The World God Only Knows: Tenri-hen arc
It has been more than a while since I’ve partaken in an episode of The World God Only Knows. But with one of my next major project being to get through season three of this series, this little OVA is more than an appropriate spot to get warmed up for it. The Tenri-hen arc is one of my favorite arcs if memory serves me right. All I’m hoping for going into this though, is for the anime to convey the original magic of the manga appropriately.
As summer vacation starts up, Keima can’t wait to slash through his homework and get right into a season of non-stop gaming. Those plans are abruptly put on hold however, when he arrives home and is forced to meet an old acquaintance of his mother’s and her daughter, who he is told used to be a friend of his in grade school, Tenri. The girl is shy and presence-less, and Keima doesn’t remember her at all. The only thing of note that happens is that Elsie showing up with one of her dangerous demon knick-knacks. Though, for a brief moment her spirit alarm goes off in the presence of the new girl.
As Elsie accompanies Keima on his excursion to gain more games, she tries to convince him that there’s something wrong with Tenri. Though he couldn’t care less until they run into Tenri in the mall and she attempts to push him down the escalator. This altercation ends up confirming Elsie’s fears when the spirit inside Tenri makes her presence known in front of them, before heading off in daring and unnecessary fashion.
Elsie has warned Keima that if they don’t register Tenri as a target, someone else could come along and go after her. And while Keima sees this as less work, the demon who does register Tenri will cause him problems in the future. The near future.
The demon whose name is Nora, is known for her quick and brutal tactics. Her pretty boy familiar/buddy and she waste little time moving in on Tenri and using deploying their brutal tactics. While her buddy introduces himself and woos her with their promises and proposals, Nora wraps up Tenri and extracts her deepest desires. What’s the desire she pulls up? Keima, of course! She asks her captive how she feels about the boy, and when she gets an ambivalent answer, she just assumes she hates Keima and decides to kill him to retrieve the runaway spirit. She explains her brutal tactics to her buddy by saying it’s a matter of averages and speed. Her mind is truly a callous and lazy one.
Tenri is let go as they leave, and races to find Keima before they do. She’s able to find Keima and Elsie, but not before Nora is able to snatch him up and take him captive, and leave her a note stating where he is to be executed. Once they arrive, they see Keima strung up from mast of a ship. Elsie steps in and tells Nora that she can’t kill him because he’s her buddy. So Nora decides instead to torture Keima by revealing his deepest desire (a 2D girl from one of his games) and killing her. This drives Keima into a fanboy rage and he attacks her. Nora’s able to shake him off, but is so creeped out by his actions that she and her buddy retreat. Her back up plan being to come back with bigger weapons and murder him. In the meantime, Keima, Elsie and Tenri take up refuge in a nearby chapel. Keima comes up with a plan to get Nora off his tail, and Elsie goes to find Haqua so she can help them achieve that. While she’s gone, Tenri musters up the courage to take Keima some place nearby and familiar to help him jog his memory about their past childhood relationship.
End of episode.
We’ve come to a pivotal part of the overall story now. Continuing the previous episode’s flashback, as Tenri and Keima escape through the cave running under the chapel, Tenri tells Keima of their forgotten escape as children through the very same cave. Back when they were kids they were on a field trip by the beach, Keima was of course catching crap for just playing games and not playing like everyone else. Quickly getting sick of being socked and yelled at by his very loud and lamentful teacher, he retreats to a old nearby ship. While on the ship, he feels what appears to be an earthquake and then notices that time has slipped him and somehow the ship has moved away from the dock and is well out to sea, yet stranded on a sand bank. He also finds Tenri on the ship with him, as she was trying to avoid being around people as well. She informs him of a possible escape route, and they leave the ship and wade across the surprisingly shallow water, and into a cave. Their hope is just follow the cave to civilization, but the cave is quite deep and they end up stopping to rest.
While in the cave, Keima and Tenri actually have a nice talk. When Keima notices that Tenri is scared and hungry, he gives her his entire box lunch and his sweets to make her feel better. Not long after that, the lights go out on all of Keima’s portable game consoles and there’s another earthquake. A large rock falls on Keima’s head, knocking him out. Tenri catches him, but then the entire cave is illuminated, and we see what appear to be hundreds of runaway spirits floating through the cave, muttering something about gaps. This is where the flashback stops being told by Tenri and starts being told by her runaway spirit.
Keima is informed that at that moment, she came to Tenri as the runaway spirits (or ‘weiss’, as she refers to them) circled her, trying to find a way into her heart. Tenri asked for her help and let her enter her body, therefore allowing the spirit to whisk them away under her own power to safety. After they escape through the chapel floor, the many, many spirits behind them explode out of the ground and into the world.
End of flashback.
Keima is puzzled by some elements of the story that don’t add up, but is convinced by Tenri’s spirit that she’s not a runaway spirit. Tenri’s spirit claims to be the one to actually seal up the demons from Old Hell that used to be the runaway spirits. Something is very wrong here.
There isn’t time to ask any questions though, as Nora bursts through the roof of the cave in another attempt to murder Keima. Tenri’s spirit is able to pin them down with a large rock, allowing them to escape again, but Keima knows that they need to permanently get Nora off of their tail with a different runaway spirit and a rouse. Tenri’s spirit informs him that she’s actually had one kept on her this whole time, and though it’s very weak he can use it. Being back on the beach that they went on that they began journey all those years ago, Keima sees the ship from the past at the dock and decides to go there to formulate his plan.
On the ship, Keima runs into a very sad and empty handed Elsie. It’s her presence and her raimant that he needs now though, not another runaway spirit. He now sets his plan in motion to trick Nora into believing that he’s made a runaway spirit leave Tenri’s heart.
They meet Nora on the mast of the ship, where Keima proclaims that he’ll rid Tenri of the spirit in her heart through the power of true love. Though it seems Tenri’s gotten cold feet and is less than compliant about the plan – talking about choking at a critical moment. Nora proclaims that she’s not gonna fall for such a dumb plan, and doesn’t understand how something like love could possibly get the job done. Keima shoots back that he doesn’t believe that Nora’s ever experienced true love before, which for some reason pisses off the demon. Kinda weird that she gets angry at this, when she’s shown that all she cares about so far is getting the job done as quickly as possible. Hell, the only thing she seems to have a passion for so far is murder and torture.
When Nora tells Keima that he’s the reason Tenri has a runaway spirit in the first place, and that she hates him, Tenri is spurred into action! She finally speaks up and confesses her love for Keima to everyone. Keima, seeing this as part of the act and his cue, snatches Tenri up and gives her a passionate kiss. Elsie doesn’t f*ck up her part and releases the captured spirit into the air, making sure to make it look big and powerful. Nora’s dumbass doesn’t waste a moment giving chase. Keima tries to thank Tenri for her help, but she’s passed out from excitement and happiness. Her spirit however, whose name we learn is Diana, passes on her good wishes and thanks. And though they say goodbye, the next day Keima learns that he has a new neighbor in Tenri and her mother.
Ah! This is so refreshing, and it helps remind me why I love this franchise so much after not partaking in the series for so long.
Originally, I couldn’t understand why this story couldn’t just be added to the end of the second season, but it does make a pretty good standalone story that ties in very well to the overall narrative. This story is one of my fondest memories from the manga, and the revelations about the runaway spirits and how some of the story Keima has heard about their origin may be very are some of the reasons why. This is the start of a much deeper part of the story, where it’s not just about capturing runaway spirits for the sake of saving girls’ hearts and Keima’s neck. There’s a deep, nasty conspiracy at hand that hasn’t even been touched yet. It gets me excited because Hell has always been one of my favorite things about this franchise.
As for the characters in this arc, Keima is Keima and Elsie is Elsie. This arc is hardly the spot to start this story, so newbies really shouldn’t be starting here. You should know the main characters by now. As for the others, I really hated Nora. She’s such a sh*t personality. She’s base, lazy, crude, a dangerous mixture of psychotic and homicidal, petty, callous and opportunistic in all the worst ways. It’s a good thing that ‘s she’s dumb as a rock too, though her falling for simple tricks like the one that ended the arc may also be attributable to her laziness. Her buddy is an utterly forgettable character. When I first saw him in the manga, I wondered if he’d be a dark equivalent to Keima or his rival. He’s nothing of the sort. Despite his good looks, he has no charm or personality. It only further cements these two as a horrible, sh*tty duo.
Tenri and Diana were interesting, but up to this point of the manga don’t approach being my favorites at all. Diana is pushy and judgemental , and I feared in the beginning that she’d have one of those annoying personalities that showed why Keima turned to the game world for women. But she’s much nicer than that. In the end, it became clear that she was only trying to protect Tenri, not just herself. Her host Tenri was annoying in her own ways. I hated how she’s always shown (until the end, mostly) with her hair completely covering her eyes. I can’t explain it, but it’s a character design decision that I’ve always hated. I can tolerate it with unimportant background characters, but I can’t stand how anime characters walk around basically without eyes when you draw them like this. I hate it! Other than that, she didn’t have much of a personality to speak of and it makes it hard to give an opinion of her. How she is is completely in keeping with the story and how it should work, but you can’t blame me either for saying she had the personality of a stack of paper – the plainest, whitest of college-ruled paper.
This has been a good place to get started on getting into the third season of The World God Only Knows. I feel invigorated and ready to dive into more of this comedic romance. This story was quick, fun, informative and important. Not the best of the series for me, but certainly a great pitstop between seasons.