Reviewing shows like The World is Still Beautiful is a tad awkward. I mean, we’re talking about a supposed romance between a late teen/early twenty year old chick and a boy who is around fourteen or fifteen (ages are hazy in most shows these days). Even though nothing really happens, it’s still weird, uncomfortable and yet… surprisingly acceptable by most anime fans’ standards (very few commentors, for example, seemed that concerned about this point). Which is worrisome. After all, it’s not just about age laws. If it were, people could try defending it by saying the worlds in the shows are fiction or a different time, ect (a shaky argument in attempting to “ok” something most find instinctually wrong). But the real issue comes down to mentality/life goals. And that doesn’t just mean maturity, either. Most people have very different life goals at various stages of life. A teen, for example, is going to be interested in very different things than a late twenty/early thirty year old. One might be looking forward to adventures in a state they’ve never been in. The other might just want some days off to take some naps and get more reading done (ps – I have indeed noticed that the way people react to these things in anime is worlds apart from how they react to it in real life. That is a separate issue).
While the sun king often acts like a young man in a child’s body, having conquered and destroyed entire kingdoms during his short reign, it’s still an odd situation. Both come from very different places, both physically and emotionally. Although it’s not impossible for a healthy relationship to be had through this, is does put a huge block in the way.
But this all got me thinking. What if the roles were reversed? Like, what about far older guys going after (and marrying) younger girls? The idea itself tends to be more repulsive to anime fans, yet anime itself has tooootally crossed this line before. Let’s look at two of them.
Y’all have heard some manner of this rant somewhere on this site. Nearing the end of the show, the lead male Angelic Player (the only one you see more than once, really), falls for the heroine. Which is to be expected, right? Expect that he’s a high schooler and she had just started middle school. Meaning she had just left elementary school. Plus there was the very real possibility of his brother marrying her sister. Which would make this guy her uncle. Uuuuugh, so many levels of NO. And yet, I rarely see anyone commenting on this oddity. In fact, most fans just pair them up like it’s no big deal.
You smelt its approach, right? Now in the old school English dub, a looot was changed to make the show more easily acceptable. One of those things was to make Usagi (Serina in the dub) a high schooler. This made her relationship with Mamoru (Darien in the dub), who was assumed to be in his last year of high school heading towards college, a bit more reasonable. But that’s not the original ages. As the re-release subtitles of the old show reveals (and lovers of the manga should already know), Usagi is really a middle schooler around fourteen or so (what’s up with middle schools?) and Mamoru is… a high schooler going onto college? Ok, so this guy’s every day life doesn’t seem to be very well explained, but the point remains. He’s just too old for her. He’s looking forward to study abroad and she, well, she’s still not even sure how to pass her classes, let alone what she wants to do with her life. When you really think about it, Mr. Darien is a total creeper. An adult creeper going after a middle schooler. NO!
Of course, I realize that once one does the math, three or four years, in the long run, doesn’t usually affect things too much. A thirty-one year old and a thirty-seven year old have enough in common to perhaps make it work. And you could always say that personality has more to do with compatibility than anything. And that’s not untrue, but that certainly doesn’t override all the factors a serious age gap brings up either. It’s just a bit unnerving to see that these relationships doesn’t really make many think twice.
And I still wonder how well The World is Still Beautiful would have done were the genders reversed…