s a good thing that the manga gives a lot of attention to Keima’s struggles with the differences between games and the oh-so-dreaded ‘real world’, I can’t help but feeling that the manga is a bit sexist. Keima often considers girls as ‘objects’, achievements that need to be captured solely for his own pride. According to him, girls -both real and 2D- will always act according to the tropes and conventions he is familiar with. This is a good flaw for his character, but the problem is that the manga doesn’t really try to profile it as a flaw. He may complain about real girls being nothing like the dating sim heroines, but in fact, the opposite is true.
Keima with a bunch of ‘real’ girls.
As opposed to making use of this character trait of his to draw out some interesting character development and plot lines where it turns out that real girls are much deeper and more complex than gaming characters, the manga plays the game exactly how Keima wants it to: every ‘target’ girl in the franchise fits a respective dating sim/anime stereotype like a skin-tight jeans. This is why they almost always act exactly the way Keima expects them to act, making his ‘girls are predictable objects for conquest’-mentality a reality.
However, The World God Only Knows is hardly as brutally sexist as your average harem show or even one of my favourite manga of all time: Bakuman. Because unlike the infuriatingly blatant stereotypes inhabiting the world of, say, Infinite Stratos (sorry for bringing this one up again, but it’s just SO good an example), the girls in TWGOK are more than just the archetypes they represent. While it’s noticeable how lightly the manga treats love - the girl usually falls for Keima within 4 or 5 chapters - it really tries to look at it from the girl’s perspective and give her some character development in the short time she’s given to shine.
Because that is probably what causes the issues I brought up: The franchise has serious pacing issues. The anime is too slow, making it boring, and the manga is too fast, giving it the issues I just adressed. But is that, in the latter’s case, a bad thing? No. In a world were Narutos take 20 chapters fighting one guy and Ichigos 7 chapters not developing, TWGOK’s breakneck pacing is a breath of fresh air. And I am all too willing to take the issues with it. Because it could be much, much worse.
If you think I’m wrong, shoot, because I probably am! What do you think?