I confess I’m kind of torn about the non-event (not the sort of event it might have been, anyway) the revelation of the truth between Yoshino and Mahiro turned out to be. On the one hand, I think this is exactly the sort of scenario the characters arcs have been building towards. There’s been a sort of evolution in Mahiro’s character going on for a while now, and it always seemed to me that there was enough between he and Yoshino that they would get through this moment without violence. On the other hand, considering how much build-up the series has given this moment, it’s kind of a letdown to see it happen without a bang, even if not exactly a whimper either. It’s a trap of the story I suppose – this was the only true way that meeting could ever have gone.
In hindsight I should have realized that Aika’s grave was the only place Mahiro and Yoshino could ever have their non-frontation. There’s the Hamlet angle, of course, and the simple fact that the poetry of the moment more or less demanded it. In purely practical terms I think time was the key here, though not exactly in the same way it usually it with Zetsuen. If Yoshino had walked into the room right after Hanemura blurted out the truth the old Mahiro would certainly have won the day, but intentionally or not, he did exactly the right thing – stormed out of the apartment and spent a lot of time thinking about what had happened and his role in it. Call it “maturity” or whatever you like, I think Mahiro simply realized that Yoshino had done nothing wrong about from having the same taste in girls he has – that, and that the better man won. There was nothing stopping Mahiro from pursuing Aika openly, or at the least having a better relationship with her – that nothing more happened between them was no one’s fault but his own (and certainly not Yoshino’s).
What we see in the aftermath of that moment (yet another twist that has has poor Samon – “For how long must I be troubled by such things?” – didn’t see coming) is an interesting contrast being set up between the two boys, with Yoshino representing The Tempest and Mahiro Hamlet. Whether Mahiro still has his heart in the revenge idea is debatable but for now, those are the paths they’ve chosen. Their reconciliation, in spite of the anti-climax aspect, was beautifully handled – if it had wavered between conflict and resolution it wouldn’t have worked, but because it went all-in (Zetsuen always goes all-in) on peace it did. It was quiet and reflective, slightly emotional but not too sentimental, the exact opposite of what one might have thought would happen.
Hakaze makes a very interesting comment later in the episode, that “It’s better to fight for someone than for something.” She does so in defense of her her own resolve to “fight for her man”, but there’s an elemental truth to it, I think, and it frames the ending of the series more than ever as an extension of The Tempest rather than Hamlet. If that’s half the title, we got an explanation at last for the other half. As I expected, Fraulein Yamamoto’s theory on alien involvement isn’t intended to be taken as a joke, but in perfect ZnT fashion quite seriously. And I’ll be darned if she doesn’t make a pretty good case. The notion of the Tree of Genesis as a “civilization blaster” seems like something straight out of Star Trek: The Next Generation but it actually fits in a lot of ways. There are holes in the theory, which Hakaze quite rightly pointed out – but not being 100% defensible doesn’t make it 100% wrong.
In any event there seems to be a general movement towards opposition to the Tree of Genesis on all fronts at this point. I really like the fact that Evangeline acknowledged what’s been obvious to the audience for a while – that there are so many factions fighting for so many nebulous ideas that it’s impossible to tell the players without a scorecard. Like everything else it tells us that the series is in on the joke here, too, that it’s all part of the experience – yet now, as we get closer to the end, one does sense that alien or not, the Tree of Genesis is being more and more recognized as the top boss. Of Hakaze’s idea to return to the past to find Aika’s killer I find myself less sure – it seems like a pretty dangerous notion to me. She can certainly do as much harm as good back there, even assuming a return is possible, but I won’t deny I’m curious to see what she finds out. There’s still the matter of Hanemura’s mysterious girlfriend to consider, too – I don’t know if there’s a connection, but the idea of Aika really being just plain dead has never sat right with me.
Zetsuen no Tempest has really emerged as a compelling and fabulously entertaining show – there really isn’t anything quite like it. I continue to puzzle over the little oddities that keep turning up – such as the food fetish which has been at the back of my mind for weeks. Why are so many of the events in this series framed around food? Cafes, restaurants, set teas at hotels, cooking – is there a deeper meaner here or, as I suspect, is this simply a matter of Zetsuen adding otherwise irrelevant detail simply because it adds a layer of style to the overall experience (Samon’s sword-hilt pounding being another example). It seems to me that BONES, Okada and the mangaka very much realize that this is a series that’s framed around the actual experience of watching it – rather than the individual parts, it exists only as the immersive whole. In a show that dependent on atmosphere there really is no such thing as irrelevance or too much detail – it’s all part of the deal. And thank goodness for that – I wouldn’t have them change a thing.