Zetsuen no Tempest – 23

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The team heads to the shore, where they’ll make their final preparations to implement their plan. Yoshino and Mahiro insist on being involved. This angers Hakaze, as Yoshino knows how she feels about him, but he convinces her to go along with it. When the day arrives, Hakaze disguises herself as the Mage of Exodus and attacks the fleet. Hanemura, dressed as the Dancing Princess, gets the fleet to back him up in fighting the Mage of Exodus, drawing them away from the pillar. When he’s close enough, Hanemura and Tetsuma switch places, Hanemura heads for the tree, and Yoshino and Mahiro hijack the survey boat. While their backs are turned on their hostages, one pulls a gun and shoots Yoshino.

How do seven people and one boat take on a armada of one hundred cruisers? Deception, and lots of it. Mahiro is the director of the ballet to save the world, and everyone has a specific role to play. Hanemura plays the classic hero, only hopefully someone who won’t go out with the Tree of Genesis and have to rely on Mahiro tracking down his ex-girlfriend (he forgets that if he fails, everyone’s screwed). Hakaze plays the evil Mage of Exodus, and Hanemura’s costume fits her just fine…like magic! Samon, Junichiro, Yamamoto, and Natsumura Tetsuma all play supporting roles. And while Aika decided hers would be a one-woman-play, tactically declining his help, Yoshino refuses to stand on the sidelines as others he cares about – including Hakaze – fight and sacrifice.

The mission commences in a wonderfully-drawn and paced sequence of the mission being carried out interspersed with Mahiro describing it. We love how pissed off Samon and Tetsuma are to be dressed like tourists, and that Hanemura must endure at least one more indignity by dressing in drag. Everything goes off without a hitch until Yoshino and Mahiro turn their backs on their prisoners, betraying their relative inexperience with terrorism. The cliffhanger wants us to believe Yoshino’s life is in danger again, and maybe it is, but we also know he’s been cut in half before, and survived. The question is: will Hanemura succeed in destroying Genesis?


Rating: 9 (Superior)

 

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Kotoura-san – 11

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Muroto takes the attacker’s blow for Yuriko and is knocked out. Moritani fights him but he easily dispatches her and flees. Kotoura blames herself for the entire incident and runs off. Moritani confesses to Manabe, but is turned down. Kotoura ends up in the park where she talked with Tsukino, whom she bumps into again. She invites Kotoura to her house to patch up her scraped knee, have dinner, and spend the night, but turns out to be the attacker. Muroto wakes up and connects the dots, and directs Manabe to Tsukino’s apartment building, where he arrives just in time. Kotoura talks Tsukino down, and Tsukino turns herself in to police.

Sometimes penultimate episodes leave you hanging for the finale, while others, like this one, resolved a lot, allowing the finale to breathe. We have to say, we like the latter as many anime series, particularly one-cour ones, feel compelled to wait until the bitter end, and so the endings feel rushed. Not here. This episode does a superb job balancing the plot resolution requirements, but ditches the pervert humor altogether and doesn’t for a second forget about any of the characters. Everyone gets great scenes, big moments, and grows in this episode. Balancing all that isn’t an easy feat, but this episode made it look easy.

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First, we like the simplicity of Moritani’s confession and the swift rejection by Manabe. Better to tie up loose ends early. Moritani doesn’t seem bothered until Manabe leaves, and then she starts bawling. Hey, rejection hurts, no matter how strong you are. But before he leaves, she segues immediately to how much she loves Manabe and Kotoura as a couple, how they seem right for one another, about how she worried when they got in a fight. Moritani has come a long way from bullying and putting out hits on people.

Then there’s the relationship between Mifune and Muroto. Since Mifune was young and bullied for being the spawn of a “liar”, Muroto has stood by her side and taken licks for her, and this week is no different. Daichi may be a little guy, but he has a huge, stout heart. He’s the Manabe to Yuriko’s Kotoura: he ain’t leaving her side. Ironically, it seems while Manabe remembers a particularly mean insult he threw at Moritani ages ago, he seems to have forgotten the promise he made her in the first place, though it seems to be a case more of absent-mindedness than malice.

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Finally, we come to Tsukino. When we saw the hair and the martial arts moves, we first though – wait – Manabe is the attacker?! But…he, or we should say she, was too tall to be him. Ever since we met her there have been subtle hints that there may be something off about her, and this week finally drops the hammer. A childhood of abuse by her peers caused her to develop a split personality: the kind ditz Kotoura can read the mind of, and a brutal cad who attacks people to blow off steam. Kotoura reminds her of her – someone different from the others (in this case, she’s huge) – only the fact Kotoura has friends irks her to no end.

Even she isn’t a merely mindless, cackling villain: she stops her attack, listens to reason, and decides to face the consequences of what she’s done. And after all those thoughts of wanting to not exist, when she’s finally facing the potential end of her existence, Kotoura learns she doesn’t want to die. Yes, she was lucky she was still sane enough to listen to reason, and very lucky Manabe somehow ended up finding them (does he have Kotouradar or something?), but as we’ve said, we don’t mind tidy endings as long as they’re well-executed and entertaining. This was that and more.


Rating: 9 (Superior)