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Zetsuen no Tempest: The Civilization Blaster
Fuwa Mahiro, a teenager whose family was mysteriously murdered a year ago, is contacted by Kusaribe Hakaze, a young woman who stands against her clan since they left her stranded on a deserted island. As the two decide to help each other, Hakaze's quest to oppose her clan brings to light that the Kusaribe clan intends to awaken the "Tree of Zetsuen" whose power can bring chaos upon the entire world. - Anime News Network
My take on this: We have a teen who is hell-bent on revenge, a dead sister, a powerful mage who becomes useless because she's stuck on an island, a bad guy who wants to awaken a bad tree that will destroy the world, creepy rituals to awaken said tree, and another teen who gets pulled into all of this mess. Sounds like the making of a good story, no?
The Official Trailer
Brought to you by BONES, the producer for slick action series like Fullmetal Alchemist, Darker than Black, Soul Eater, and many more, comes a highly anticipated anime that presents an eclectic mix of magic, drama and mayhem. This brand new series started airing in October and as of this article, episode 6 has been broadcasted and subbed.
By watching the official trailer alone, there is no doubt that this is one good-looking anime. The art itself is fantastic and the drawing is very detailed. In the first episode at the very start, you see lovely, vibrant colours in play but very soon, a darker tone sets in. There is some sort of shadowy haze that is blanketing the scenes in this anime, what with the seemingly perpetual overcast skies and the on-off rain. Everything becomes gloomy and dreary. The vivid colours have become a bit more muted though in no way does all of these detract from the visual pleasure of this series.
This overall dark tone brings about a sense of heaviness in me. It lets me know that this is not going to be one of those fun-loving series. In other words, it will pretty much be embroiled in lots of drama.
The animation itself is extremely fluid and mercurial. The action scenes are beautifully executed, showcasing a smooth sequence of powerful movements with detailed blow-by-blow motions. I like how speed is demonstrated in the form of distinct speed lines - the blue glow, fading in and out after every high speed movements is a nice touch. Of course that same pretty blue is generally applied to most magical attributes such as a force field barrier.
And last but not least, let's talk about the theme music.
No good show is complete without good music
What good would a show be without music?
Not only do you need to be satisfied visually, the viewing experience can easily be enhanced with great acoustics. For this series, I'd like to draw your attention to the music. If you have viewed the official trailer, then you would know the music that I'm talking about. If you have watched the 6 episodes so far, then you would know just where I'm coming from. The music is, for lack of a better word, epic and it has managed to invoke an emotional response in me. Truly, there is no other word to describe it other than epic. I cannot get enough of this orchestral arrangement.
The fact that it is almost constantly playing in the background is simply amazing. The arrangement of this musical composition also works in good timing for every scene. It definitely sets the mood for this anime and it instills in you a sense of impending doom. It's a steady progression of emotions, and you just know that something is going to happen. The gradual buildup gives you that extra spark of anticipation for all of it to lead up to some (hopefully) epic climax. Yes, there is that word again: epic. Really, I can't seem to find a better word!
The Magic System
The concept of magic in this world, in my opinion, is a refreshing one. The theme that is being repeated time and again regarding the Kusaribe clan's magic and how it operates is strongly tied to logic, meaning to say that magic does not work if it were to break the world's logic, such as bringing back the dead.
Looking at it in another way, it's simply magic in the defense of the world's logic, which fits nicely with why the magic being used is pretty much defensive in nature. But that doesn't mean one cannot attack using defensive magic. Also, to be able to use magic, a mage would need to offer up a sacrifice in the form of any kind of man-made technology such as cars (as well as verbalising a spell with the voice of a Kusaribe clan member).
Natsumura offers a car up as sacrifice and chants a spell to replenish his magic
This is the reason why Hakaze isn't able to utilise her magic and escape from the island because there isn't any technology there. Besides, I think that if she were to escape too quickly, there wouldn't be much of a story because, well she is the most powerful mage out there and maybe she can easily wipe out Samon and his crew without so much as batting an eyelid.
Why I said that the concept of magic here is a refreshing one is because despite it being magic, you can't expect miracles. Like the title of one of the anime's episodes, "There Are Things Even Magic Cannot Do". There are restrictions which means you can't suddenly shoot beams out of your eyes or take down the enemy in one fell swing. You might be thinking, what good is magic if you can't do crazy magical stuff?
This puts a spin on the anime and it makes battles much more complex. It's no longer just about who can work the most powerful magic, but it also has a lot to do with quick thinking and working around the limitations. I see this as a fighting chance for Mahiro and Yoshino who are not mages and it becomes logical how they can stand against real mages in a fight (once again, logic. See what I did there?). They don't start out as magicless, normal kids to suddenly POOF into super powerful beings.
So you might ask, how then do the 2 male leads who are not part of the Kusaribe clan be able to wield magic? Simply put, the mage princess they are helping out provides them with items called talismans that are infused with magic.
Again, there are limitations to these talismans as they can only be utilised a number of times before they are rendered useless. For example, the ring talisman shatters into pieces once the magic is finished.
The Tree of Zetsuen
I don't think this is what the great Tree of Zetsuen, the one that's supposed to destroy the world, truly looks like. They're still in the process of reviving it after all. So maybe it's just a sample branch. The bad guys were conducting creepy rituals with said branch as the focus.
Fruit of Zetsuen
First fruit in the world to take the form of a giant eyeball. Where can I get me one of these? They are the fruits of the Tree of Zetsuen and with all of them combined, the baddies would have revived that big bad tree.
A swarm of butterflies heralds the emergence of a Fruit of Zetsuen
Black Iron Syndrome
When a Fruit of Zetsuen surfaces, the resulting effect is that people in the surrounding area are metallicized, meaning they get turned into hard, iron statues. Rather creepy, if you ask me.
In a Nutshell
If you don't already have this anime on your watch list, I would like to recommend this to you. Of course my recommendation is based on the 6 episodes that have been aired. I have to be honest and say that the plot, at a superficial glance, is a bit cliché. The bad guys are trying to revive the Tree of Zetsuen (some fansubbers are translating it as the Tree of Exodus) which is said to bring destruction to the world, a polar opposite to the Tree of Beginnings, of which the Kusaribe clan draws their magic from. The good guys are trying to stop this from happening. Very straightforward, boiler plate sort of plot, yeah?
Of course nothing is ever so simple. The series starts off heavily shrouded in mystery. Very easily you get a sense that there is something bigger that's happening and as each episode slowly reveals more pieces to the puzzle, it only serves to tease your brain into overdrive as you can't help but speculate more and more about the plot. Even when it's only 6 episodes into the series, there are small twists here and there interwoven nicely into the episodes that makes it that much more interesting.
The relationship dynamics, particularly between the 2 male leads, appears to be a bit more complex. I say they are friends, best friends even, but only in the sense that they don't seem to have any other friends. I would even go as far as to say that their relationship is weird. If it wasn't for the God of Plot that had forced them together, I don't think they'd be the likeliest candidates for a genuine friendship. That being said, with regard to their friendly-but-not interaction with each other, to me I find that this will be an interesting development to observe.
And then there's this whole Shakespearean vibe thrumming throughout. A quick Google check informed me that the Shakespeare line used in the trailer, the opening line I should say, comes from Hamlet. The Shakespearean influence in this anime lends the series a literary device to transform it further into another level of art. But whether it will all work out, the references, the associations being made, basically whether the Shakespeare allusions will mesh well with the series remain to be seen.
The time is out of joint: O cursed spite... That ever I was born to set it right!
Food for Thought!
Since Hamlet is known for being Shakespeare's best written tragedy, should we expect Zetsuen no Tempest to follow the same tragic route?
From the start, high school student Takigawa Yoshino is seen to be a rather stoic and calm individual. His composure is what keeps him cool in moments when any other characters would have completely flipped out, such as when there is a gun pointed to their face, or when they see a gigantic eyeball for the first time hovering over them. But not Yoshino. Also, I think the kid's some sort of a genius, or at least he is very, very smart as he is able to perform magic within moments of having seen it and having been given a brief explanation of it.
Yoshino doesn't seem to have many friends apart from the other male lead, Fuwa Mahiro and Mahiro's sister, Aika. He seems to be a practical person who doesn't believe in revenge. Revenge wasn't going to bring back Aika. This is certainly in contrast to Mahiro who practically breathes revenge.
Also, according to Aika, Yoshino is "a con artist who puts up a good front posing as an average guy. People like him can lie with a straight face". I don't really know what to make of this statement because we have yet to see this side to him in action. But there certainly is something about Yoshino that I can't quite put my finger on. Female lead, Kusaribe Hakaze, thinks he is interesting. I think Yoshino is an enigma that I would love to unravel.
Fuwa Mahiro was a spoilt, privileged, angry brat who always got into fights and grew up to be an even angrier young man who still got into fights, but this time he is always dragging his best friend Yoshino into his fights as well. It's obvious that he is reckless and doesn't seem to care if he would get extremely hurt in a skirmish. In fact, Mahiro's sister, Aika has even commented that if not for Yoshino, Mahiro would one day end up either being killed by the police, or be put in jail. In other words, he's one very violent and unrestrained individual. But despite his extreme recklessness, he is surprisingly quick-witted.
Following the murder of his sister, Mahiro becomes a character driven by revenge. Doesn't that remind you of a certain guy in Naruto? However, unlike Sasuke who is full of not only rage but also a great dose of angst and bitterness, Mahiro hasn't gone down that depressingly angsty route. Yet. But he sure is ferocious in his almost-frothing-at-the-mouth fury. To get his revenge, he doesn't care if he destroys the world in exchange. This speaks a lot about how much he values his sister. Almost to the point of obsession, I would say. Isn't it weird that even though his parents were also killed (or at least that's what is written in the plot synopsis), his only focus is his sister?
The interesting thing I noticed is how Yoshino seems to prefer to hold on to the past while Mahiro would confront the future by seeking vengeance.
The princess of the Kusaribe Clan, Kusaribe Hakaze, is said to be the strongest mage on the planet (This is of course assuming that there aren't any other mage clans out there). Betrayed by her aide, she was left stranded on an uninhabited island and this causes her to not be able to use magic. But this girl is very resourceful. She still manages to get in communication with Mahiro (supposedly by chance).
What I like about this character is that despite her typical shoujo looks, she is still a tomboy at heart. She is no dainty thing and so far, she is smart enough to get around the whole marooned-on-an-island-is-supposed-to-make-me-useless problem. I cannot wait to see how she is going to get herself off the island and meet up with our 2 male leads.
Mahiro's only sister was found murdered in their mansion. And can I just take a moment to comment on how artistic the presentation of her death was? The way her blood was formed on the floor forms a lovely abstract stain... (Yeah, kinda morbid of me but what I said is true!).
Aika's death is the driving force behind Mahiro's destructive rampage. Even though she's dead, her presence in the anime itself is still very solid. We see her through various flashbacks, intersperse in between the main characters' speeches and so far, she has shown the side of a protective and caring sister, a pinch of haughtiness which is not surprising considering the Fuwa's affluent living, and also a the secretive side to her. Recall how she said that Yoshino is a con artist who has the ability to lie? Interestingly, she says to herself that she lies as well.
Her death is shrouded in mystery that, somehow or rather, is becoming questionable in a world on the brink of destruction. I highly suspect that she has a bigger part to play in all of this.
Kusaribe Samon is Hakaze's former aide, the one who betrayed her and stuck her in a barrel before he stranded her onto the island. He has usurped Hakaze's position and is now leading the rouge faction of the clan. Samon is yet another stoic character though his stoicism is more on the severe, no-nonsense side than Yoshino. Not much is known about him as yet, other than the fact that he doesn't see eye to eye with the Kusaribe princess, Hakaze. I'm not too sure what his true agenda is because there was a flashback that made me question his actual motive, but so far he is the baddy in this anime.
Samon's right hand man and is said to be the best fighter in the clan, though not the best user of magic. He main weapon is the spear.
One of Samon's subordinate who is all about reason and logic. He has an intense dislike for Hakaze simply because in his opinion, the princess defies logic in that she is being favoured and protected by the Tree of Beginnings.
College student Hoshimura Junichiro is a true pacifist who left the Kusaribe clan because he dislikes fighting and wanted to avoid conflict. I have to say that this guy looks younger than he should be. Believing him to be the only one she can trust, Hakaze left him a powerful talisman that will aid the main characters in the fight to save the world. We haven't seen much of him yet but I believe this guy has his quirks. After all, he came up with the most ludicrous password before he allowed Yoshino and Mahiro entry into his home: "Boobs that don't shake aren't boobs at all."
Also known as Fraulein Yamamoto, she is investigating Mahiro and his connection to the black iron syndrome. A rather aggressive woman who fights with bagful of guns. One of my favourite lines from her that displays her wit is,
"Lonely grown women have many toys as friends." Of course this refers to her guns! Heh. What did you think she was referring to?
By the way, I cannot get over the fact that the person voicing Evangeline Yamamoto is also the voice actor of Hinata from Naruto. Nana Mizuki; talk about talent!
Most Interesting Character
Which character do you find to be the most intriguing so far that you would want to know more about?
More Sneak Pics!
To watch, or not to watch...
Will you give this anime a shot?
I don't know about you, but I'm definitely intrigued enough to invest my time and attention into this series. I want to know how the plot advances, what other twists and turns the story will take, how the character and relationship developments will progress, and what on earth Fuwa Aika has to do with everything. She might be dead, but she is still lingering.
Here's to hoping that this show will continue to keep me entertained and will not take a turn for the worse because there's nothing like being disappointed with an anime when you're 20 episodes in. Happy watching, everyone~