Owning Your Ground: Notes on World Conquest Zvezda Plot

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“No matter what anyone says, I own the ground I stand upon. That’s the first step to conquering the world.”

-Kate Hoshimiya, World Conquest Zvezda Plot, episode 1

While driving to work last week, I glanced towards the on-ramp immediately before my exit, as I usually do. Accelerating down the on-ramp was a large, black sport utility vehicle. Judging the distance between my speed and theirs, the length of the on-ramp, and the distance that I was traveling on the highway, it appeared to me that I would pass the entrance before that vehicle. I sped up a bit, just to be safe. Simultaneously, they sped up and continued to accelerate. I sped up a bit more. They continued accelerating. This went on until I was forced to slow down, allowing the other car to merge onto the highway ahead of my vehicle’s position. The interstate belongs to no car, but at that moment, that sport utility vehicle owned the highway, and I had been thoroughly conquered.

For another example, while playing the online multi-player game League of Legends, one is given the choice of five different positions to play, and a myriad of champions to choose for each. There is a small amount of time in which your team of players – usually five random people, unless you consistently queue up with a team – can discuss which position each player will take. One time, a friend of mine wanted a specific position of the five that another random person on the team wanted, and claimed in chat. However, they only typed in their claim, without locking in a champion for that position. Assuming that the role he wanted was taken, my friend prepared to take another role, when another friend we were queuing up with told him to simply lock in for the role he had wanted. My friend did, and the random player changed his selection, in spite of the fact that he had called that position first. Essentially, my friend forced him out of it and into a different role. The question is, why did the random player give up the position, even while having the moral right to it? Furthermore, how had my second friend known that the player would give up the role he had called once my first friend locked into that position over him?

The answer is simple: that player wanted to win. Rather than getting into an argument – which they had a reasonable right to – the random player chose to move to a different position, in order to increase our chances of winning even if it wasn’t what they had initially wanted. My second friend had known this, being more experienced in the game than most of my friends and myself, and had therefore instructed my first friend to simply take the position he wanted, regardless of etiquette.

It is better to acquiesce the dominant position than lose the game – or in my first example, end up in a car crash – and my second friend knew this. Additionally, the other car on the road with me, merging onto the highway, had known this. They purposefully accelerated to merge in ahead of me, knowing full well that 99.9% of people will back off defensively as opposed to battle it out, potentially causing injury to themselves and another.

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This is the principle that Kate Hoshimiya of World Conquest Zvezda Plot operates on. No one  can take the ground from her if she owns it, even if it’s only for the moment her black spiked heels make contact with the earth.

Additionally of note is how this is contrasted with Kate’s attitude towards her presumed inferiors within the Zvezda organization. For the most part, Kate assembles Zvezda as a surrogate family rather than an underground terrorist organization bent on world domination. The warm atmosphere of Zvezda is in relief to the cold, unfeeling nature of their sworn enemies: the warriors of justice, White Light.

Where Zvezda occupies a house and come together for meals, White Light has a sterile base of operations that its agents only visit while working. Zvezda’s leader, Kate, not only proclaims her desire of world conquest constantly, but is visible and wholly transparent to her underlings. White Light is guided by a mysterious, psychedelic screen the vast majority of the time, and its members are more focused on hierarchy within the organization than Zvezda. Kate invites everyone along for the fun – or forces them along for the fun – while White Light’s agents are distant from one another, with the two primary agents that we see, White Robin and White Egret, not knowing who the other is in their everyday life. Kate’s methods inspire loyalty through friendship where White Light’s are focused on inspiring loyalty through fear.

These comparisons add to the underlying sense that everything in World Conquest Zvezda Plot is personal. Jimon Asuta, would-be protagonist and all-around pushover, knows Miki Shirasagi (White Egret) from his childhood and has a crush on classmate Renge Komadori (White Robin), but does not know their White Light alter egos. Renge idolizes Miki without the knowledge that Miki is technically her subordinate within White Light. Zvezda member Goro Shikabane is the father of another Zvezda member, Itsuka Shikabane, and additionally the presumed brother-in-law of Kaori Hayabusa (White Falcon), one of White Light’s strongest operatives. The more Zvezda reveals in each episode, the more the series has an underlying tone of warring families with different ideologies under the guise of conquering the world.

“I was born to conquer this world. However, the same could be said of anyone. Every person has the potential to conquer the world! If you refuse to let me conquer you, you should try to conquer me!”

-Kate Hoshimiya, World Conquest Zvezda Plot, episode 7

World Conquest Zvezda Plot reveals that Jimon is actually the estranged son of the governor of Tokyo. He is one who should own the ground that he walks on, simply based on who his father is, but chooses not to. Instead, in spite of his protesting, viewers see him happy in his new position as the most domestic member of Zvezda’s cobbled-together family. He eschews power for warmth, where Kate would, and to some extent does, have it all. Presumably, Jimon’s time is drawing near, where he’ll be forced to choose a side between Zvezda and his father.

In one way or another, each member of Zvezda has been discarded at some point in their lives, and choose to follow Kate for deeply personal reasons. Goro, grieving over the death of his wife, finds a new purpose serving Kate and Zvezda. There’s a sense that he’s all to happy to relinquish the leadership position to someone else, rather than take on the burden of responsibility. Natasha, abandoned by parents who refused to understand her, finds a family and a purpose. The series does not progress without pointing out how ridiculous of an ambition taking over the world is, but never fully chastises Kate’s attitude. If one were to make the attempt, they would have the same domineering nature as Kate, and their reasons would be personal.

5 comments

  1. I’m not entirely sure why I feel this way, but in my personal opinion, this show is far and away the best thing currently airing.

    Is it the whimsy? The underlying melancholy? The knowing absurdity and humor? Or perhaps it’s Sekai Seifuku’s seeming strong sense of purpose and direction, even in the decidedly out-of-place episode 5?

    Or maybe it’s the witty and pungent ED sequence?

    Whatever it is, I’m really looking forward to the concluding episodes.

    Oh, and one more thing I forgot to mention!

    Do you think that this story is kind of unfolding like a nursery rhyme? Only instead of Little Miss Muffet sitting on a tuffet, we’re getting Kate shooting for world domination?

    It seems to me my personal enjoyment is stemming largely from that sort of fabulist style story-telling…

    1. Hullo! I hope you don’t mind that I simply edited your two comments together so I could reply to all of them in one go. ^ ^

      It took a bit for me to become invested in the series, episodes three and four really hooked me, but right now it’s up there with series that I make a concerted effort to keep up with weekly (joining Wake Up, Girls! and Witch Craft Works). For me, it’s definitely that the characters within Sekai Seifuku are all endearing, in spite of their aspirations of world domination. As you say, and I allude to in this post, there is an underlying sense of melancholy that comes from the personal lives of both the members of Zvezda and White Light.

      The ED sequence reminds me a lot of the ED to Nichijou, in a really good way.

      As for the nursery rhymes, I definitely recommend reading Justin’s post on Natasha, found here: http://lostmythesis.wordpress.com/2014/02/01/nursery-rhyme-and-punishment/ (if you haven’t already read it).

      Thank you for commenting. ^ ^

  2. I really enjoyed reading your indepth thematic analysis of Zvezda, as I think most of what you mentioned would go unnoticed by more casual viewers like us. And for that, thank you so much. m(_ _)m

    The Zvezda team names are actual Russian words, which translate as:
    (Kate)Venera = Venus
    (Jimon) Dva = Two
    (Itsuka) Plamya = Flame
    (Goro) Pepel = Ash
    (Natasha) Um = Mind
    (Yasu) Оdin = One(odin is pronounced ‘a-deen’ in Russian)
    (ED. The writers have confirmed Yasu’s buttmonkey status :3)

    I don’t know what Kurukuru translates as, but they are the cutest weaponised anime blobs I’ve seen. Plus they camoflage really well as sushi!😀

    Re Kill la Kill: The amount of fanart generated by Japanese fans is amazing, and some of phenomenal quality on PIxiv. Here’s one of my favourites, the pillow fight:
    http://www.pixiv.net/member_illust.php?mode=medium&illust_id=40620288

    1. Ahhh, that Kurukuru art is adorable. ^ ^

      I think you give me too much credit, I just see what I see, and I like writing about what I see. Thank you though, I’m glad you enjoy my writing.

      Additionally, thanks for the list of Russian names, I didn’t know that about the series. Unsure as to when the meanings of the primary members will come into play (although Natasha’s for example, seems to make sense in the context we’ve been provided with already, as she is the most outwardly intelligent). It makes sense that Yasu would be “One” and Jimon would be “Two” as they are the first and second lackeys of Zvezda with no specific positions within the organization.

      Thanks for commenting. ^ ^

      1. No worries! I just felt it was only fair to share some detailed knowledge I got from other sources, in return for your introspective insights.

        May Zvezda’s light shine throughout the world!!! (^-^)ゝ

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