This is review number two hundred and ninety three. This anime is part of the Spring 2014 lineup. I’m slowly picking up my usual pace as I seem to have rekindled my enthusiasm for anime. Watching a strong 8 out of 10 show twice can get your mind pumping. Hopefully, I can get back to the updated seasonal lineups. That’s a big goal for now though since I still have a lot on my plate. Anyways, this show is called Soredome Sekai wa Utsukushii. It’s a twelve episode anime about a young angsty kid that wants to bang his mom or something stupid like that. Nah, I kid. This is actually a decent romance which is why this rather negative review is pretty hard to write.
This anime is about a girl named Nike. She is a princess from the Principality of Rain. The Sun King, the man who is considered to currently rule the world, has decided that he will not invade the Principality of Rain as long as one of their princesses is married off to him. From the four princesses, the obligation was pushed onto Nike. She did not like it at first and she had one hellish experience after boarding off her boat. The Sun Kingdom has a lot of ugly things to it that immediately welcomed Nike but it also has its sweet and gentle side. The same can be said for the king after Nike discovered she is about to marry an arrogant child. Yes, the Sun King, ruler of the world, is actually a child and Nike, so much older than him, is about to marry the little dude. To say that she disagree with the whole thing is an understatement but love is a strange thing. Nike soon find herself falling in love with the arrogant child and this too mature for his age guy is about to re-discover his soft side thanks to the special girl he is marrying.
Taking the Pants Off
Soredemo sekai wa Utsukushii is an anime I really want to love. I think the premise is really adorable. The idea of a young kid introduced as the ruler of the world being paired with a more older rough princess from a rather ethnic country just sounded like a fun story to me. It has this “fresh” approach to a love story that I really want to enjoy. The idea that a closed off young hot head is marrying a down to earth girl that sees the beauty in the world just has this potential to be something amazing. I’ve seen close to three hundred shows so my anime gut seems eager to sniff out any promising title it comes across with. This particular anime seems to have it all. It had a bubbly and adorable love story, two intriguing main characters with a cat dog relationship and a few touches of both magic and politics. It is destined to be something amazing and yet, it is not. Soredemo Utsukushii actually did a lot of things right. It featured the love story, the interaction of the main characters and some interesting political and magical angles. The problem is that it isn’t really enough. It needed more. It needed more well developed characters, a more thought out story and a more engaging love story. This anime is missing one crucial thing to make it beyond amazing: exposition. In a weird sense, this anime lacked explanation for a lot of things. It establishes so many wonderful things yet the presentation is often a bit forced and immediate often leaving out some important explanations to really sink it in. After drowning in a lot of light novel anime, here I am watching a manga adapted anime and I immediately spot the lack of a more developed story to truly engage the audience. Soredemo Utsukushii is not a bad anime though. It’s just faulty. As I said before, the anime did a lot of things right. The relationship between the main characters is one of the best things you’ll enjoy in this show. After all, it’s the one thing the anime presented in its twelve episode run. It overly presented it often leaving a lot of things half-baked and it just doesn’t sit right with me. This anime had the potential to be amazing but it is really just ”so-so”. I guess if you want a show deadly focused on nothing but on a sweetly blossoming love story then I think you’ll enjoy this show despite my ranting review below.
This show is pretty straight forward. It simply features the romantic story between Nike and the Sun King, Livius I. It follows how they first met and then just focused on how they eventually grow closer to each other. It has the fixings of your typical love story. Boy meets girl, they hate each other, they get to know each other more, they bond, they share their interests and weakness, they happily support each other, they kiss, they fall in love hard as in full on loving every fiber of the other and they live happily ever after. You take the most cliché of love stories and it will show up in this anime in one form of another. This is not really a bad thing because the show makes it work somehow. The love story will easily hook you. The clichés are actually inviting and it draws you in. The familiarity to the love story makes it easier to watch the show. Sure enough, every romantic gesture featured in the show will make you want to see more of it. The anime is able to jump the hurdle between the character’s ages quite easily and somehow, the unusual love story works. It’s a simple thing. The pairing might look a bit off but it ends there. Everything else is just one cute blossoming love story that you’ll want to see more off. Every “I want to see her“ lines, every “I want to protect you” lines, and every kiss just hits the right spot. It’s well executed and endearing in a way that seeing the two together just feels right even though it really shouldn’t. With the love story heavily featured, everything else about the anime is really just plot devices to feature this love story some more. The episodes mostly revolve around certain things that threaten their bond in some way. As the episode progresses, the characters will find a way to declare how much the other means to them. The conflict in the episode resolves early and another one pops up in the next episode. It’s safe to say that the show is a bit episodic. Some conflicts takes two episodes to resolve despite still being fairly early for the show and it’s all just a way to make the love stronger. I’m both a fan and a hater of this approach. I love it because it features the strongest aspect of the show. Everything helps in building the love story some more. Every character, incident and cute flirty moments help enrich this adorable story of love. I hate it though because it shoves everything else to the side. Supporting characters, potential story outside the love angle and colorful interaction among the rest of the cast is left untended to. It’s funny because the show has this pitch of noticing beauty in the world instead of the raw hatred Livuis is obsessed with. That’s pretty hypocritical telling people not to be obsessed when the show itself is so concerned with nothing but this love story between two unlikely people and never noticing anything else.
The show might be episodic with only one clear plot point to present but it does have some structure to it. The anime has this linear story but it still progress quite nicely. As far as I can tell, this anime has three arcs in it. It is solely focused on the love story but it does feature three different perspectives regarding that story. I use the term “arc” lightly since they each arc don’t really have a strict individual story. Some episodes just have similar themes that are easier to dissect in a review. With that being said, the first arc is something I like to call “the first meeting”. This highlights the first time the two characters meet. Nike is this happy go lucky woman that sees the beauty in everything. Even if she would be treated badly by others, she would still give a comforting smile back. Livius I is a different person. In such a young age, he was thrust into the ugly world of politics. He was left to fend for himself and he now mostly see the ugliness in the world. He is distant and he acts cold. Being called the ruler of the world at such a young age demands a lot of maturity in him and his poor mind shouldn’t really be experiencing something so drastic. He’s a stunted young kid that desperately needs to be hugged. Could Nike be the woman that Luvius is missing all his young short life? Well if the fact that she rejected him so hard that she was locked up in a dungeon after their first meeting then I guess they’re progressing well. This is mostly what the first arc is about. It’s the story of how the two people slowly grew to love each other after their objections with the other person. It’s the typical opposites attract kind of story. She is smooth and he is rough. He is the beast and she is the beauty. The first arc follows the rather unusual relationship between the king of the world and the appointed bride for him. He has all the power in the world to make her life a living hell but she has all the magical powers in the world to escape out of his wrath. Of course, the hate banter doesn’t last long. During each episode, both characters slowly learn to appreciate the other some more. Nike might discover how much weight is in Livius’ shoulders and she’ll do some small sentimental action that tells the guy how much she respects him. Other times, it’ll be Livius slowly showing signs of being a romantic person. He’ll blush, act flustered and gaze lovingly into Nike often breaking out of his rather cold and damp persona. He’ll show signs of love that Nike would often reciprocate. Soon, these two characters who once hated each other’s guts now have established a mutual bond between them.
Aside from the blossoming love story, another thing notable in this arc is the Livius’ dark past. When he was young, he was ousted by a lot of people. He mostly spends his lonely days alone with his mother. She’s from an ethnic place just like Nike so she’s met with scorn and hostility by people who think the king deserves a much better wife. It is established that Livius only felt comfortable and loved when he was with her gentle mother and her comforting smile. She tragically died when she was killed during an assassination attempt. Livius was never the same afterwards. It was revealed that he became the cold hearted monster he is after his mother died. The first arc explored Livius’ relationship with his mother deeply. He has since closed off his heart to anything resembling love and Nike seems to bring up a lot of things deep inside Livius. The happy times he had with his mother, it seems Nike is reminding the guy of those days slowly thawing the cold heart of this young king. It also explored the monster he has become. He is ruthless and he displays his ruthlessness on certain aspects of the show. The anime talked about it and you certainly see him act distant. Still, Nike’s inviting personality seems to capture Livius heart and seems to lead him towards a more happier life with her. So basically, Livius is in love with her mother and he basically fell in love with the next best thing. Oh gawd, I’m evil that way. I’m sorry. I do have a problem with the first arc though. Everything that transpired wasn’t justified very well. Every single detail the first arc presented seemed off and a bit forced. It relied on the familiarity of the story to carry the whole thing but it really feels like it needed more exposition.
Livius is declared as the ruler of the world because he is able to conquer a lot of lands and garner a lot of respect as king in such a young age. His ruthlessness as king and his cold hearted ways was established but I think the show could’ve done a lot more. In terms of the story, I wasn’t quite convinced that Livius is a king. He does a lot of paperwork and sitting on his throne and flirting with Nike. For such a hard ass, he sure acts like a kid though. For someone apparently too mature for his age, he acts just like any rotten kid of a royal lineage. A bunch of things were established by the show like his current status with other high ranking people and he had moments of outbursts that suggest he is really cold hearted but it feels a bit lacking. All these things just go along the pace of the story. I personally wanted more. If the cold hearted king angle was justified fairly, by displaying certain ruthless acts as king like maybe beheading the f*ck out of someone, then it would’ve made the story a lot more meaningful. After all, it’s long been established that he rules with an iron fist often using fear to control his people. It was mentioned but it isn’t really that convincing. In the end, he just looks like a kid who wears a cape around play acting as a king. The show missed out on a lot of political BS-ing and diplomatic elements to truly establish Livius as a king. That’s why, in my point of view, Livius just looks like a spoiled brat who wants to have sex with his mother. Yeah, some people want that but it’s definitely not something you’d want to establish in a love story show like this one.
This brings me to the other problem of the show. The love story, the main focus of the anime, is predictable and one dimensional. Basically, it’s like watching someone fire an arrow in a tree. The arrow travels in one direction and it will eventually hit the tree. The relationship of Nike and Livius feels very much the same. It will eventually lead to them ending up together so the show doesn’t bother putting much effort into anything else. The cat dog relationship they had from the start should’ve been developed more. The anime just kind of flipped a switch and the two just fell in love. Again, the show does rely on the familiarity of the plot to other romance anime but I think it could’ve done more. It could’ve hold off the part where they fall in love with each other a bit longer and focus more on developing the characters. It could’ve further explored Livius’ cold hearted nature contrast Nike’s down to earth personality. The anime should’ve used more opportunity to incorporate the theme of “the world is beautiful” that Nike whole heartedly believe in and then contrast it to Livius’ rather black and white outlook on the world. The romance should’ve been developed more instead of this straight as an arrow progression that just lacks the build up a good romance anime should have.
Lastly, there is also one important thing that wasn’t properly justified by the show. The rain ritual serves as this special thing for Nike where she takes inspiration from the world she is in. It’s a sacred thing exclusive to the Principality of Rain. As the show progresses, the ritual loses its meaning and it feels cheap the more this special ritual is used like any ordinary power Nike has. Livius wanted her to use the rain power to impress people, basically, and Nike just obliges. The more she does, the more the scared ritual loses its importance. A richer exposition would support every use of the rain ritual other than just random reasons that don’t quite capture how sacred the summoning of rain is.
Anyways, the second plot point is about “the engagement”. The first arc covered how the two were able to form a romantic bond. The second arc now features the thing Nike is actually tasked to do when she was sent to the Sun Kingdom: to marry the king. The second arc features all the usual hoops that the two married couple encounters. It focuses on the different kinds of individuals that wants to harm the love the two has going. These trials only just strengthen their bond though and it quickly helps them realize just how important the other person is. I think there are three episodic stories composing this arc. The first story is about the Ministry of Priesthood of the Sun Kingdom refusing to bless the union between our underage king and his bride. Livius suspects that the priesthood actually has it out for him ever since he ascended the throne and they think he spat at the face of tradition by abolishing the social ranking in the kingdom. I think the priests sit high atop that hierarchy. Anyways, without their approval, the marriage cannot continue. If the priesthood doesn’t acknowledge Nike then the rest of kingdom won’t likely as well. Fortunately, there is one way to gain their approval. Conveniently placed under the kingdom is a dungeon where potential brides are tasked to obtain the sun ring that will be used for their engagement ceremony. The dungeon is crazy difficult though and only the bride can explore the ruins. Most die inside while others are given the approval to marry the king. Livius insists on Nike not doing such a stupid thing but Nike is out to prove that she is destined to marry someone shorter than her so she decided to do the challenge. This trial by the priesthood isn’t a straightforward activity though. The priesthood hates the king and they are hell bent on making sure he lives his young life miserably. I love this little story because it featured political BSing and some needed hostility from other characters. It’s a shame that the progression really lacks depth though. It’s too straightforward and the show missed out on establishing an appropriate villain. Again, things are just mentioned but the political dominance of the priesthood is barely felt. The anime has an expansive setting yet it really just focuses on two characters. This story took two episodes to resolve and it could’ve honestly be stretched out into five episodes if given the right kind of exposition and sophisticated narrative the premise suggested it had.
The other stories involve a young girl from Livius past who heavily objects his marriage to Nike. She eventually realizes though that Nike is responsible for thawing Livius cold heart. I love the way he was presented in the flashbacks. He was a d*ck and I wish we could’ve seen more of that side of Livius while also showing off his power as a king. The last story featured a close relative of Livius. This relative decided to randomly visit after abandoning Livius for a long time. The king is absolutely angry just seeing the relative’s face. Livius actually hates a lot of his relatives because they were pretty hostile around him and his mother. In fact, a lot of people in this arc show some vile hostility towards him and Nike as well. Seeing this relative though brought back some deep issues inside Livius that he does not want to confront yet. He has no choice in the matter because this relative is a playboy and he has his eyes set on Nike. He threatens the close bond she has with Livius and this makes the latter very angry. He is so angry he ordered Nike to live the rest of her life locked in her room. Nike realizes that this strained relationship needs to be patched up and she soon devised a plan to get the two close relatives on good terms soon. The last story explored Livius as a charatcer some more but also featured the mutual understanding between the couple. They love each other so much that they’d defy each other if they know the thing that’ll help them out the best. Of course, a few more exposition about Livius ascending the throne and some effective flashback to truly backup the emotional content of this story could’ve really made this story special. The relative should’ve been developed nicely as well and he could’ve serve as a way to better relate to Livius talking about how cold the child is when he was young. The stories are all really plain and predictable. Plus, they’re also very easy. I say that in a bad way because most of the stories really lack effort in the way they’re presented.
The last arc is something like meeting the in-laws. While preparing for a huge gathering for the Sun Kingdom, Nike got a letter informing her that her grandmother is ill. Concerned and unable to think properly, Livius decided to let Nike travel back to the Principality of Rain in the condition that he comes along with. And so, Nike, Livius and their butler travelled back to Nike’s homeland. There, Livius met Nike’s sisters, her parents and her grandmother. They only planned to stay there for three days but it seems like the Principality of Rain decided that Livius will go back home alone. Nike stays in the rain. It turns out that the whole engagement proposal was done haphazardly and now the country wants Nike back. Too bad for them because Livius is now madly in love with Nike and he isn’t planning on letting her go. He’ll face any trial, go up against any matriarchal faction and even sacrifice his body just so he can leave the country with his beloved wife. I actually love this last arc. It comprised the last few episodes of the show. The beginning is pretty contrived but the climax of the story is great. Livius and Nike face the wrath of the Principality and they must now prove just how strong the bond they have formed in all the challenges they faced together. It’s pretty cute because their love is featured in such a strong way that the two is willing to do anything to make sure they can be with the other. It’s still highly predictable but it has a sweet sentiment behind it that I particularly enjoyed. This arc also teased at this promising plot point of Nike supposedly the strongest summoner in their Principality and she might bring about trouble for herself when the rest of the world realizes just how strong her magic is. It didn’t materialize into anything since Livius ended the angle with a line like “I’ll protect her if it happens” once again putting forth the love story above all else.
The main characters are pretty decent. Nike and Livius are the only developed characters in this show though. They aren’t that well developed as well. Their character just features their caring and loving thoughts towards the other person. The show just talks about how much they love each other and how they want to be together for the rest of their life. If you love romance then the sweet sentiments between the two will easily hook you. Love is love. It’s fairly easily to see how it can be so inviting to watch. Unfortunately though, the promising premise and the individual stories are stunted because of this overly sentimental approach by the anime. Anything beyond their love story lacks depth. Nike’s identity as a magician is only used as a device to setup their love story. I already mentioned it but Livius’ status as king of the world is a bit dubious. Livius’ past with her mother, Nike’s relationship with her grandmother, Livius’ past dealing with hostile relatives, Nike’s appreciation of even the smallest signs of beauty in life, Livius’ cold hearted persona, Nike’s tomboyish appeal, and Livius’ conquest as king are all just baseless context to help further establish the love connection between the two. Just looking at all the things the show could’ve developed, I think it’s a shame all we got is a predictable love story. There is so much rich exposition raging to come out in our characters and it’s a shame nothing did because it simply didn’t align with the love story. I wanted to like our two main characters but they seem to devolve into one dimensional characters the further you watch the show and it often makes it hard to watch the anime. I like the love story but I think it’s not enough. We need more contexts and more exposition to truly enrich the story and in turn, develop a more charming love story well rounded all throughout.
The side characters are badly one dimensional. They serve to just act a certain role and it ends there. It sucks because I think the side characters are interesting enough to be involved in the story. I have a big gripe over Neil not being properly developed. Neil is Livius’ butler and he stood beside him ever since he ascended the throne. He could’ve been used as this catalyst for the relationship between Nike and Livius. He could’ve been this guy giving us a friendlier and more romantic insight on Livius’ to help develop the character. He did his role as this understanding butler but I think he could’ve done more. He could’ve been this endearing supporting character that could’ve lent an ear when another character needed it. He had a wonderful and enriching role for the show and yet he wasn’t utilized properly. He just stood there most of the time looking handsome and refusing to offer fan service. Sometimes, in certain aspects of the story, Neil could’ve been utilized as this comforting character for Nike and Livius but it’s infuriating how useless the anime made him despite the supporting role waiting for him. The relative introduced fairly late had a decent role but I think the show could’ve given him some time in the spotlight. Nike and Livius hugs it a lot that the often spoil themselves. I love how the relative is a playboy and he sleeps with women left and right. I think he could’ve added some needed depth to the story in a small way if the anime cared to try. There are also the three wise men that discusses a lot of political stuff and boobs with Livius. They were turned into comedic pieces later on in the show and I think they could’ve given us a more convincing King Livius I if the show focused more on the bureaucratic content of their roundtable discussions. Livius could be a convincing king and his title as king of the world could’ve been put to good use. Ah damn, shoulda coulda woulda. This anime had a lot of wonderful potential yet it feels limiting with the way it just features a super linear love story.
I’m not really sure if the manga itself is as plain and predictable as the anime but damn, this one is just rough looking. The manga started out as a one shot and it currently has seven volumes under its belt. I took a peek at the manga and I think the anime covered a fair amount of it. This means that the story is really just about a linear love story. I’m conflicted. I’m supposed to say that I love this anime because of how wonderfully presented the romantic story was but, as an impartial reviewer, I also know deep down that this is a pretty subpar anime. In a sense, the entire anime feels one dimensional and I think it should’ve give more. If the manga is as one dimensional then I think this whole thing was rocky from the start. I think hopeless romantics would enjoy this anime. It did a good job convincing us that a kid and a tall girl can fall in love without any doubt in our minds but still, I can’t quite call this a fulfilling anime experience. It’s more like two sips of a satisfying drink. It barely matters. I don’t quite understand how this adaption was green lit. Eh, who the hell cares? I guess some studios just want something in a seasonal lineup. Hajime Kamegaki directed this anime. He has a technical means of directing often letting the pages of the manga come to life. It’s his great style that captured the small nuances found in the manga that really gives life to the love story. He had to work with a rather one dimensional manga but I think his works behind Fushigi Yuugi and Project Arms speaks for itself though. This anime is presented by Studio Pierrot. This studio still has its strong moments but they’re not quite the giant they once were. It’s a good thing they have Naruto but Pierrot is a studio that often refuses to update with the times. Their animation quality is a strong sign of it. I think if they can fuse that old school mentality of theirs with high quality CG rendered animation then they might produce more memorable shows. Such subpar anime like Soredemo Utsukushii could still go big if handled by a more impressive studio like A-1 Pictures. I still enjoy most of the things Pierrot gives us but I think they need to revamp their whole animation approach. It’s often a bit uninspired and looks like it’s going through the motions. I certainly could’ve enjoyed this anime if it had better animation.
Sight and Sound
Dai Shiina’s character design is a bit clunky. The manga itself had very little care for details but it is still mindful of keeping characters looking decent. The character design is pretty plain as well. For the anime, the unexciting color palette coupled by the low quality animation doesn’t quite give the characters a nice look. Nike has a decent design. Her body is covered by a coat though and very little details are in the face. At best, she just looks really mature but still sports a tomboyish appeal. Livius has a nice strong face but everything else feels a bit uninspired. Well, he is still a kid though but I think the show can’t quite balance his cold hearted persona and his cute kid in love persona quite well. It’s all in the details and this show lacks a lot of it. The outfits are also fairly decent but not really enough to capture your attention. I like the Principality of Rain’s ethnic patterns but it doesn’t standout quite well. There are certain characters I’m drawn to like Neil but I think his design is also a bit uninspired. To be fair, the manga itself is a bit damp in its visual representation but I think Pierrot phoned it in a whole lot more never considering visual appeal in the equation when adapting the show.
The animation is decent as well. Nothing really stands out even though there are chances where the visuals should shine. Nike’s rain summoning scenes should’ve meant a lot more if the animation is more flashy. The raindrops looks plain and the whole scene lacks a certain flair to make it such a defining moment the anime builds it up to be. The romantic moments also feels lacking. They kiss and stuff but nothing impressive animation wise. It’s all still shots of lips interlocking and it’s a bit of a cop out for the show. The love story defined the anime so an awesome romantic moment with impressive animation should be a definite pay off for it. Instead, everything just looks plain with most moments just exaggerated by viewers. I guess facial expressions are good enough but it doesn’t really give justice to the love story the anime keeps shoving in our face. I honestly needed more. A good director could’ve given us more but you can tell the entire anime feels a bit contrived. The animation seems to signal a “let’s just get this over with” aura to it as if the show was made without any heart or effort behind it. I love anime and I wouldn’t be on a one thousand journey if I didn’t but its lazy shows like these that make me feel embarrassed for embracing the genre. Yes, more ashamed than tentacle monsters or that entire era of incest.
The anime’s OP is “BEAUTIFUL WORLD” by Joanna Koike. This is a pretty decent OP song. It flows pretty ordinarily which is unique for an OP song. Joanna’s voice really makes this one special as she sets the pace and gives this friendly vibe to the lyrics. The song doesn’t hit an exciting buildup and I quite love how even the chorus flows pretty ordinarily letting the lyrics be more center than anything else. The OP sequence features Nike greeting characters inside the castle and it ends with her beside Livuis looking atop his kingdom. The OP showcases the inconsistent quality of the show jumping from high quality to mid to poor in just few key scenes.
The anime’s ED is “PROMISE” by Rena Maeda. It is sung by Nike and it pretty much has the same appeal as the OP song. The flow is a bit constrained while Rena just gives the song its unique personality. It also lets the lyrics ring true than anything else. The song does make me sleepy lol which is why I think the ED sequence features just a picture of Livius sleeping all innocent like.
5/10 “Plain and predictable. This show truly featured a sweet blossoming love story presented in a very lazy and subdued fashion.”
This show presented a very cute love story that blossomed and developed quite nicely. It is weak on other areas though like character development, the actual plot, the episodic content, the overall exposition and the overall anime experience. If you like romance stories then I think this one will hit the spot. If you like well-developed shows then look elsewhere. This anime begins and ends with the romance despite how promising the actual premise is. It is bare bones and a bit plain. Love is pretty cool by itself but most of us enjoy it tucked between a really good story and this show does not possess such.