So, my first venture into the realm of shoujo content…I liked it. Are you listening, rest of the anime world? This, right here…
This is how you do romance.
The World is Still Beautiful [Studio Pierrot, 2014] is a pretty atypical show in the current anime market. A unabashedly emotional, romantic and honest story, The World is Still Beautiful does things long-time anime watchers can only dream of in many of their favorite shows (I hear your pain, Chuunibyou fans and Nagi no Asukara fans), and it does them well. This is a different show, a refreshing show that falls upon the arid anime landscape like a refreshing rain. It’s a 6/10 from me (Ranking), and while it isn’t incredible on its own merits, its very presence on the schedule is a hopeful sign. And you see that big picture up above, the one of the two main characters kissing? That’s not even the only time they kiss.
Now, The World is Still Beautiful was a long way from being a perfect show. There was bad drama, there were jokes that fell flat, there were moments where the characters were baffling to watch, there was emotional and tonal whiplash. In a show with fewer redeeming qualities, these issues would have had me on the verge of dropping the show (and there were times I considered it in the middle of the season). But The World is Still Beautiful had the proverbial ace-in-the-hole, that one piece of greatness that kept me coming back week after week. And it wasn’t the moments when the jokes were good, and it wasn’t the moments when the music was good (it always was—I liked “Tender Rain,” I don’t care what you say), and it wasn’t the moments when Neil was onscreen, although those were great.
No, it was the simple authenticity of Nike and Livi’s relationship in one of the most compelling and truthful depictions of developing romantic love that I have seen in anime since I watched Toradora! That’s high praise for this show.
I pretty much said all season long that The World is Still Beautiful, when it focused on the things that it was good at (Nike x Livi), was a great show. The best romantic relationship are built on the compatibility of individuality. Said another way, the best romances are made up of people who maintain their sense of self while simultaneously giving of that self to another. So let’s talk about love.
The genius (although it’s almost sad to call it that) of Nike and Livi’s relationship is that it is entirely based on the condition that both of them have been totally authentic with each other since the moment they met. In the first few episodes of the show, Nike demonstrates to Livi exactly the type of person she is: energetic, independent, stubborn and with a great capacity to care for others. Livi, similarly, reveals a great deal about himself to Nike: brilliant and capable, but also broken and dangerous. As they continue to reveals pieces of themselves to the other, they also accept the pieces of the other. They value each other’s strengths and acknowledge each other’s weaknesses. But we aren’t to love yet. This is just simple relationship building. This is just how you deal with other people.
Once the condition of knowing and accepting the other as a unique individual is met, then love can blossom. And that’s exactly what happens with Nike and Livi. At times, it almost seems like a competition between the two of them to see who can sacrifice more for the other—and they keep going in a never-ending spiral of giving to the other and taking from the other. Love is a partnership, a friendship and always a relationship. As fun as it is to watch Witchcraft Works‘ Kagari devote herself to Takamiya-kun and be awesome at it, that’s not love. That’s adoration, obsession, idealization. It’s not seeing the person. Nike and Livi see each other as individuals, accept those identities, and love them.
The sheer cuteness of their encounters in the final episodes, as they flirt and act bashful and act like the lovers they’ve become is something of a far different nature than the cuteness of moe. It’s directly derivative of the relationship, and seeing two people who so obviously love each other…well, you can’t help but love it yourself.
I especially loved the final line of the show, which is the subtitle on the opening picture for this piece: “You bring the world to me.” To fall in love is to continuously discover another person. I’m reminded of the title of the Nintendo DS Game The World Ends With You. The amazing beauty of humanity is that each person is a world unto themselves, with mountains and seas which no one will ever totally know. But when you fall in love, you have a chance to explore those fields and feel those winds. In that, not only are you greeted with newness each moment in that person, but the world around you can take on a new beauty.
I recommend The World is Still Beautiful to all romance fans, and also to anyone who enjoys watching relationships grow. There are parts of the show on a technical level that are somewhat subpar, but the best parts of the anime by far make up for those flaws.
Reasons to Watch:
- Nike x Livi is all you really need as a reason.
- The music is quite good throughout, with several nice insert songs.
- Neil is a great character; he’s a great addition every time he’s on screen.
- Nike and Livius.