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.
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.
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