Title: Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii (The World is Still Beautiful, the Still World is Beautiful)
Format: TV anime
Genre: fantasy, romance, comedy, supernatural
Series Creator: Dai Shiina
Series Director: Hajime Kamegaki
Series length: 12 episodes
Original Airing dates: April 6, 2014 – June 29, 2014
Reviewed format: high def download with fan subs
“Nike, the fourth princess of the Rain Dukedom and one who holds the power to call forth the rain, travels to the Sun Kingdom to marry Sun King Livius for her country, despite her own reluctance. She soon discovers that the King, who conquered the world in only three years after his ascendance to the throne, is still a child. Furthermore, for trivial reasons, he has demanded that Nike call forth the rain, and when she refuses, he has her thrown in jail. The story follows the two who, while at first are a married couple only in name, gradually begin to establish an emotional bond with one another.”
Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii was a series that I came to without previous knowledge or the weight of expectations, so it was genuinely refreshing to watch because I didn’t have any preconceptions as to what it was going to be or what I may want from it.
It’s also stands apart from the other recent anime series because it centres around a female protagonist with her own positive sense of Agency; who isn’t just there so we can stare at her tits & arse all the time (although that happens over the course of the series).
To avoid beating the usual drum at the beginning: the series is sexualised but it isn’t hypersexualised.
The difference being that sexualisation is pushing up character attractiveness & manipulating how we view them by embellishing sexual traits. Whereas hypersexualisation is focussing only on the sexual traits or putting characters in positions where they are only seen as sexual objects.
This is something that I’ll write about in a future article but to summarise: sexualisation isn’t great but pretty much everyone (regardless of gender & sexuality) does it in their everyday lives, so we excuse it. Whilst hypersexualisation generates unrealistic expectations & images, degrades all involved & renders so many narratives utterly useless &/or annoying.
Although there is a level of sexualisation in the series that many may (mainly men) may be uncomfortable with & that’s the sexualisation of the male protagonist Livi -who is barely a teenager, despite being the king of a vast realm.
This is honestly something that I don’t really care about -especially after all the loli lusting series from this past season (which was near fucking sickening in my limited online opinion). It wasn’t degrading, focussed more through Nike’s romantic lense. So whilst Livi is occasionally half naked, the screen doesn’t ogle or degrade him in any way. Only the way Nike sees him changes; from cruel tyrant & a child with an adult’s eyes to a loving companion & partner.
Nike is the most important aspect of the series & a well constructed character (until the last episode at least, where she gets all mopey without being in Livi’s company). She comes off as a brash, naive tomboy who reacts before she thinks but she is backed up by formidable magical & physical ability -being able to beat up at least 4 of Livi’s guards when she first arrives in the Sun King. She also reacts badly to challenges & has a desperate need to prove herself as worthy of Livi (at least not in the form of a superiority complex at least), so she rushes head long into several traps & assassination attempts but she often gets herself out of them or Livi comes to assist (not entirely rescue) her in her efforts.
Nike also has a very tender side; which is seen when she uses her rain summoning magic -a song based upon the emotions she feels & her appreciation for the beauty of the world around her. The Sun Kingdom is in a desert, so they have need of lots of water for Livi’s plans for modernisation, so that is one reason he threatened Nike’s father to send him a bride from the Rain Kingdom. Although while their relationship starts out as hostile, Nike’s feeling grow for her underage husband, making her magic grow as well.
Unfortunately, in my view at least, the song she uses to summon the rain is a touch annoying & amusing in how poorly it attempts to blend in English words with the Japanese. The voice actress does have a lovely singing voice, her mastery of English isn’t there. Not her fault, not her language, but kind of does show the uselessness of putting English words in songs for the sheer sake of having them in there. Plus, I do laugh more when Westerners put random Asian words into their songs & get them utterly wrong (looking at you, Wu Tang Clan!).
The other strength of the series is the humour & the supporting cast. Who bring a lot of the humour.
Mainly Livi’s valet (not a butler! Look up the difference!), Neil, who often has to force Nike to become more like a princess or chase Nike & Livi whenever they escape to have some fun. The three old advisors, who back up Livi’s claim to the throne through wisdom & force, are also very funny -making dirty jokes & comments that parallel the episode’s plot. But are best used when told that they aren’t allowed to go to the Rain Kingdom after they planned to go there with Nike & Livi to get more sweets for themselves & not do any work.
There are the usual tropes within the series about the notions of self-worth, mainly Nike wondering if she is the right match for Livi, whom she is growing more & more in love with, as well as the usual romantic stuff but overall I found this series very good. It was funny when it needed to be, with patches of strong drama & emotional interactions.
I do recommend it, especially if you want something different from the past season’s hypersexualised loli-fest!