What would you do if somebody close to you was murdered and there isn't a single clue about who did it and why? Most people would languish in emotional pain and try to move on with their lives, filling the whole left behind with various activities and/or substances. Some do anything they can in order to get justice and/or revenge. Zetsuen no Tempest (aka Blast of Tempest) has both of these types of people with its two male protagonists, Yoshino and Mahiro.
When Mahiro's sister AIka is found dead at their estate, the two boys deal with the emotional vacuum in different ways. Yoshino continues his day-to-day life, albeit with an Aika-sized hole in his heart. He's listless and lacks the spunk that he was known for. Mahiro, on the other hand, goes out looking for revenge, becoming involved in a series of events that not only ropes in Yoshino, but could have global consequences. Oh, and Mahiro becomes a vassal for a princess who gives him access to magic. That, you know, MIGHT factor in to the insanity that will soon dominate the lives of these boys. Hit the jump to read about the first two episodes of Zetsuen no Tempest.
The show opens with Yoshino leisurely walking to class down a hill in modern Japan. His friends Mahiro and Aika come down the hill riding a bike, warning him about another tardy. Aika seems to have a rather strong dislike for Yoshino. After quoting a line from Hamlet, we see a barrel on a far off island topple over and reveal an annoyed lady named Hakaze, who's been marooned by a guy named Samon. Hakaze, self-proclaimed as the most powerful mage in her family, mentions that she won't have access to her magic and is stranded on the invisible island, thought that won't stop her from trying to escape.
Back in Japan, a melancholy Yoshino looks over a text message from his girlfriend about a future date while eating breakfast. It looks like some time has passed from his initial introduction, as a group of girls mention that Mahiro isn't around. This is confirmed when Yoshino's teacher asks where Mahiro has been in the past month. On the way out of school, Yoshino is jumped by a couple of punks, leading to the loss of his wallet and a flashback to better times.
Yoshino makes it out to a lonely grave looking out over a cliff. An attractive woman named Evangeline asks him about Mahiro. After he gives her a flip answer, she she pulls a pistol on him. Evangeline tells Yoshino that a certain boy had been spotted at two areas that are now under quarantine and that same boy saved a young girl. Yoshino tells Evangeline that he saved the young girl because she probably reminded Mahiro of his recently killed sister, leading to a flash back set ten months after Aika's burial. In the flashback, Mahiro is visibly frustrated with the lack of progress on Aika's investigation. When provoked by Yoshino, Mahiro says that he'll do whatever he has to do to make things right.
Jumping back to current times, Evangeline continues her interrogation right up until a massive group of butterflies flutter by. Yoshino uses the distraction to disarm Evangeline, but she quickly recovers and pulls another gun on him. When it looks like Yoshino's going to go down a rather rough road, a blue light shimmers in the air. Out of that shimmering light, Mahiro appears and delivers a foot to the side of Evangeline's head. In fact, Mahiro uses some rather interesting abilities, stopping a bullet from hitting him, teleporting himself around the area and knocking out Evangeline, who seems to be investigating something called black iron syndrome.
Yoshino finds out what black iron syndrome is when he leaves with Mahiro and finds that an old man on the steps to the graves has metallicized into, you guessed it, black iron. It isn't just the old man, the entire city has been struck down. Mahiro says that the quarantined cities that Evangeline mentioned have also been affected. The cause of black iron syndrome is quickly revealed when a magical ritual uncovers a giant fruit covered in chains that raises into the sky. It's part of a larger plan that threatens the rest of the world.
Mahiro reveals that the source of his powers is none other than Hakaze, who sent out a wooden doll that binds her to whoever agrees to help her. How did she get the doll out to Mahiro? Why, it was the old message-in-a-bottle trick. The agreed upon price for Mahiro's assistance? The name of the person who killed Aika. Which, of course, leads Mahiro to state that he plans to kill whoever murdered his sister. Mahiro asks about Yoshino's parents, who are in another city. He also asks about Yoshino's girlfriend, which leads to the viewer finding out that the mysterious girlfriend that nobody knows about is, or was, Aika. The message on his phone that he kept checking was the last message that she sent out before they found her dead. Ouch.
Mahiro and Yoshino make their way into town. Mahiro gives his friend a quick rundown: a faction of Hakaze's family is attempting to summon all of the floating fruit and to combine them to bring back a giant tree. The two boys walk back to Mahiro's house and begin a ritual to find out who is Aika's killer. Hakaze explains that those that aren't mages, like Mahiro and Yoshino, can use talismans that have been imbued with magic. However, they break after a couple of uses, so they have to be careful. Mahiro activates the spell, though it's going to take a while. Mahiro gives Yoshino a couple of talisman before the two split up. After Yoshino steps out, the spell finishes and gives Mahiro the answer he's looking.
Yoshino heads back into town to grab some supplies and bumps into a rather grouchy Evangeline. She tries to interrogate Yoshino again, but he uses the talismans to get loose and run away. He makes his way back to his school, where Evangeline uses tear gas to force Yoshino out. He makes it out to the roof before Evangeline, giving him time to ambush her with a pistol he stole form her earlier. She disarms him, but he beats her again using the talismans. He offers a truce, mentioning that Mahiro needs help and can't be left alone. She tries to convince Yoshino to leave Mahiro alone, but he drops enough clues to let Evangeline know that Aika was his girlfriend and he has a stake in finding the murderer too. However, he doesn't want to kill the murderer, as it wouldn't bring Aika back.
When we cut back to Mahiro, we don't find out who the killer is, but it's suggested it's somebody that Hakaze knows. It looks like the two of them will be working together for mutual benefit. While walking around town, Mahiro is jumped by a guy in a coat who exhibits mage abilities. The guy's named Kusaribe, who Hakaze knows as a very tough mage. She tells Mahiro not to engage Kusaribe, but the hot-headed kid goes for it anyway. As he fights, he resolves himself to do whatever he has to do get revenge for his sister's death.
I had zero expectations going into Zetsuen no Tempest. I didn't know if it was going to be good or bad. All I knew was that there was a mysterious murder and magic was somehow involved. I'm glad to say that I enjoyed it quite a bit. There's some good pathos, some good action, the music is sufficient and the animation looks good. The set up where the world is at stake will probably feature heavily and drive the action along, but I'm going to guess that there's going to be a clash between Mahiro and Yoshino involving their preferred way of removing Aika's killer. Mahiro will probably go off the deep end at one point and it'll be up to Yoshino to keep him from becoming a monster.
Speaking of the boys, I find myself liking them. While I more or less guessed Yoshino's connection with Aika, I can believe that somebody like him would be so deeply affected by a death so close to him. He never seemed to be the vengeance type before Aika died, so he wouldn't be out for blood. Perhaps he'd look for justice, but he wouldn't want the killers throat between his teeth. Mahiro, on the other hand, you can really feel for and understand why he'd want to merc the guy that killed his younger sister. Hell, I'd probably feel the same way. You definitely get the feeling that he's going to have a dark journey.
I'm definitely going to stick with Zetsuen no Tempest. Unlike the other things I'm following, there's an established story with understandable goals for all the characters. When you have to hash through a fair amount of nonsense, it's refreshing when a show doesn't leave you out in the cold for the sake of mystery. I have no doubt that we don't know the whole story yet, but we have enough to know what's going and to keep watching. Aniplex has licensed it already and episodes will be popping up at Crunchyroll.
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