# Conquered (Sekai Seifuku review)
Few studios are less consistent than A1 Pictures. Who would believe that the artsy, provocative *Shinsekai Yori* came from the same place as the pedestrian *Space Brothers* - and those are notionally shows from the same genre. Aside from high-quality animation (a legacy of their days as part of Kyoto Animation), it's not at all clear what A1 stands for.
*Sekai Seifuku: Bōryaku no Zvezda* is a microcosm of this confusion. The plot sounds like a five-minute joke - eleven-year-old wants to conquer the world - and said girl's outfit makes it an awkward show to watch in public. But the series packs in a surprising amount of character development and some genuinely touching drama - and it isn't afraid to go to some quite dark places at times. The last time I was this kind of surprised was playing *Yume Miru Kisuri*, when the girl dances under the stars and we start to wonder whether she could really be a fairy. Kate's backstory is no less implausible - we see a brief sequence of her being annointed by the pseudo-aztec "ancient west udogawa civilization" - though the resolution is somewhat different.
Even such throwaway scenes are carefully put together, and connect in ways that suggest a coherent world behind it all. The udogawa civilization built an "udo reactor" - described with a blackboard full of plausible-looking QM calculations - which ties into Roboko and Natalia's backstory. Kate's anti-smoking crusade in episode 3 initially seems like a one-off episodic plot, but ties directly into the finale - as well as revealing parts of Gorou's history that link to his episode. There's some truth to the criticism that this is a rushed show - or rather, there are too many characters for a series of this length, and the desire to give each their own arc means they're crammed in, often receiving only half an episode each. But the result is a world that's positively overflowing with threads that beg to be explored - what else happened to Gorou and Yasu? What has Kate seen in the millenia since she began to work on this? - and feels all the more real for it.
The breakneck pace also helps the comedy - make no mistake, this is a very funny series. On paper it's simple stuff - the ridiculous premise played wonderfully straight, secret identity fun and games (the evil world conquest plot and the superheroes who counter them wear masks that are mirror images, played most effectively in the hot springs episode), Yasu's grandstanding episode previews that tell us more about his character than anything else. But I laughed out loud more than for any anime I can remember - and at the same time I truly cared about the characters and their problems. Of all the series I've been watching, it was this that I looked forward to every week.
Maybe the lesson is that, just as great writing is rewriting, great anime is great production. Certainly the fantastic opening, ending and even ad break sequences primed me for something good, and the art style may not be particularly adventuerous (aside from that ending sequence) but it's consistently very detailed and pretty (and a number of set-pieces with hundreds of multicoloured ball-creatures stampeding in different directions seem designed to the animation off). And the visual effects on Kate's world-conquering fist are dazzling - though, perhaps because of the animation cost, she uses it all too rarely.
Or perhaps this world really is a work of (demented) genius, a latter-day Tolkien blending myth and legend with '90s sentai and somehow merging it all perfectly with the present anime zeitgeist.
Whatever it is, I really enjoyed *Sekai Seifuku*. Newcomers to the medium might be put off by the costuming and general wackiness, but for anyone who will understand the tropes (ugh) they're playing with, I highly recommend this show.
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