セカイ系[sekaikei]

August 27, 2007 at 2:58 pm (otaku word)

noyuuutsu1301lg

 There’s often an old saying; if the heroine is such a cute girl who is bound by an outrageous fortune, and a helpless boy has to watch over her, the storyline should be classified as セカイ系[sekaikei]. I don’t know why sekai is written in katakana, not in kanji, 世界, but this 世界 seems to mean not only this whole world, but a small world between the two persons. Or else, such a tiny thought of the heroine. Two persons are mostly, as I have said, a girl and a boy.

 Generally, it is said that a tiny relationship between the two persons would lead to such an outrageous catastrophy in セカイ系 works. This “catastrophy” naturally means an intensive space war, invasion by ailens, or Armageddon…yes, the end of the world. Having said that, in such a storyline, any real global institution such as SDF seldom shows up. Just such a protagonist mostly causes a big trouble with her(?) thoughts or behavior, and it might lead to the end of the world. In other words, whatever happens is up to the protagonist.

 In this genre,  all the fate depends on a heroine, and a hero ends up watching over her. He is so helpless for the upcoming crisis, but the person who can save(and the world?) her is none other than him although he is such a wimp. Of course, there are some other characters who can help them, but the two seems to be isolated somehow even though all of them exist in the same timeline and the space. Especially when such a crisis breaks out.  The protagonist seems to be “her,” but the real one could be “him” who always watches over her. 

 As I have said, the protagonist’s thoughts and behavior could control this whole world, so the story often goes with his/her narrative monologue. Because anything out of the protagonist’s interest is another “world.” So speaking of セカイ系 works, I can think of The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi, ほしのこえ[The voices of a distant star], Evangelion, and 最終兵器彼女[She, The Ultimate Weapon]. I assume the reason why we have so many love stories in this genre is, that it’s easier to make it since the story just focuses on the boy and the girl.

 However, having not decided the generalized definition, this term got common somehow…so even now, most people seem to be confused with this. I yet to investigate more, so if you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask more.

13 Comments

  1. Avplaya said,

    Another post so fast!

    You know the first thing I thought about once you mentioned the meaning of セカイ系 is 成恵の世界. It seemed that would qualify as a sekaikei no? I wonder if the name has anything to do with the series.. how old was this saying? ^^ Nah, that series is not that popular to have created a new term.

    I personally love seikaikei series… because usually the powerful girl is a tsundere and I love tsunderes. Also women with power to change the world is rare in the sexist Western entertainment… but quite common in the Japanese world. A homage back to the Jomon days when women were rulers, perhaps?

    By the way, it’s “There’s often an old saying”, if that’s what you meant.. ^^;;

  2. Neohybrid_kai said,

    I see, I think a catch the point. But does sekai-kei story has to be related with a bigger crisis like war or end of the world? Because I think that “the small world between the two persons” is what more important. I mean, can a story which tells about two people relationship like “Byousoku 5cm” can be considered as sekai-kei? (I hope you can cath my question ^^)

    @ Avplaya
    haha, I agree with your opinion about tsundere. I love tsundere girls too.

  3. w said,

    Thanks for this post! It’s so fast… hm, I think I get what you mean about the person’s thoughts defining the whole world. Is it like – you get so caught up in the viewpoint of the characters that you kind of forget what others think or what would happen outside of it (apart from the obligatory organisation that keeps things running or provides a plot point) Would something like Haibane Renmei (灰羽連盟) count, I wonder? Or serial experiments lain (or is that more denpa or something)

  4. bangin said,

    Avplaya-san: Let’s see…Narue is such an awesome girl who is a half-blooded alien, isn’t she? And there’s also a helpless boy. If Narue’s thoughts and behavior could change the whole world whereas she is not sure about that, this anime could be labeled as sekai-kei.🙂

    Hehe, I love tsundere girls, so that means such powerful girls can be seen in sekai-kei genre. Yes, it’s nothing to do with tsndere, but we have a bit similar word, 鬼嫁(oni yome). She must be like…Lady Macbeth? Women are becoming stronger than ever here…Personally, I think it’s a good thing.

    Oh! Thank you for correcting my English! I’ll correct it now.🙂

    Neohybrid_kai: Well, in this genre, the protagonist usually seems to be stuck on his/her own universe.:) In Byousoku 5cm, the story focuses on the two persons, but I think they are not so obsessed with their thoughts, I mean, Takaki and Akari seem to think about each other for a long time, but they also realize how many things happen to them and what is going on around them. And it changes each way of the two somehow…So personally, I don’t think this anime is sekai-kei.

    w-dono: Let’s see…yes, I think Haibane Renmei could be. Each has a reason why he/she came back as a haibane. But they are not sure of it, and we are not told what the place is supposed to mean, and we don’t know whether even they are sure of it or not. Perhaps, it’s not so important for them…I suppose so. They are given a life, and aim at somewhere until they disappear…what are their “being”? What are they doing? Are they sure about that? Such universal questions would keep that anime being as sekai-kei…

  5. Avplaya said,

    Isn’t one of the requirement for seikai-kei a helpless boy though? If that’s the case I don’t know if Haibane Renmei or LAIN could be counted in the genre. I’d think the interaction between the super-powered girl and the useless boy is the key to such a series, that the world between them is the only one that matters. Is that the case ban-dono?

    As for Narue… she’s just an poor half-alien girl… I don’t think she has powers to change the world though.. power for home runs maybe… So this won’t qualify since in seikai-kei the girl must have super powers unknown to herself?

  6. khursten said,

    Whooa… I rarely see animes like this. Or mangas for that matter. That strong heroine and that loser boy and world catastrophe. This must be a guy or an akiba-kei fantasy, ne? I hope I wasn’t too rude to say that, but that is my impression. ^^;; A girl who would do anything and everything to save that useless boy, even if it meant going against the tides of fate. Something like “You and me against the world!”

    I rarely see shoujo mangas who have this same theme with heroines (since you said that this usually has female leads). In shoujo mangas, the guy is always strong enough at least to protect the girl. lol. But I guess the sekai-kei has a bit of its merits…

    … for example, when the girl is pushed to her limits and finds it hard to fight anymore, the boy would try to do anything to protect her, even if he knows that what he tries is rather pointless or useless. >3 Ahh~ so romantic. lol. but of course, this is a girl talking. lol. Sometimes, a dameotoko has their own merits. ^^;;

  7. bangin said,

    Avplaya-san: I know what you mean, that is the most controvertial point. Well, in general, most people would think of a powerful girl and a useless boy who happen to hold the fate for the universe such as Suzumiya Haruhi and Kyon. However, the definition of sekai-kei has not been syncronized yet even though it has been common for anime fans. So some people are against this thought. They would think that sekai-kei means everything else outside what the protagonist sees, hears, thinks, and feels. Such the protagonist is, sorry for saying like this, self-centered. Not knowing how self-centered they are, they see things with their own sense. In other words, such is a little world. Sekai-kei would imply such two worlds…that’s some people who deny the general definition insist. So if we see anime with the general thought, Haibane Renmei wouldn’t count as sekai-kei.

    In the Narue anime, we can see some organizations such as wakusei nihon kansatsuchou…and how they work, can’ t we? And she doesn’t have such an awesome power…Those couldn’t possibly prove this anime is sekai-kei.

    khursten: Yes, sekai-kei would be also said, キミとボク系(kimi to boku kei, “You and me”). I agree, most shoujo manga fans would prefer such a strong guy who can protect the heroine. However, some akibakeis would prefer such a strong girl who can lead the protagonist boy. Yes, such fans have tsundere-moe. Ah! It’s me! ^^

  8. w said,

    Yuya-san is such a ドM that I don’t know what to say…

    I think it’s too limiting to say that sekai-kei *must* be a powerful girl and useless boy though. There’s not many like that really, and then where would you put stuff like Haibane Renmei anyway…
    Another anime that came to my mind was Phantom Memory Kurau. Gosh, the main characters are pretty much occupied in each other and their little world of Rynax and whatever that you kind of forgot the others existed for a while… but evidently this is not sekai-kei at all (I googled for the terms and got practically nothing)

    I suppose this sekai-kei classification is linked to the whole idea of 自己中 and maybe a little bit of escapism…

  9. bangin said,

    Yes, in many ways, 自己中 thoughts must be the core of this genre. I believe that would be the common key to this mysterious door.

    If I get judged, I must be a ドM. Oh God, that’s what so many people have told me. orz

  10. Neohybrid_kai said,

    khursten: I see your point, I find that romantic too ^^; “you and me against the world”, I have that kind of vibe too when talking about sekai-kei.
    Personally, I like sekai-kei because I think a story with a strong guy to begin is not interesting, I prefer watching a weak person who gets stronger as the story moves to protect the girl.

    And Byousoku 5 cm maybe not a sekai-kei but I think Kumo no Mukou Yakusoku no Bashou is quite a sekai-kei, with Sayuri’s consciousness and its relation with the world.

    bangin: ah, we know that all tsundere’s fans are ドM to begin with, lol. btw, what is 自己中 anyway? ^^

  11. bangin said,

    Yes, it could be. Also, it is generally said that, (I forgot the title) Iriya no…UFO no…something like that might be sekai-kei.

    自己中(jikochuu) is an abbreviation of 自己中心的(jikochuushinteki), and it means self-centered, egotistic, or such a thought and behavior. ^^

  12. Omonomono » Otakon 2009: Yamakan Panel 1 Dump said,

    […] Seikai-kei, does that apply to your […]

  13. Omonomono » Crumbling Wall of Normalcy in OreImo said,

    […] OreImo for all the right reasons! It speaks more to me than Genshiken has ever; it even insulted sekaikei anime fans! I cannot get enough of that. Posted by omo in Modern Visual Culture, Ore no Imouto ga […]

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