The best thing The World God Only Knows has going for it is confusion. With its anti-social protagonist and dating-simulator slant, the series can't make up its mind as to whether it's an acerbic take on the two dimensional approach to dating-simulators, or a parody of the spate of story-reset-repeat visual novel adaptations that have spawned recently. Equally though, it could end up as neither and result in bland drivel that the first three episodes skirt dangerously close to.
It all starts so promisingly with Keima who, despite being obnoxious and reclusive, somehow isn't instantly repulsive - likely the effect of his dandy cravat. After a bubbly spirit girl drops into his life the story spanks along and seems to eschew common staples like the moving in ritual or the transferred into school ritual. Then the first episode ends with the girl transferring into his school and the next episode starts with her moving into his house. The series doesn't so much ignore genre tropes as delay them, then air them half apologetically.
Despite his paucity of human interaction, Keima's odd set of personality traits allow him to use dating-simulator logic to be able to plan with certainty how best to woo the current target girl. The message implied varies from: dating simulators are closer to "reality" than one would commonly believe, to courting being a system that can be gamed or even cheated. Elsea on the other hand is the almost prototypical magical girl, a shiny gumbo of everything from Nurse Witch Komugi to Kobato with a dash of Rukia from Bleach and Etna from Disgaea in for good measure.
The issue the series has, so far at least, is that while knowingly meta - ribbing character archetypes and fan idioms with gay abandon - it doesn't yet seem to know why. The story is throwaway at best, even the revelation that the girls Keima "conquers" instantly forget the experience is left as a footnote to an episode; so the question remains whether it is poking fun, has a deeper message, or was just short of a credible way of telling a story so blatantly Frankenstein-ed from other genre shows.
Clean animation and welcome lack of tasteless raunchiness is enough to entertain but without a coherent message to underscore it, The World God Only Knows will remain a quirky but ultimately unsatisfying tale of a misanthrope's search for romance helped by a ditsy, sycophantic spirit.