So a friend of mine recently introduced me to what the words ‘Keikaku Doori’ mean (and it wasn’t you keikakudoori, bahaha). It’s that line, ‘Just as Planned’, that you hear in a lot of anime these days. In my view, Death Note pretty much owns the phrase, and their use of it probably marked the birth of a quickly aging trope in anime. For the purpose of this blog, I’m going to refer to ‘keikakudoori’ as a character trope, alongside your moe, gar and tsunderes. When I say Keikakudoori, I mean the character that gets everything right, the perfect genius. If he/she ever does slip up, it’s either through the fault of another he trusted, or perhaps by being bested by a rival keikakudoori, or maybe the introduction of some unprecedented force, like love or something. Either way, it’s extremely rare that these characters ever make mistakes, they’re the image of perfection, the perfect mastermind. Examples include the infamous Yagami Light from Death Note (a lot of characters from death note are on a similar level), Lelouche from Code Geass, or other less notable roles like Akagi from Akagi, and even some antagonists like Fei Wang Reed from Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle. We love these characters because they always seem to impress and amaze us, but that doesn’t mean the trope isn’t becoming a bit overdone and stale. These Keikakudooris, especially the ones taking up the role of protagonist, can become boring because of how often we’re exposed to them in anime.
But this post isn’t about them.
This post is about Keima Katsuragi, the protagonist of the new hit Anime series The World God Only Knows (Kami Nomi zo Shiru Sekai). The Anime is a comedy/drama that revolves around Keima’s unwilling entrapment in a contract with a demon, which requires him to save the hearts of girls who have been possessed by demons, by getting them to fall in love with him, after which they lose their memory of the relationship. Did I mention that Keima is an otaku? But not just any Otaku, Keima is the self-proclaimed ‘God of Conquest’, the unrivaled master of galge (dating sims), claiming to be able to conquer the heart of any 2D girl without failure.
Lately I’ve really been thinking about what makes Keima different from all the other Keikakudooris I’ve encountered in Anime, and it really comes down to one thing. He isn’t perfect. Keima is portrayed as the most dysfunctional otaku in the world. His entire life revolves around his video games, and trying to please the world into giving him more time to play video games. This results in a lack of common social skills and common sense, he just doesn’t live in the real world. How can such a dysfunctional person be a Keikakudoori? The answer is that Keima knows his shit. By applying his incredible skills and knowledge he’s gained from years of playtime in the world of video games, he can become a master of life. His cognitive ability transcends the realm of ordinary humans, with his ability to predict the route through to the conclusion of a galge with absolute precision early in the game, calculating all of the possibilities and determining the best course of action in moments. Not only that, but he is able to play several games at once, and at an extreme speed. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was some kind of supernatural aspect that tied in to explain his superhuman gaming ability later in the story, ahaha. In his element, Keima really is a God.
The complications arise when he tries to apply these skills to the real world. Sometimes it pays of amazingly, as he is able to analyse a person and their situation perfectly, and manipulate the factors to ensure that she falls for them. A master sociopath, if you will. But his abilities don’t always translate into the real world, and that’s what makes Keima different from the others. Common social norms and behaviours that most people take for granted, Keima will be completely oblivious to. He treats the world as a video game, “a crappy game” in his words, and he isn’t always able to comprehend the complexity of people’s hearts. There are countless instances where he will attempt to apply his mastery to a scenario in real life, and just end up face first in the mud. It’s that unpredictable nature that makes Keima an exception among Keikakudoori, he is unpredictable. With his ambiguously graceful and dysfunctional approach to life, you’re always guessing whether his tactics and approaches will result in a hit or a miss, and I find that really refreshing for this aging trope in Anime. I’m thankful to TWGOK for producing a fresh take on the trope, it’s proven very entertaining to watch. The God of Conquest continues to surprise me each episode.