Monday, August 31, 2015

Anime Review: The World is Still Beautiful

Running too behind for a weekly round up this week so let's get going, I've actually made some progress on my backlog!


The World is Still Beautiful (Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii)



Nike is from the Principality of Rain and not happy that she's been chosen to be the bride of the Sun King far to the south (and by chosen we mean, she lost a game of chance). She's shocked to learn that her new husband is years younger than her and he's startled that she came at all. But now that she's there they're stuck with each other and in this scheming court they have both found a reliable ally.

Unlike Snow White with the Red Hair from this season, which I consider to be equal parts soft fantasy and romance, Still Beautiful is romance first and fantasy second which is more typical for shoujo fantasy these days. I actually rather like the relationship between Livi and Nike, given the age difference Livi doesn't dominate the relationship as much as most brood, darker shoujo love interests do and once the two of them start to know each other you can see them realize that they do actually get along. Admittedly it's in a very typical "she brings out the best in him and he lets her be more honest" type of way so let me make this clear, this show does not break any new or different ground as far as shoujo romances are concerned. The show is also a bit uneven, the last arc in the story works well but other installments, like the two parter about Nike retrieving a special ring, are horrid. As I keep saying so much these days, this is a story where Nike is only given the opportunity to react to events (that she's going to be engaged, that she has to get a ring, that she has a rival), she's never given a chance to go forward and start an adventure entirely of her own volition. This is made more obvious because Livi does get to do that, most of the time he's also reacting to whatever event has just been thrown at him and Nike but he also does instigate plots of his own and he is a conquering king. While I didn't mind the age difference between him and Nike (12 and 16 IIRC) the fact that he took over as king around 9 is honestly what throws me out of this story the most, it's just so ridiculously implausible that I really wonder what was going on in the editorial meetings!


The artistry of the series is also a bit lackluster, the colors are very flat throughout (Nike's hair and dress clash for goodness sake!) and the details look very basic, even for an animated adaption. Honestly the most interesting setting and costume design came in the very last arc and I think it's clear that the original manga-ka was more than a bit inspired by Bride's Story (she's not the only shoujo manga-ka either!). Nike's summoning rain song was also very lack-luster, when I tried the manga I expected that the song would be a deep, orchestral piece, possibly even wordless because that's what I expect for "deep, ancient, magical song". Apparently the staff decided that promoting the j-pop ending song was a better call and it wasn't even a good j-pop song! I fast forwarded through the song until almost the end of the series since it was so awkward and a note of caution on the actual ending sequence, it features a slow pan up of 12 year old Livi naked from behind. As I said, I would love to know what was going on in some of these planning meetings.

  Without a strong visual component to help hold the story together, I feel like this series is only going to appeal to a very specific set of anime fans. If you really, really like shoujo romances and don't mind a slight age gap, then go over to Crunchyroll and watch this. If you like shoujo but you aren't so sure you want a shoujo romance then just ask me for more suggestions in the comments!

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