The World is Still Beautiful[1] is one change away from being awesome. It is definitely worth watching, but that one issue may shatter the suspension of disbelief for some viewers.

The Premise

Much of the world has been forcibly united by the Sun Kingdom. For the Dukedom of Rain the price of not being conquered is to provide the Sun King Livius with a wife.

Nike Remercier is the fourth princess of the Dukedom of Rain, holds the power to sing for rain, and is the one who loses the rock-paper-scissors match with her sisters.

Nike and Livius

Nike is fabulous: feisty, courageous, with a great heart, she lights up the screen in most of her scenes. Nike is very much not the classic princess, and is a large part of why the show works as well as it does.

Livius is, at least to begin with, a complete bastard, broken inside and still furious at the world for the treatment of his mother[2]. There’s a reason Livius has conquered the world, and it wasn’t out of the goodness of his heart.

Over the course of the series the awkward, slowly growing relationship between Nike and Livius is what makes World is Still Beautiful a pleasure to watch. Well, that, and watching Livius become somewhat less of a bastard.

I haven’t seen a romance feel so natural and unforced in anime for years. Given the setup of a forced/arranged marriage this is both ironic, and part of the undeniable charm of The World is Still Beautiful.

The Inevitable Rivals

Born of a shoujo manga[3], there are inevitably male rivals for Nike’s attention and one female rival for Livi’s. Fortunately these plotlines are disposed of fairly quickly, and also manage to advance the core relationship.

The One Change that the Series Needs

I mentioned at the beginning that there was one change that needed to be made to make World is Still Beautiful awesome.

The successful, unquestioned emperor of the known world is twelve years old.

However much I enjoyed the series, however much I found myself cheering for Nike, and admiring the restoration of Livius’ humanity, that was the issue that kept chewing away at my suspension of disbelief.

I didn’t mind the age difference, Nike being older is part of what made the series work, just that Livius was too young to be convincing.

Back when I did the Thirty Days of Anime posts, one of the topics was making one change to one series. Even now giving Record of Lodoss War an actual animation budget would probably be my choice.

But making Nike 21 and Livius 15 would have to be a close second. I think that would have made World is Still Beautiful a near perfect romance series.

The Verdict

I enjoyed World is Still Beautiful, and it is probably a series I’d be happy to watch again. Ultimately though I have to rate it as a show that could have been awesome, but missed it by that much.

I’ll leave with an early version of the opening – one of the nice touches to this series is that more people get added to the OP as Nike connects with them.

[1] AKA Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushi. I sometimes think that Still, the world is beautiful would be a better translation.

[2] Justifiably, but explaining it is more of a spoiler than I want to be giving.

[3] One that I’m interested in reading now, I may have to track it down sometime.