「Absent Lovers」

I wonder which girl has it worse, the one who was lied to, or the one who understands her loved one and cares for him despite knowing more about the situation than the rest?

It matters not if you’re a manga reader or an anime-only viewer; if you care about KamiNomi and its characters, then this week is not the easiest to get through, regardless of how much material is crammed into this one episode. We have the end of Chihiro’s cruel arc, the confirmation of Ayumi’s goddess, a good bit of Tenri and her fairly complicated circumstances, and even the stirrings of something very huge about to take place in Maijima, courtesy of Vintage. But by and large, it’s Chihiro that takes the stage, and Chihiro that hurts the most to discuss.

I feel like I can understand Keima’s incredulousness when it turns out that Chihiro houses no Goddess but has fallen in love with him regardless. He’s alienated himself from people for so long, and been little disposed to care for people who call him things like “otomegane”, that when Chihiro declares she’s loved him since far before her unremembered conquest, he’s baffled. But I like Chihiro’s response to his confusion, that there’s no real reason to fall in love with someone. In a show as concerned with love as this one, and one where it’s treated as a sort of battlefield with proper techniques and strategies, the idea of love as baseless is a very powerful idea, and not one that leaves Keima’s guilt unscathed. He’s so used to the idea of manipulating his targets, so used to leading them to the ending he wants, that when a girl develops true affection for him without his lifting a finger, he’s both thrown for a loop and facing a very dark abyss indeed. This is the sort of development that would crush any normal person, finding someone who loves you for who you are and not your various facades, and being unable to even contemplate reciprocating them or to allow those feelings to persist. Chihiro is dangerous to Keima’s line of work, and not for the immediate repercussions on Ayumi’s capture. She’s a problem because she has no choice but to be shot down cruelly, and she’s a problem because Keima could never love someone like that without incredible guilt; after all, the one thing Keima can’t have is a relationship, so long as he works to capture spirits as a Buddy, and up to this point he’d never even thought about it. A relationship would hurt his girlfriend when he’s out wooing other girls, and a relationship would hurt Keima too, assuming his feelings are sincere. After all, no one wants to cheat on their loved one for a living, and it cheapens the sincerity of such affections. Effectively, then, Keima is as cruel to Chihiro as possible to spare her further pain (despite the massive guilt trip this ensues), but also to spare himself from having to contemplate the loneliness of his existence. That doesn’t mean that Chihiro is alright after this; being led on and toyed with despite having trusted and confessed to someone in complete earnestness is utterly shattering and cruel in the highest extremes, and Keima having a reason for doing it makes it no less terrible for her. I can’t help but want to give the poor girl a hug and put her through the paces of female friendship and solidarity, and it makes total sense to me that Ayumi would stand up for her despite holding complicated feelings about the whole affair. There’s no denying that Keima’s broken Chihiro, and that he’s irrevocably destroyed her loving trust in him for ever, and that’s the most heartwrenching thing that could have happened to either of them.

But on the same token, we have a girl like Tenri, someone who understands Keima far more fundamentally than all the other girls put together, and the only girl other than Chihiro to fall for Keima without need for a capture. But unlike Chihiro, Tenri is more aware of the situation; she knows she and Diana (never mind Diana’s own feelings) have an important part in these plans, and while Tenri might not be as aware as her goddess about the various girlfriends Keima has gathered upon himself, she still knows that he’s doing his best at his job, and that he needs reassurance and companionship as much as any other person might. None of the other girls have such an intimate claim to Keima’s true nature, nor do they really love those things that Tenri does. As she says herself, she loves the Keima “that loves playing games”, not the princely suave character he pretends to be for the others, and perhaps in a way, that’s an even lonelier and more painful predicament than Chihiro’s. It’s Tenri, after all, who has to stand in the shadows, the only completely loyal friend and companion Keima has outside of his imouto/bug demon (that embrace though), and the only girl who loves him despite knowing more about his job than the rest.

Then there’s Ayumi, who understandably is quite angry at Keima for the moment, and there’s also Vintage. The discovery of a sort of spirit breeding ground right outside of Maijima is bad news any way you put it, and it seems that Keima is starting to put together all the pieces to the puzzle as they come along. In the meantime, however, all he can do is move forward with Ayumi’s conquest, no matter what damage his mistakes with Chihiro have caused.




  1. I pity Chihiro. She had fallen in love and was lied about that love. I don’t wish her fate on anyone… I also wonder how Tenri felt. How is it possible to love a guy that had done what Keima did for so long without feeling so bitter about it. In a way Tenri is also a sad persona.


  2. Are you in pain? Do you feel like your soul just got crushed watching this episode? Then look no further! It’s time to wrap up your week with a dose of Servant x Service and Kiniro Mosaic to wash away your pain! My own recommended pills to swallow after some of the series this week such as this and Watamote left me in utter pain and sadness.

  3. Chihiro doesn’t deserve that. She really doesn’t. I’m not faulting Keima, he’s doing what he needs to to live and save the world, but doing that to Chihiro and Ayumi, it’s one of the most messed up things I’ve ever read. Tenri may be the one who loves him for who he is, but that isn’t something Keima will really accept as she’s played too much of a role with the goddesses. Ayumi or Yui are more contenders for his heart as Yui was him and Ayumi is first girl who wants to help despite knowing the danger and how messed up he is. Logic may be flawed but I’m just an Ayumi fan

    1. It’s really not hard to love a person such as Ayumi. Any person would be lucky to have such a self-sacrificing person by their side. There aren’t many people you find that are true friends. She loves Keima, but it shows that a love of a friend can go beyond that. No matter what happens, I don’t think the friendship between Chihiro and Ayumi will die. Like they say, brotherly love has no limits (I know they’re girls, it’s just a figure of speech).

  4. Now I’m not the biggest Chihiro fan (I’ll admit she’s probably my least favourite heroine), but you can’t help but feel bad for her after the jerk-about way Keima went to break things up. Despite not hosting a goddess, she still fell in love with Keima again, which I think perhaps makes her love the most powerful of the heroines.

    Although I’m still a Shiori and Haqua fan, Tenri was absolutely adorable this episode. It’s a pity that Keima won’t see her in the same way and she sees him. Looking forward to some Haqua v. Lune (i.e. Hayami Saori v. Tomatsu Haruka, two of my fav seiyuus).

  5. “It’s not a game anymore” opening song has nailed it!
    Keima in his worst nightmares could not have foreseen that one of his conquests would love him – and actually long before the whole conquests business started!
    But, for now there are lives at stake – and from what we have seen, Vintage is up to something big. There might be other forces at play too, including the mysterious teacher.

    1. Even when lives are not at stake, I think it is only logical for the story to develop to a point where a conquest may have serious consequence. After all, Keima was playing with human’s heart. Even if he was doing it for a “good cause”, the ends don’t really justify the means. The fact that people are hurt is proof that something is wrong with what he does. The only good thing out of this episode is that, when he felt sorry for his own actions, he was no longer just a game-playing robot that trips the right flags on the right routes. His character will grow, which in turn will make the story more interesting.

  6. Poor Chihiro, she’s no doubt the first girl to love Keima on her own accord long before this loose soul business.

    Her being possessed by one, and Keima’s present Goddess business, may have given that love a major boost, but even without any Goddesses, she had managed to sustain her love for Keima. Her love is genuine in contrast to others, which were kick-started by Keima’s gaming of the flag system.

    All her “flags” were triggered in unorthodox ways beyond Keima’s conventional understanding of galge mechanics (i.e. the “old-fashioned realistic” way people fall in love), which makes it all the more painful to see Keima being forced to let her go.

    Keima’s otakuness has worked against him for once, in that he could not come up with a better way of letting Chihiro go without hurting her (as we all know, previous girls conveniently have their memories wiped).

  7. That was every bit as painful to watch in anime as it was to read in the manga, more so actually. Keima did what he had to do, but at least he now has a concrete example of the pain his love games cause to the ‘real’.

    I don’t think Keima will end up with Chihiro, if anyone at all, by the end of this but I would hope to see him explain himself to Chihiro. She’ll have a pretty large hole in her heart after having a dagger plunged into it.

  8. Manglobe surely deliver that chapter right, although I would prefer if the episode somehow end after the ‘rejection’. This way isn’t bad at all, though, it just has different (much more positive) flow since Keima already regained some of his standing, thanks to Tenri (and probably Elsie).

    Also, I would like to stress that reading latest manga will shed some more impressions for this arc (especially about Ayumi, Chihiro and mostly Tenri). I recommend anime-only watcher to read the manga right after the anime ends, especially since I can’t see later arcs have any decent chance to be animated.

    That said… Chihiro ;___________;

  9. I really want to like this episode. I do. But I can’t overlook my reaction from watching it. Being a manga reader, it’s always tough judging the anime since you aren’t coming in with a clean slate. Regardless, it had been so long since I read this part of the story that I should have been able to experience the feels that Manglobe was trying to portray…or so I thought. In my opinion, I was afraid that I was going to complain about the timing and pacing of the Chihiro revelation after watching episode 8. After that episode I thought that if they didn’t leave it as a cliff hanger that episode, that it would be this elephant in the room that overshadowed episode 9 if it were to happen early in the episode…which is exactly what happened. It’s like climaxing before you’re partner’s even done undressing. Maybe it’s because I read the manga. Maybe it’s because of the breakneck pacing Manglobe had to use to get through a ton of material in a 12 episode season. Maybe it’s that stupid film school education that taught me to be critical about storytelling. Maybe I’m crazy, but I just didn’t feel ANYTHING when the climax of the Chihiro mini-arc occurred this episode. It’s probably the feeling of being robbed of the emotions I experienced when reading it and not being able to feel like everyone else who’s comments I read after watching the episode that just, well, disappoints me :/

    TL;DR I’m mad that I didn’t feel anything like everyone else did.

  10. I feel more sad for Tenri. She has loved and longed for Keima for 10 years.
    That’s longer than Chihiro’s
    And unlike Chihiro, she knows what’s really going on, so I can say it hurts much for her than for Chihiro

  11. I really loved this episode. It truly shows the character development of Keima, from one that only focuses on games to a person that actually feels regret on what he has actually done to a girl.

    But that being said, it’s really sad for Chihiro… This episode was great, but really hard to watch.

  12. Tenri wins for me. For one thing, like one of the commentor said, she was in love with keima for 10 years. And she loves the real Keima not the one he is portraying to other girls. When Keima is feeling down, she’s the one who cheer him up like in this episode and in the current chapter in manga. So far I haven’t seen Chihiro do that. I might have forgotten so remind me if she ever really did. Also, she’s more aware of what’s happening that’s why she didn’t say anything when Diana said ‘what if some other girls take him’ in one of the past episodes. She knows but she’s standing by his side quietly supporting him. She helps him without asking anything in return. In Chihiro’s case if I remember correctly Show Spoiler ▼

    Love is not something you can force people to feel. And that where Tenri got my support. She loves Keima and only waits for him to love her back.


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