Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii – 04

Soredemo Sekai - 04 -2 Soredemo Sekai - 04 -19 Soredemo Sekai - 04 -22

When in doubt, blame religion…

I would say this episode of Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii didn’t work quite as well as the previous three, though I still enjoyed it quite a bit.  I think it’s pretty easy to say why, at least for my part.  What I enjoy most about this series is the relationship between Livi and Nike – it’s the engine that drives everything else.  The premise is very solid in a fairy tale sort of way, but premise and plot are not interchangeable terms, and when the show focuses heavily on plot as this episode did, something of a dilution of its charm seems to occur.

Hand-in-glove with that is the issue of pacing.  It seems very likely that this is going to be a one-cour series, and while I haven’t read the source manga I know it has a lot more material than could reasonably be adapted in that time (and is ongoing).  I heard complaints that earlier material felt rushed, but it didn’t play that way for me – this episode did.  I think it’s easier to accelerate the pace in episodes where the key moments are all character-driven, but in one like this where a lot actually happens, the seeming attempt to rush through events is harder to disguise.  Again, as always, YMMV.

Given all that , it’s no surprise I liked the first half of the episode a lot better than the second.  There was some very nice character stuff, and the dilemma raised was quite realistic to medieval monarchical society – the tug-of-war between the King and the church manifesting itself in a challenge over his marriage plans.  That was frequently the weapon state religions would use to strike out at the monarchy, and you have the added impulse here that Livi is a half-breed and a bit of a revolutionary.  Marrying foreigners was indeed common in these European societies (upon which this mythology is transparently based) but it was a pretext the church could exploit when they so chose.

As indeed, they do here in the person of their leader Lani Aristes (the always compelling Namikawa Daisuke).  He puts the kibosh on the wedding unless Nike is willing to undergo the dreaded “Illumination Ritual” where she retrieves a ring from the Sung God’s underground temple to exchange with Livi at their marriage ceremony.  This is where things go a bit south for me.  The ritual itself is pretty much a stock fantasy plot twist, and it feels a bit out of place.  But it was also blazed through as whiplash-inducing speed, leading up to the predictable moment when it’s revealed that dangerous as this is, the church never intended to take the risk that the resourceful Nike might actually survive and win the challenge.

No, this was not a strong moment for Soredemo Sekai, but the scenes leading up to it were generally much better.  I could have lived without the broadside of the Priest attempting to strike the humble peasant girl with his staff and the adorable orphan waif, but as usual the Nike-Livi dynamic was powerful.  This is a relationship where the main driver of conflict is that both sides want to protect the other and not be a burden, and I find that incredibly refreshing.  I like the way Nike is slowly learning about Livi (though almost never from his own lips) and discovering how different the true image is from the one he works so hard to project.

Nike is being true to herself throughout all this – somewhat foolhardy and headstrong in approaching the church herself, but determined not to be a burden.  And Livi, recognizing the importance of this to her, ultimately relents without much of a fight and allows Nike to undertake the ritual (“Just don’t come back feral!”) despite the fact that it shows political weakness.  This demonstrates two extremely important things – that he has faith in confidence in Nike, and that she’s become a top priority to him.  Both in terms of the emotional and practical considerations this has become one of the more compelling relationships we’ve seen in anime for a long time, and the more that side of the series is in the spotlight the better show Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii is going to be.

Soredemo Sekai - 04 -8 Soredemo Sekai - 04 -9 Soredemo Sekai - 04 -10
Soredemo Sekai - 04 -11 Soredemo Sekai - 04 -12 Soredemo Sekai - 04 -13
Soredemo Sekai - 04 -14 Soredemo Sekai - 04 -15 Soredemo Sekai - 04 -16
Soredemo Sekai - 04 -17 Soredemo Sekai - 04 -18 Soredemo Sekai - 04 -20
Soredemo Sekai - 04 -21 Soredemo Sekai - 04 -23 Soredemo Sekai - 04 -24
Soredemo Sekai - 04 -25 Soredemo Sekai - 04 -26 Soredemo Sekai - 04 -27
Soredemo Sekai - 04 -28 Soredemo Sekai - 04 -29 Soredemo Sekai - 04 -30


  1. R

    While Soredemo Sakai has a number of issues, I still enjoy watching Livi and Nike grow closer and more emotionally dependable on each other. There are little details each week that show their growing relationship, and that's when I find the show more attractive. I'm not watching a lot of shows this season, and a majority of them are sports series. It's good to keep a few of other genres in the mix, and I'm keeping Soredemo Sekai in my short list for Spring.

  2. R

    Whiplash speed is right XD;;

    That being said, I didn't really have many expectations for pacing whenever long running series are given a single cour. It's a really sad trend (and rather annoying if the original is a work you like) that seems here to stay.

    But negatives aside, I think I enjoyed this episodes a lot more if only because I was probably laughing when I shouldn't have at developments. Part of that might have been the pace at which they …. er developed, but it worked. And I still love Nike to death more and more each week. At this point, the whole plot could go to hell in a handbasket and if Nike and Livi continued their strong interactions each week I'd still be coming back. So that's a good thing.

  3. a

    is it just me or is the op changing every episode (1st, no Livi or anyone, 2nd, Livi and Niel, 3rd Maids, this time, new outfit old guys and when Livi is on Nike's lap the clouds are darker.

  4. p

    About Rani Aristes, is he just a hater? The “I hate the king because I’m xenophobic and discriminatory” reason is a bit too villainy for my tastes. Since it’s still early on, I could give it a pass, but I like my villains to have justifiable reasons for their actions. Hate is a pretty strong reason so I can’t complain about it too much but it’s too easy a reason and makes it a rather black and white conflict.

    I also want to mention that Livi and Nike's relationship is almost a feminist manifesto from the author. You can kind of tell this is a more modern shoujo because of that. Livi says the standard “let me protect you” which would have worked for most starry-eyed shoujo protagonists but Nike wants none of that. She storms off to the arch-nemesis instead of brooding about. She wants full equality in accepting both hate and love along with the King, which is the real ideal of feminism. This is feminism done right and I appreciate and enjoy that.

    However, I do agree that this episode was a bit fast-paced. The beginning was all right, but the second half, with Nike’s encounter with Rani going full drama within moments of meeting each other (complete with theatrical music), felt way too quick. She was quickly whisked off to the orphanage where a kid spews out the King’s “true feelings” and then we’re back to the palace all of a sudden? And afterwards a quick tomb raider romp turned sour at the very last moments? I’m sure this was definitely caused by rushing through the manga, but I’m a bit wary as to whether this will continue in the future.

    Regardless, this show still stands high on my list, but I hope they balance out the events better in the future.

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