Sekai Seifuku – Episode 11

Alright, very behind, but here I am. The last two weeks have done a tremendous amount of work in pulling this show’s threads together – family, identity, childhood, belief, it’s all lining up and it’s all working great. The Neverland the main characters have inhabited is falling apart under the disapproving gaze of Asuta’s father, and pretty much everyone is fighting back in their own way. Kate’s dream has powered Zvezda’s belief so far, and last episode featured each member of the team in turn sacrificing themselves in service of that belief. On the one hand, this was very generous of them, and demonstrated how much the members of this family care about each other. But on the other, none of them really had a choice – as the Chief glibly stated, he’s only done what promised the greatest chance of survival. All of these characters have been thrown away, but up until last week, Asuta didn’t realize this – he thought he still had power, thought he held the trump card of still being valued. That’s not the case anymore – he is a member of Zvezda through and through, reviled by the real world and given purpose only by the girl who believes he has value in spite of all evidence to the contrary.

Girls, actually. Renge also believes he has value, and unlike Asuta, Renge actually deserted a family that truly valued her. White Light may have lost its purpose and surrendered itself to power for power’s own sake, but it still had a job for White Robin. In abandoning that, Renge may have made the first act of willful rebellion against the defamilyzing status quo – she’s not a misfit, she’s a beacon. That’s interesting, but I honestly hope it’s not relevant – what would it say if the people this inhuman structure valued really were more valuable? Better to be valued by Kate, who sees purpose in everyone, than to be the favorite child of callous, unfeeling parents. Better Zvezda by far.

Alright, that’s enough rambling. I like this show, you guys. Let’s see where it goes next.

Episode 11

0:05 – Guess we’re starting in Neverland this week

Sekai Seifuku

0:11 – That’s pretty great. Her childish dream can only be dreamt by a child. Her confidence is her power and her curse

0:35 – Man, this show just nails its tone. Kind of dreamy, kind of creepy, capturing the whimsy and also the strange menace of storybook fables. The future she dreams into existence before her dissolves into dust as she passes

It’s a damn shame about the sleazy outfits. This is probably a show I’d recommend to a whole bunch of people if not for that. Damn anime shooting itself in the foot

2:34 – A generic apartment block with bars on the windows and a “No Trespassing” sign” – what our heroes have been reduced to. Compare that to Zvezda HQ, which was full of personality and loudly declared “Zvezda” right on its front stoop. Something that was great for a gag, but also struck at something more fundamental – that place clearly labeled itself a home

3:26 – This show really values its family meals

Sekai Seifuku

5:11 – Again, few shows can pull off this very strange mood. The Chief episode was another great example of it – it’s a series of ridiculous events, but it somehow sells it. There’s a lot of sadness in this show

6:14 – Nice line. A lot of this show centers on how the world devalues the honest experiences of the young – Natasha’s backstory was heavy with this, and Kate brings it up all the time

6:31 – Jeez, look who’s acting all adult now

6:54 – Man, all the great details. Kate plays at being the tough criminal, Itsuka pays for the damn bananas

Sekai Seifuku

7:18 – Adulthood’s a state of mind, dude

8:32 – The best tree fort

9:34 – And again. Jeez, this scene is heartless

11:54 – Really? Doesn’t seem possible his story would end here, but…

11:57 – Trying so hard to keep it impersonal

Sekai Seifuku

12:25 – Pretty great bit. Another piece of casual mockery, and “I’ve never been good at talking to a camera” is rich coming from the guy who’s trying to remove the personal element from all interactions

13:28 – The opposite of Kate. He says “you can do what you want,” but actually demands total loyalty, while Kate talks of conquering while granting her subjects any freedom they desire

13:34 – The shittiest dad

14:46 – Man, this show really understands the sentiments it’s playing off of

Sekai Seifuku

14:52 – And again, she’s the only one with a life to go back to

15:08 – Hah, that guy was the leader of West Udogawa. And again, the importance of family meals. He’s a far cry from “meals together are seasoned with the spice of conversation”

15:54 – Something Kate rejects. If your subjects are your family, you’ll never be alone. And if your family become your subjects, you have nowhere left to turn. So maybe his father’s as isolated as he made Asuta feel

17:07 – Again a direct mirror, going all the way back to the first episode. “He’s just a stuffed doll, Dva. You are irreplaceable.”

Man, this show’s so good

Sekai Seifuku

17:55 – Yasu’s impression of what adults look like is pretty sad

19:16 – He’s still young, but his new family have given him the power to become his own man. He’s not sure who he is yet, but he has the chance to learn

19:25 – Bingo. Whoever he turns out to be, he knows they’ll love him. Giving someone the confidence to believe that is what family is all about

19:47 – We’ve come a long way from that one misunderstandings episode

20:38 – It may seem embarrassing, but just go with it. They love you for it

Sekai Seifuku

20:53 – Keep at it, Renge. Boys aren’t so good about this stuff

22:25 – Fair point

And Done

Ahhh, that was lovely. Great episode in a great last stretch of a great show. I was actually getting a little misty-eyed in that last Asuta section there – I don’t know why anime has decided to get so specifically good at telling stories about the importance of family, but these last three seasons have been kind of killing it that way. A strong tone of loss and despair that slowly morphed into Jimon’s confidence and pride, an endless parade of great reflections and parallels with ideas raised throughout the show, and a centering of all the pieces just in time for the grand finale. Sekai Seifuku, you are carrying this season across the finish line whether it likes it or not.

15 thoughts on “Sekai Seifuku – Episode 11

  1. I’m so conflicted on how I feel about this show. On one hand I think it’s the best new anime to come out of the winter season but on the other hand I just don’t think I’m “getting” it. I like the crazy world that’s within it and I like the characters and the story just fine but it’s hard to connect with. I thought it might be due to how crazy the world is, but I absolutely adored Kyousougiga last season and that was also a family themed show set in a bizarre world. Maybe I should give this a rewatch in the future.

    Asuta’s dad is goddamn hilarious though. What a wonderful villain.

    • I can definitely understand not clicking with this show. It might be a tone thing – a lot of what impresses me in this show are little details of scene-setting, dialogue, and other details, which makes it feel “real” in a very specific, fable-ish way to me. All the craziness of the world actually makes it feel kind of specifically honest to me, because it’s more honest to how a child views the world around them.

      • It’s funny, because while I thought Kyousougiga was beautiful, and occasionally soulful, it ultimately left me kind of cold because it was just so goddamned convoluted that even the people making the show seemed to feel the need to produce episodes at both the middle and the end of the show to help explain what the hell was going on.

        Sekai Seifuku, on the other hand, is sort of like a nursery rhyme. Whimsical, a little bit silly, but with a real purpose and meaning for those able to see through the “nonsense.”

        One of the qualities I think people underestimate in anime – perhaps because it’s “just cartoons” – is how many of the very best works are drenched in a sort of beautiful melancholy that transcends whatever comedy, drama or action they’re presenting on the surface.

        The most obvious example being Madoka Magica, but I would argue that personal favorites like Cowboy Bebop, Hyouka, Ghost in the Shell and even something as outwardly light as Cardcaptor Sakura all possess rich stories limned with the deep melancholy of human experience. As the tagline from Kino’s Journey goes, “The world is not a beautiful place; therefore it is.”

        All of my pontificating and name-checking aside, as we near the end of Sekai Seifuku, I think it has a chance to be a really special show.

        • Totally agreed on that pervasive sense of melancholy in many of the best shows. There’s just something inherently beautiful in a show recognizing the ephemeral, ambiguous nature of life, and I feel shows that don’t at least acknowledge this ambiguity generally don’t feel “true” to me. The happy moments only have meaning in a world that also acknowledges sadness.

  2. 2:34: I think the bars are primarily for safety, to stop people from accidentally falling out of wide-open windows. Of course the show could be using them for symbolic value as well; I don’t think we’ve seen similar safety bars on windows before in the show.

    • I’d guess they’re intended as safety bars, considering they don’t go up to the top of the windows. But yeah, I think the choice of this specific building with these specific features works well.

  3. Great write up.

    Also loved the political jabs, the cold world of adults where dreams die. When he started talking about mascot and random silly nonsense to divert the public eye on the real big issue was hilarious (and sad that it works exactly that way) and that last screen shot in your write up 22:25, honesty is family and friendship stuff real adults enjoy the x-treme. I also really liked that ”kids arent fooled that easily” line as you pointed out. Really enjoying the stuff this show is linking trough its themes.

    It keeps getting better.

    • Yeah, the last three episodes have each really ramped up in quality and thematic coherence. I’m very excited to see how it ends.

  4. “It’s a damn shame about the sleazy outfits. This is probably a show I’d recommend to a whole bunch of people if not for that. Damn anime shooting itself in the foot.”

    Such a true statement. However, if Sekai Seifuku ends strongly enough on the side of promoting family, I might recommend it regardless. They don’t spend too much time in the outfits, and unlike some shows I’ve seen (coughIScough), Sekai Seifuku doesn’t use the camera to accentuate their outfits, at least not that I can remember. They are sort of just what they wear, that that’s how it is.

    I wonder if the very adult styled outfits could be paralleled to some sort of idea of kids playing at being adults…

    • Yeah, though it’s giving rise to some… disturbing readings. I had an extended discussion on a forum arguing with someone who claimed that Renge’s “I’ve been rejected” line meant she accepted that Asuta was in love with Kate – as Kate clearly is the “main girl”. Wut. I said that made no sense in the context of the show and would have looked outright creepy to most viewers, but apparently I’m a “prude” who needs to “embrace anime more”.

      • Well, I’ve been called a prude (and worse) for my heavy criticism of ImoCho. So I feel ya.

        I don’t think Asuta is in love with Kate; he definitely has feelings for Renge. But Kate is family to Asuta. Renge, while Asuta has romantic feelings towards her, is not.

        Renge isn’t fully Zvezda yet. She may have rejected White Light, but she hasn’t embraced the concept of world conquest at this point. That puts her on the outside, do some degree, in this final battle. I’m interested to see if she continues to ride the fence or if she fully commits to Zvezda’s side.

        • Yeah, I’m pretty sure (let’s say… 99% sure) that Asuta is just loyal towards what Zvezda means, AND protective of Kate, who’s like a little sister to him. I mean, she’s probably centuries old yadda yadda but come on, he piggybacked her around.
          The last 1% tells me that maybe there’s some piece of WTFuckery brewing that I haven’t been able to see due to wishful thinking. I seriously hope that’s not the case. If it is, I’ll just burn this series from my memories and never speak of it again.

          • Due to what we’ve seen this far, I’m not too worried about them totally screwing things up in the last two episodes. Whoever is writing this has clearly planned out this storyline, and it really shows up in the excellence of the structure.

    • Yeah, Sekai Seifuku is fortunately very neutral in its camera use, outside of some questionable stuff in that one regrettable tentacle-monster episode.

      I do think the “kids playing at adults” point is intentional. Their outfits look like “clothes for grownups,” not like thinks actual adults would wear. The former White Light members are much better at looking like actual adults, whereas Yasu is pretty bad at it.

      • (honestly, I thought the tentacle monster thing was kinda funny, if a bit raunchy, in the fact that it reversed roles and had Dva being the molested one. Said this, yeah, that was not the… classiest gag Zvezda has pulled, not by far)

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