Making Simplicity Appear Effortless
Crafting great endings is no easy task. Although they often seem deceptively simple, they require skill and finesse. As a writer and director, making things look easy is one of the most challenging aspects of the creative process. However, by focusing on what truly matters and showcasing the best elements of a story, success is within reach.
The Sleeper Pick: Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii
Amidst a selection of mixed bag choices, Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii emerged victorious as my sleeper pick for the Spring season. Despite facing some challenges in adapting a hefty volume of source material within a limited number of episodes, the series managed to shine when it honed in on its strengths. Studio Pierrot, known for its hit-or-miss productions, found its sweet spot with this European-styled fairy tale. As an overall package, Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii boasted visually appealing animation, skillful direction, and a stellar cast. The unconventional choice of casting Shimazaki Nobunaga as the male lead, Livi, added depth to his character, capturing the essence of vulnerability without resorting to forced childishness. Meanwhile, Maeda Rena’s portrayal of Nike was a resounding success, showcasing energy, wit, and strength that will ideally open more doors for her in leading roles.
The Art of Concluding Ongoing Source Material
Creating a satisfying ending for a story that is still ongoing in its source material is an even greater challenge. Although a second season for Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii is unlikely, Kamegaki Hajime, an experienced director, skillfully navigated the last arc with confidence and certainty, ensuring a satisfying conclusion. While a continuation would be a dream come true, the final episode serves as a perfect capstone for the series, providing a complete, fulfilling, and internally consistent narrative. By focusing on the core elements that make a story great and not aiming to please everyone, success is virtually guaranteed.
Breaking the Shoujo Stereotype
One of the factors preventing Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii from receiving a second season lies in its shoujo genre. Shoujo anime, particularly those based on manga, are often limited to one-cour adaptations due to the genre’s lack of sales on physical discs. However, Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii transcends the confines of typical shoujo narratives and dives into a genre-free realm. Despite containing some shoujo tropes, the series tonally resides in a space where classic moments, such as Livi riding in on a white steed, carry a tongue-in-cheek ambiance. While Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii may be categorized as shoujo, it is ultimately a testament to being “really good” rather than adhering strictly to genre conventions.
A Fusion of Shoujo, Studio Ghibli, and Western Fairy Tales
Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii can best be described as a delightful composite of shoujo, Studio Ghibli, and Western fairy tales. It veers away from the typical emotional restraint often associated with Japanese storytelling, embracing declarations of feelings, emotional displays, and candid expressions of desire. This aspect was strikingly evident in the grand, theatrically emotional “farewell rain” song performed by Tohara, coupled with Nike’s tearful reaction. Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii defies genre categorization by tapping into the true essence of its characters and going beyond demographic expectations.
A Unique Pair of Protagonists
A significant factor contributing to the success of Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii lies in its protagonists, Nike and Livi, who defy the typical mold found in shoujo anime and other demographic-led series. While Nike serves as the POV character, and Livi acts as the enigmatic male lead, their dynamic goes beyond the usual narrative structure. They are complex, strong-willed individuals who demand to be seen as equals. Nike’s spunkiness is merely the tip of the iceberg. Both characters exude complexity, intelligence, and independence, desiring more than simply being protected by each other. Their relationship is founded on equality and mutual respect, resulting in a romance story that is refreshingly different.
The Age Difference Debate
For those who raise concerns about the age difference between Nike and Livi, it’s time to move past this issue. Numerous writers, including Mori Kaoru, have shown that tasteful and sensitive storytelling can overcome such barriers. Credit must be given to mangaka Shiina Dai, who presents Nike and Livi as people rather than numbers. By viewing them as fully fleshed-out characters, one can appreciate their connection on a deeper level. In the historical context of the series, their relationship is not unusual, and it is up to the viewers to approach their story with an open mind. If the age difference remains a sticking point, the fault lies with the viewer rather than the writing.
An Inspiring Romance
Nike and Livi’s love story stands as one of the most enchanting anime romances in recent memory. Their gradual affection for one another feels authentic, and their individual strengths complement one another flawlessly. While the age difference remains an underlying theme, it is emphasized in the finale when Bardo and the Elder trio express concern that Nike and Livi have yet to consummate their relationship. However, what they fail to see is that the delay is not due to Livi’s lack of interest or capability, but rather because they both value their bond and want to choose the perfect moment. Despite Livi’s maturity, his occasional emotional immaturity reminds us that he is still a child. Paradoxically, he is wise enough to acknowledge his immaturity, a sentiment shared by Nike. Their love has blossomed patiently, and now they both exercise the same patience as they navigate their journey into romantic love.
A Splendid Finale: An Ode to Love
The finale of Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii perfectly encapsulates the series’ essence. The emotional closure with Grandma and the reminder of the practicalities of Nike and Livi’s situation in the Sun Kingdom deliver a bittersweet, poignant experience. Livi, burdened by his responsibilities as the Boy King and perpetual desire to be seen as mature, leans heavily on his work. Nike and Livi have reached a point in their relationship where they can be physically apart without doubting the strength of their bond. However, their time together on their journey has intensified the pain of their separation. The entire episode tantalizingly teases the anticipated romantic moment, mirroring the characters