Zetsuen no Tempest

Every season it seems there’s one show that manages to really surprise me by being way more enjoyable than I expected. Last season it was Campione, which started off rather bland but came out really strong once they started adding more harem members and ramping up the ridiculousness. Typically these shows aren’t masterpiece works of art, but they manage to do at least one thing spectacularly well.

At the beginning of this fall season, I wasn’t really sure I’d even bother watching Tempest, but I decided to check it out on a whim. The first episode wasn’t really that impressive, but I decided to keep watching out of curiosity to see where it would go. Zetsuen no Tempest’s story is nothing groundbreaking. But it is doing a great job of appealing to me by introducing interesting characters. I want to know more about these characters. What drives them? What makes them tick?

The two main characters – Fuwa Mahiro and Takigawa Yoshino – start the story off separated after the death of Mahiro’s sister, Aika. We learn that Mahiro has gone off on a journey to find Aika’s killer and exact revenge. In the first episode, the two are reunited and Yoshino learns that Mahiro has enlisted the assistance of the former head of the magical Kusaribe clan to help find his sister’s killer. In exchange, he has agreed to help her stop the ritual being performed.

Tempest_01_Mahiro_Yoshino

The chemistry between Mahiro and Yoshino is fantastic. From the beginning, you can tell that the two have a very deep bond, but it’s not apparent why. They don’t seem like they’d normally get along or even become friends in the first place. The fourth episode did a great job showing us how they came to know each other. Even though they came together not by choice, but by chance, they now see that without each other, they would never have come as far as they have. They now share a bond that runs as deep as being brothers, potentially deeper.  This type of bond is fascinating to me. It’s toeing the line between deep friendship and boy’s love very skillfully. These are the types of relationships that I love seeing, in any medium.

tempest_02_aika_stainedglass

Mahiro’s sister Aika has a very different role in the story. She’s shown only in flashbacks, for the obvious reason that she is dead. But she is the driving force for the two main characters. She does not participate in the story, yet is ever present throughout it. She, or rather, avenging her death is Mahiro’s raison d’etre. Yoshino seems to have similar feelings but differing opinions from Mahiro. He yearns for the tomorrow that will never come to be. He knows that seeking revenge on Aika’s killer would be irrational and asks – no, begs – for an answer to the question causing him so much grief: “What can I do for my dead girlfriend?” At that moment, we begin to see how grief-stricken Yoshino is at the loss of Aika. It actually makes me wonder: if he had not reunited with Mahiro, what would he have done? At the beginning of the first episode, he is all alone. His beloved girlfriend was taken from him and then Mahiro left to seek revenge for her death. He is alone, with no one to support him, grief his only companion as he is reminded of his times with Aika. In a way, Mahiro saves him both literally from Yamamoto and the black iron syndrome and figuratively from his grief.

Hakaze is still a bit of a mystery. We’ve only seen bits and pieces of her background, mostly that leading up to her being marooned on the island. But the biggest mystery is the “Paradox of the Skull” as the next episode is so conveniently titled. In the fifth episode, we find out that apparently, Hakaze is already dead. This contradicts the fact that Mahiro and Yoshino are currently talking to her through her talisman. I have noticed that time seems to be different from where Hakaze is on her island and where Mahiro and Yoshino currently are. While it could just be differences in time zones, I have to think the island she is marooned on is near Japan. Otherwise, it would be difficult for her talisman in a bottle to reach Japan and find Mahiro. If this is a time paradox, where time on her island moves much quicker than time elsewhere in the world, it could be possible. Basically, she’s communicating from the past of that island to the present of Mahiro and Yoshino in Japan. However, I feel like there is something more to this riddle, which hopefully will be brought to light over the next few episodes.

As Mahiro and Yoshino both deal with their grief in their own separate ways, I look forward to seeing how their relationship will evolve. If the heavy hints of parallels to the tragedy of Hamlet are anything to go by, I doubt anything good will come of Mahiro’s attempts at vengeance.

Advertisements

3 responses to “Zetsuen no Tempest

  1. The series is definitely shaping up to be one of my favorites for the year, though I do have to be wary since this is adapting a still-ongoing manga (ie I fear for the ending). I think it’s unusual for an anime (or a story in general) to have so many characters (all of the characters?) so firmly-grounded in logic and reasoning. On top of that, the characters are all using each other for their own specific goals, which adds a level of unpredictability to all this.
    The plot is fascinating enough, but the story is managing to develop the characters in surprisingly engaging ways. Rather than focusing on making all the main characters really likeable, Zetsuen no Tempest instead focuses on making them… exceptional. These aren’t your ordinary teens, to the point where they don’t even try to act as such. Episode 4 is easily one of my favorite anime eps of the year with the ways it delved into Mahiro and Yoshino’s characters, and I’ll probably be analyzing it a bit some time shortly, since I want to watch it again. But interestingly episode 5 has managed to make me start caring about Aika as well, which I think is impressive given that she had died before the series even began.
    I can only guess what has happened with Hakaze at the moment. It seems rather clear that she has died, and yet Samon doesn’t seem surprised that Hakaze is trying to interfere with his plans. Perhaps the Tree of Genesis is responsible for Hakaze’s continual existence? Gives me strong xxxHolic vibes, in that sense. I wonder if there’s something we can glean from Shakespear’s Tempest about Hakaze, who seems to be playing the role of Prospero (the overthrown duke marooned on an island, who works magic in order to restore order to his kingdom).

  2. Yeah, my biggest concern relates to it being an ongoing manga. The ending could turn out really bad if they don’t either leave it open for a sequel or figure out a decent way to end it.

  3. I kept watching until ep 11-14, but got tired of it. It feels too drawn out for me. I’m wishing for it to end already. Was interesting in the beginning, but it’s become quite a bore. I haven’t decided whether I’ll bother watching the end.