OP: 「BEAUTIFUL WORLD」 by 小池ジョアンナ (Joanna Koike)
「晴れの大国」 (Hare no Taikoku)
“The Sun Kingdom”
Spunky, independent princess, check.
She also happens to be penniless, luckless, and plain to the point that the very idea of her royal lineage is downright laughable. But Nike Remercier (Maeda Rina) also happens to be the future bride to the infamous Sun King, and she’s not without her own secrets. Thus begins the journey of a girl sent to a foreign country for a political marriage in exchange for keeping her family’s dukedom independent (after losing a game of jan-ken-pon, of course).
Fans of Shiina Dai’s manga know that this premiere was an anime original, and that it set out to establish the world and protagonist in more detail than the opening chapter did. Whether or not that’s a good thing is up to your personal philosophy on adaptation choices, but it’s at least obvious that Studio Pierrot has a good deal of free reign with the material. There’s more comedy, a bit more exposition, and even some breaking of the fourth wall, leading to a more carefree atmosphere. Personally, I don’t mind in the least and found the episode pretty enjoyable; world building is necessary in any medium, and one of my few qualms with the manga itself is that there’s not too much of that going on in the beginning. At the very least, it’s nice to see the kingdom firsthand, as well as Nike’s interactions with others.
In fact, we learn a lot about Nike from the beginning. Not only is she unlucky enough to be sent off instead of her (much sexier) sisters, but her supposedly devoted crew is sadder at missing a chance to drink and carouse than at seeing their youngest princess part ways with them so soon. She’s stubborn and thrifty (she sends the ship and men back early because the Rain dukedom needs them more than she), as well as clumsy and naive. But her naivety doesn’t spring from stupidity so much as good intentions, and when her luggage is stolen and her friend kidnapped, she doesn’t blink an eye at the thought of revenge. She understands that she’s in a strange position and encourages laughter at her expense, but she also reserves some pride in her identity and fights back when she feels it impinged. Despite the rumors and her misgivings about her future husband, she still leaps forth at all speed in order to get things done with a smile, and that’s what Nike is all about.
I found it amusing that the series understands it needs more equal viewership; not only is there female fanservice (something very sparse, if at all present, in the original), but the bandit duo even claims that if they do certain things to their pretty captive, they’ll have “more servicey scenes” to “appeal to the male audience”. I wasn’t overly fond of the line, which implies that rape/sexual harrassment is on the same level as fanservice, but it does show some of the semi-anxiety on the part of the studio that this is a very shoujo premise. It’s hard to sell a King who looks like Livius to everyone equally, and the studio knows it, so they’re broadening the appeal through the art style and atmosphere. I just hope it doesn’t hurt the overall story in the long run.
In summary, this was a pretty nice premiere; the art was a bit average, but the music could be quite lovely, especially those Celtic tunes playing in the background. The humor was hit and miss sometimes but could be very funny, and Nike lived up to her reputation as a heroine. If you look forward to romance, intrigue, humor, and some good fantasy and magic dished up on top, you might want to try Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii for yourself.
ED: 「PROMISE」 by 前田玲奈 (Rena Maeda)