Zetsuen no Tempest – 21

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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)

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Zetsuen no Tempest – 18

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When Hakaze learns Aika is Yoshino’s girlfriend, she blames herself for her demise, even if he doesn’t. After getting him to show some emotion over the loss he’s carried for so long, she devises a plan to determine once and for all whether the Tree of Genesis follows her will – and will submit to its own destruction – or is only using her as a tool to revive itself. She and Yoshino part ways and she flies to Yokohama in a costume to face Hanemura in a highly public duel in which she helps him push his powers to their maximum potential.

Tempest is a show that isn’t afraid to present lots of discussion, debate, introspection, and analysis, while lacking a defined weekly action sequence in which nearly all episodes climax (a la Bones’ Star Driver). Because of this, when it does break out the action, it’s almost  always unexpected and novel. We would have never thought Hanemura would evolve into the classic superhero…but we expected Hakaze to fly into the air in a gaudy outfit and play along with him even less. That being said, it’s a pretty awesome turn of events.

We also continue to admire Hanemura’s inconvenient perceptiveness as he casually opines that Aika is totally Yoshino’s girlfriend, and he’s never told Mahiro because Mahiro loves Aika too (he doesn’t say this bit aloud). But the comedy is again nicely balanced by plenty of poignant drama. Mahiro’s reaction to Hanemura’s theory is to simply sod off and clean the kitchen. But Hakaze’s reaction is far more involved. She even gets Yoshino to have a badly-needed cry in her bosom. Her love of Yoshino is no longer a distraction, but a key motivator in her future plans for the Tree of Genesis.


Rating: 9 (Superior)

Zetsuen no Tempest – 13

Mahiro is out cold for an entire month, during which time he dreams about the events that have unfolded thus far, his childhood with Yoshino, his life with Aika, and the day he found her dead. When he awakes, it is to a world in which cities are being swallowed by the Tree of Genesis. Samon asks him if he’d be able to kill Yoshino.

If that seems like half the length of our usual pre-review synopsis, that’s because we were only given half an episode to work with. The other half was a recap, told from Mahiro’s perspective and sprinkled with bits of new material here and there, along with the pretty flimsy conceit for subjecting us to said recap: Mahiro is having a very long, very intricate dream, and has a lot of time to think about things thus far. The recap was a bit deflating after a week-long hiatus, but we should have seen it coming.

We’re at a crossroads: the Tree of Genesis is awake and kicking hard, devouring chunks of civilization and humanity with impugnity. Giant branches popping out of skyscrapers is a very irrational thing, so you’d think the Kusaribe clan would be on top of things, trying to restore balance to the world. Meanwhile, we have this slightly unstable looking guy Hanemura showing off some kind of magic. Is he part of another clan? Good? Bad? Who knows. Here the plot merely thickens; it doesn’t solidify.


Rating: 6 (Good)

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)

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