「雨やどり」 (Ame Yadori)
“Shelter From the Rain”
Nike-hime, why is there not more of you in anime anymore?
If I could write a love letter to Nike and to the chemistry between Nike and Livi I would. Soreseka is hardly the perfect anime, nor is it my favorite, but it definitely holds huge charm for me in the character department. It’s all in the subtle things too; it’s in the way Nike and Livi react to one another (like the hug at the end or the fact that despite that they fight, they still know how to understand each other and work it out), and in the way Nike cares about others and refuses to be a passive player. In an age where the female character tends to be shunned into stereotypes (or out of existence, thanks Ubisoft), it’s so nice to see good ones still exist, flawed though the source material may be.
Personally I always liked the second half of Bard’s arc more than the first. As a reader of shoujo manga, there is nothing more cliche than a romantic rival, and it gets to be a but frustrating to see the same things play out over and over again. With that part of the story out of the way, it’s far more interesting to delve into Bard’s relationship with Livi and how that reflects on Nike’s personality and character. The uncle and nephew hold more in common than they think, different though they are; they both loved Livi’s mother, Sheila, and they both felt their worlds crumble when she was gone. But while Livi was a child and lost his innocence, Bard chose to run away instead of stay at the boy’s side. It’s no wonder Livi hates him, though his reactions are immature and unfair toward Nike (not unusual for his age though).
Still, it’s understandable that Bard would want to run away. It isn’t particularly brave or strong of him, but human beings have their moments of weakness and sadness, and while Livi chose one extreme to deal with his pain, Bard chose another to escape both his cruel memories and Livi’s growing darkness. Painful as it is for them both, it’s Nike who sees that they both want to make up, even if Livi doesn’t realize it. It’s Nike who plays arbitrator and places herself in the middle, helping them face each other and finally talk it out. It’s moments like that that make Nike really shine as an empathetic character, not just as someone who understands, but someone who takes action and gives it her all to see it through. It’s obvious why Livi is smitten with her, and why she seems to charm just about everyone, the newly reinstated prime minister Bard included. I like their dynamic, somewhere between friends and family, and I look forward to seeing more of it as we head toward the final arc of the anime.
「雨の公国」 (Ame no Kōkoku)
“The Rain Duchy”
ALERT: my fangirl senses are tingling.
Or squealing. Whatever you prefer. It seems as if the series is going to be ending on this arc, and though that makes me a bit sad, it makes a lot of sense to end there. Still, we have three episodes to look forward to, so it’s not time to feel melancholic yet.
Moving from the Sun Kingdom, we finally get to see Nike’s side of things when she and Livi rush to the Rain Duchy after news that Nike’s grandmother has fallen ill. In true Soreseka fashion, however, it turns out that she only strained her back and, more menacingly, that she’s out to reclaim Nike from matrimony to Livi. It’s not yet clear why that is so, but it definitely looks like she means business, even as Livi and Nike begin settling in, both in the Rain Duchy and with each other. Other than her grandmother, Nike’s family seems welcoming and thrilled to have Livi as a plaything, and their quirky hospitality serves as a lovely backdrop to the budding relationship at the heart of the story.
Beginning as an arranged marriage, we’ve seen Nike and Livi move through several stages already. The older sister and spoiled brother with maternal undertones, the friendliness between two individuals learning to get along, the stirrings of true attraction and comfort with one another. Now, however, the King and Queen are starting to really fall in love, fulfilling the old saying that arranged marriages are about learning to fall in love after the fact. It’s really nice to see these two get to this point, especially since their relationship has almost always been charming beyond belief before. The kisses in this series had always been initiated by Livi (a mischievous move by a young boy, attempting to lay claim to a wife older than he), but now it’s Nike who is acting, and not by any need to show anything but true affection. Though Livi definitely cared for Nike and Nike reciprocated that, it is not until this moment that the word love really seems to apply perfectly; there is no political undertone, no need to prove anything. Just love.
Of course, things aren’t going to stay lighthearted for the next few episodes, even if Nike’s sisters and people other than her grandmother and Kitra seem to support the union. Nevertheless, I’m fairly pleased with the way things are being handled; rushed or cliched, there is still good heart at the center of this little story, and I’m very happy to be watching it.
Note: Apologies for late posts these last few weeks. A family member has been in the hospital and things are very hard for me at the moment. I have finally gotten a little breathing room, but in case things go south from here, I just want to let my readers be warned that as a result of emergency, lateness may occur this week as well. I am very sorry about this, and I hope to see things get better from here on.