Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii – 06, 07
「Call my name」
Romantic rivals; you either hate them or applaud the author on their decent incorporation as plot devices.
First off, I want to apologize to all my readers for being late with this post. A lot of things have been happening in my life recently, some very upsetting and others just urgent. Nevertheless, this is the one time this season that should be a problem, and I will strive for better posts (and better timing) to make it up to all my wonderful readers.
Second, I’m glad Pierrot had the sense to put Luna’s episode in 6th place rather than 2nd, where it was in the manga.
I don’t particularly care for Luna, that’s true, but it isn’t because I have something against her personally. Rather, I’ve had it up to Hylia with romantic rivals in anime and manga, at least this kind. There’s always that one character who is jealous (usually an osananajimi) and wants to get in between the couple. Jealousy is understandable; it is also easy to see how much an unrequited love can hurt. But as they say in Japan, those who get in between the love of others shall be kicked by a horse.
I’m not defending my OTP here when I say I can’t stand this stuff; it’s not about who I want to see together. What upsets me is the fact that romantic rivals are usually depicted as aggressive and disrespectful toward the feelings of the other party. Let’s step out of the unrequited love shoes for a sec and put ourselves in Nike or Livi’s place (or any other couple together by their own love and will); how annoying and messed up is it to have someone tell you your love is not valid and try to break you up? It’s true that this is a different historical period we’re seeing, but the arranged marriage here has become one for love, and everyone has accepted it but Luna (and the assassins but we’ll talk about those some other time). I know I’m not the only one who feels less than friendly toward characters like this, and I’m glad Pierrot realized it was jeopardizing their viewership to leave it in the sequence it was. Still, I’m not unhappy in seeing the episode remain, for a few reasons.
One is that I’m a stickler for staying true to the original when it comes to adaptations, pure and simple. I like knowing that things don’t change too much. But more importantly, it would have been a huge shame to skip out on Nike and Livi’s chemistry. I know some people still think the age difference is icky (some people say it’s because Nike looks older than 15, but some girls develop young and mature faster than boys. I was my height and fully developed at fifteen; you can’t tell me apart from my high school ID and my university one), but if you’re like me and find it perfectly acceptable, then it’s hard not to be head over heels for these two. They’re interesting, they’re strong, and they really care about one another. They may be young but they’re working things out to the best of their ability, and they want to be there to support each other and become real partners in love and in life. Which is hard no matter what your age, and even more so when you feel unfit to be with your beloved.
Funny how the romantic rival bothers me less here, and it’s definitely not because it’s a male one.
Part of this is because there’s a bigger problem in general this episode (hint: it’s the abusive child-husband), though that doesn’t mean Bard doesn’t have his moments of “face-palm-oh-goddess-why-are-these-almost-rape-scenes-still-a-thing.” What I like about Bard is that he’s actually more plot oriented than a tool for forcing forward Nike and Livi’s relationship. He’s not after Nike for real, though that doesn’t really excuse his behavior, but rather his interest is in Livius. Rather than Uncle, Bard feels more like Livi’s older brother, constantly teasing and messing with the little one while keeping his real feelings quiet. Nike picks up on that, and though Bard does throw her for a loop, it’s because she isn’t used to the attention and because she knows how much it upsets her fiancee.
That of course is what makes Livi’s rage all the more contemptible, even though it’s understandable. He’s only twelve years old and marrying a girl three years older; a girl who is as fickle as the wind and rain she commands and much more developed than he. He hates that her love for him sometimes borders on motherly, and he’s insecure with the thought that she could leave him. Nevertheless, his actions show just how immature he still is, and it hurts Nike, physically and emotionally, when he treats her this way. He refuses to believe she would never betray him and threatens her; sometimes getting to know something new about a loved one is a chilling experience.
Still, I have to contain my giddiness about the fact that a heroine like Nike still exists in this day and age. Shoujo heroines are not what they used to be, and most of the things she gets through are things other heroines fail at miserably. When I think about the fact that there are girls being put in cages in certain other series and expected to stay there because the guy “loves” her, I thank the stars there are still characters willing to break the heck out of some iron bars. And Nike is more than just spunky and free-spirited. She’s intelligent and she understands people more than most. She understood at once that Bard never really loved her, that his words were empty and she wasted no time calling him out on his bs. Hopefully she can make Livi understand how much she cares, and how much he’s hurt her.