Created By: KuroBaraHime on February 7, 2012 Last Edited By: KuroBaraHime on February 3, 2013

Sekaikei Story

A romance running parallel to a world catastrophe.

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This is part of a TRS to repair the existing trope Sekaikei Genre. It is being sent here to be clarified and garner examples.


Sekaikei (セカイ系; World Connection) is a Japanese phrase for a type of story. It's never been properly defined, but the basics are this.

Some world catastrophe is going on, generally apocalyptic in nature, whether a world war, an alien invasion, or something else. In the middle of this, we have focus on a specific community, usually a school, to show daily life. And in this, we have a focus on two main characters and their relationship. The two characters also have a direct connection to the world crisis, usually fighting somehow to save the world. Generally, the main character (usually a boy) starts powerless and is not directly involved in the crisis, but meets the the Love Interest (usually a girl) who is and he decides to join to help her. The relation and crisis run parallel to each other, as tensions rise in one plot, so does in the other, and the climax and resolution of both plots (whether in involves the world/humanity being saved or being destroyed/wiped out) happen at the same time.

While the relationship between the main characters is the focus, the story generally works on 3 levels.

  • The 'foreground', of the two characters relationship (You and I).
  • The 'middle-groud', of the surrounding society.
  • The 'background', of the cataclysm affecting the world as a whole.

Those are the most important parts. Also, if the world is destroyed/humanity wiped out, generally the couple will survive, invoking an Adam and Eve feel. That isn't necessary though.

Examples:

  • Neon Genesis Evangelion is believed to be a prototype of this concept. While Shinji wasn't in any real relationship, the story focuses on the characters' relationships, with the normal school life as the middle-ground, and the battle against the angels as the backdrop.
  • Saikano is a very good example. The only variation from the norm is that the male protagonist gains no power.
  • Eureka Seven, another good example.
  • This Ugly Yet Beautiful World
  • Kannazuki no Miko, with the twist that the relationship is between two girls. Himeko (the 'boy') and Chikane's (the 'girl') relationship is the foreground, school life is the middle-ground, and the fight against Yamata no Orochi is the background.
  • Voices of a Distant Star, the relationship between Mikako and Noboru is the foreground, the alien war they fight in is the background.
  • Earth Maiden Arjuna
  • Change 123
  • Immortal Regis
  • Shakugan no Shana
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica may count as another Girls Love example with Madoka and Homura in the foreground, the rest of the characters in the middle-ground, and the battle against witches in the background. Notably, Madoka seems fit to be the 'boy' of the relation as she is powerless through most of the story, and Homura would be the 'girl'. But considering the original timeline, the opposite may be more appropriate.
  • The Ga-Rei manga toss the role of "boy" and "girl" like volleyballs, but eventually it's between Kagura and Yomi.
  • Blue Drop, a human girl and an alien girl. It didn't end well.
  • The second Drakengard game.


Community Feedback Replies: 34
  • February 8, 2012
    Heatth
    The catastrophe need to happen before the story or it can be during it?

    Suzumiya Haruhi's climax of the first book is a The End Of The World As We Know It caused by Haruhi herself and stopped by the main character and his relationship with her (something similar happened in the 11th book as well). I am pretty sure it is an example, right? At last for some stories.

    As for Chobits. Again, the climax (of the manga, at last) involved an "apocalypse"(actually it was just the persocons stopping working, but the story totally treated it as the end of the world, with proper visuals too) caused by the relationship of the two main characters. I believe it counts as an example as well.
  • February 8, 2012
    KuroBaraHime
    Not sure. The fact that this not totally defined gives it some leeway for interpretation as to what counts. I suppose if the case can be made it fits the description. Though, the world problem should be something that happens through most of the story, especially all of it, not just the climax. Chobits (which I haven't watched/read) sounds more like it's only the climax, and not really an apocalypse, just treated as such.

    Though, by apocalypse, we generally mean anything that could kill all or most people, not necessarily the actual end of the world.
  • February 8, 2012
    Lumpenprole
    I haven't seen it so I don't know, but would Melancholia count?

  • February 8, 2012
    Koveras
    If this is not limited to anime, manga and other Japanese media, it probably shouldn't have a half-Japanese title.
  • February 8, 2012
    KuroBaraHime
    Well, the name and definition was thought up by Japanese anime fans. You're free to try and come up with a good English equivalent.

    Anyway, I've thought about and I've decided it needs two important things for it by a Sekaikei Story. Here's basically the guidelines to if something counts.

    1. It needs to show those 3 layers of the world. The foreground of the 2 characters' relationship (usually romantic, but not necessarily). The middle-ground of the characters around them (optimally, this is some community like a school to show a daily life). And a background of the world events.

    2. The foreground and background's plots need to have about matching dramatic structure. As in, they need to have tensions rise, a climax, and resolution. As about the same time. So the world event needs to start early in the story, optimally, before the story starts or right at the beginning.
  • February 8, 2012
    ccoa
    Some of the examples are still Zero Context. They could use more explanation of how they fit.

    Do you think Persona 3 is an example? Although it's up to the player whether the main character returns her feelings, it's pretty obvious from the game that Yukari has feelings for him and The Answer post game content makes her as close to the official love interest as anyone comes. Yukari is already involved in SEES at the time he moves to Port Island. He ends up discovering his own persona because Yukari can't bring herself to use hers, so he was protecting her as much as himself. And the game has the normal school and social interactions (which are a dating sim like game mechanic), plus the end of the world plot on the other hand.
  • February 8, 2012
    KuroBaraHime
    I think you'd need to know quite a bit about the series to decide if it counts, and unfortunately, I don't know much about most of these series, and it can be hard to tell why they were added just looking at a description.

    As for Persona 3, it definitely has the "middle-ground" and "background", but I'm not sure if the MC or his relations to Yukari was developed enough to really count.
  • February 8, 2012
    ccoa
    Whether or not it develops is really up to the player, which is why I was uncertain if it counts. However, you do get unavoidable relationship moments with Yukari more than the other female party members, such as when she breaks down at the beach house.

    In theory, the girl in the boy + girl could be any of the female SEES members, because you can develop a romantic relationship with one or all of them throughout the course of the game.

    I suppose what you can say is that if the player plays the game and maxes out Yukari's social link (or, alternatively, Mitsuru's or Fuka's), then it fits this story type. Otherwise, it's iffy.
  • February 8, 2012
    KTera
    I think we already have this, as Sekaikei Genre.
  • February 8, 2012
    animeg3282
    We do, but this is to clarify it.
  • February 8, 2012
    ThatHuman
    I don't think Voices Of A Distant Star counts, considering the boy never joins the girl in the war. from what I can tell, he's quite disconnected from the war, considering how far the two are from each other.
  • February 8, 2012
    KTera
    Sorry, I only skimmed the writeup. *facepalm*
  • February 8, 2012
    KuroBaraHime
    Every Japanese source on Sekaikei I've found lists Voices Of A Distant Star is and example. Whether the boy joins the fight isn't as important as whether the story focuses on their relationship in the middle of the world event. Joining the fight is just how it usually goes.

    But, I've never watched it, so someone who has is free to take it off if you don't think it counts, or clarify if you think it does.
  • February 8, 2012
    ThatHuman
    Huh, really? This thing is so, so vague. How will we differentiate between shoehorning and proper examples?
  • February 8, 2012
    KuroBaraHime
    That's something I was thinking about earlier. It can hard to tell what's a proper example or not when the definition is this vague. In fact, I tried to make it less vague than the Japanese sources' definitions.
  • February 9, 2012
    Heatth
    @Kuro Bara Hime, post 2:

    I guess, Chobits do not count then. But Suzumiya Haruhi still totally does, I believe. The 'apocalypses' only happen in the climax, yeah, but the whole point of the story is to avert said crisis to happen. It is what drives the story foward.

    @Koveras,

    You seem to be mistaken about something. This is not a trope we thought about and want to give some name. This is an existent term that we are trying to come up with a decent description. The term already exist. Of all things that can change on this article, the name is not one of them.
  • February 9, 2012
    ThatHuman
    I think Voices Of A Distant Star lacks the "middle ground" part, as in, "the society around us". I mean, the two are not even remotely in the same place.
  • February 9, 2012
    KuroBaraHime
    I think there's a lot of leeway on what counts as the "middle ground" to be honest.

    Not much else I can say though. If you watched/read it, or are at least really familiar with it, and you think it counts, add it and/or give it good explanation. You can take it off if you don't think it counts, but maybe we should wait for more good examples before we decide what really counts or not.
  • February 10, 2012
    ThatHuman
    Perhaps, each example should mention what exactly is the foreground, middle ground and background of each work? That can keep out anything that doesn't fit, no?
  • February 11, 2012
    peccantis
    Why not 世界系? Sekai is a standard word and using kana for it seems weird.
  • February 12, 2012
    Heatth
    ^I can't read what you typed. I assume you wrote 'sekai' in kanji? The reason it is in katakana is because it is how the term is written (the first word in katakana and the 'kei' in kanji). You can check on the Romance Among Disaster?
  • February 12, 2012
    animeg3282
    I'd like to at least see an english redirect...
  • February 21, 2012
    Jicragg
    I'm going by this** but isn't the whole Sekaikei thing about how a relationship could bring about the end of the world?

    Puella seems like such a shoehorn that it hurts. The fate of the world doesn't hinge on the relationship between any of the characters, which I thought was the main jist... otherwise this is just a "relationship within a war" story.

    • This is what I'm going by for definition.
  • February 21, 2012
    ThatHuman
    PMMM seems to have two characters share the girl and boy role. Yeah, feels like it fits in a sense of "vaguely a similar idea, but not any variation that's part of Playing With A Trope". I'm not really sure what should count right now.

    Also, some of these examples really need more context. I'm guessing with Shakugan No Shana the foreground is Yuji and Shana, the middle ground is the school and town, and the foreground is the main conflict.
  • March 8, 2012
    ThatHuman
    Is this still going? There hasn't been any new comments for about two weeks now.
  • March 8, 2012
    Vidor
    I'd like to cast another vote in favor of an English name for this trope unless it applies only to Japanese media. And from the description, it seems pretty clear that it does not.
  • March 8, 2012
    surgoshan
    Perhaps Love In The Ashes or something like that?
  • March 8, 2012
    Vidor
    Love In The Ashes is pretty good.
  • March 21, 2012
    Westrim
    nump
  • March 23, 2012
    ThatHuman
    I think we should get rid of any examples that don't explain which is the foreground, middle-ground and background for insufficient context.
  • March 27, 2012
    aurora369
    Final Fantasy VIII fits. Its foreground are Squall and Rinoa, its middle-ground is the SeeD organisation (an Elaborate University High that trains Tyke Bombs), and its background is the ongoing world war orchestrated by an evil sorceress who wants to compress time and end the world.
  • February 3, 2013
    Westrim
    Apparently a TRS offshoot that I bumped long ago, bumping again. It seems interesting and perhaps just needs some polish before launch.
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