I’m still solidly of the opinion that Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii is better served when it’s not too heavily focused on plot. It’s just not possible to hide the pacing concessions when a plot-driven arc is in progress the way it can be during the more relaxed, character-driven moments. This one was executed perfectly competently, but the whiplash effect was certainly pronounced – and because of the nature of the story, it bled over into the main relationship as well.
Given that we stopped right in the middle of a cliffhanger it’s certainly understandable that this episode picked up right where last week’s left off. Nike continues to prove herself a very commendable female lead indeed – she’s calm under pressure, resourceful, and adept at using both brains and brawn to fight her way out of trouble. Killing the torch to level the playing field when you’re trapped in an underground chamber with armed men who want to kill you is certainly a smart move.
The crucial turning-point here is Livius’ decision to go behind Neil’s back and rescue Nike himself. This series definitely feels more conventional when it’s focused on plot and this is a fairly predictable turn, but it’s in-character at the very least. Someone with Livius’ deftness at subterfuge would certainly have suspected that the so-called Illumination Ritual was a too-convenient way for the Church to pick and choose who they wanted to be let into the royal family. And I confess I rather liked seeing Livi show he’s no slouch with a blade (he’d certainly have been trained in its use) and show a more raw side to the darkness within him.
Politically this is all pretty interesting, though I do regret that we had to bypass so much character development in the process. My suspicion is that Livi sent for Nike in the first place as a bit of an impulsive move (he is a child after all), and didn’t mind the notion of a confrontation with the Church. And his response (crafted together with his three wise old hentai) is on-point – bypass them together and go directly to the hearts of the people (who seem to hold him in rather high regard already). He has leverage here – the only way the Church can reveal his forbidden presence in the underground temple is by revealing they were present themselves. And they have more to lose in doing so than he does.
What I’m less pleased about is that we’ve already jumped to the point where Livi is pledging his willingness to throw away everything in order to keep Nike by his side. We were always going to get there but I wish it has been allowed to happen more naturally, over the course of the entire cour. No doubt there will still be fascinating twists and turns in their relationship, but having reached this stage already does take a bit of air out of the balloon. On the other hand, I do love the symbolism of the half-ring and the rainbow – perfectly fitting for these two.
It must be noted that the preview is ominous, indeed – full-on moeblob alert, complete with a side of osananajimi and possible yandere. All I can do is hope for the best…