This is review number one hundred and sixty eight. It’s part of the Fall 2012 lineup. The anime is Zetsuen no Tempest. It’s a twenty five episode anime about two boys and a bunch of magic users trying to end the world. It’s a really wonderful anime but of all the long anime series of the Fall lineup. This was the weakest of them, in my opinion. Let’s read on.
The anime is about two friends, Mahiro Fuwa and Yoshino Takigawa. After the tragic death of Mahiro’s sister, Fuwa, he has vowed to find the killer and exact revenge. He was soon contacted by a princess stuck on an island named Hakaza Kurasibe to help her stop her fellow clansmen in awakening a great evil that could destroy the world. Mahiro agrees as long as she helps in finding the killer. Upon realizing Mahiro’s plan, Yoshino agreed to help the two. They are now in a journey to save the world and take revenge for the fallen girl. One task is more important than the other though and the fate of the world may just have been handed to a bunch of grief stricken and emotionally unstable boys.
Taking the Pants Off
The first thing you need to know about this anime is that it pays homage to William Shakespeare’s works titled Hamlet and The Tempest. The anime itself has pointed out several similarities to its stories and the two classics. I’m a huge anime addict and sadly, I have never seen any of Shakespeare’s work. Aside for some poems, I wasn’t really a fan. I do understand that his works are regarded as some of the best literature ever. His compelling stories about politics, romance and revenge is still regarded as some of the best in history. It would appear that Zetsuen no Tempest tried to tip its hat to some of his great works. The anime itself had a lot of promise. It was intriguing and the characters really made the anime amazing. There are certain things in this anime that really thrilled but it also holds some very massive flaws that I think took the anime down a notch. The anime pointed it out itself on where it went wrong. It didn’t want to story to end in tragedy but I personally think it would’ve meant more if it actually ended in tragedy.
The first episode of the anime pretty much established everything you need to know about the anime. The characters, the status quo, the conflict and even the story are revealed in the first episode. Immediately, there are two plot points presented that are closely related to each other. The first one is about the death of Mahiro’s sister, Aika Fuwa. Mahiro left his town to look for clues about the killer only to come back months later with the ability to use magic. Yoshino discovered that he agreed to aid a princess stuck in an island, with magic as the only way of communication, to get what he wanted. Yoshino’s hand was forced and he agreed to help Mahiro with the task. These two normal boys are now introduced into a world of magic and secrecy while searching for the killer. Aika means a lot to Mahiro though but it would seem that Aika meant a lot to Yoshino as well. Unbeknownst to her brother, Aika was actually seeing Yoshino and she was having a secret boyfriend/girlfriend relationship with him. So Yoshino also had a reason to look for the killer.
The other plot point is about the Kurasibe Clan. Hakaze was stranded on an island thanks to a devious plot of one of her aide, Samon. The guy is determined to awaken the Tree of Exodus from its slumber. However, Aika is sure that the world would end if he succeeds. The awakening process has set out a plague to the world called the Black Iron Syndrome where people turn to metal and die. Samon doesn’t care though and he is hurrying the awakening process endangering more lives as he goes. Hakaze has employed the help of Mahiro and Yoshino to act in her place and foil Samon’s plan. Of course, Samon isn’t going down that easy and he is prepared to send out highly skilled magic users to fight the boys if needed. He wants his plan to succeed and he will crush anyone in his path.
This is a pretty straight forward story the anime has presented. I personally think it was a bit predictable as well because there’s really nothing new you can add to the story of “good triumphing against evil”. It was certainly intriguing to see what the anime will do to this tired and predictable story. Well, for one thing, the anime injected doubt in the story. What if the good guys aren’t actually good? What if the bad guy isn’t actually bad? The anime nicely turned the story upside down and the result is pretty freaking amazing.
The mystery aspects of the anime are really nicely done. There are a lot of things kept secret in the anime besides the identity of the person who killed Aika. It’s not a simple mystery where facts are presented and things are deduced. The mystery aspects are used to destroy the predictable nature of the story. Things aren’t what they actually appear to be and people aren’t what you thought they’d actually be. The idea you first have when you watched the anime is nicely crushed until you are seriously just left out of the loop and watching to see how the events would unfold. The mystery isn’t just the only thing that made the story pretty great. The addition of psychological elements also made the straight forward and predictable story look astoundingly complicated. There was a nice way of fleshing out the characters by having people suspect their motives. Throughout the anime, there are various scenes where people question each other and thinking that they are up to something. So a predictable story with unpredictable characters made for some pretty amazing anime experience.
The first half of the anime really benefited from the setup of the show. The predictability of the story was never evident because you aren’t sure what the characters are up to. The anime did a great job of injecting doubt that even the main characters who you think are straight up good guys maybe not be as reliable as you think. The plot points also became more thrilling thanks to be amazing setup of the anime. All of this doubt and unpredictably easily made the first half very outstanding. The components of the anime and the smart presentation can easily hook you. I was really excited for the second half of the anime because I wanted to see more of this smart storytelling by the anime. A predictable story coupled by great mystery, psychological aspects and characters was something I can’t seem to put down. Unfortunately though, the anime lost its steam on the second half.
The second half of the anime had a different status quo than the first one. It also introduced new characters and some new conflicts on top of the old one. It also had new plot points to present besides the two plot points of the first half. It wasn’t really a surprise though. The anime is twenty five episodes long yet it hurriedly presented all of its components in its first episode. Most anime of the same length takes up five or six episodes and indulges in a slow paced presentation. For some reason, this show was pretty fast and I was a bit concerned at how the second half would fare. Most twelve episode anime rushes its components so there was a possibility that this anime would run of out of steam in its second half. I hate to say it but I was right on my call. The anime needed to build the story again after the second half ended. This would mean killing off the momentum of the first half.
The story was still pretty good. It still had the great characters and some things were needed to be addressed. The mystery aspects and the psychological aspects were still there. The second half just needed to start out slow again and then get back up to speed. There was one problem though. It was no longer able to inject doubt. The thing that made the first half outstanding was missing in the second half. The secrecy among the characters seems to have vanished and everything was pretty clear now. The doubt for the story and the characters were no longer needed. The anime was really just preparing for its ending. Like I said before, the anime is predictable and straight forward. This was a major flaw for the anime and the second half pretty much exposed it all.
The characters are all pretty decent. In the first half, the characters were really amazing. They help turn the predictable setup of the anime into something unpredictable. They did so by seeing so nicely fleshed out. The anime often gives us their point of view of the situation and it gave us an idea of how the characters think. The story was simple but the characters aren’t. Throughout the anime, various scenes and events really made the characters look complicated. Mahiro started out as a guy wanting revenge but he soon changed into a guy who has a deeper reason for exacting revenge. Yoshino also looked normal at first. He was just a concerned friend but after exploring his background, your perception of the changes in a very bad way. The relationship of the characters also started out simple being just friends who care for each other but this also changed as the anime progresses. There were some nice flashbacks utilized in the story to explore the relationship of the two main characters. The flashbacks also did a lot in figuring out the relationship they had with Aika. It is pretty amazing just how much impact the dead girl had on the characters.
The other characters also started out pretty normal. They didn’t have a big of a role like the two main characters but they were also pretty important to the story. In the first half, every side character was important to the story. Their point of view was often utilized through various narrations and conversations that added a lot to the story. Towards the second half, the anime did have a trouble giving them a more effective role though. Sadly, majority of them became generic characters towards the end of the anime. The lack of doubt in the story really made the characters weak. There was nothing big for them to do in the second half and they soon lost their intriguing personality.
I honestly haven’t seen an anime like Zetsuen no Tempest. It had a compelling first half with so many twists and surprises that really made me watch it in great suspense yet it lost its potential towards the second half. It’s really weird. I’ve reviewed anime that is doomed from the start to shows that started bad but slowly got good. This show started out great and ended bad. It’s a first time for me. I mean I have seen show f*ck itself up towards the end but Zetuen no Tempest had the same setup for the first and second half. It’s about story of good prevailing over evil but it just lost its intriguing personality in the second half. I’m pretty amazed. Why would you push for a subpar ending when you had the potential to be outstanding until the end?
Sight and Sound
Character design is pretty decent. The characters all had nice bishies faces to them and their looks really captured their personality. The characters all had the typical body types and pretty faces that we’ve come to expect. The girls were also pretty decent. They had enough sexiness to make them appealing but nothing was ever emphasized. The outfits of the characters were also pretty nice. It complemented their personalities as well. Some of the serious characters often wear suits while the unruly ones often wear some pretty stand out clothes.
The background in the anime is pretty decent. There is enough to help improve the story of the anime but there aren’t really any breath taking scenery to absorb. I do love the rather depressed atmosphere of the anime and it nicely ties in with the story of the world ending. The nice look of the petrified people also added a lot to the world is ending angle of the anime. The designs on the trees was also pretty nice as well as the fruits.
The anime had little action but they were nicely animated. There is enough fight scenes to tell a story but there isn’t enough to really make it exciting. The fights were just a way to develop the characters more. The animation was pretty great though and it was nicely paced. The animation also nicely stood out during the strikes of the military that had some nice added effects to it.
The anime had two OP. The first one is “Spirit Inspiration” by Nothing’s Carved In Stone. They also did that wonderful OP song for Psycho Pass and they really have great music. Their rhythm is pretty amazing but I’m not a fan of their English lyrics. Hearing an English song by a singer with a Japanese accent is a bit hard to get used to. It’s a nice rock song, there is no denying that. The OP sequence features the setup of good guy vs. bad guy in the anime. All the characters are introduced and a little bit of their role are presented. I love how the OP has a big Shounen feel to it. The second OP is “Daisuki nano ni” by Kylee. The song is pretty decent as it has a serious vibe to it and it tells of the romantic aspects of the anime. The OP sequence features the status quo of the second half and all the characters introduced by then. It also nicely summarizes the event with no spoilers, thank god.
The anime also had two ED songs. The first one is “happy endings” by Kana Hanazawa. This song had a weird Shoujo vibe it. It’s a bit bubbly and cute and it accentuates the romance (and BL) aspects of the show. You can never deny Kana Hanazawa’s voice. It really made the song catchier as you listen to it. The ED sequence features the Aika’s silhouette walking and in the background are the two boys then further back are some places in rubble that coincide to the destruction that plagued the world in the story. The second ED is “Boku-tachi no Uta” by Tomohisa Sako. This is a really sweet love song that captures the cute love story in the anime. Tomohisa’s voice is also pretty goddamn dreamy. I’m not afraid to admit it. This was a really lovely song. The ED sequence features Yoshino and Aika walking along different seasons. It was pretty sweet as well.
7/10 “It’s an anime that doesn’t want to end in tragedy so it decided to become mediocre.”
The first half is amazing nicely balancing all the components of the anime and surpassing expectations. The second half was a bit predictable though and that really brought the anime down. If you enjoy a solid Shounen anime with some romance in it then you’ll enjoy this anime. I recommend it.