Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii – 03

Soredemo Sekai - 03 -8 Soredemo Sekai - 03 -17 Soredemo Sekai - 03 -33

Break out the sorting hat.

Not only can I see this series being pretty divisive among anime viewers, I have a hard time seeing it not be divisive.  It’s not so much of a love/hate kind of thing, I don’t think, as a matter of acceptance/dismissal – that is, accepting the pretext on which it’s created (much like Isshuukan Friends).  There’s not a lot of deception as to what sort of story this is (though unlike with Isshuukan I’m conjecturing here, not having read the manga), and the show obviously wears its heart on its sleeve.  But that’s not typically a winning formula for anime in this day and age.

The thing is, I do think there are actually some pretty subtle things going on with the main relationship in Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii, and its two participants.  I’ve seen “Disney” fired at this series with derision by the usual pretentious crowd, but if anything the more accurate comment I’ve seen is Ghibli – there’s a bit of that studio in this premise, and more than a bit of the Ghibli heroine in Nike.  I’m also put in mind of the underrated Nishi no Yoki Majou a bit – not because the two shows are dead-ringers (that one was quite a bit darker) but because shoujo fantasy is so rare for anime adaptations these days that the thematic similarities are hard to miss.

It’s important to remember that this is in fact a shoujo, which makes it a rare bird indeed in anime.  As such the roles are broadly reversed from what we typically see in fantasy series, and thus it’s the male lead who’s the MacGuffin.  Livius gets the sunrise glamour shots, the good punch lines, the tragic back-story.  But Nike is a good reminder of why shounen fantasy with strong, likeable male main characters get so much praise – by no means is she bland or a cipher, a passive presence bobbing helplessly in the current of the plot.  She’s a forceful person with clearly defined ideals, smart and stubborn and a driver of the plot herself.

Fundamentally, it’s Livi and Nike that are going to make or break Soredemo Sekai – it’s hard to imagine feeling engaged if you’re not bought into their relationship.  I like odd pairings in anime romance (surely any reader of Otoyomegatari sees faint echoes of it here, especially in the final scene this week), and I like relationships where both parties are strong-willed and proud.  The age factor is impossible to ignore (apparently the true ages are 15 and 12, according to the Japanese wikia) and that’s fine, because the series doesn’t ignore it.  Livi is at the beginning of puberty, Nike in the midst of adolescence – and when it comes to the romantic side of their relationship, this is exactly how they act.  Livi sneaking into bed naked with Nike is probably what every normal 12 year-old boy in his not at all normal position would do – you can see he takes a sort of impish pleasure in being naughty this way, but he doesn’t actually do anything improper apart from sneak a quick and naughty kiss.  He’s forced (by his own choice) to act the responsible adult all day long, but in this arena he’s still a child with a child’s instincts and understanding, and I think it’s played pretty believably.

As for Nike, I like the way she approaches this, too.  She may be a full-on teenager but she’s obviously never been in any romantic relationship before.  She instinctively takes a protective role with Livi – she sees his wounds quite clearly and wants to help heal them, and she takes her responsibilities as a representative of her country seriously.  She struggles to see Livi as a romantic partner, for obvious reasons – the slow dismantling of that wall will presumably be a major component of the story – but not to see him as a life partner.  I like her pragmatism, especially as its paired with a still innocent and naive view of the world that periodically asserts itself.  And of course, the truth of the matter is that in medieval monarchic societies this sort of relationship would not be remotely unusual, from an age standpoint or for any other reason.

Bottom line for me is, I like Nike and I like Livi, and their relationship is one of the more charming I’ve seen in anime for a long time.  I like the fact that what she can do for him now (as Neil able conveys) is to give him some peace – both in his stressful life and with his painful memories.  I like the fact that he gathers flowers from her homeland every day but is too shy (and not so egomaniacal as) to claim credit for doing so. Livi has been apparently taking Laudanum (or some like narcotic) to sleep at night, yet another reason why Neil is justifiably worried for his health – but Nike’s arrival has caused him to stop, because in her presence he feels safe enough to sleep without it.  That casts his nighttime visits in a somewhat different light and again, I think it fits with where the two of them are in their relationship at the moment.

Certainly it’s not all rainbows and flowers.  We see further evidence here of the way Livi still struggles to be taken seriously because of his age, manifested somewhat innocently in this instance but at the core of the more sinister issues we saw last week.  And there’s still a fundamental conflict in the perspective Livi and Nike bring to their relationship – he wants to protect her and have her obey him, and she’s not inclined to be protected or obey anyone.  But two people who each want to protect the other is a pretty good basis for a life partnership, and the Ciel-Chamber vibe I get is a fascinating and entertaining one to watch intersect with what Nike brings.  The way the episode ended was a wonderful summation of where we are with the relationship – Livi refusing to “wake up” unless he got a kiss from Nike, who was more keen on stroking his hair and admiring how adorable he was when sleeping.  My only quibble?  When talking to Nike, instead of saying “just get it over with” Neil should surely have said “just do it”…

Soredemo Sekai - 03 -9 Soredemo Sekai - 03 -10 Soredemo Sekai - 03 -11
Soredemo Sekai - 03 -12 Soredemo Sekai - 03 -13 Soredemo Sekai - 03 -14
Soredemo Sekai - 03 -15 Soredemo Sekai - 03 -16 Soredemo Sekai - 03 -18
Soredemo Sekai - 03 -19 Soredemo Sekai - 03 -20 Soredemo Sekai - 03 -21
Soredemo Sekai - 03 -22 Soredemo Sekai - 03 -23 Soredemo Sekai - 03 -24
Soredemo Sekai - 03 -25 Soredemo Sekai - 03 -26 Soredemo Sekai - 03 -27
Soredemo Sekai - 03 -28 Soredemo Sekai - 03 -29 Soredemo Sekai - 03 -30
Soredemo Sekai - 03 -31 Soredemo Sekai - 03 -32 Soredemo Sekai - 03 -34
Soredemo Sekai - 03 -35 Soredemo Sekai - 03 -36 Soredemo Sekai - 03 -37
Soredemo Sekai - 03 -38 Soredemo Sekai - 03 -39 Soredemo Sekai - 03 -40


  1. R

    I still think they're both adorable, which is good enough for me.

    It always saddens me when shoujo gets dismissed for being….well, shoujo apparently. It hasn't been THAT bad with this series, but it always seems like whenever a shoujo series airs, there's always this section that preemptively denounces any merit it has before it's even aired πŸ™

    Actually, now that I think about it, that same problem happens for a lot of games. Apparently if a lot of girls play a game, it's gotta be crap. And apparently that mindset carries over to anime and manga as well. I mean, sometimes it is crap, but I can say the same for a lot of other series that aren't shoujo :T

  2. A big difference though is that those games, generally, are otome games. They're quite different from shoujo manga apart from the fact that both have a female target demographic (think Amnesia vs. Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun).

  3. R

    Actually, while otome games are a big percentage of that (really big), surprisingly I read that sort of reaction to a lot of other games too, including relatively mainstream ones.

    Actually, weirder yet, I think that was one of the arguments I've seen used (more than once sadly) by people to try and attack mainstream games. The last big blip was Kingdom Hearts and one of the Final Fantasy games, but I reaaaally don't get why having a large female fanbase is something that can be…well, turned into an insult πŸ™ I don't get it with anime either.

  4. Actually I misread your comment – I thought you were referring the reaction to anime adapted from games, not the games themselves – so I quite agree with you. And of course since very few mainstream games directed towards females get anime adaptations, this is a key point.

  5. F


    You sir should be sentenced to the hell of being pelted with 10,000 water baloons for such a horrific pun. -_-

    Actually I am just jealous for not thinking of it myself. πŸ˜€

    I wonder if some clever fansubber will slide that in?

  6. t

    yes, it's a rare bird for shojo anime, especially nowadays, so yeah that's not a winning formula.
    but the oddness and everything seems to work in their favor because seeing those two as independent individuals now getting along and it's not really forced. not to mention there is still a lot to learn for them. even if Nike seems older and Livi was forced to "mentally grow up" quickly due to circumstances, there is still a lot that they don't know about the world. and we see it via their behavior and all. but the thing here is that I really enjoy the way this anime/manga is going. walking through a path the combines their grow along side the difficulties of the life in the palace and king/queen duties.

    more than that, the romance aspect here is pretty amusing and interesting. it's hard to say there is someone who lead this relationship since both are quite dominant. Nike is the older and even taller, but it's not like Livi is inferior here. and seeing how secretly each one is charmed by the other and in fact they do the "little things" (like flowers or singing and bring rain) it's very nice.
    you've mentioned Isshukan friends not for nothing. both are quite the same in the type/genre, but how they bring themselves to be what they quite different. not only characters are really different (not just age but behavior), but also the way it creates itself – situation and comic stuff. I think Isshukan is more touching, but Soredemo isn't falling in appealing or so.

    this is a rare type indeed. it combines funny elements and is able to bring something refreshing that works in terms of comedy and romance. I can't say it's perfect, because it isn't. but it's really amusing, interesting and feels different so it's really enjoying to watch.

    are you sure he actually kissed her here? because some moments later it didn't seem so. anyway, it's another part of this amusing and interesting in terms of romance. that's why I enjoy this show.

  7. S

    The main strength of the show lies indeed within the two leads. Both have a stubborn, dominant personality and they bounce off each other quite well, which makes their interactions a joy to watch. What I mostly like about a good shoujo series is how two people change each other’s world, the way both can individually grow from being in a relationship and I see that happening in this show.

  8. E

    In term of plot, there is nothing much happening in this episode, huh?
    But this is a very good anime, regardless.
    I like the dynamic between the main pair.
    This is how a romance shoujo anime is supposed to be.

    I see that some people are dismissive of a genre that they don't like, among anime viewers.
    I myself like anime that sticks to it's identity and do it properly.
    Mushibugyou <– how you do a battle shounen anime
    Silver Spoon <– how you do silce of life anime

    Mahouka <– a trash which doesn't know what genre it wants to be. There is this main female character who yelled oniichan 100 times in one episode. There is magic. There is discrimination. If you want to be ecchi please drop the discrimination issue. If you want to be magic and fantasy, please kill the imouto. Dropped.

  9. M

    Shoujo need not be so one-track. It's no good when you know time should be better spent with shoujo from Riyoko Ikeda and Keiko Takemiya to Yumi Tamura. Dropped.

  10. Z

    It's a tender rain!~

    I find shows like this where the fantasy, or other, background setting is superfluous to the connecting of the dots between Character A and Character B quite boring.

    So I'll pass. Not for me I'm afraid.

  11. w

    What a face, that of a true king. The animation was noticeably worse this episode, but not too distracting. I do forget that uneven animation was once much more common than it is today.

    Nike is a really enjoyable protagonist, a reminder that I wish there were more strong female leads in anime. I'm not sure I agree with her decision to call the rain for the party though. I thought she was completely right when she called it disrespectful to her heritage, and was thinking the exact same thing right before she said it. So I was a little disappointed that she changed her mind, but it was handled well and her reasons were believable enough. It didn't feel as much like she was a show pony as it could have.

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