So, shit, there I was – half-way through watching K last night, having previously watched Zetsuen no Tempest. I was grinning a Cheshire Cat grin, my happy hormones in production of about over 9000 per half-hour. I had just realized that I wasn’t going to just get one show that was So Serious this season, but two! TWO! The anime deities had smiled upon me and deemed me worthy! Hallelujah! Bring out the blood sacrifices!
Zetsuen no Tempest is a story about two guys who are friends and who encounter a hidden world of magic. That’s very broad, but right now its the best one-line description I can come up with, because the first episode doesn’t strive to clue us in on things. There are explosions, and butterflies, and people turning into metal, and lines from Hamlet being flung around like grenades. There is also a smidgen of homoeroticism, although its sort of over-run by the whole “protag secretly was dating friend’s dead sister” thing. But, hey, bros, she’s dead, so its okay!
Speaking of dead, protag-kun’s friend, Mahiro, might thrill the incest lovers out there, given that his entire drive in the show is to find his sister’s killer and kill them. He’s really, really angry. In fact, he’s so angry that he dropkicks a woman!
…wait. He dropkicks a woman who is about to shoot protag-kun, Yoshino. Broooooossssss, the BL is back!
Anyway, a lot of folks are comparing this to No. 6 and its easy to see why, what with shady government, mysteriously-appearing insects, weird ailment that turns people’s skin into something else, sort of bland lead paired with really angry friend, BONES, and potential for gaaaay. The butterflies, actually, pinged me for Red Garden though, which had creepy-ass butterflies in spades. And the dead sister lead me back there as well, given the mysterious circumstances of her death and her resemblance to Lise… although I doubt I would’ve made that connection had the butterflies already made me wonder.
Then there’s the Shakespeare namecheck in the title of the show, although its a pretty loose approach right now; its limited, really, to the magician Hakaze, a woman who was left in a barrel on a hidden island (so, Prospero) because her clan wants her out of the way while they try to do heinous shit to the world. When Mahiro comes blasting from the sky, foot blazing, its only since he found a message in a bottle from her and has agreed to help her out in exchange for finding his sister’s killer. He’s a willing contractor, but perhaps he is our Ariel, maybe even our Caliban, given his intense monomania and propensity for violence.
The other Shakespeare play that keeps popping up is Hamlet, as they quote it a few times. Mahiro’s seemingly deranging desire for revenge would make for a good Hamlet.
The character I like most is Hakaze. I was thrilled when she opened her mouth and a woman’s voice came out instead of a girl’s, because, really, couldn’t we have the ultra-powerful female character be a woman once instead of a little girl or a loli-type? The stomach-rumbling moment was really fucking dumb as hell, though – I was feeling good about how the show was depicting her own determination to get back into the thick of things, and then that happened. Comedic timing, it appears, is not Tempest’s strong point… although, considering how many times I laughed during this episode, and at seemingly totally appropriate moments (well… y’know, appropriate from my perspective), so this may’ve just been a flub!
So, Tempest doesn’t make a whole lot of sense right now and has really serious, angst-ridden teenagers standing around saying Profound Things. It also has a really good score, but which in this case serves to just highlight how overblown the entire thing is. If that isn’t your thing, and I wouldn’t blame you, since I 90% of the time don’t like teenagers (this is okay because I was the same way when I was a teenager), you should pass on Tempest. For my part, though, I will be watching this and avidly awaiting those homoerotic moments and giggling whenever the Deep, Complicated, Serious Stuff happens.
Oh, and, by the way, this is when Mahiro is angry and talking about his sister’s death, noting that he finds it “absurd”, and Yoshino responds:
Man, bros, Yoshino’s kind of an asshole, huh?