WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE WORLD GOD ONLY KNOWS, BOTH THE ANIME AND THE MANGA
Hey everyone, back again with another Character Focus article. I’m enjoying writing these every two weeks roughly so I’d like to try and keep it up for a while. And since The World God Only Knows is one of my favorite manga, I imagine I would’ve had to do one on Keima Katsuragi himself sooner or later. There’s quite a few characters I still want to get to in the future but everything in moderation, right? So for today, let’s look at the God of Conquests himself, Keima.
So as I said before TWGOK is one of my favorite manga series of all time. It started out a bit after the anime aired; I watched season 1 and eagerly watched season 2 while it was airing, before getting into the manga which had continued on well past the show. Season 3 came and went and unfortunately Manglobe went under. The manga ended as well and I was left with a void. Keima and the story had become a big part of me looking forward to every… Thursday I think it was? to see where the story went. Having it end made me sad but happy at the same time. Seeing Keima’s story come to such a satisfying ending was relieving, considering where the story chose to go after the goddess arc.
So what was it about Keima? He certainly got a lot of flak for how he treated some of the girls, from people both in universe and fans of the manga/show as well. At the beginning of the series he is cold and uncaring about anyone other than what was displayed on the PFP screen. His reaction to meeting a demon was to ignore her and her obsession with firetrucks. To be sure, the only reason he even agreed to help her was that he was under threat of exploding collar. And this doesn’t really improve initially – with all the girls he conquers he is just putting on a mask and basking in the glory that “real” girls are just as easy to conquer as “2D” girls.
But he shows some amazing growth throughout the series. Slow, small changes lead to a character that is acts only vaguely similar to how he was before and has changed his outlook from “the real world doesn’t matter” to confessing to an ACTUAL HUMAN GIRL which came from his own feelings. In fact, the entire Chihiro / Keima relationship throughout the series is one of the most interesting in the series, with Keima showing some of the most obvious signs of growth during his interactions with Chihiro.
For example, after his first conquer of Chihiro he is shown sitting at his desk, questioning the gravity of what he’s actually doing. At first it was a game to him but after Chihiro he wondered how it was affecting the girls and how it was affecting him. This was telling for several reasons – he actually DID care about these girls even though he appeared to shrug it off once their memories of him “disappeared”. It also showed, if not growth, then the fact that Keima had a conscious of some kind and definitely wasn’t JUST a completely obsessed otamega.
My favorite moment of the series was actually another point of growth for him. I’m talking about the rooftop scene with Chihiro. He has to brutally crush her hopes after “reconquering” her because he learns she isn’t a goddess – the easiest way for him to do this is to tell her that he was toying with her, which was at least a little untrue. Afterwards, he’s shown to be hurting a little bit. He knows it was the best way to go about it and he knows that it was for the sake of saving the goddesses but he still did something terrible to Chihiro and he knows it.
More than anything I think the most telling thing about their relationship was that Keima was able to act like himself around Chihiro. With the other girls he had to put on a mask in order to conquer them. He had to play according to the “rules”. With Chihiro he was himself, which is why Chihiro was the most obvious choice (besides perhaps Tenri) for him to end up with. So even through just one character Keima was able to grow bit by bit although Chihiro wasn’t the sole reason Keima was growing.
Keima went through so many conquest cycles with so much at stake that it wasn’t immediately clear what kind of toll it was having on him. Even if some of these relationships were being formed under the basis of a lie Keima was still learning about these girls and still legitimately trying to help them through their issues by getting close to them. And unfortunately they would forget about him afterwards. Within the goddess arc Keima had a “locate the goddess’ hosts” and went to talk with some of his own conquests. It was rough for him and me as the reader to see the girls tell him several times that they had never met him. After all this effort in the real world he was still alone, essentially.
But with the bad comes the good and Keima was able to change and evolve past the VN loving otaku he had been before. And to his credit he never put down the PFP for good – he stayed true to his own hobbies while managing to slowly accept that maybe reality wasn’t so terrible. Of course he needed an entire cast of characters to help him with this, but he suffered through a lot on his own. Through the conquests, through the forget, through Vintage, all the way to the end, Keima was growing.
It was nice seeing the character who was essentially a parody of the “2D > 3D” argument given form and put into a scenario that tested his skills and resulted in him achieving some character growth. Taking a character whose interest reality was 0 and slowly building him up into someone who realized that reality could sometimes kind of be interesting, setting it against the backdrop of a plot where he moves from saving individual girls to saving the world, and you’ve ended up with one of my favorite manga series of all time.
Keima was able to see the ending and finally was able to achieve his True Ending. As always, thanks for reading.