Tag Archives: The World Is Still Beautiful

Review: The World Is Still Beautiful, Episode 12: Return

Review:

Well, here we are: the final episode. One thing I have to say for it is that it’s not your typical ending. Sure, the episode starts out fairly warm and fuzzy: Nike reconciles with her grandmother (see the previous episode’s Christian Perspective on reconciliation), she and Livius return home, and we get a nice little montage showing all of the friends Nike made in the Sun Kingdom doing well. After all of the pomp and circumstance, though, reality smacks them in the face. It seems Bard didn’t do such a great job of managing things in Livius’ absence, which ultimately leads to a ton of work for Livius to do. As a result, he and Nike are abruptly separated and unable to spend time together. Not exactly a happily-ever-after ending, but certainly more realistic. How many times in life do we solve one problem, only to have another one to deal with shortly after? In that sense, I think they took an unexpected turn in the plot development. Of course, the actual end of the episode wraps up nicely, but the journey there is not all sunshine and rainbows.

A Christian Perspective:

Eh, not much to say here in terms of a lesson. There is some questionable content in this episode, which you can see in the Content Guide below. It’s nothing extremely bad, but it’s still more than we’ve had to put up with the show previously (or at least in a while).

Content Guide:

Language: 2 “b****rd

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: The three old men that Livius meets with are shown with women in their laps (the women aren’t nude, but at least  one is wearing a cleavage-revealing dress, and an old man has kiss marks on his head) 11:04-11:08; a woman runs out of a room while wearing a corset/dress type thing and two other women are shown hiding behind a desk (they are wearing cleavage dresses) 11:20 – 11:23; Nike is shown being put into a corset (she is bent over, and you can see part of the top of one of her breasts, although the scene itself doesn’t really present as sexual) 12:26 – 12:30; cleavage 12:46- 12:50; Nike may very briefly be shown in another cleavage dress; Bard makes a comment about whether or not Nike and Livius “did it”, and there is also a conversation between Bard and the three old men about that subject

Violence: None

Blood/Gore: None

Review: The World Is Still Beautiful, Episode 11: A Passing Wind

Review:

I still hold that they resolve plot points too quickly in this show. Case in point: the previous episode ended with a cliffhanger plot. Within the first few moments of this episode, that plot point is resolved. Now, granted, it carries with it a bit of tension, but did anyone really expect a principle character to be killed off? I didn’t think so. What I will give the writers of this show is that there continues to be tension throughout the episode. One such example is between Livius and…. that guy from Nike’s country (nope, can’t remember his name at this point). While the over-arching conflict in this story arc is resolved quickly, there are still minor things like this that play out in this episode. And, granted, I could argue that even this resolves rather quickly, but I think I’d be beating a dead horse. For all the criticism I have of the way things work out, I still found myself eager to see this show each week. While it may not excel in the area of storytelling (at least as far as plot resolution goes), it did present some likable characters who made it worth coming back to week after week. Only one episode left after this.

A Christian Perspective:

Reconciliation is a powerful theme in this episode, specifically between Livius and that other guy. Really, there was no reason for Livius to seek to make peace with the guy. Not only is he the king of the world (minus the Principality of Rain), he now also has the blessing of the Principality to marry Nike, so he wins. End of story. Yet Livius didn’t leave it like that–perhaps, even, couldn’t leave it like that. So instead, he sought out his adversary and sought to reconcile with him. This very action almost cost him his life (accidentally, of course). Let’s not forget the Livius we initially met at the beginning of this journey. That Livius would simply have crushed anyone who stood in his way. Much like Livius, we, too, change in our journey with Christ, and we should also seek reconciliation and peace with our adversaries whenever possible. (Forgiveness, though, is something we always need to give, even if we cannot salvage a relationship.)

Content Guide:

Language: 2 “d**n”
Alcohol/drug use: Characters may be drinking at a feast; Neil is possibly drunk (I don’t think either is really confirmed); several characters are possibly drunk

Nudity/sex/fanservice: Livius and a few other unnamed men are shown in a bath–the men are shirtless with towels around their waists, while Livius is underwater (9:15 – 9:19); the preview shows Nike in a dress that reveals a bit of cleavage

Violence: a character is hit in the head with a nut(?); a character is hit with a piece of fruit; a character is grabbed by the front of his shirt; a character is kicked in the butt

Blood/gore: blood is seen dripping and pooling on the ground; blood is shown on a character’s face

Review: The World Is Still Beautiful, Episode 10: A Righteous Kingdom

Review:

Okay, yeah, grandma’s a bit of a jerk. Remember how I previously questioned whether or not the grandmother was involved with this plot to keep Nike in the Principality of Rain? Well, if you thought me a fool for even considering that she wasn’t: congratulations. This may very well be one of the more intense arcs of this series, as Nike’s grandmother has actually succeeded in separating Nike and Livius, and without the key that she made to control access to the tower in which Nike is imprisoned, there is no way for Livius to gain access. In terms of danger, it is at least on par with the arc that took Nike into the temple in the Sun kingdom. Another nice piece to this arc is that it spans more than two episodes. Now, it’s possible that my mind is simply forgetting, but I’m fairly certain most of the story arcs have been two episodes, at most. This looks to be at least a three parter.

A nice touch to this episode is that not every character seems to be entirely charmed by the idea that “grandma’s word is law”, as evidenced by Nike’s one sister essentially betraying her grandmother’s edict in order to lead Livius to Nike. I suppose this isn’t exactly ground breaking, as it probably happens more often than not in shows with a similar plot element, but at least this doesn’t leave Livius to have to survive on his own devices. An interesting point to ponder, too, is that the Principality of Rain seems to be essentially setting itself up as a hostile force against Livius. It seems detrimental for a small kingdom to put itself in hostility with pretty much the entire world… and in case you’ve forgotten, Livius has been called the king of the world. Of course, the grandmother’s motives are a little deeper than, “I’m angry because my son acted without my consent.” It seems that Nike’s power may be greater than we know. Perhaps we’ll get a glimpse of this, what with the series nearing its climax and all.

A Christian Perspective:

It’s certainly not a perfect comparison, but the love that Livius and Nike have for each other could be compared to the love that Jesus has for us. We see—in this episode, particularly—the lengths to which each is willing to go to be with each other. As we know from Scripture, Jesus will also go to search for the lost sheep:

“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? – Luke 15:4 (NIV)

Again, this is far from a perfect comparison, but just as Jesus suggests here that He would leave the ninety-nine sheep to search for the one lost sheep, so Nike and Livius eschew personal safety for the sake of being with one another—Livius putting himself at odds with the Principality of Rain (and putting his life in danger to search for the tower key) and Nike quite literally beating herself up in an attempt to escape and be with Livius.

If this is a bit of a stretch, or a bad comparison, please feel free to call me out.

Content Guide:

Language: 1 “d**ned”

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Livius is shown naked (no private parts shown) 00:58 – 1:02; Livius is shown putting a shirt on 1:13 – 1:20

Violence: A character bangs her head against a wall; a character holds a sword to another’s throat; a character intercepts a staff hit and hits the assailant with his own staff; a character draws his sword on another character; a character uses her wind magic to break a sword; a character throws herself into a door

Blood/Gore: Blood is seen dripping from a character, and is also seen on her face

 

 

Review: The World Is Still Beautiful, Episode 9: The Principality of Rain

Review:

Okay, okay, I know I previously criticized the fast pace of the show, but after this episode I just have to say this: three months? We’re supposed to believe that everything that has happened took place over the course of three months? Event wise, I suppose that’s possible, but character wise? I’m sorry, but I find that hard to buy. Livius was a cold, hateful young man, and we’re supposed to buy that in the course of three months (less, really) Nike was able to completely change his character? That’s just… hard to believe. Anyway, now that I have that criticism over…

I have to admit, I tend to question myself a lot, so I really don’t know if that point of criticism is valid, or if it’s criticism for the sake of having something to criticize. I mean, this isn’t a plot heavy show in the first place, but rather a show about character interaction and, ultimately, the effect we have on each other. Sure, it’s wrapped up in a pretty, fantasy-esque box, but how much does that really play into the show, beyond Nike’s constant use of rain summoning? We do see her occasionally use her wind powers to cut stuff, but it certainly doesn’t seem to be the center of attention. Again, that’s debatable with the rain stuff, but still…

Now, I’ve rambled enough. The only other thing I’ll say is that Nike sure was hesitant to use her rain summoning for show, but in this episode we see her doing it for a crowd of people… I guess her perspective has changed. The real meat and potatoes of this episode, though, revolves around Nike’s return to the Principality of Rain with Livius in tow. We actually get to “meet” her sisters in person, as opposed to the fanservice-laden introduction we received in a flashback many episodes ago. Nike is drawn back out of concern for her grandmother, although it appears to have been a false alarm. What is yet to be seen, though, is if this false alarm was the result of poor communication or if something more dastardly is in the works. By the looks of things, it would seem the latter, especially with the interaction between an unknown character and Nike’s grandmother. Despite all of this, Nike and Livius’ relationship does seem to grow deeper in this episode (that kiss scene!), and it will be interesting to see how that relationship holds up against whatever trials await them in this current arc.

A Christian Perspective:

Throughout this show, every arc seems to have had a purpose for character development: either for drawing Nike and Livius closer together, or for fixing something in Livius’ life. It’s possible that Nike has personally benefited, but off the top of my head I can’t remember anything. Actually, I suppose it mostly has been about Livius change of character and the deepening relationship between him and Nike. Anyway, it took trials to get them there: an old flame, a journey through a trapped temple, an old family member with whom Livius had his disputes… at any of these junctures, we could have seen failure, but in the end what we saw was a changing Livius, a growing relationship, and the restoration of a bond (Livius and Bard). You may have already figured out what Bible verse I’m going to use to tie this point together, but here it goes anyway:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28

The next time life seems to be going through a bunch of trials—maybe we’re being asked to do things that are hard for us, or maybe we need to reconcile with someone with whom we’ve had a bad experience—let’s keep in mind this verse, and the trials that we’ve watched Livius (and Nike) endure. Let’s also remember that we have a God who wants to use all things to work together for our good. The situation might not seem comfortable or favorable, but before we write it off let’s take a moment to pray and seek God’s will in the situation, and to press forward in faith, trusting that He has a reason for the situation, no matter how hard or difficult.

Content Guide:

Language: 1 “j**z”, 2 “b**ch”, 1 “d**n”, 1 “cr*p” (if you consider it a curse word)

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Livius says something that prompts a shot of what appears to be a naked Nike (I guess it’s metaphorical, given the previous scene), but all we see is a quick glimpse of cleavage (around 19:39-19:40)

Violence: A character is elbowed in the stomach

Blood/Gore: None

Review: The World Is Still Beautiful, Episode 8: Shelter From The Rain

Review:

If there’s one criticism that I could level at “The World Is Still Beautiful”, it’s that plot elements seem to wrap up too quickly and too neatly. The previous episode shows Livius in a complete rage, ready to imprison Nike. This episode starts off with him pretty much recanting his rage and more-or-less brushing off the offense. It’s more than a little jarring if you think about it, and probably unrealistic. Yes, we know that Livius cares deeply for Nike, and that she has had a profound impact on his life, but let’s not forget that he has years of anger and hatred built up, and I would assume that his assumption was that Nike was betraying him. It would have made for a good point of conflict for Nike to have to soothe that wound. Yes, I know the whole situation wasn’t her fault, but we know that Livius can be irrational, and to be fair we know that Nike is also quite powerful and probably could have freed herself from Bard’s grasp instead of letting him carry her as far as he did.

That said, this episode does have a decent theme of reconciliation. Again, the criticism of being wrapped up too quickly could be leveled here, as lots of issues seemed to be resolved in a relatively short amount of time. Livius and Bard spend a few minutes talking, but we’re told that an hour (I believe it was an hour—might have even been longer) has passed. Granted, this has been a fairly light-hearted show (for the most part), and I suppose that is the tone the writers would prefer to keep.

Despite all of this criticism, I would be a liar to say that I didn’t enjoy the episode. It had its funny moments (see: Nike after the rain ceremony), and overall it remains likable. I guess I just feel like they could have done more with this plot point.

A Christian Perspective:

Ephesians 4:26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,

Well, the application: how much of this conflict could have been avoided if Livius would have just cleared the area with Bard from the get go, instead of letting his anger and resentment build up? Granted, Bard doesn’t seem to make it easy, especially with his attitude and advances on Nike, but isn’t the world (and aren’t people) usually like that? If forgiveness was easy, then we wouldn’t need the grace of God to help us. Is forgiveness possible for the unbeliever? I suppose so, but the fact that we have to be commanded to forgive in Scripture certainly indicates that it’s not something that comes naturally to us. If it did, it wouldn’t need to be commanded. After all, none of us needs to be commanded to eat, sleep, or use the bathroom—these are all natural things, and we do them without the need to be commanded to do so (potty training children notwithstanding).

Content Guide:

Language: 1 “d**n”

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Nike is still wearing her dress from last episode at the beginning of this episode, and the dress showed cleavage; Bard is shown lying naked in a woman’s bed (the most you see is his bare chest, bare back, and a bit of his butt crack), with the woman herself finishing dressing (we see nothing even remotely fanservicey about her) which implies that the two slept together (Bard also pulls her down on the bed at one point); 18:53-18:59 Nike shows a little cleavage

Violence: Nike cuts Livius’ hair with her wind magic; a character is hit with a pillow; a character is pounded on the chest; a character is kicked; a character’s hair is pulled

Blood/Gore: None

Review: The World Is Still Beautiful, Episode 7: Wild Waltz

Review:

Yep, this is a character-driven show, alright. Not that this is a bad thing, as I greatly enjoy this entry into the spring season. This time around, we are introduced to Livius’ uncle, who is the former prime minister of the Sun Kingdom. Apparently he gave up his post, and there seems to be bad blood between him and Livius, although the exact nature of this has yet to be revealed. One thing is for certain, though: he seems to have a thing for Nike, and that does not sit well with Livius. Basically, the episode boils down to this unexplained tension between the two, although in starts with an unusually playful side of Livius. He leads Nike away from the castle to essentially skip daily lessons/duties so that the two can go to a festival. It’s a fairly lighthearted portion of the episode, with a cameo appearance from the two thieves from the shows beginning.

Honestly, most of the episode is fairly lighthearted, until the end. It seems that Livius’ uncle had a purpose in putting the moves on Nike, although I can’t say I’m entirely sure what that is. Regardless, though, Livius blows his top, and the ending does not bode well for either Nike or the uncle (I think his name is Bard). Honestly, Livius becomes quite unlikable at the end, although it is certainly understandable why he would get upset, given his background. This show hasn’t gotten truly dark yet, so I wouldn’t expect the next episode to be anything too harsh, but maybe they’ll prove me wrong.

A Christian Perspective:

Well, were Nike falling prey to Bard’s attempts, I could share a Proverb about avoiding the adulterous woman (man in this case, but still), but the attempts are purely one-sided. On the other hand, we could learn from Livius’ inability to forgive an offense. Granted, we do not know the full story, but if he would have simply stopped and listened then the ending of this episode could have gone a lot differently.

Content Guide:

Language: 4 “j**z”, 3 “b**t**d”, 1 “d**n”, 1 “p***ing”

Alcohol/Drug Use: It’s possible that characters are drinking at Bard’s party, although nothing sparked me to make a note initially

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: A woman is shown giving bellydancing(?) lessons to Nike–this woman is wearing a bikini-like top that shows cleavage (00:32 – 00:34); at one point, Nike is at a banquet, and the dress she is wearing shows some cleavage; a male character is shown hovering over a female character on a bed (although they’re both dressed, and nothing happens)

Violence: Two characters are tripped; a character is grabbed by her hair

Blood/Gore: Droplets of blood are shown flying across the screen from an unknown (to me) source

Other: Livius is shown dressed as a girl

Review: The World Is Still Beautiful, Episode 6: Call My Name

Review:

Where there’s a romance anime, there must be a love rival. Of course, we’ve already had the religious powers of this series fight against the marriage arrangement, but we all know that’s not a proper love rival. Enter the estranged, self-pronounced fiancée! In this case, it’s Princess Luna of the Ocean Kingdom, a childhood friend of Livius who comes back into the picture because she hears about the engagement between Livius and Nike. More sophisticated and much more well-bred than Nike, she certainly seems like a better outward match, but as the show goes on we realize that there is something between Nike and Livius that Luna just can’t touch.

Honestly, I suppose this was a pretty typical love triangle episode. The old flame (if she can even be called that in this case) shows up, and pretty much shames the heroine throughout the episode, but ultimately something happens that proves that the heroine is, in fact, the best candidate after all. I guess they could have drug it out for most of the season, though, instead of resolving it in one episode. Even if it is clichéd, though, it’s not a bad episode. It was thoroughly entertaining, and the way the episode ended made me happier than a grown man should be over the development of two fictional characters.

A Christian Perspective:

While I don’t have a direct quote, Livius at one point tells Luna that Nike’s song essentially cuts to your center, and that when she sings there is no difference between king and peasant or something like that. This is quite allegorical to Jesus’ presence, as when looked at in light of Him there is no difference between any of us–we are all sinners in need of His salvation. To quote from Scripture:

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28 (NIV)

Content Guide:

Language: 1 “b**ch”

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: The blonde girl grabs Nike’s breasts (5:47 – 5:49); Nike’s night gown shows a bit of cleavage in one shot, and Livius starts to unbutton his shirt; the previews show Nike wearing a dress that shows some cleavage, and a man pushes her onto a bed, then hovers over her

Violence: None

Blood/Gore: A splatter of blood is shown

Review: The World Is Still Beautiful, Episode 5: Ring of Tales 2

Review:

Last week left Nike in peril, while this week resolves that plot point. Trapped in the underground labyrinth, Nike ends up getting assistance from an unsuspected source, and in the end our heroes come out on top. That’s a quick summary of this episode.

One thing you can always count on The World is Still Beautiful for is a nice mix of comedy and serious moments. The episode starts out serious enough, and even continues into an emotional moment with Livius and Nike, before Nike destroys the tension with a joke. From there, the episode lightens up a bit, with scenes that include Nike screaming as her maids put her dress on and the “four gods” (military giants) supposedly discussing a plan about the priests (although the humor here is crude, and not really for Christian tastes).

If your reaction to Livius’ comments to Nike is “well, that escalated quickly”, then I’d have to agree. We’re only five episodes in, and the two already seem devoted to each other. Although, how much time has passed within the plot of the show, I don’t know. To a degree, though, it seems like what could have been a season’s worth of character development has occurred rather quickly, and yet it doesn’t really feel sloppily done at all. In fact, it’s touching, especially when Livius sees Nike in her gown for the first time. Watching the two of them one-up the sneaky priest who was behind the assassination plot was also quite entertaining, and happy endings were had for all.

A Christian Perspective:

Ugh, the three old guys are perverts, and they plus Livius are referred to as the four gods or something like that.

Content Guide:

Language: 2 “t**s”

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: From 11:46 – 11:59 little bubbles with images are shown while Nike is having her girdle/dress/whatever put on, some of which feature Nike–in these cases, you only see her shoulders up, although the first bubble with her does show a bit of cleavage

Violence: A character attacks another with a sword; two characters briefly sword fight; a character cuts another’s face; a character is punched in the face

Blood/Gore: A small line of blood is shown on the face of a character (cut with a sword)

Review: The World Is Still Beautiful, Episode 4: Ring of Tales 1

Review:

As the title suggests, this is part one of two. While Nike and Livius may have come to like–and maybe even love–one another, that doesn’t mean the story is over. Despite their desire to be married, they still have another hurdle to overcome: namely, the approval of the sun god priests, who are not at all fond of Nike, and have no desire to see her marry Livius. Nike, of course, refuses to take things lying down, and despite warnings to the contrary she chooses to march right into the temple.

What all of this sets off, of course, is a trial that Nike must embark upon in order to prove herself worthy of marrying Livius, but the trial itself won’t prove easy. By the end of the episode you will definitely be eager to watch part 2.

A Christian Perspective:

Rather than try to cobble something together myself, I’ll simply link you to this well written article.

Content Guide:

Language: 1 “a**”, 1 “d**n”, 1 “j**z”

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Nike is shown having a girdle put on her by her maids–you can see a little cleavage, and she is also wearing a pair of what look like really short shorts (maybe it’s her underwear? Not sure) 1:01 – 1:12; she is shown in the girdle from behind, and then again from the front 1:25 – 1:48; the shadows showing the maids dressing Nike show one maid seemingly push on her breasts and perhaps another push on her butt (not sure if this is supposed to be part of getting her dressed or what) 1:56 – 1:57; the elders are shown gawking at a drawing of Nike dressed up–they are commenting on her breasts (you can see cleavage from the dress she is wearing), and the camera zooms in on them 3:38 – 3:40

Violence: Nike uses her wind power to cut a staff in half

Blood/Gore: A character is doing some needlework and at one point sticks the needle through, followed by a small red spot spreading on the fabric

Review: The World Is Still Beautiful, Episode 3: Chancellor’s Declaration

Review:

It seems this may end up being more of a character-driven story, which is perfectly fine. This time around, we continue to learn more about the king (whose name is Livi, for the record), as well as a little more about Nike’s rain calling. While it’s probably no surprise to anime veterans, the king isn’t quite the jerk that he comes across as. He is certainly still rude, abrasive, and manipulative (just watch the end of this episode for that last one), but underneath all of that there do seem to be some good qualities. Again, this particular character archetype may not be anything particularly new, but it works, and it makes for an entertaining story.

Another thing worth noting is that Nike doesn’t seem to just be the character who will straighten the king out–she has her flaws too. She flat out calls herself an idiot (or something of that nature) at one point in the episode, so while the king may have the majority of the growing up to do, Nike may have some in store herself. In all reality, this story probably could have been done as a high school drama. A few things would have to be changed plot wise, sure, but the general theme of the story could be just as easily done. The fantasy theme is a nice touch, though, and perhaps the Rain-Summoning will play a larger role as time comes. That’s not so much a criticism, by the way, as it is a way of saying thankfully they did something different. Just because something could be done as a high school drama doesn’t mean it has to be or should be. We have plenty of those. Of course, the fantasy genre leaves different plot options open down the road, so we’ll have to see where it goes.

Overall, if you’ve enjoyed The World Is Still Beautiful up until this point, then this episode should entertain you as well.

A Christian Perspective:

To add a little to episode two’s note: it seems that Nike can read minds or something like that, as evidenced by her ability to see the king’s memory of his mom, as well as by something she does in this episode.

Lesson-wise, I think we can take something away from Nike’s rain summoning. If I’m remembering correctly, the rain summoning seems to be something that you do for someone else, not for your own personal benefit or enjoyment. Now, granted, my point does fall apart if I’m wrong that, but if I’m right then that seems to be something we Christians can relate to. The salvation of Christ, while a great gift, is not something we should simply keep to ourselves. Once we receive it, we are expected to share it with others, so that they, too, will hopefully come to know the Savior. While the rain summoning really isn’t an allegory for salvation, the idea that it’s not something for us to simply horde and keep to ourselves is something that we can relate. Also is the fact that, if the rain summoning has touched someone’s heart, then it’ll be evident in their face. This could be compared to the fact that if someone is truly saved, then their life will produce fruit. Once you come to know Christ, your life is changed, and it should be evident to others. There’s not much I can do to expand upon that comparison, but there you have it.

Content Guide:

Language: 1 “j**z”

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Nike wakes up to find the king naked in her bed (we don’t even see so much as the king’s butt this time around, though); the king asks if Nike’s breasts have shrunk

Violence: None

Blood/Gore: None

Other: Nike may have some kind of mind reading ability or something, as evidenced by her ability to see Livi’s past with his mom, as well as something she does in this episode