Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii Ep. 1: Getting acclimated

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There’s nothing really new here, and yet there’s something charming about the first episode all at the same time. Well, up until the ending, anyway. The story centers around Nike Lemercier and her impending marriage to Livius I, the ruler of the Sun Kingdom. This is essentially a diplomatic marriage as it ensures her country’s continued autonomy. Y’see, even though Livius has only recently ascended to the throne, he’s already made a name for himself across the lands as a ruthless but efficient conqueror. As a result, Nike thinks she’s about to marry herself to some sort of beastly, beer-swilling warlord. But this is anime, and nobody wants to watch a romance between a cute girl and a fat, balding middle-aged warmonger. In any case, we’ll get back to Livius soon enough. This episode is primarily about Nike and her connection to both the land and her (soon-to-be) people.

You typically know Nike to be the Greek goddess of victory, but in Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii, our Nike has the power to call forth the rain. At times throughout this episode, she seems to have a connection with the wind as well. Nevertheless, her raincalling powers imply such things as fertility, nourishment, growth, etc. It isn’t surprising, therefore, that when she first arrives at the Sun Kingdom, she dispenses with her retinue. Instead, she opts to explore her new kingdom on her own so that she can get to know its people from the ground level. Is this true compassion or just plain stupidity? Eh, a little of column A and a little of column B. Apparently, our princess from the far east is not only rather ill-prepared, she can also be dangerously naive.

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First, Nike brought nowhere near enough money to even sustain herself for a single night in a harbor city of the Sun Kingdom, much less the capital city. Granted, she comes from a poor country, but you’d think she would’ve planned out her trip a little better. Secondly, she’s incredibly open and trusting with everyone, a quality that sharply contrasts her country roots with the wide variety of people of the Sun Kingdom. To think of it in another way, imagine a young girl from Nebraska attempting to fend for herself in either Los Angeles or New York City for the first time. Oh yeah, she only has about twenty bucks on her. So all in the same night, Nike gets scammed by Dumb and Dumber, a pair of doofuses, but she also manages to befriend a simple working man and his two daughters. Without the latter’s help, who knows if Nike would’ve eventually made it to the capital city in order to marry Livius. As the story progresses, I imagine the clash between Nike’s simple, down-to-earth nature and the cynicism of the Sun Kingdom’s “big city-esque” people will be played up even more as the story progresses.

But in any case, this is a rather common story. Even if Nike is technically a princess from another country, it is a self-admittedly poor country. Relative to Livius and his Sun Kingdom, our heroine thus comes from humble roots. So again, you have the story of a wide-eyed country girl marrying herself into royalty, which seems to be a recurring theme in shoujo storytelling. The same formula can even be found elsewhere. I’m instantly reminded of Goong, a rather famous South Korean live drama from a few years ago. So anyway, our social and outgoing “commoner” will soon become the king’s liaison to his people. As a result, it’s the romance where the girl gets to have her cake and eat it too. She is no doubt royalty at the end of the day, but she can still go to bed easy because she’ll feel as though she’s one of the people.

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So where’s Livius in all of this? Why has everything in this post been about the heroine of the story and not the man she’s destined to marry? That’s cause it’s no man. Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii‘s twist on a familiar tale is that Livius is actually still a boy, a fact that we don’t find out until the last few minutes of the anime. Then the credits starts to play, which offers the audience a complete look at a young boy’s ass as he wakes up in the morning. How cheeky. Well anyway, this all depends on your definition of a boy, but to me, a teenager is still a boy. To be fair, thematically, Livius’s young age makes sense, y’know? Remember how Nike is connected to the rain, so therefore she represents nourishment, growth, etc? When she first stepped foot in the Sun Kingdom, she remarked that the wind was rough enough to sting both her skin and her mouth. Yes, the capital of the Sun Kingdom never gets any rain, so scientifically, you can blame the rough-feeling wind on the fact that the arid climate is causing sand to be carried away by the wind currents. On the other hand, you can also think of the wind as an extension of Livius himself.

When Nike discovers later in this episode that she can nevertheless command the wind in the Sun Kingdom, she seems pleasantly surprised: “I can use it… the air of this land. Maybe we can get along after all.” This foreshadows our heroine’s future relationship with Livius. She will nurture him, help him grow, and learn to get along with the rough edges of his presumably immature personality. Where I have my misgivings, naturally, is the king’s age. We may potentially tread a fine line here between romantic love and maternal love. As usual, the love interest in a shoujo romance is a fixer-upper. Overall, a fixer-upper’s a good person with flaws that a girl can work with. And her patience and understanding conveys to the audience that what they see is true love. But y’know, those flaws-to-be-fixed have often belonged to a love interest who’s usually been older than the shoujo herself. Here, the flaws are attached to Livius’s maturity or lack thereof. So while his age makes thematic sense when one considers Nike’s raincalling powers and its implications, the romance itself can help but feel less romantic because our lovers don’t appear to be equals solely because of the age difference and the age difference alone.

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Hmm, will I be covering Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii from start to finish? I will tentatively answer with a yes for now. Again, I found the first episode to be charming overall, and I’m not exactly sure why that’s the case. Livius’s age, however, has me somewhat wary.


15 Replies to “Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii Ep. 1: Getting acclimated”

  1. I’m curious because it actually seems this was almost entirely anime-original material. I think the story (from what I’ve read in the previews Livius is quite tyrannical and almost immediately jails Nike) has a nice flavour, it made me think of the Thousand and One Night or similar fairytale settings. In a sense, it’s much more interesting than trying to be too edgy. Nike is a nice character anyway, and I guess that her and Livius being Rain and Sun could work on a thematic level.
    Then of course there’s the funny side about how whenever they mentioned the “Sun King” I expected Louis XIV to turn up with some outrageous 17th century wig.

    1. In a sense, it’s much more interesting than trying to be too edgy.

      Hm, I’m not seeing where this is coming from. What’s the edgy alternative we’re talking about here?

      1. Ah, sorry, when I wrote the sentence I stopped midway, then came back and jumbled it a bit. I just wanted to say something along the lines of “it’s a story with a very classic fairytalish feeling, but that’s what makes it endearing in a way compared to trying to be more realistic/edgy about the same scenario” (which would hardly play well for our poor princess). I just like that I see a huge potential for a story that’s mostly symbolic here, with the two characters representing two ‘elements’, water and fire – something in between fairytale and myth.

  2. Oh, good. If it’s not incest it’s pedophilia.
    Glad to see we have a pedo for a lead. No, it’s not bad. She’ll help be his nurturer and then, when he’s grown out of calling her “mom” or “neechan” he can marry her! SO CUTE!

    Jabs aside, I don’t understand why the age gap needs to be so large, but it’s likely for the same reason we are shown the kid’s ass and the reason it’s built up to be such a shocker.

    Maybe if the story actually veers from the familiar and becomes a mentorship instead of a romance it would be sweet, but no matter how thematically accurate or interesting this might be I can’t help but be cynical and think this is all destined for shota-fangirl teasing.
    The production value and writing suggests otherwise, but…I mean, come now. Why else do this instead of just having two youths?

    I wonder how they’ll stop this from being creepy as the show goes on…

      1. “I think this is a bit extreme. The age difference gives me pause, but it’s a leap to call this pedophilia.”
        Well it’s anime so it can’t be actual pedophilia anyway. haha But I was just half-kidding about that. What I meant was that the age of our male lead makes the romance concept creepy and reminds me of those pandering shows meant to titillate a certain audience, only here’s it’s for the shota crowd.

        Again, the production value and other aspects make me second guess this, but if there’s scenes with her finding the 15yr old bathing, getting dressed as she walks in, or other obvious cheesecake moments then I’d have my answer.

        I don’t have my doubts that this can end up a good anime, but the premise and how they handled it here gives me doubts. Hopefully I’ll be proven wrong, like with most of my anime predictions. haha

        1. “I don’t have my doubts that this can end up a good anime, but the premise and how they handled it here gives me doubts.”
          Welp that came out retarded. HAhaha!
          I meant that while I’m sure this can end up very good, the premise and “surprise! he’s a kid!” moment gives me pause.

    1. Well, for a 15 years old, he probably already got to order his fair share of executions, sieges, and general slaughter. Honestly, sex is hardly the most shocking thing he can be involved with at this time (and then again, this show doesn’t really look like the kind that indulges much in sex anyway).

      1. Well Lolita was 12 when she was already seducing an older man. I understand that Mind should be over Age in most cases, and while I agree that 15 really isn’t an innocent age, it’s all in how it’s treated and why it’s done.

        His age was treated like a shocking revelation, which already sets this apart from an actual old world setting where people got married at such an age and royals were figureheads at 16. It makes the age gap an issue. I mean, it already is, but now it’s at the forefront and treated as we would treat it. It can’t hide or be excused by “That’s simply how this world works” since it was given the emphasis we give it in modern reality. That focus, how they treated it, makes me question how this could actually be a romance at all.

        Unless it ends with him pining over her as a youth, then when he’s older he takes the older protagonist for his bride, but then what was the point in the age gap? To just be different or to throw a bone? What’s the intent behind the decision, and where will they go with this?
        We’ll know as the show plays out.

        1. I don’t know in the sense that I don’t think the revelation was treated as especially shocking – except for maybe the shock on Nike’s part, but then again, that has little to do with the social norm, she was just waiting to see what her future husband looked like and certainly could have drawn a better lot than this. I think that the social norm here instead is supposed to be exactly that – early, arranged marriages and kings as young as they need be (though this Sun King looks anything but a figurehead from what we know of him). I also think it would be unfair to classify this as paedophilia – she’s the one being forced into marriage, shipped to a foreign country, soon-to-be-jailed (we know this from the synopsis in the Spring chart), how is she also a paedophile because the king who’d inflicting all of this happens to be 15? Suppose she actually refused to perform her “marital duties” because she doesn’t feel comfortable with the age gap, he could probably get away with legally raping her (that’s how such situations would have unfolded IRL in the past anyway). Of course how the story will develop may change things, this COULD get creepy in theory, but it doesn’t really look to me like it’s that kind of show – I think it’ll be more worried about Nike turning the King into a good guy than straight-out romance. You could argue that’s a “romantic” storyline in itself, but it really isn’t enough to creep me out if it stays tasteful, in this setting, and with these ages. Or by the same criteria FLCL had paedophilia in it too, did that make the show bad or creepy? I don’t think so. Anyway, let’s just wait and see.

        2. Well Lolita was 12 when she was already seducing an older man.

          It’s clear from the beginning that Humbert Humbert’s account is unreliable at best.

    1. Let’s say the girl’s 18 so it’s a 3 year age difference. In your twenties, a 3 year age difference is hardly a big deal, sure, but it’s not the same in your teens. An 18 year old shouldn’t really be dating a 15 year old.

      1. I don’t see that much of a problem with just a 3 year difference but whatever, this show looks more decent than most shows so I’ll probably give it a try.

  3. Haha I thought so at first, “young boy and an older girl, really?! Can that even seem romantic and not perverted??..” But you will be surprised (in my opinion) that the two of them turned out to be a very cute pair (I ended taking a glimpse at the manga) :) I really enjoy this series and I hope the anime will meet up to my expectations!

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