Recap: I can see the ending!
Another girl, another kiss on that weird sail ship that is perpetually in harbor and given no security. It was nice to see a bit of levity before the utterly depressing scene that was the second half of the story. It really doesn’t convince me well when these girls list off reasons for why there are problems with Keima, and still inexplicably say they love him. Ayumi is simply the latest in that chain. With Yui there was at least this idea that she felt she could “cure” him, and that it was slightly funny how she tries to run Keima over with the power of her personality. With Ayumi, it’s just that she loves him, despite the week that Keima spent wooing her initially was mostly the same thing as embarassing her, and the time he literally forced her under the covers with him to hide her from her best friend. They kiss, and then it’s fight time. Yay for satire…
The most surreal part of this episode is how, in the final climactic scene between the goddesses and Vintage, you can tell that it’s meant to be the background focus. With the goddess hunt done, so is Keima, and his non-involvement with the finish just shows how dissonant these two sides of the goddess arc story are. In the end, we care more about the relationship between him and Chihiro, the only one that fell in love with him, really fall in love with him even without the memory of conquest. I remember the concert in the manga, but the way it’s expressed in this anime is so much more powerful. Keima is still kind of a nutter, but these constant interactions are slowly making him better, and when he has to crush a girl like he did Chihiro, he actually feels remorse.
I will not lie, I did come into this arc with a bit of a bias. It’s always hard to remove yourself from the initial experience when you watch an adaptation, and for me it was a negative one. The Goddesses arc departed greatly from what I had traditionally enjoyed about TWGOK. I never felt the great urge to learn more about New Hell’s history, and the way it was portrayed before this arc always made it seem like a utopia built after great struggle. What I loved about this show was that it was able to make smart satire out of the romantic comedy and visual novel genres while telling cute stories about girls overcoming their issues. In the end, Keima doesn’t so much conquer the girls as he claims, but rather supports them as they work through their specific problems. It’s shown that the kiss is not even necessary to heal their hearts, it’s just usually the climax of their personal development.
That’s why it seemed wrong to go back to girls that had already been conquered. In these episodes, it was more of a straight attempt at hitting on them. The only real trouble was that he was implicated with Kanon, but it’s treated like it was nothing. It just felt so unrealistic that all of these girls would forgive Keima so easily if they believe(rightfully so) that he was involved with Kanon. It seemed like this show was smarter than to have the cliche of falling in love so quickly, and yet with every girl it makes them act like. This goes especially for Shiori, who had barely known Keima and only met him for a few days before the conquest was finished.
The timeline for when the girls received goddesses is also really hard to tell. While it seems Tenri had Diana since she was very young, it’s implied the other goddesses didn’t awaken until after the girl’s conquering, with no explanation as to why they took longer. Why do memories take time to come back, and in fact why does having a goddess exempt them from forgetting completely? Tenri never had a spirit possess her, so it makes sense that she would retain memories, but every other girl did have a spirit possess them. The only explanation we get is Diana’s word, which makes no sense since she wouldn’t have any context of what having a goddess housed within them would do to the girls. Overall, I just felt the entire concept was very sloppily handled.
Continuously throughout the season there was almost a consistent theme: the Vintage plot only served to interfere with the conquests. It did not add anything positive, and in the final episodes it even interupted with Keima’s plans. Basically, a lot of what TWGOK was all about before this arc was sacrificed in order to make room for this new plot. The entire narrative structure was overhauled to realign with a constant threat. To put this in terms of the manga, what used to be self contained stories of around 3-8 chapters turned into a story spanning 75 and I don’t think it benefited from this change at all.
This was made better by editing down in the anime, and overall they were able to pack those 75 chapters into 12. The best I can give for the anime is that it really did everything right in order to streamline this story. The voice acting is always the biggest treat about seeing TWGOK animated, and Hiro Shimono really knocked it out of the park again with his roll as Keima. Overall, I imagine most diehard fans will still enjoy this story, but for me I’ll just look back at the old days when Keima was a complete loon and try to remember that fondly.