Weekly Digest: 10/27/12 – Zetsuen no Tempest, Btooom!

[HorribleSubs]_Zetsuen_no_Tempest_-_04_[720p].mkv_snapshot_11.18_[2012.10.27_15.41.30] [HorribleSubs]_Zetsuen_no_Tempest_-_04_[720p].mkv_snapshot_19.50_[2012.10.27_15.51.15] [Commie] BTOOOM! - 04 [F7EF42F0].mkv_snapshot_08.24_[2012.10.27_21.40.39]

These two series present a marked contrast – one lyrical and almost graceful, and the other a display of narrative brute force.

Zetsuen no Tempest – 04

[HorribleSubs]_Zetsuen_no_Tempest_-_04_[720p].mkv_snapshot_04.29_[2012.10.27_15.34.41] [HorribleSubs]_Zetsuen_no_Tempest_-_04_[720p].mkv_snapshot_05.13_[2012.10.27_15.35.25] [HorribleSubs]_Zetsuen_no_Tempest_-_04_[720p].mkv_snapshot_06.46_[2012.10.27_15.36.57]
[HorribleSubs]_Zetsuen_no_Tempest_-_04_[720p].mkv_snapshot_08.23_[2012.10.27_15.38.35] [HorribleSubs]_Zetsuen_no_Tempest_-_04_[720p].mkv_snapshot_10.41_[2012.10.27_15.40.52] [HorribleSubs]_Zetsuen_no_Tempest_-_04_[720p].mkv_snapshot_10.49_[2012.10.27_15.41.01]
[HorribleSubs]_Zetsuen_no_Tempest_-_04_[720p].mkv_snapshot_12.07_[2012.10.27_15.42.58] [HorribleSubs]_Zetsuen_no_Tempest_-_04_[720p].mkv_snapshot_13.39_[2012.10.27_15.44.30] [HorribleSubs]_Zetsuen_no_Tempest_-_04_[720p].mkv_snapshot_18.38_[2012.10.27_15.49.29]
[HorribleSubs]_Zetsuen_no_Tempest_-_04_[720p].mkv_snapshot_17.03_[2012.10.27_15.47.55] [HorribleSubs]_Zetsuen_no_Tempest_-_04_[720p].mkv_snapshot_14.13_[2012.10.27_15.45.05] [HorribleSubs]_Zetsuen_no_Tempest_-_04_[720p].mkv_snapshot_19.14_[2012.10.27_15.50.39]
[HorribleSubs]_Zetsuen_no_Tempest_-_04_[720p].mkv_snapshot_19.17_[2012.10.27_15.50.42] [HorribleSubs]_Zetsuen_no_Tempest_-_04_[720p].mkv_snapshot_20.33_[2012.10.27_15.52.13] [HorribleSubs]_Zetsuen_no_Tempest_-_04_[720p].mkv_snapshot_21.08_[2012.10.27_15.52.48]

This was certainly a change of pace episode for Zetsuen, a look back at the meeting of Yoshino and Mahiro.  It comes at a pretty good time, too, because I really haven’t been all that interested in any of the lead characters thus far, and liked the show pretty well in spite of that.  Getting a little background on the pair at the heart of the show went a ways towards making them more interesting and sympathetic.

Yoshino, for certain, seems a little more 3-D after having his past revealed a bit.  I enjoyed his blunt “I’d rather not deal with you further” when he was forced to visit Mahiro in the hospital – frankly, I wouldn’t have wanted anything to do with him either.  I also thought Mahiro’s wry “absurd food” comment about Yoshino’s cooking was one of his more engaging moments.  There are some interesting unanswered questions, like where  Aika might have been during the flashback – and I’d like to know for certain if Yoshino was getting ready to tell his friend the truth there at the end (I assume he was).

As always, Zetsuen does a fine job with the atmospherics – I find the post-apocalyptic scenes after an outbreak of Black Iron Syndrome quite creepy.  And the use of the two doomed boys as a way to frame the flashback and show a bit of compassion from Mahiro was nicely played as well.

Btooom! – 04

[Commie] BTOOOM! - 04 [F7EF42F0].mkv_snapshot_00.47_[2012.10.27_21.33.28] [Commie] BTOOOM! - 04 [F7EF42F0].mkv_snapshot_04.53_[2012.10.27_21.36.38] [Commie] BTOOOM! - 04 [F7EF42F0].mkv_snapshot_06.45_[2012.10.27_21.38.31]
[Commie] BTOOOM! - 04 [F7EF42F0].mkv_snapshot_07.09_[2012.10.27_21.39.11] [Commie] BTOOOM! - 04 [F7EF42F0].mkv_snapshot_08.03_[2012.10.27_21.40.05] [Commie] BTOOOM! - 04 [F7EF42F0].mkv_snapshot_10.31_[2012.10.27_21.42.46]
[Commie] BTOOOM! - 04 [F7EF42F0].mkv_snapshot_12.01_[2012.10.27_21.44.16] [Commie] BTOOOM! - 04 [F7EF42F0].mkv_snapshot_13.09_[2012.10.27_21.45.24] [Commie] BTOOOM! - 04 [F7EF42F0].mkv_snapshot_14.09_[2012.10.27_21.46.24]
[Commie] BTOOOM! - 04 [F7EF42F0].mkv_snapshot_17.19_[2012.10.27_21.49.34] [Commie] BTOOOM! - 04 [F7EF42F0].mkv_snapshot_19.04_[2012.10.27_21.51.19] [Commie] BTOOOM! - 04 [F7EF42F0].mkv_snapshot_21.01_[2012.10.27_21.53.26]
[Commie] BTOOOM! - 04 [F7EF42F0].mkv_snapshot_21.33_[2012.10.27_21.53.58] [Commie] BTOOOM! - 04 [F7EF42F0].mkv_snapshot_23.27_[2012.10.27_21.54.33] [Commie] BTOOOM! - 04 [F7EF42F0].mkv_snapshot_23.52_[2012.10.27_21.54.57]

Man, this show is seriously screwed up.  I couldn’t honestly say that I like it, per se, but I do find it compelling in a gruesome accident sort of way.  The people we meet seem to be getting more and more twisted, slowly making Sakamoto look saner in comparison.  This time around it’s 14 year-old psychopath Kira  Kousuke (Sawashiro Miyuki), who’s already killed then raped three women, and been sent to the island with his sympathetic (for the moment) lawyer and twisted father.  And like Sakamoto, he’s a Btooom player, and a pretty good one.

It’s interesting to speculate on whether someone like Kira is worthy of any sympathy after doing the things he has.  I must say I disagree with his lawyer’s eventual conclusion that he’s worse than his father, because it was his father’s cruelty and apparently sexual abuse that clearly drove the kid off the cliff.  Bad gene pool for sure, but the Dad was a real piece of work – and after what he did to Kira, I wasn’t at all sorry to see him get rewarded.  It all presents a sort of moral dilemma for Sakamoto, who has to decide whether he’s ready to kill again, and a child at that – and after hitting his head against a rock dodging one of Kira’s attacks, seems to forget himself and imagine he’s back in his room playing a mere game.  Seems like there’s more to that story, stay tuned.

I know I’ll be in the minority on this, but I’m getting a bit tired of Sawashiro Miyuki.  Frankly she’s just in too many shows the last couple of seasons, and it’s especially a problem in her case because to put it bluntly, she doesn’t have much range and basically uses the same voice in every role, male or female.  I’ll admit up front she’s not one of my favorites – she’s definitely a larger-than-life personality and very good at a certain type, but rather than seiyuu who overact I tend to prefer more natural actors who blend into a role (Tomatsu Haruka comes to mind) over stars who effectively play themselves.  She’s certainly a talent, but she’s too recognizably herself in every role to appear in as many concurrently airing series as she is without it becoming a distraction.



  1. G

    I think this last episode of Zetsuen made more of an impact on me than the previous three combined, which is really saying something here. It showcases how much better a story can get with well executed character development. The contrast between the two really come through and there were plenty of laugh-inducing moments that reflect this contrast. It was amusing when Mahiro summed up the whole story with "there was some stupid accident and it had stupid result". I felt it was a true to character remark and one that plays off Yoshino's full account of the story quite well. And the punchline was a clever spin too. All in all, the episode took off some of that pretentious edge off the show and the characters are becoming much more endearing.

    Btooom!, like damn, it really intends to explore the full range of twisted behaviours. It has a brutally realistic approach to the themes that come across and that's really the most unsettling part for me. Kids like Kira do exist and the justification to his twisted world view is very grounded in reality. I can relate his experience to case studies in psychology and that shows the writer did their research and really thought this out. I just didn't expect they would take the characterization to this extend. It was a very intense and discomforting episode, but like you said, it's also compelling, which is something hard to accomplish in itself.

    Hmm, I don't see K here, can I assume you've officially dropped the show off your blogging list?

  2. G

    One last note, no Enzo, I feel the same way as you about Sawashiro Miyuki, her voice is becoming very distracting and it was especially so with Kira. It wasn't a good choice. I think she is much better suited for a character like Hakaze. But on the whole, I'm pretty sick of it.

  3. H

    Starting to feel the same way about Miyuki Sawashiro too Enzo. Over the past couple of seasons she's been working overtime but oh well. She'll have to cool down eventually. I still like her in HxH and Kokoro Connect though. Not to the point of getting sick of her but I when I hear her voice I'm like really? This show too?

    This season I think she's in Psycho Pass, Btoom,Zetsuen no Tempest, and K from the episodes I remember

  4. A

    "I know I’ll be in the minority on this, but I’m getting a bit sick of Sawashiro Miyuki. Frankly she’s just in too many shows the last couple of seasons, and it’s especially a problem in her case because to put it bluntly, she doesn’t have much range and basically uses the same voice in every role, male or female"

    Maybe you just watch too much. Then again, I find your blog is becoming predictably monotonous with your constant display of biases for and against certain seiyu or otherwise. These make for pretty imbalanced impressions most of the time.

    Sorry I'm not here to fan that highfalutin attitude of yours.

  5. If they aren't your opinions they're biases, eh?

    This kind of comment always amuses me to no end, especially from someone who won't even identify themselves. What exactly do people expect an opinion blog to be if not an expression of opinions? If you want summary and cheerleading there are other options out there.

    Bottom line is my biases are in favor or good shows and against bad ones, and in favor of good acting over bad acting and seiyuu diversity over overexposure. If your opinion of what makes good shows and good performances is different than mine (many are) then you can make a case yourself, go elsewhere or claim "bias!" and leave an anonymous comment.

  6. c

    You have a lot of thorns in your side concerning seiyuu/writers, clearly. But that's beyond the issue.

    You're an omnipotent force of self prophesying genius at times. All high on your opinions (more an issue than the opinions themselves really). Your commentary of certain shows demonstrates this.

    As an anime reviewer (with a large online audience) don't you ever feel an ounce of responsibly to give at least some balanced assessment? A lot of your work favors "emotional depth" and impacts on your judgement. When you can't step back from yourself and look at the whole picture your criticisms lack credibility.

    Hope that helps.

  7. A

    Also, of course you'll see trends or over exposure when you overexpose yourself to the season roster. Having a go at Sawashiro Miyuki just because she's doing particularly well for herself this year seems petty.

  8. D

    Perhaps there's a lack of female seiyuu who will step out of the young girl box. I'd love to see Hochan revisit the depth she found in and lost after MPD.

  9. G

    You clearly haven't read enough blogs. In my humble opinion Enzo is one of the less intrusive writers in the blogsphere. Yes, he still states his opinions but he also backs them up with enough insight. As far as I can remember, he has never tried to impose his opinions on anyone, neither did he ever mock those who have a different opinion, a habit many bloggers fall into. Even when he does consider a show weak in certain aspects, he almost always point out the positives. I really don't see how that's unbalanced.
    It's unfortunate that you have had such a negative experience. Maybe Enzo is simply not the right blogger for you if you can't relate to anything he says and maybe it's problem lies with you. Well, there are plenty alternative options, you don't have to stay here.

  10. A

    The problems not with the opinions, but how they are framed. I think you may be confusing insight for preference. Whenever he has something negative to say it usually turns into a vendetta.

    Kaji Yuki is usually a primary victim. I bet everyone on here knows how little Enzo thinks of him.

    I'm not a devotee to this blog but I've seen enough to call something unfair. Your assessment on the seiyuu in question (below) has more weight to it. I should probably visit your blog.

  11. A

    "Even when he does consider a show weak in certain aspects, he almost always point out the positives. I really don't see how that's unbalanced."

    Okay, take his positive reviews on shows he's decided are the best this season. You'll see little criticism or objectivity in those. How's that for balanced? (Space Brothers and SSY, Jormungand and Jinrui for exmaple).

  12. G

    By insight, I do mean insight, partly because I can relate to what he says most of them. I think every writer caters to certain things in a series and I personally don't see a problem with that. I have noticed that Enzo does comment on "emotional depth" more than others, but I don't think that necessarily make him unfair. Things that you may think are negative may not appear that way to a particular writer, and blogs are only interesting precisely because it's a space in which writer are allowed to instill their own personality. I really don't see how you CAN be completely objective in this matter. After all, reviews are not academic research papers where every comment is based on quantifiable evidence.

    I can't comment on his seiyuu assessment because it's usually the part of his post that I skip since I don't particularly care for the choice of seiyuu as long as it doesn't sound too out of line.

    At the end of the day, it's the audience that choose the writer, not the other way around. He has the responsibility to respect his readers' constructive opinions (including yours), but he is not obligated to appeal to everyone's taste.

  13. A

    "I have noticed that Enzo does comment on "emotional depth" more than others, but I don't think that necessarily make him unfair" I agree, but it does tend to dominate other qualities of a series. Style and ideas usually take a back seat to character depth and voice acting (all are equally important).

  14. Style and ideas take a back seat? Really? I'm not sure what blog you're reading but I don't think it's this one. I talk about ideas constantly, and style too – though that's such an amorphous term that it can be stretched to cover almost anything.

    I gave a very detailed reasoning in my original post about why Sawashiro Miyuki isn't one of my favorite seiyuu, so saying (anonymously) that I'm taking shots at her for being successful is not only completely wrong, but also a cheap shot in and of itself. But when the gist of a comment is "I disagree with you, so you're an idiot" straw men are really the only available tool to try and make a point.

    In terms of "balanced assessment" I try and be objective as possible in what's inherently a subjective arena. I'm certainly not going to say I like something I don't like just to try and please people with different tastes than mine. If you take the case of a series like Guilty Crown, for example, I certainly went out of my way to point out the things that show often did beautifully (animation, character design, music) but I wasn't going to gloss over what was wrong with it. That's being objective. Perhaps some people will only see "objective" as offering a positive assessment of every episode of every series you cover. If that's the case it's their issue, not mine.

  15. -

    "Style and ideas take a back seat? Really? I'm not sure what blog you're reading but I don't think it's this one…"
    It sure is. Visual style and plot rarely take center stage with you. It's always "character depth". If it's lacking it's "intellectually dense" or something nasty.

    "I gave a very detailed reasoning in my original post…"
    Detail? All you said was that she's over exposed and lacks range. How convincing.

    "Perhaps some people will only see "objective" as offering a positive assessment of every episode of every series you cover. If that's the case it's their issue, not mine…"
    AGAIN. It's not your opinions but how you frame them. I actually like that you aren't afraid to critique – but often it comes across a personal gripe rather than a technical fault. At the same time if you have personal bias for something (SSY) it's immune to any critique.

    But No one's asking you to write a thesis or cheer-lead like RC on every 22 minute cartoon you watch, just a rounded recommendation.

  16. J

    Guilty Crown's a poor example. You were merely championing an underdog in the anime community at the time, just as you have been with LB and "unappreciated gems".

  17. Anonymity is the blessing and curse of the internet, isn't it?

  18. A

    Yeah, man.

    *lights a cig*

  19. It's a fabulously fanciful interpretation to say I was "championing" GC, since I was negative about it most of the time. I just got to the point where I didn't want to drop it after having suffered through most of the run already (but it was a learning experience – I'd never stick with GC for 22 episodes now, no way). And if I cover a show, I'm going to point out the good things it does when it does them.

  20. A

    Why do you watch shows you don't even really like? I mean Btooom doesn't seem your cup of tea? It's like your covering most of the fall roster. How do you make the time?

  21. A

    I'm sure you could make friends with half the global population of anons IRL, Enzo.

    /shoulder pat.

  22. You're taking potshots at me now for covering too many shows? Is there even any pretense about this being a real discussion anymore?

  23. A

    You presume wrong.

    With jaypon and everything I'd figured you be tied down, but still manage to cover as much as you did before.

    Anyway, gud4u.

  24. t

    There's a difference between having no range and what I guess is being asked to do the same voice by every producer.

    She can have a cute voice when she wants to,see this song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xE6vA3eprNo (and marvel at Sawashiro trying to master french).

    However in recent years she's basicly stopped taking most roles that would require to sing character songs (with a couple exceptions here and there),that decision pretty much blocks her from a whole lot of role that could show a different side of her you heard earlier in her career.

    You'll still hear her use a cuter voices when she plays babies,small kids or mascots, for example in chugo chara: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RPesHLpNkws
    But those are never big roles sadly.
    She can do the sweet shy quiet type quite well too,she could have made a great Kanade in Chihayafuru or a great Nako in Hanasaku Iroha for example but for some reason she never gets those kind of offers.

  25. Or she gets them and never takes them.

    I agree to some extent, but even when I hear her do a child role (like Mutta, for example) it still really sounds about the same (I never said "no" range BTW – not much is the term I used) to me. Part of it is type-casting, but part of it truly is range IMHO – she's a personality, and every role seems to be a reflection of her. That wouldn't be such an issue for me if she weren't in so many series at the same time – and the same could be said for some other seiyuu, too. Overexposure is a real industry problem these days.

  26. t

    Mutta's not what I had in mind lol , take this kid: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fj-n-0QAu0g&t=4m33s if it sounds about the same to you then I guess we just hear things differently.

    My main source of puzzlement is more along the lines of "why now?" when she's arguably been overexposed for years now,she'll be in the same amount of animes as she was last year and neither this or last year have been her busiest year nor is this the first time she's this busy in a season,maybe it's just that you happen to be watching more of the shows she's in than you did before,or maybe hearing her in 2 long runners (space bros and HxH) every week might have taken its toll on you?

  27. G

    I actually can't think of another season where her voice is SO prominently featured. Yes, she's in every season, but this season in particularly stands out from the rest. K, Psycho-Pass, Btooom!, Zetsuen no Tempest, and it doesn't help they all air on a single day. That's overexposure to the max. I actually like her voice a lot, it's got a real personality, but I feel like her roles are crossing over to each other because of the number of shows she's in.

  28. I agree with Glass here – I think there is an actual increase in the number of shows she's featuring in, not just the ones I'm covering. FTR, I actually find her Kurapika one of her less showy and more "blendy" performances – she's quite restrained in the role, a mode I wish we heard from her more often.

  29. t

    Increase compared to earlier this year sure,has this been the most active she's been in a season?No,that's still summer 2009.
    And again,overall in 2012 she hasn't gotten more roles than 2011,they were just spread out more last year

  30. U

    I agree with totoum about Miyuki Swashiro. She obviously has range. She's just being hired a lot for that specific, adult voice.

    Enzo, what about her performance as young Mutta in Space Bros? Or the brilliant turn she did as Mint Blancmanche in Galaxy Angels for so many years? Or the fact that she started voicing Petit Charat?

  31. t

    Personally I'd agree with Enzo on the fact that her Mutta is too close to her Serika.And if I wanted to play devil's advocate I'd point out she was 14 when she voiced Petit Charat so I'm not sure her 27 year old self could go back to sounding like that.

    However Enzo's "larger than life" comment just feels like it doesn't do her justice,I'd agree that she's been in a larger than life phase for the past 18 month or so in terms of roles she's played but to me that just disregards the whole previous decade of her work which wasn't nearly as "larger than life" to me,and I don't feel that's right.

  32. Ill certainly concede the effect has gotten more pronounced, but I don' think it's new. She's always been a personality seiyuu rather than a chameleon, and I prefer chameleons generally. It's personal taste.

  33. t

    Sure,but there's a difference between saying what you just said here and what you said in your post with "seiyuu who overact" (she's given subtle dramatic performances before) and that she "basically uses the same voice in every role, male or female" I'm sorry but her voice as the MC of of Uta no Prince isn't close to sounding like her male roles.

  34. But she does overact most of the time as far as I'm concerned – that's why I said it in the first place (and I didn't think I had to reprint the entire discourse in every reply). Even when she's right for the role it tends to be a very stylized and theatrical performance, maybe more so now than in the past but that's not a new thing. It's just not a style that's among my favorites.

    As my H x H post this week will elaborate on, I do find Kurapika to be broadly an exception to that rule and a very restrained performance. It just happens to be the only one in many, many major roles over the last couple of years that I feel that way about.

  35. H

    Btooom lost me 7 minutes into this episode. I didn't particularly care for the show before, and with the introduction of that kid and his dad I decided I don't care at all what happens to this island chock full of completely loathesome people, or the few who aren't who happened to get caught up in it. I just don't care to watch such psychopathology and inhumanity.

    However, Tempest is doing well for me. I also liked the stepping back away from the action and filling in some background. I also like the way these guys are framed as a pair: Not friends, but close. Well aware of the flaws of the other.

  36. L

    I'm certain that if Hori Yui was featured as prominently people would be pretty sick of her too. I don't really like her put on voices that much, but really enjoyed her more natural "range" in MPD.

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