Princess Nike meets King Livius I and is surprised to find that he is younger than her. King Livius I demands to see Nike’s rain summoning and Nike refuses, saying that he needs to show her how beautiful his world is for her to perform the ritual. After a few attempts on Livius’ life, and at one point Nike’s saving him with her rain and taking an arrow for him, Nike begins to soften towards the king and care more about him. She starts to have a desire to protect him, and he her. In a country strife with inner political conspiracies as well as racial/class tension, Nike must now learn how to win the court’s and the nation’s affections to truly belong in Livius’ world.
I am utterly enthralled by The World is Still Beautiful. Princess Nike as a character is shaping up to be one of my favorite characters this season, and there’s no doubt why. She is the epitome of what all girls see in a princess, but she is also tough, brave, and intelligent. Although this sounds like a recipe for a Mary Sue, a character of complete perfection, there are flaws in her character that fit to the setting she’s placed in.
The setting is so great at remaining true to itself. Although it is a fantasy world, it also is strongly influenced by real-life European history - complete with keeping up appearances for the court, appealing to the general public, and of course, internal upsets over religion and race issues. I really enjoyed the exploration of that inspiration, and the fact that Princess Nike must win over an entire nation and her husband-to-be, all while dealing with politics and conspiracies.
King Livius I is another wonderful character, and the moments between him and Princess Nike are delightful. They banter back and forth, they argue, but they are also learning to care for one another. He is smart, and although considered a child at around 13 years old, he works hard and genuinely cares for his kingdom. His past is also interesting, as he was born to a concubine whom his father couldn’t marry due to racial reasons. I would love to learn more about him and how he ascended to the throne as the anime continues. I did consider him sort of selfish in Episode 02, when he was more interested in Princess Nike’s powers than Nike herself, but that is quickly resolving and he is changing for the better.
The politics and conspiracies are what’s going to keep The World is Still Beautiful interesting. Although the politics plotline is just starting to pick up, it’s revealing a lot of tensions within a kingdom that, on the surface, seems like a perfect paradise. It is also beginning to test Livius and Nike’s relationship as future king and queen. The moral questions and ethnic/class issues this anime is starting to pursue obviously makes this anime more than the typical romance, and I like that. The fact that they are raising these moral questions through a basis and conflict in religion also mirrors history in a way. I applaud them for addressing that issue and am intrigued on how they are going to resolve it in the end.
My only complaints are that Princess Nike’s song for summoning the rain, although catchy, is completely out of place in an anime fueled by medieval inspirations and fantasy. I don’t think princesses and queens sing Jpop for a whole party of courtiers. I also think showing a bit more of Nike’s faults, or showing her making mistakes outside of being too uncouth for court life, would also allow further character development for her. Right now the only character developing is King Livius I, and Nike is staying the same for the most part.
I will continue watching, as Episode 04 left me on a cliffhanger, and the setting and themes are fantastically well-thought out. The characters are well-crafted and the pacing is excellent.