First Impressions – Zetsuen no Tempest

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Put Shakespeare and BONES together and you’re probably not going to get something low-key – and Zetsuen no Tempest doesn’t disappoint.

[HorribleSubs] Zetsuen no Tempest - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_01.20_[2012.10.05_21.33.42]It’s been an awfully long time since I read “The Tempest” and I’ve never read the manga this series is based on, but it seems as if we’re in for a fairly liberal take on The Bard’s original story.  This one feels like a BONES series through and through – unapologetically dramatic and filled with florid dialogue and lingering close-ups of slightly androgynous bishounen faces and acres of female thigh.  And as you’d expect from BONES, it’s yet another fall series with really fluid animation and no lack of visual flair.

[HorribleSubs] Zetsuen no Tempest - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_03.00_[2012.10.05_21.36.27]The two fronts of the story are the deserted island where Kusaribe Hakaze (Sawashiro Miyuki, who’s become overexposed to the point where I’m starting to get a little tired of her) a young mage and apparently a princess, has been marooned and left to diem and the small-town high school where Takigawa Yoshino (Uchiyama Kouki) and his best friend Fuwa Mahiro (Toyanaga Toshiyuki) do daily battle with bullies.  Mahiro seems to be high up on the troublemakers list with the local police, and his younger sister Aika (Hazazawa Kana, also ridiculously overused at the moment) roundly derides Yoshino to Mahiro, but also dates him.  Tragedy strikes, Fuwa disappears, and a tall dark stranger named Yammamoto Evangeline (Mizuki Nana) makes an appearance, after which Yoshino’s life is never the same.

[HorribleSubs] Zetsuen no Tempest - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_02.22_[2012.10.05_21.35.49]In some respects I have a feeling that ZnT may end up being a series I appreciate more than like, though I’m going to try not to prejudge.  This isn’t a style that tends to connect with me, though based on the premiere it’s a style that’s executed very well.  The added element of the Shakespeare connection adds a wrinkle that could make the difference, if the mangaka and the writers at BONES can pull it off. The “Black Iron Syndrome” that’s devastated Yoshino’s hometown is a fairly standard anime MacGuffin for now, but again, too early to tell.  In the end premières are all about the impression they make on you, not detailed analysis of whether the plot is going to work.  Any style is better than no style, even if it’s not normally my cup of tea, so this premiere comfortably places Zetsuen in the safe zone for now. 

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  1. G

    Mhmm, I agree that this is a Bones show for sure, which means the studio is back in its comfort zone. When Bones broke down the wall last year and embarked on detective shows, I felt that it lost something essential, something that really sets it apart from other studios. I'm not saying it's not commendable to try something new, but in Bones case it just didn't work, they are studio that shines when they know what they are getting themselves into. This episode just flaunts that confidence in terms of execution. The lanscapes, the character design and even the action sequences are all very characteristic of what the studio did in the past before they deviated. As for the story itself, well, it's a little too dramatic for my taste, but I think we are in for some surprises with that strong opening.

  2. S

    The unmentioned time skips threw me the first time I watched it, as I didn't realize they were skipping around so much. Once I realized the opening bicycle scene was 1 year before the "current time", it made sense.

    Hehe, I'm surprised you missed the obligatory "If the director can keep Okada Mari in check" line. She's doing series composition and writing a good chunk of the scripts.

    I do have hopes for this series, but I don't know. We'll just have to see. And I really do want at least 1 Wilson/volleyball reference somewhere. They can't do the whole Castaway bit without at least tossing one joke about it our way.

  3. J

    This may come out of nowhere, but nowadays, I'm having my doubts giving my time to *any* show whose art style resembles Production IG's Guilty Crown or Rinne no Lagrange.
    Why? Wish I knew, but something I notice in all of those shows is that they get me really excited for its possibilities after I finish its first episode. Animation, script, chracters. But 7 more episodes in, and I find all of those have fallen in a deep, dark pit.

    This isn't Production IG of course, it's none other than liquid-fluid-world-famous BONES. Even so, BONES is not a studio that has gained my trust in their works; in fact, I'd even say they tend to have some 4-5 episodes of really good quality, while the rest of the series pales in comparison (Xam'd, DtB), both art-wise and narrative-wise (not to mention I'm not too fond of the numerous loose ends they like leaving in their finales).

    …In short, anything that is BONES has me waiting some good time, reading and checking blogs, to see whether it's worth it or not. Couple that with my 'superstition' of this Guilty Crown art-style, and boy I'll be skeptic with this one. Hopefully I'll end up being wrong, and this will be smashing good.

  4. S

    Well, Xam'd didn't run into problems until the 2nd cours, so BONES can go quite a while before running into a lot of trouble.

    The Rinne look is actually a palette shift. Everything actually is shifted to a violet, which I used to think was a capture issue until seeing the streams having the same effect. It's a little odd until you realize it ups the contrast on the CG and makes it blend better. Also increases the vibrancy.

    Guilty Crown looked awesome and had a wonderful soundtrack. It's just sad the writers had a world idea, an ending and a lot of alcohol.

  5. J

    Well, I never considered the colors would blend better with the CG, that's an interesting take I never thought of. To me, Rinne and GC's color palette looked pale and lifeless in a lot of scenes. And that's really hard to achieve in a series; a vibrant palette that is. Hyouka is a show I hold in high regards there.

    As for GC writers taking a lot of alcohol…You're right at that too.

  6. N

    Wow, I actually did not know that this was based on a play by Shakespeare. I just assumed it took a lot of inspiration from that kind of storytelling, lol

    Were I more the type for classic literature, I probably would have known `3`

  7. B

    The time skips were a bit confusing at first, having so many of them in rapid fire with no on screen indication that it was happening kind of made my head spin, but once I sorted it all out in my brain I enjoyed this premier. It's got potential. Of course it may end up crashing and burning as so much anime does but at least it's got a solid foundation that it can build on. Never read the Shakespeare play as I find translating the Olde Englishe in my head to be a paine in my reare, so any parallels are going to determinedly fly right over my head, hopefully this will not make the series less enjoyable.

  8. A

    You're right in the sense that first episodes are more about first impressions than a harbinger for the rest of the series.

    So far, Zetsuen no Tempest pulled off a great impression, and along with two other strong impressions (From the New World, K Project) Fall is shaping up rather nicely.

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