I have to hand it to BONES – they’re continually surprising me with Zetsuen no Tempest. I wasn’t thrilled with the direction the series seemed to be headed in last week, and while this was hardly a return to the operatic grandiosity of the first cour (the opposite could hardly be more true) it had the merit of going completely in the opposite direction. This was more “Twelfth Night” than “The Tempest” or “Hamlet” – ZnT as a romantic comedy and satire. A highly audacious move, but they pulled it off.
I suppose if there were ever a role Kaji Yuuki were born to play it would be Hanemura. Seriously, the guy is such a complete derpwad that I find myself actually feeling sorry for him. I certainly don’t think he killed Aika (even assuming she’s actually dead) – or at the very least, he doesn’t believe he did if he did. No, he’s just a total loser who happens to be, by all appearances, the Mage of Exodus. He’s certainly powerful enough to be one, having wiped out one of the Tree of Genesis’ manifestations with alarming easy. Fraulein (why Fraulein?) Yamamaoto and Natsu were certainly alarmed. But what seems to be happening is that this unassuming boob is being used as a tool by those who understand his power far better than he does. He may be a dingus and a mope, but Hanemura seems like a nice enough guy – he certainly doesn’t deserve that fate, at least as far as we know.
Mostly, though, this was an episode that was comedy-first, canon second. Among the gems:
- Samon and Mahiro (they’ve become quite the odd couple) on a shopping trip. “These would be for you.”
- “Please do not call me that.”
- “Who’s Aika?”
- “Exactly what everyone wanted to say.”
- “SF stands for Sci-Fi, not Sangfroid.”
- Hakaze’s romantic soliloquy listing Yoshino’s charms.
- “Do whatever you want! Too much talk!”
It’s pretty remarkable for a series like this one to give itself over so wholly to humor at this stage of the narrative, and even more for it to have worked so splendidly. Of course that’s because the comedy was true to the characters – I’m reminded somewhat of the songs from “Once More With Feeling”, the Buffy musical episode – which worked so well because they fit the cast perfectly. Samon (again, Koyama Rikiya with a knockout performance) is an unintentionally comic character all the time, so he’s a natural for this sort of development – eternally surprised at the curveballs the world throws at him. But Hakaze’s riff on Yoshino was one of the better passages of comic dialogue this season. Yes, it’s absurd that with everything that’s happening the one person who should be most fixed on saving the world is mooning over a boy as Hakaze is – and a younger one at that. Reminding us of how absurd that is does nothing to cheapen the series – rather, it crystallizes for the audience just how the fate of the world is broken down into the selfish passions of the principals at the heart of the series.
So what happens now? It appears that the Kusaribe are officially signed-on for Hayakawa and Evangeline’s plan – the exact nature of which we don’t know yet, but which would presumably entail trying to reverse the actions of the Tree of Genesis. The first stage of that, apparently, is turning Hanemura into a sideshow freak in a super sentai suit – my guess being to try and inspire the public to turn against the new order, perhaps a necessary component of the larger plan to defeat Genesis. There’s some quite substantial material sandwiched between – and even among – the comedy this week too. Junnichirou’s suggestion that the Tree of Genesis might kill Yoshino’s girlfriend if Hakaze was in love with him has interesting implications – is it possible the Tree knew what would happen and preemptively killed Aika (I doubt it, but it’s a nice misdirection)? Samon’s “Would you rather?” question to Mahiro was an intriguing one, and Yoshino’s comment about how the population of the world wasn’t really acting any different before the new order was perhaps the most cutting and essential of the episode. Humor or not, Hakaze was quite right – the boy has Sangfroid in plenty, and he remains the one person in the cast who seems most likely to act as an independent agent with a clear head when the chips are all on the table.