Soredemo Sekai Wa Utsukushii Episode 4: Rite of Illumination
The Church of the Kingdom, led by Lani Aristes (depicted above), refused to accept the engagement between Livius and Nike, due to the Church and Livius’ souring relations as Livius continuously dishes out new rules and policies that benefit the common people and have put the traditionalists at risk. They bring out one condition – that if Nike can complete the Rite of Illumination where she needs to obtain a ring in the deep, dangerous parts of the underground Sun Temple, they would accept her.
I’ll be honest about it – this week’s episode was not good. In fact, this series has been slowly declining in quality compared to its great first episode, and is slowly devolving into a very cliche shoujo fantasy setup a la Fushigi Yuugi. Fushigi Yugi is the last thing I want to be reminded of – it and series of its ilk are the reason why I’m not big on the shoujo genre as a whole, so seeing some of its traits manifested in Soresekai that has so much promise is quite disheartening.
The biggest problems the series faces are its pacing and writing. Regarding the pacing, it’s way too fast. There is no way any decent buildup is possible in how things happen so quickly such that the story just feels very very flat. The first half mentions just how life-threatening the Rite of Illumination is, and yet there is absolutely no sense of danger whatsoever as Nike explored the ruins. We literally got a few moments of her losing her way a little bit, almost falling down once, but that’s it. How the heck is that ‘life-threatening? How is that suspenseful? To make matters worse the series constantly adopts the use of chibi to incorporate comedy – we don’t need that when we’re trying to build up to a serious moment, a moment of true peril and danger. It’s just not appropriate, even if we’re trying to speed things up to cover more material in a shorter time.
The pacing also affects the development of the relationship between Nike and Livius, to a point where I’m beginning to feel that it’s very inconsistent. Back-and-forth banter works when the pace is slower, and there’s less plot, but when an episode tries to cover so much material, cramming in dialogue forcefully just didn’t feel right. The relationship between Nike and Livius are developing so rapidly that it’s hard for me to buy their relationship like I did in the first two episodes. They didn’t seem so close and understanding yet, so why would Nike be so willing to be married to Livius like this when she still seems a little against the whole idea in the first place? We’ve got moments when the two are happy, relaxed around each other but are arguing and Livius is acting all cold and distant in the next. It’s frankly quite confusing to watch.
The next problem is the writing, although I’d say it’s not as severe as Soresekai’s pacing issues since it’s obvious that the anime had a lot of material cut. The whole idea of the rite was pretty lame. It’s very textbook shoujo fantasy, and felt a little jarring to me considering the scenes leading up to it were much less ‘fantasy’ and more of a ‘slice of life/romance set in a medieval setting’. The whole idea that Livius has a very hard time during his rule because of many various factions refusing to accept his lineage and dishing out policies that ‘tear the social fabric of their society’ where the rich’s priorities precedes the poor’s was nice, but it too felt rushed, overdone and cliche in this week’s episode.
I’ll be keeping the faith with this one – this was the rockiest episode so far and the show has been on a bit of a downward spiral for the last two weeks, but if it can pick itself up (which I believe it can) Sorekai is still a very decent addition to a genre not well-known for its quality.