An overall review of Soredemo Sekai Wa Utsukushii.
Title: Soredemo Sekai Wa Utsukushii (TV)
Animation Company: Studio Pierrot
Genres: Shoujo, Fantasy, Romance, Comedy, Adventure, Drama
Aired: Spring 2014
Number of episodes: 12
Summary: Princess Nike of the Rain Principality, a girl with the ability to call forth the rain, is forced to marry the Sun King Livius I for the sake of her country. However, Livius turns out to still be a child, and forces Nike to call upon the rain for trivial purposes.
If you want to know, straight up, if this series is worth your time, the short answer is no. It’s not horrible, but it isn’t really worth a watch if you missed out on it as it aired unless you’re desperate for your shoujo fix.
Story (4/10): While the core ideas behind Soresekai are very intriguing, the execution and they way the story builds upon these core ideas fall extremely short. Controlling the weather isn’t anything mind-blowing by anime standards, but the conditions set for Nike to be able to call upon the rain itself is very well-thought out and impressive, and could have been used to really create a fantastic relationship between Nike and the Sun King Livius himself. Unfortunately the series doesn’t seem to realise this, and abuses this plot point very often, causing it to completely lose any effect and weight it could potentially have on the relationships before the series even hit its halfway mark.
Also, while set in medieval-esque locations that could potentially prove to provide great world-building and even political elements (especially regarding Livius’ ‘world domination’ scheme that is mentioned time and again in the series), the series kind of glosses over the setting, and instead focuses on cheap shoujo cliches that could have happened in a typical high school setting and I wouldn’t have noticed the difference. It’s not really something the series did wrong, but it’s just disappointing to see, especially when the actual story itself doesn’t offer much else to be impresses about.
By far the biggest issue Soresekai had though was its godawful pacing. It can’t be helped when the industry is in a state where shoujo anime like Soresekai just don’t print the cash anymore, and are limited to a season’s airtime, but a lot of the material could have actually been cut out to give the more important plot events time, because literally every episode felt incredibly rushed – tension could not be built, transitions felt jarring, a general tone just could not be set for the series. Watching Soresekai was like watching a person that didn’t seem quite sure what he or she was feeling, constantly shifting from one emotion to the next, and it just majorly bogged down the story as a whole where certain serious scenes just felt laughable to me.
I will say though, that the final episode did change my overall satisfaction of the journey I had with this series. It was handled very well, and provided a solid conclusion from start to finish, especially considering how the manga is still ongoing.
Soresekai’s characters are better than the story they’re in, but are still not as intriguing and engaging as they could have been. Nike herself is a pretty good protagonist, whichever demographic of anime we are referring to – she’s caring, considerate, not as naive as she first appears to be, but stubborn and has a tendency to get herself in trouble especially when she sticks to her own beliefs. However, she never seems to go beyond this. There honestly isn’t much development in her character and she largely stays static throughout, although it isn’t as bad as it sounds when her character is already pretty decent and definitely easy to relate to to begin with.
Majority of the character development occurs with Livius – as the boy changes from someone always with his defenses up, easily offended, arrogant and insensitive into someone more trusting, willing to rely on Nike and the ones around him for support, and wants to protect his loved ones in the best way he can. It’s a very impressive change, but the short airtime means that the development just doesn’t happen at a believable pace most of the time, and felt rather inconsistent to me.
As individuals they are less interesting, but the two work better when they’re together. The relationship between the two clearly did not begin on a positive note, though it eventually becomes a sibling/maternal relationship of sorts due to the age (and height) difference between Nike and Livius, and of course gradually transforms into a much more romantic relationship. The shift in nature of their relationship was something I did enjoy to see, as the two really began to develop genuine care for each other, but it was also once again bogged down by the terrible pacing the series had , and at some points felt uncomfortable because of just how forced the development was despite the fact that they had a really charming dynamic between them.
A few side characters worth mentioning are Neil and Bardwin. There are a few more, but these are the main recurring side characters, and the rest of the characters are limited to their own arcs, so mentioning them would be going into spoiler territory, though there isn’t much to talk about them either since they are permanently relegated to the side antagonist/supportive friend role and do not go anywhere beyond that point. Neil, Livius’ butler, is pretty static as well, although his relationship with Livius and Nike is quite charming to watch. My personal favourite is Bardwin, who serves as a great mentor and supporter to Livius, and his ‘arc’ was definitely my favourite part of the series as it managed to portray some of the brutalities of the royals and the harsh environment Livius was in, while managing to keep Bardwin as a fairly interesting character of his own right.
Art and Animation (6/10): Studio Pierrot is handling this, so it’s no surprise that Soresekai is average looking, It’s not horrible, but nothing in particular about it stands out, and it does not really have a distinct visual style, although it is slightly reminiscent of shoujo classics of the past with its brighter colours and bold lines. There isn’t much to talk about here, throughout its 12 episode run there weren’t any particular use of the visuals to aid the story at all, nor were there particularly outstanding moments of framing and lighting worth really commending. My only real gripe here is that the series seems to have a tendency to overuse the chibi style, especially during comedic moments, but the problem is that these ‘comedic’ moments can often completely ruin the mood of the episode just as easily as its bad pacing can, since Soresekai doesn’t seem to be able to tell apart its serious moments from its lighthearted shoujo romcom moments.
Sound (5/10): Another fairly competent, but unremarkable aspect of the series. Aside from the OP and the insert song (Nike’s rain calling song) there isn’t much else that comes to mind when talking about the series’ soundtrack or sound direction in general. The OP is nice and quite catchy, fitting for the series definitely, but like its (forgettable) ED also nothing extremely amazing, while the rain song is…disappointing, to be very honest. It is basically another pop ballad in slightly awkward engrish that doesn’t mesh with the fantasy setting at all. The rest of the soundtrack too doesn’t even have a remotely medieval vibe to it, and is basically just background noise or elevator music, harshly put. Voice acting was…alright? There weren’t any particular scenes that really required the voice actors to deliver, but…you get my drift. There is nothing worth mentioning.
The Verdict – (6/10)
I often have problems coming up with numerical scores with series that I really love, whether it has glaring flaws or not, but when it comes to series that just aren’t very memorable giving a score isn’t too difficult. Unfortunately Soredemo Sekai Wa Utsukushii falls under the latter category of series, so a 6 out of 10 it is. Not worth your time, though I was not offended or anything of the sort during my fleeting time with it, and the series did make up for it a little with its great final episode.
Recommendations: Otoyomegatari (manga only), The Vision of Escaflowne, Gakuen Alice (anime)