Zetsuen no Tempest – 21


Aika and Hakaze relocate to the riverside, where she warns Hakaze that the Tree of Genesis will reset civilization if not defeated. After some “sleuthing”, Aika concludes that she will use magic to kill herself, which ultimately led to Hakaze meeting Mahiro and Yoshino, which leads to the Tree of Genesis being defeated, which is her calling as Mage of Exodus. Hakaze, knowing how the boys took Aika’s death, tries to stop Aika with words and by force, but Aika’s magic is far more powerful, and knocks her out. When Hakaze comes to, she races to the Aika Manor, but she’s too late; Aika has killed herself again. A note she leaves instructs Hakaze to give the letter she wrote to Mahiro and Yoshino after their mission is complete.

Those of you who called Fuwa Aika being the murderer of Fuwa Aika, pat yourselves on the back. Us thicker-skulled ones, meanwhile, will simply step back and admire the awe of this latest twist in what has shaped up to be one of the best series we’ve watched since Penguindrum. Aika’s  suicide makes perfect “chicken-and-egg” temporal paradox sense. Her death led to the assembling of the people who will ultimately defeat Genesis and save civilization. Ergo, Aika must die no matter what. Hakaze puts the happiness of the lads ahead of civilization, but Aika points out that they’d probably die if Genesis isn’t iced. In any case, Aika is far more powerful (and a bit taller!) than Hakaze…by design.

Props to Aika’s epic downhill punch, and the girls’ subsequent mage duel, in which she dances through the air with her swords, cutting Hakaze’s attacks to ribbons.Props also to Aika’s assessment of the events as they will unfold once she dies. She defies Hakaze’s insistence she mustn’t die; it’s not Aika’s choice to make. As the human representatives of gods, she and Hakaze are slaves to them, just as Caliban is Prospero’s. Even if Hakaze sees it as a Hamlet-esque ending, she sees it as Tempest-esque. She’s just playing the role she must play: defeat Genesis, even at the cost of her own life. If she doesn’t, the whole stage (which all the world is) falls apart. Hell, props to everything about this episode. It just kicked ass.

Rating: 10 (Masterpiece)

Zetsuen no Tempest – 17


Hanemura’s Genesis-busting services are sought near and far. Such is his success, Hayakawa is reinstated, though his superiors are suspicious of events. Back in Japan, as Hanemura rests up, Mahiro, Samon and Junichirou begin a brainstorming session to determine who Yoshino’s girlfriend is, as he may carry the heart of Exodus and she could influence him. Meanwhile, after spending so much time with him, Hakaze has no choice but to confess to him, explaining how her love could kill his girlfriend. As Hanemura puts two and two together to suggest it’s Aika, Yoshino finally tells Hakaze that’s just who it is…or was.

Well, that’s it! Cat’s outta the bag! At least as far as Hakaze was concerned. Here she was, stewing and fuming and torturing herself, when all she needed to do was tell Yoshino she loved him and didn’t want to kill off his girlfriend to learn that that isn’t a possibility, ’cause she’s already been dead for a year. After everything these guys have been through, it’s amazing it’s never come up. But so deep and constant is Yoshino’s grief for his lost love, you can forgive him for not making a big deal of Hakaze’s increasingly erratic schizoid behavior. We get more beautiful, sad flashbacks of Yoshino with his Ophelia. When he finally revealed the photo to Hakaze, we couldn’t help but well up a little.

And yet, the episode manages to balance the drama with more bawdy comedy. Hakaze’s inner voice is pretty funny (and Sawashiro Miyuki certainly sells it) but the centerpiece was the brainstorming session between Mahiro, Samon, and Junichirou, with an exhausted Hanemura in the middle of it. They set up a frikkin’ whiteboard (so official!) and proceed to come up with every hairbrained possibility of who the girlfriend is (Teacher? Married woman? Big Boobs? Nurse?…Loli?), but it takes someone with a little more distance from everything (Hanemura) to suggest the most logical possibility…it’s Mahiro’s sister, stupid.

Rating: 9 (Superior)

Zetsuen no Tempest – 16


Samon and Yamamoto implement their plan to make Hanemura a very flashy public hero. Meanwhile Hakaze and Yoshino return to Kusaribe village to investigate a possible spy there trying to expose the villagers’ use of magic. Hakaze struggles to keep her feelings for Yoshino in check. When the spy reveals himself, takes a hostage, and sets fire to the shrine, Yoshino tries to resolve the situation without magic. The spy is apprehended, and Hakaze cannot help but embrace him. Yoshino’s effect on Hakaze has Tetsuma convinced he’s the real mage of Exodus.

Ever since Hakaze met Yoshino, she’s been extremely intrigued by him. Now that they’re spending so much time together in person, she’s constantly retreating into her thoughts, simultaneously worried about whether Yoshino finds her attractive and trying to convince herself that there’s nothing too these strange feelings. But the old ladies of the village see right through her: she’s got it bad for Yoshino, and by episode’s end she’s in his arms. She has no choice. The question is, is this just a girl falling for a guy, or is it the mage of Genesis being seduced by the mage of Exodus by some kind of calculation?

We as viewers know that Yoshino’s girlfriend is dead, but Hakaze doesn’t, and part of her reluctance was Junichiro’s warning that her intensified interest in Yoshino would lead the tree of Genesis killing his girlfriend. But even that isn’t enough, as Yoshino sticks his neck out and risks his life to save Sana, a village girl who’d already suffered enough, while also trying to preserve the secrets of the village. All the while characters heavily reference the Shakespeare works, leading us to wonder where this series is ultimately headed: to the tragic end of Hamlet, or the happy ending of The Tempest.

Rating: 8 (Great)

Zetsuen no Tempest – 09

Samon successfully convinces Mahiro that Hakaze is only bones now, and is speaking to him from the past through the magic doll. Mahiro doesn’t care though, and will use the talisman anyway unless Samon grants the wish Hakaze couldn’t – to find Aika’s killer and bring him to him. Samon considers it a reasonable requests, and orders Tetsuma to investigate. Yashiro tells Hakaze what has happened, and when she mentions not having a line from Hamlet to say, Yoshino remembers when Aika told him why she quotes Hamlet. He tells her it’s too tragic, so she tells him about The Tempest, which had a happy ending. Yoshino attacks Mahiro, and begs him to rejoin his side to try to bring Hakaze back. If he does, he’ll tell him who Aika’s boyfriend was. This sways Mahiro, who agrees to hear him out, but only until Samon can get him Aika’s killer.

We know a little more about The Tempest thanks to Wishbone (who might’ve done Hamlet too, we just didn’t catch that episode), but not much more than the fact it involves a mage on an island, and, well, a tempest. But darn it all if our preoccupation with Hamlet and its connection to this story totally distracted us from the obvious: this story isn’t one or the other: it could go either way. Yoshino doesn’t want to end up in a duel with Mahiro over Aika, and she doesn’t believe a second girl – Hakaze – should be so easily abandoned to fulfill Mahiro’s selfish, immediate thirst for revenge. Of course, Mahiro has the gun, so Yoshino uses those flash bombs he hoarded to shake things up.

With one word – “boyfriend”, Yoshino is able to turn the tables a second time in as many episodes. And with Samon cursing the Tree of Genesis for everything that doesn’t go his way, it really makes you wonder, is logic and nature really still on Hakaze’s side, even though she’s dry bones in the present? Why not? Sure, things are complicated, and it will take a lot to nullify those bones, but as long as there’s magic in the world, and someone willing to stand and put his own life on the line to save her, Hakaze, the mage on the island, has a chance to return home and exact revenge upon those who wronged her. And Mahiro can get his sister’s killer and the name of her boyfriend…though who knows how he’ll take the latter revelation.

This episode may just be three guys yelling at each other while holding weapons while a half-naked girl lies on a distant beach (and another guy fights tanks with a spear) but good God was it powerful. It not only sports a ton of mythic resonance, but elegantly, effortlessly transfers the power to choose the fate of the world from the hotheaded trigger-happy vengeance junkie into more calm, collected hands, precisely because said junkie is so hotheaded, his knowing who his sister dated carries the same weight as the opportunity to face her murderer. Here’s hoping for that happy ending where he learns both, Hakaze is saved, and the world isn’t destroyed. It even takes a hearty jab at its own characters‘ (over?)use of Shakespeare.

Rating: 10 (Masterpiece)

RABUJOI World Heritage List

Zetsuen no Tempest – 07

Mahiro and Yoshino find shelter for the night in an abandoned rail car, and both spend much of the cold night thinking about Aika and the past. Mahiro remembers when Aika asked him if he wanted her to be his woman, while Yoshino recalls a trip the three take to the Fuwas’ Summer house, where Aika passes secret texts to meet in a place to have their first kiss. They are even almost caught by Mahiro embracing on the beach. When the cold morning comes, Mahiro and Yoshino continue on their journey to confront Samon.

But, look, the morn, in russet mantle clad, Walks o’er the dew of yon high eastward hill: Break we our watch up; and by my advice, Let us impart what we have seen to-night.

So says Horatio to Marcellus in Act I Scene I of Hamlet. Again, we’re sorry to say our knowledge of the play is very limited, but in the context of this episode, it’s an awesome, if a bit stuffy, line, like most lines of Shakespeare. Both Mahiro and Yoshino have dreamed of a ghost – Aika – one who still dwells within their hearts. But while Yoshino was pretty darn sure what Aika meant to him – he had the good fortune of not being her stepsister – it’s a little more nebulous what she really meant to Mahiro. Or maybe it wasn’t – he was in love with her, and made that clear to her, and didn’t want her dating anyone else until he could figure things out. Only Aika already dating Yoshino. So yeah, Yoshino can’t so easily ‘impart what he has seen that night’, for it would spell betrayal of a guy already lost in a sea of vengeance and regret.

Let us remember in the episode in which Yoshino and Mahiro start hanging out – Yoshino doesn’t like him much then, and whether by the teacher in the past or by Aika in the less distant past – Yoshino’s always been paired with Mahiro as a kind of rock. Aika even jokes about them being a better match than she and Yoshino – Yoshino being quiet and passive, Mahiro impulsive and forceful. Indeed, we see Aika leading Yoshino along for the whole flashback, and who can blame him? Aika is a perceptive and gorgeous young woman with an infectious air of confidence and wisdom beyond her years. Her loss has left a hole in the lives of both men. Comfort and solace may not lie over that high eastward hill.

Rating: 9 (Superior)

Zetsuen no Tempest – 05

Mahiro and Yoshino retrieve another talisman from an aquarium, and are ambused by Kusaribe Tetsuma and his henchmen, who attempt to take them into custody, but fail, and are forced to withdraw. Hakaze leads Mahiro and Yoshino to the apartment of Junichiro a former clan member-turned-college student who is holding on to a special talisman. He offers to light them incense for Hakaze, whom he believes died, having seen her skull, as presented to him by Samon.

Everything happens for a reason. The daily tragedies and misfortunes are all meaningful events, leading toward an ideal conclusion.

We’ve mentioned it before, but we’re really loving the use of Hamlet in this series so far; even though we’re not even that familiar with the play, it classes up the joint to no end and adds gravitas. Now we may know why Yoshino quotes it: because Aika used to (he also keeps the sticks in his hair she used to put there). She was a very cerebral girl, always thinking about the big picture, as in that quote above. As he reminisces about their date at the aquarium, he realizes she may have been talking about their own tragedy, her brutal murder. But her death has set Mahiro on a path to potentially save the world from the reason-severing Tree of Exodus – with Yoshino by his side.

That aquarium they went to on their date, is the same aquarium where Hakaze thought to hide one of talismans, a means of arming her proxy should she befall…misfortune. And the talisman is the same dolphin necklace Aika gave him, telling him not to complain when given a gift. Neither Mahiro nor we are sure whether his is pure coincidence or if Aika had some kind of foresight, but it’s obvious she was an old soul. It’s always heartrending to see them together in the flashbacks (the music really sells it), but we really enjoy how they’re informing the present.

There was also nice cat-and-mouse play this week, with a chase through the aquarium, a venue Yoshino ultimately took full advantage of for it’s abundance of highly conductive water. Tetsuma is dispatched relatively easily, but every encounter with the clan means using up talismans. The final twist this week is the slight matter of Hakaze’s self-exiled buddy Junichiro thinks she’s dead, and that Samon has her skull to prove it. We’ve seen her on the beach, but Mahiro is just listening to a wooden idol. So…what’s the deal?

Rating: 9 (Superior)

Zetsuen no Tempest – 02

Hakaze instructs Mahiro to return to the scene of Aika’s death, where he uses talismans to cast a spell that will draw out information on his sister’s killer. While the process unfolds, he advise Yoshino to clear out to find his family (and non-existent gf). Evangeline gets the jump in Yoshino, but he uses talismans Mahiro gave him to use magic to thwart her. The two make a deal, and she learns that Aika was Mahiro’s girlfriend. Samon orders his dog Natsumura to capture Mahiro, who takes him on, ignoring Hakaze’s warnings.

Takigawa Yoshino is in quite a pickle. His world – Aika – is pretty much gone. His best friend, her protective older brother, has no idea, and probably wouldn’t take it well no matter how much Shakespeare Yoshino recited. Mahiro pays lip service about helping Hakaze prevent her family from upturning the world, but he’s really driven by vengeance. Mahiro would destroy the world to get his revenge; Yoshino doesn’t think there’s any point to it. But like we said: his world is gone and has been for a year. If the world is destroyed, would he care?

We really dig Yoshino’s stoic but still potent melancholy in contrast to Mahiro’s barely-contained mouth-foaming rage. We don’t even mind him quoting Prince of Denmark here and there (as opposed to some cliched villain) because it’s something he may have read in class or found in the library that resonated with him – Aika being his Ophelia. Theirs was a quiet, secret love, one her brother would never understand. One can help but wonder with all the references what precisely led to Aika’s death, and whether Yoshino was in any way involved, which would be another reason to keep tight-lipped around Mahiro. But between carving up mages and cleaning Hakaze’s garage, Mahiro may uncover the truth – whatever it is – himself.

Rating: 9 (Superior)