Anime: The World Is Still Beautiful (Blu-Ray)
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: October 6th, 2015
Retail Price: $59.98
The anime series The World Is Still Beautiful centers on a girl named Nike, who is also fourth Princess of the Rain Dukedom. When the king of the Sun Kingdom is ready to marry, he decides to wed one of her family, with Nike being pawned off as the wife to be. The king, named Livius, is largely recognized as a madman who is merciless and hell bent on achieving power and authority however necessary. Livius is poised to take complete control in a matter of years, but Nike has no say in the matter and embarks on a quest to his kingdom. When Nike arrives she comes to terms with her old life being something of the past, and is robbed before the first night is over. As Nike makes her way to the location of Livius, she notices something isn’t what she expected… Livius is a child, or at the very most a pre-teen. Nike (being a teenage girl) isn’t so happy about the matchmaking choices, and that’s when the series begins to unfold.
Despite his age, Livius has a very head strong adult presence about him. Initially, realizing he’s in a position of power you would think that would make him slightly unqualified, but Livius has dealt with serious life experience already and his jagged persona is apparent. Does this mean Livius is a fully capable king? Probably not- especially when he’s so feared by others. The anime tends to waiver between a cruel attitude for Livius, and a softened version as if he were bi-polar. He makes an interesting character for sure, and over time you learn more about his life including the loss of his mother that sent him into a darker direction. When you see what contributes to who he is now, it begins to make more sense and Livius becomes a character worth following in the series. The king of the Sun Kingdom becomes instantly infatuated by Nike, and begins to try to bring an adult married life scenario out, and although Nike is hesitant to wholeheartedly agree, he never gives up. (except one time…) His adoration for Nike is shown even further when he disregards a trial that Nike needed to accomplish on her own, and putting her before anyone else; the scene was also a major indicator of the bond forming between the very different characters against all odds.
Nike is technically our series protagonist, but it does seem to give Livius more time to fully develop as well. Nike begins the series with a strong self awareness, but over time that seems to become an issue. Her feelings for Livius confuse her, and she does feel a chemistry blossoming between them, but she doesn’t understand how to go about it. The relationship feels very much like a Game Of Thrones, unconventional pairing that you aren’t really sure if you should root for it. Besides her involvement with Livius, Nike has the ability to control the wind (and rain?) but is controlled by a song she sings. The song itself isn’t exactly the catchiest tune…but you sort of adjust. It is nice to see Nike have her moments of badass-ness, able to fend for herself, think on her feet, and avoid dying from the numerous hitmen hoping to kill off her and Livius. I’m glad she’s not a damsel in distress given the genre, and her ability to always keep her optimistic outlook while handling business – quite impressive.
The animation in The World Is Still Beautiful is impressive, and I thoroughly enjoy the character designs. Livius and Neil (his butler) are two characters that best represent the high quality art, but there aren’t any real disappointments in the series. The colors seem to embrace more muted tones, with very pale, almost neutral choices, which can sometimes work as strength for the large setting. The wider angled shots of scenery provide just enough detail to solidify the strong artistry and environment of The World Is Still Beautiful. I enjoy the musical score for the anime, despite the tedious rain song from Nike, but like I mentioned, you almost get used to it.
The Japanese voice cast were all well chosen, and I would say the primary talent is Nobunaga Shimazaki (voice of Livius) and Nike’s voice actor Rena Maeda brought entertainment as well. One more important standout episode (and better example of the series) includes a struggle between family “love” along with the tough decisions accompanied with finding your own identity…or so you’d think. It may not have always played out the way I would have hoped but it does manage to reel you back in to the serious tone that the series can go to. The ending of the anime will be pleasing to romantics, and has a happier feel to a Game of Thrones type interpersonal plot that I wouldn’t have predicted getting into the series. I believe that if you are going into The World Is Still Beautiful with an appreciation for fictional kingdom realms and romance, this is definitely the series for you.
Overall Score: 7/10
Aedan’s Final Thoughts:
-Tohara was one of my favorite characters, and the brief conclusion to her story broke my heart; her song was also a highlight that showed a more emotionally raw moment
-Livius is a more likable and motivated version of Ciel Phantomhive from Black Butler which is definitely a compliment to his character.
-Nike literally had me changing my opinions every episode as I struggled to decide whether I could completely root for her or not until the ending.
-The rain song will be engraved in your memory after this series, just try and tell me otherwise.