First Impressions – Zetsuen no Tempest

Anime Meets Shakespeare. …And it isn’t Romeo and Juliet for once (…mostly).

Your teachers all had a good reason to make you read Shakespeare in school – because they knew that one day it would come up in an anime. Ah, the beauty of our education system…bestowing countless pearls of wisdom onto us so that we may better appreciate the glorious Japanese cartoons we watch in our spare time.
Well, I pointed this anime out to OC a while ago on a whim saying that the premise sounded good, and now here I am giving my first impressions with her xD. As expected, it did turn out pretty good. Better than expected in fact, for a multitude of reasons. This is probably my favourite action anime opening that I’ve seen this season (though I have yet to start up Jormungand again).

Production overall – To be honest, Zetsuen no Tempest had me at BONES. From the same studio that gave us the amazing fights of Soul Eater and Eureka 7, I have to say that the fight scenes (and everything else) that happened in this first episode were equally great. Hell, all of the animation was pretty good. On that same note, Tempest has quite a few famous seiyuu in this lending their talents. The Hanazawa Virus strikes again with her playing Aika as well as performing the ED theme for this (not that we heard it this episode… We’ll just have to wait until episode 2 for that). As for the other 3 protagonists, we have Sawashiro Miyuki as Hakaze, Toyonaga Toshiyuki as Mihiro and Uchiyama Kouki as Yoshino. That’s a pretty solid cast. I see a potential weak link (or the potential that this will be absolutely brilliant) with the director, Ando Masahiro, since he directed both Canaan and Hanasaku Iroha. Both anime had their flaws, but they also had parts that were really, really good to them. This first episode of Zetsuen no Tempest explained a lot more in the first episode than I think Canaan ever did (…and the action sequences in Canaan were excellent, so that’s a plus there). It balanced the past and present switches pretty well and added to the story instead of simply making things confusing. In the end, I think his directing quality is pretty dependant on the source material and script.

“Okay, I’m done abusing women now. Let’s go do something else.”

Magic – Zetsuen no Tempest makes it very clear that magic plays an integral role in this world. How much more clear can you get than a sorceress making a contract with someone and giant THINGS popping out of the ocean? Anyways, Mahiro disappears for a month without a word, and when he returns he does it by quite literally flying in. After making a rather hefty deal with the strongest sorceress in the world, he gains magical powers. It doesn’t seem like a very wise move since avenging his sister’s death is reckless and rather irrelevant at this point. It’s not going to help at all. It’s a good target for his anger right now, but the imagined satisfaction of exacting revenge is often much larger than what is actually felt after the deed is done. Mahiro’s single-minded drive to avenge his sister’s death has got him tangled up in a crazy world of magic, incurable diseases and massive eyeballs. The world is in absolute chaos, but instead of saving it…he just wants to settle some scores. Yoshino is dragged into it despite having no magical powers to speak of. He’s more like a proxy for the confused viewer than anything else at this point, as he has about as much clue about what’s going on as we do. However, I suppose he is slightly emotionally invested in this revenge-filled quest since he was secretly dating his friend’s sister behind his back. Yikes. While the “I WANT REVENGE!” motives seem very simplistic right now, I get the feeling once Hakaze’s motives are in the mix that we’ll see some more complex story elements. Once she’s free from you island, I just know some crazy shit is gonna go down. I also get the feeling that Mahiro’s sister isn’t as out of commission as they want us to think, and she’ll (at the very least) be mentioned almost all the time each week.

Alas, poor Aika. I knew her, …Only not really because she was dead before the story even started.

Shakespeare’s connections with Zetsuen –  I just about died from a very weird language arts meets anime fangirling moment when I realized that Hakaze being stuck on the island was a loose reference to Shakespeare’s The Tempest (and then I died again when Mahrio started quoting Hamlet). I see anime, books and just about everything based off of Romeo and Juliet, so it’s kind of refreshing to see something recognizing The Tempest. So for those of you who don’t have the slightest clue about how Hakaze and Shakespeare connect, in The Tempest, Prospero was a duke until his brother overthrew him, took over his ruling position and left him to die on a raft at sea. Like Hakaze, Prosepero ended up on an island, but the difference there is that Prospero was left with the source of his power. Hakaze was left without her magic, but the part where she was betrayed by her brother remains the same. I like her character already since she seems pretty damn resourceful (having her voiced by Sawashiro Miyuki helps as well). Obviously she was powerful enough to be stranded on an island by her flesh and blood, so I’m curious to see that come into play.

Characters – 

Yoshino: Despite having the emotional transparency of a glass door, we’re told to believe that he’s actually very good at deception. The only time we actually see this trait is when he internally confesses to dating Aika without her brother knowing. The rest of the time, he is either openly moping or looking as startled as a deer in headlights. Yoshino is steeped in melancholy and seems to have a bleak outlook on life.

Mahiro: Instead of over-analyzing things like his friend, Yoshino is the kind of guy who skips thinking altogether and just goes by instincts. His main instinct? Anger. Mahiro is out for blood and seems to think nothing about striking a deal with a sketchy thing he found on the beach. He isn’t even particularly perturbed by the sudden outbreak of people turning into metal, which seems like a pretty big deal to me. Maybe it’s just me though. Mahiro doesn’t seem to be very considerate or even good at reading people. He doesn’t explain anything aside from the bare essentials to Yoshino, and he’s completely oblivious to his sister’s secret relationship. I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets taken advantage of a lot of the time while Yoshino tries desperately to reel him in to the realm of sanity and reason. 

Aika: She seems like a bit of a cold person, although her strictness seems to be for the protective benefit of her two rowdy friends. Her death really devastated Yoshino and Mahiro, and acts as a catalyst for the rest of the story. Other than that, we see her more often as dirt in front of a gravestone than alive and kicking, so it’s hard to tell what she was really like.

Let’s see Mahiro try to flying kick the crap out of this thing.

End Thoughts:

I was caught off-guard with Zetsuen on Tempest. It had some incredible fight sequences with wicked choreography. I could perceivably see myself using some of those moves in a fight, unlike some of the strange gravity-defying stuff I see that’s flashy but highly improbable to pull off in real life. Although magic seems to be a big part of the show, I really hope the hand-to-hand combat continues if it’s going to be this well-animated. Everything else is rather standard fare or tipping towards mediocre. I think the whole set-up sounds great on paper, and there’s a wonderful story waiting to be told. I just wish a pair of emo brats weren’t the ones telling it. Although I suppose the problem isn’t that Yoshino and Mahiro have attitude problems – it’s that the character interactions and characterization in this show feels rigid. Did a robot write this script? It sounds like Yoshino only explains plot details and thinks “I AM CONFUSED” while Mahiro responds as if he only heard every third word out of Yoshino’s mouth. These aren’t conversations. These are two people talking out loud who happen to be in the same vicinity. They don’t play off each other at all, which makes them a really boring duo. If this continues, it will be a major problem that will seriously hamper the story. This week most likely wanted to focus on getting all the magic and crazy stuff out of the way before slowing down. Even with this semi-apocalypse situation suddenly cropping up all at once, I feel like there’s still a lot we have to see. I’m usually the type who watches anime to analyze the characters, but Zetsuen no Tempest doesn’t really excel in that area, so I’m left hungering for magic to step in and spice things up. Aika is also a rather interesting piece to the puzzle, as she is the driving force that made Mahiro desperate enough to trust a coconut doll with a note on it. I’m going to be very cautious about Zetsuen no Tempest. It may vary wildly from week to week, but I’ll keep watching to catch those high points…and Shakespeare references. Those are always fun to catch!

The story seems great (who doesn’t love a classic apocalypse/ end of the world story?) and the action/magic was amazing. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised by Zetsuen no Tempest. Screw figuring out why people are dying or how our protagonists are stopping all of this though. I’m really looking forward to seeing how else they incorporate Shakespeare into the character’s dialogue and characters themselves. Aside from all of those other good things this anime has going for it (don’t get me wrong. I love mysterious magical diseases and whatnot), that was just bonus awesomeness. The only thing I can really complain about is the interaction between the two main guys. I don’t have a problem with the dialogue like OC does as long as they explain things, but my problem is more about how the story keeps telling us how close they are. The only thing I really saw proving that was that one time they fought a couple of guys together and then were nursed by Aika. All the rest of that was them just telling us that these guys were best friends and expecting us to just go along with it because they said so. I prefer seeing proof or interaction or… something. Hopefully the stuff coming up will show us more interaction. I liked what they showed with Hakaze and Mahiro’s relationship of convenience at least, so I know they’re capable of character interaction that I like.

Episode 2’s post should be right around the corner~ …Sorry for the delay for our impressions. OTL


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25 Responses to “First Impressions – Zetsuen no Tempest”

  1. akagami says:

    I’m still mad about Aika. I enjoyed this a lot more than I thought I would But still raging at the same time.
    (ノ `Д´)ノ ~┻━┻ < the table Kyokai put back

  2. Amutofan123 says:

    Probably one of my favorite first episodes so far this season. Of the action-y stuff at least. It certainly caught my attention. AND YEAH, BISHIES! I really enjoyed the action in this, despite the fact that I’m not I big fan of action-y stuff. Well, I have no clue what’s going on right now, but I’m looking forward to more.

    • Karakuri says:

      This is my favourite of the season thus far. I’m really looking forward to seeing where they go with this as well~~… But yeah, I have no idea what’s going on either.

  3. Foshizzel says:

    Hanazawa Kana character death? WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO MY HEART! Ahem…I like this so far, but I am curious to see more mage on mage fighting soon! Also Bones…I hope you don’t confuse the hell out of us like you did with Eureka Seven Ao! At least I hope they knock this one out of the park.

    • Karakuri says:

      …Fosh, you serve as a constant reminder that I’m like, 15 episodes behind in Ao. *Cough* Anyways, this plot does look like it could be confusing. …I just hope that it sorts itself out.

  4. Highway says:

    Having watched the first two episodes, I like this one enough to keep watching. The ED you mention, tho, seemed REALLY out of place, like a shoujo romance ED song (and animation) got dropped into this fighting / magical show. I know enough about Shakespeare to realize they’re probably quoting lines from it, but other than that, I’m not really a literature guy (in fact, most of my Shakespeare stories I know of are ones that other guys rip off, like Terry Pratchett and Christopher Moore).

    I do have to say that I’m not really looking forward to being teased with Yoshino and Aika’s romance that was ended by her death. I don’t like it when the romance has no chance of long-lasting success.

    • akagami says:

      I’m guessing you wouldn’t like Hanbun no Tsuki ga Noboru Sora. I found it to be an excellent romance title, but it’s definitely not a fairy tale story.

    • Karakuri says:

      Yeah, I thought it felt really out of place as well. I do like the song though. Ahaha I don’t think you need to know much Shakespeare to enjoy this. It’s just a bonus to literature fans and helps explain some characters better.

  5. BlackBriar says:

    Whew, is there no end to these impressive animes this season? Zetsuen no Tempest gets points for the fluid animation. I help thinking Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. And BONES is behind this. I hope the story doesn’t turn out as confusing as Eureka Seven AO. Entertaining but confusing.

    It’s been a while since we’ve had a full english OP though they decided to play it at the end (Like it was done with Tasogare). I haven’t heard one of those since Deadman Wonderland’s “One Reason” but Zetsuen’s isn’t as catchy.

    The part that had me a bit rattled was the short but full-on abuse Mahiro gave that girl. Even though she was kind of an “enemy”, I felt for her. The abuse on Sakura in the first episode of Code: Breaker was also just as excessive. Regardless, I’m looking forward to more of this series.

    • Karakuri says:

      Hmmm, yeah, I don’t think I’ve heard a full English ED since Deadman either. I did watch Wolf’s Rain recently which had one, but that anime is pretty old, so that doesn’t count.

      I felt for Sakura, but I felt a bit better with Evangeline, since her character annoyed me. She serves as a good character to get Yoshino to talk about himself though, so I can see why they’d keep her character in here. You have to admit that the fighting looked really nice, despite the obvious abuse.

  6. D-LaN says:

    The only Shakespeare I read is a poem abt Spring and Love lol. (Forgot the title)

    Also, those butterflies animation. So pretty yet its a sign tht stuff is wrong…. Add in good visual and orchestral BGM and you got me following this.

    Aika, I’m sorry for calling you a b*tch.

    • akagami says:

      Noo, you take that back! I ♥ Aika.
      I was interested when I saw her on the bike and fell hook, line and sinker when I saw the phone message.

    • Karakuri says:

      Hmm, I don’t think you need to know much Shakespeare to enjoy this. This is pretty loosely based.

      YES. The production team behind this needs a pat on the back or something. Everything is amazing thus far.

  7. MikADo says:

    i heard that lots of budget was poured into this series, and it sure its proving its moneyworth in artwork wise, but im not yet sure about the characters.
    The story is fine, really, magic-lovers like me have no problem watching the show, but yes as you mentioned the two main characters are making weird disturbances in the anime, makes me unfocused from watching the show
    but yes i will probably continue with this show 😉

    • Karakuri says:

      You can really tell that they poured money into this, since everything looks AMAZING. Agreed with the characters, but they’ve started out with everything vague, so I have a feeling that the story will involve going deeper into all of the characters.

  8. kitty says:

    In relation to Shakespeare which I love! I’m predicting that Mahiro will die at the end, if they adopt the tragedy model, you never know with bones.

    • Karakuri says:

      I guess it depends on how the (still ongoing) manga ends. …If it even ends in time with the manga. Mahiro is based off of Hamlet, so I can see him dying at the end, no problem.

  9. Gecko says:

    I was wondering if this anime had anything to do with “The Tempest” since I had to read it a little while ago for a class. I didn’t like much of it beyond the shape-shifting island stuff. And I have to read Hamlet now, so it should be fun to see the parallels.
    …although I don’t really like Shakespeare whatsoever. It isn’t my thing.
    But this should be a fun anime to watch anyways. Intense action, crazy stuff happening all over, things coming out of the ocean…

    • Karakuri says:

      I read a lot of Shakespeare for class back in high school, so I’m really enjoying the parallels in this series~. Even without that though, yeah. The animation is great and the storyline is interesting. Zetsuen would have had me without the Shakespeare.

  10. Kyokai says:

    What the hell man, killing off the heroine so dramatically like that? This is another series that surprised me enough to keep watching. Also, I can’t wait for the witch to do her thing, she’s already my favourite character.

    • Karakuri says:

      Heh, it’s the power of Sawashiro Miyuki. xD Yeah, Hakaze is my fav character as well thus far. …Though Mahiro might steal that away. His violent angst is fun to watch.

  11. Moni Chan says:


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