Sekaikei Genre
aka: Sekaikei

"I don't know why, I have no idea, but quite possibly the single most important thing in the history of the universe is that I get you sorted out right now."
The Doctor, Doctor Who, "Flesh and Stone"

Sekaikei (sekai meaning "world", and kei meaning "type") is a Japanese term that is not clearly defined, spread primarily through the Internet but with some professional interest (there've even been academic lectures). The simple definition of a Sekaikei story is the existence of a close relationship between two people, which turns out to be the sole driving force of the events, up to and including having all other happenings in the world at large depending on said relationship's fate, whether metaphorically or literally. The term "World-type" is related to the character-centric perspective of the world that comes out of such a story.

It can go something like this:

  1. Starts with very normal regular life. Then the central character becomes aware of a profound danger to the world at large.
  2. Said character meets another character who is also aware of the incoming apocalypse and may strive to prevent it.
  3. A relationship forms. There may be little description of how exactly the fate of the couple is related to the troubles of the world at large, but it is clear that the relationship between characters, rather than what they are actually doing, is their primary leverage to define what happens to all their surroundings.
  4. In the climax of the story, the characters are forced to choose between settling things on either the micro-level of the relationship itself, or the macro-level of how it affects the world at large. Typically, both are exclusive.
  5. A Bittersweet Ending generally follows. If the world is chosen, the conclusion often involves a Heroic Sacrifice on the part of one or both of the Star-Crossed Lovers, or them being separated and unable to ever meet each other again. If the romance is chosen, we may have the couple being the only survivors of an apocalypse. Taking A Third Option is, however, also a common subversion.

Of note is the fact that the concept is notoriously difficult to turn into trope terms, as it is fairly controversial amongst anime fans and quite frankly ill defined. Even the term itself is a little bit nuts: they have to write the word in different systems in the middle of the phrase. "Sekai" is written with katakana while "Kei" is written with a Chinese character. Some say this kind of spelling in itself metafictionally represents how everything else, including literary theory, is actually revolving around the couple at the heart of the plot.

Compare Save This Person, Save the World, in which the world hinges on the shoulders of one person, and The Needs of the Many, when the Sadistic Choice is between said person or the world.


Examples:

  • Neon Genesis Evangelion is believed to be a prototype of this concept. The characters can be said to draw the strength to face any given Angel from a specific relationship with others; in the end, when Shinji briefly reaches Reality Warper status, the fate of the world is dependent not on any specific relationship of his, but rather on what he wishes to become of the world in which some people hurt him, while others encouraged him not to give up.
  • In Sailor Moon, the forbidden love between Usagi and Mamoru was the reason their old world collapsed. In their reincarnation, this is reversed; their love becomes the sustaining force that helps her save the present world. However, at one point in R, it appears that their relationship will doom the world again - the actual situation is more complicated.
  • Nights Of Azure is another Girls Love example, with the plot of the game revolving around the growing relationship between Arnice and Lily, which is stymied partly by the fact that Lily is the next chosen Saint who needs to sacrifice herself to save the world. Which ending you get, and whether the world is saved or not, is dependent on Arnice's relationship with Lily, with two showing Arnice and Lily staying together at the cost of the world, while another two showing the world being saved at the cost of their love for each other. It's only in the Golden Ending where the world is saved with the two remaining together.


Alternative Title(s): Sekaikei

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/SekaikeiGenre?from=Main.Sekaikei