World Break: Aria of Curse for a Holy Swordsman, hereafter referred to as World Break to save us all the frustration of the awkwardly long full name, is yet another alternate Earth fantasy anime. In World Break, creatures known as Metaphysicals appear out of nowhere and wreak havoc on the world. To fight them, the world recruits people known as Saviors – people who can draw power from a connection to a past life.
Saviors typically have a connection to one past life, and are able to generate a form of energy known as Plana to both protect them and augment them. There are two varieties of Savior – dark magic users known as Kuroma and holy swordsmen known as Shirogane. Very rarely, a Savior capable of performing both appears, due to a connection to multiple past lives. These Saviors are known as ‘Ancient Dragons’.
Our protagonist Haimura Moroha is one such Ancient Dragon who has a connection to two previous lives, and he is capable of both the dark magic of a Kuroma and the strength and prowess of a Shirogane. These connections start out faint, with him only having the smallest recollections of these past lives. Our two female leads – Urushibara Shizuno and Ranjo Satsuki – each shared one of Moroha’s past lives with him.
Of course, this is only the start of his harem as he soon welcomes many others into the harem (I say welcomes, although in most cases it is not entirely consensual), including the series’ primary narrator Maya. She’s the younger sister of the Savior School’s president and she is given the task of watching over Moroha because of his unique abilities. And she’s hilarious and adorable. These four are the core characters of the show, and they are responsible for most of the show’s highlights.
Spell and Sword
The game’s fighting is a joy to behold. The variety among the different Saviors, the monsters encountered, and the way it combines the powers of the Kuroma and the Shirogane in the larger battles is simply fantastic. The show does a great job of setting the stage as well, as it starts with a massive battle scene which builds interest, but due to the lack of context succeeds in spoiling nothing.
The magic animation and visual effects aren’t exactly unique, but they fit the show perfectly. The incantations are probably my favourite, as the character actually writes out – in some runic language – the incantation while casting the spells. It creates a really fantastic effect… first you hear them start chanting quickly as they write these characters and then you get the spell effect once they’re finished. It adds a layer of believability to the casting as well, since there’s a process.
This is another of those shows that seems to be confused about what it actually wants to be. And it isn’t the usual conflict of ‘harem vs fantasy’ that we so frequently see, the main question here is “How serious do we actually want to be?” When the show goes into more serious elements, it truly shines.
This isn’t to say that the harem aspects suck, because some of the show’s best moments feature the female leads fighting over Moroha… it’s just that the show frequently degenerates into this awkward overly silly garbage. Probably the biggest offender was a side character who was the vice commander of Moroha’s Savior unit… every scene involving her was oversexed and highly creepy. Her obsession with Moroha, despite having no reason to be obsessed with him, was beyond creepy.
The other really good example of the dichotomy present in World Break is Shizuno’s family life. On the one hand, her struggles with the confinement and oppression that comes with being the scion of a rich and overly structured noble family are really interesting and fitting for the character. On the other hand… her brother is constantly trying to force her to seduce Moroha and there are these vague attempts at humour around this that just fall flat.
Each time the show switched tone, I went from love to hate in the blink of an eye.
This show is a mixed tale of lows and highs. When it is at one of its peaks it is exceptionally good. When it falls into a trough though, you’ll find yourself wondering why you’re even watching this garbage. It is this split that made it both incredibly hard to watch, yet also a very satisfying experience.