Would you use pessimism as an excuse to not change the world? Takeru does. He’s a lazy teenager who thinks that crimes and wars will always happen and there’s nothing he can do to change things, so why bother? Well, that’s what he tells himself but all that’s about to change when a beautiful girl crashes into his life. And not just any girl, she’s an alien too. One day whilst Takeru and his best friend Ryou are making a courier delivery, they see a shooting star which suddenly crashes into a nearby forest. Upon closer inspection this turns out to be Hikari, the beautiful alien girl and from here on in, Takeru’s life changes forever.
Hikari’s presence causes much anxiety and jealousy among Takeru’s school friends and relatives. Mari, Takeru’s cousin in particular has a strong disliking for their alien house guest. Even Ryou gets his own alien girl, Akari, who really incurs the wrath of Kimi, his younger sister. It’s the younger girls who cause much friction and deliver some cracking one liners. Whilst around the other teenagers Hikari is pretty and cute but there is one moment in this volume where you see a slightly darker Hikari. With only a glint of wickedness in her eyes betraying that perhaps she’s not what everyone seems to think she is, but for now, we don’t learn any more.
There is an enjoyable cast of characters and Takeru’s school friends and relatives have no problem telling him what a lazy guy he is. Its actually amusing watching them poke fun at him. Takeru is quick to judge his uncle who runs a low key courier service for not having any ambition, even though he lacks initiative himself. Ryou makes an interesting point saying, “Maybe spending all your time getting ahead isn’t the best thing.” And it’s at these thoughtful gems that This Ugly Yet Beautiful World genuinely sparkles. Takeru himself feels he has never done anything worthwhile in his life but perhaps Takeru has always been easy going because he’s never had anything to be motivated about. Until now, that is.
Takeru proclaims “I’ll protect you” to Hikari, but with the naivety of youth, he is ill prepared to handle such a responsibility, especially when they are attacked by a large alien monster. Even Ryou makes a point to say she isn’t his responsibility and that if it’s too much to handle, he could back out. But looking into Hikari’s doe eyes, it’s not surprising which choice he makes. When asked about why she came to earth, Hikari says it was because she was lonely and this strikes a chord with Takeru who was abandoned as a child.
He’s not the only one to suffer such sadness. Both Ryou and Kimi lost their parents and are now living off their parent’s inheritance. In the face of adversity, these kids are surprisingly tough. Take Kimi, she is not consumed by self pity at the loss of her parents, more so she is determined with a remarkable inner strength. It’s Akari that points out, even if it’s just the two of them, they are still a family and it’s these heart-felt comments that genuinely surprised me.
On the surface, This Ugly Yet Beautiful World, can easily appear to be just a sci-fi inspired high school comedy with a slightly cheeky rom-com flavour. But dig a little deeper and there are some thoughtful moments – what it means to protect someone, what a family really is and what it takes to be a part of this world. However these moments are few and far between, which is a real shame, because coming from the same studio who made Neon Genesis Evangelion, expectations are high.
When you compare This Ugly Yet Beautiful World to Evangelion, it can only suffer in comparison, there are few animes that can match that standard. But given a chance, I’m sure this series will surprise quite a few Evangelion fans further into the series.