Nike, fourth Princess of the Principality of Rain, has been sent into an arranged marriage with the ruler of the known world: The Sun King Livius I. Rumours paint Livius as a merciless, ruthless tyrant… but rumours are not always accurate. Upon arriving, she makes a startling discovery: Livius is actually younger than her.
The World is Still Beautiful is unique in this season… it’s not a harem anime, it’s not an action anime, and it’s not a slice of life anime. The World is Still Beautiful does have some action elements, and it’s certainly not completely devoid of action. What is it then? Well, you see, The World is Still Beautiful is a romantic comedy that just happens to be set in a rather interesting fantasy world.
The Odd Couple
Livius and Nike start off their relationship on a rocky foot – with Nike actually being thrown into jail shortly after their first meeting. This awkward start makes the growth of the two characters and their eventual relationship all the more rewarding to watch.
Nike is a very headstrong and opinionated woman, so assertive in fact that she often gets in to trouble. Upon arriving in the Sun Kingdom she even abandoned her escort and explored the city to find out more about the Kingdom on her own. She lives life by her own rules, and the concept of royal life in the Sun Kingdom is so different from what she’s used to that she often finds it strange and confining. On the other hand, Livius is an emotionally scarred child who is torn between his hatred of the world that stole his Mother from him and his desire to lead his people well. He is also fiercely intelligent and skilled – during his first three years of rule, he has taken over most of the known world – mostly just to try to fill the void left in his heart by his mother’s assassination.
These two characters are such polar opposites, that their relationship couldn’t be anything but strained… or so you’d think. As they get to know each other, you begin to see them grow together. It’s incredibly well handled, because neither of them actually give up what they are, they simply become more.
It’s A Tender Rain
The Royal Family of the Principality of Rain have unique powers – they can control the weather through word and song. Nike’s abilities seem to be quite strong and reliable, as long as she’s not starving. You first get exposed to her smaller abilities, involving the wind mostly, but her primary power is creating rain through song. This power is the primary motivation behind Livius seeking a Princess from the Rain Principality as his wife – he seems to have a deep fascination with the concept of rain. She refuses to use her powers for Livius at first, but circumstances gradually change her mind, and at a pivotal moment early in the series she sings for the first time.
It is absolutely gorgeous. Her song, It’s a Tender Rain, is sung numerous times throughout the series and each time it’s subtly different from the last. She manages to, without changing the overall shape of the music, make it convey a variety of themes, emotions, and situations. It’s an amazing accomplishment, and it just made me fall absolutely in love with this song. It simply fits so well, and they make such good use of it in a number of scenes, without simply having it be the exact same song every time. And, what’s even more impressive… the actual voice actress is the one singing it.
Thus far we’ve been exposed to two of the world’s varied lands: The Sun Kingdom and the Principality of Rain. The Sun Kingdom is a land that never sees rain while the Principality is the opposite – rains nearly all the time and rarely sees clear skies. You also hear of a few other lands, such as the Sun Kingdom’s close allies the Ocean Kingdom. These types of divided climates rarely work well, since they’re usually not very well thought out. However, The World is Still Beautiful doesn’t simply leave it at that. There are some interesting story paths hinted at, and a few overtly stated, that make this whole ‘divided climate’ thing potentially feasible. They have the cards, it’s all in whether they choose to play them. I hope we get a second season to explore these possibilities, because there truly is fascinating potential here.
I’ve seen a lot of shows lately that have really dropped the ball in the last few episodes and left the show feeling weak because of nothing more complex than a bad ending. The World is Still Beautiful, fortunately, does not suffer from that curse. Despite knowing the manga continues beyond this, I am perfectly content with the way the show ended. The ending was an absolutely perfect finale, and while there are threads left that I would love to see them explore… I am satisfied. And that’s all too rare when an anime ends.
When I first started watching the show, I wasn’t certain what to expect. It had a rocky start, and it’s humour was a bit odd to begin with – breaking the fourth wall a few times and having some awkward jokes. However, once you hit the end of the second episode, if you are not beginning to feel yourself fall for this show, then you have no heart. It is one of the best romance anime I’ve ever watched, and they did such a good job of creating a self-contained story without closing out the possibility for continuation. And that song…. that song.