I’m not sure which is sexier, a girl in a loincloth with a rocket launcher on her shoulder or a schoolgirl in uniform with a really big sword. But either way, it’s fun having to think about it.
As you may have noticed Zetsuen no Tempest is the series from the jam-packed Thursday schedule that I’ve tended to delay blogging for a couple of days. I’m not really sure why – we’re at the point now where it’s my favorite of the Thursday series, and the one with a chance to be remembered as a real classic. But as I’ve mentioned before this is a show that I have a funny sort of relationship with both as a viewer and a writer. It’s not just an under the radar show generally, but it somehow manages to fly under my own radar – I never give it as much attention as it truly deserves. But for my once I’m moving it to the head of the pack where it belongs, and it seems a picked a really good week to do it. Even by the sweeping standards of this show, this episode was a big one.
We may as well begin with the end, because it’s certainly the news that will be on everyone’s lips. That Fuwa Aika should be the Mage of Exodus has always been a possibility – it’s one I’ve discussed here and it’s certainly been discussed elsewhere. If anything it almost seemed too perfect to actually be true, but the one thing I was sure of was that there was much more to Aika than what we knew. Hakaze may have felt her death being “boring” was a worst-case scenario but to be honest that possibility never really crossed my mind. There was never any question that she was directly involved in the global events driving this series – the only question was in what way. And now we certainly have our answer – though that’s no to say we don’t still have an armful of questions.
Talking of questions, the one that really stands out in my mind is this: is Aika Hanemura’s mysterious girlfriend? That’s another one of those scenarios that seems almost perfect to be be true but might just be anyway. It would be asking a lot of coincidence otherwise, what with Hanemura being a sort of “Acting Mage of Exodus” figure, and his girlfriend never having been seen. The chain of speculation that leads from there is full of earthquakes – did Aika stage her entire relationship with Yoshino (and her death) in order to one day lure Hakaze back to the past (and if so, why)? Is she “alive” and directly influencing events in the present? Has it in fact been the Tree of Exodus that’s been driving events in the series, and not the Tree of Genesis?
Ultimately there’s nothing for it but to wait for answers, but it should be one hell of a fun ride. There’s a chaotic, anything’s possible mood to Zetsuen that makes it a blast to watch, and Hakaze journeying to the past is a perfect example. This is an undertaking that’s screamed “bad idea” from the very first moment, though just how bad remains to be seen. Her logic is tortured and hard to follow, her motivation highly dubious, her clarity of thought clearly compromised by her feelings for Yoshino. To listen to her justify herself to Junichirou and Samon it almost sounds as if she’s trying to set herself up as a martyr – perhaps in a dysfunctional way seeing that as the only way she can measure up to Aika in Yoshino’s eyes. Perhaps by killing Aika she might end up making Yoshino feel something as strong towards her as he does towards Aika – even if it’s hate, that might feel better than indifference. And in doing so, she can give some meaning to Yoshino’s life in the present. It’s a stretch and it’s been somewhat mooted by Aika’s big reveal, but it’s interesting to speculate.
Of the actual meeting between Aika and Hakaze I have nothing but praise to offer. It was a marvelous combination of understatement and drama, a marriage of the mundane and the fantastic – and if anything sums up the magic of this series, that’s it. A “random” meeting in the street, small-talk about yakitori, and then the dramatic events on the rooftop – all set to the rhythm of Hakaze’s perpetually buzzing inner thoughts. To say she has a restless mind would be the understatement of the year – Hakaze’s head never seems to stop swirling with anxieties and euphorias. She and and the ice queen Aika make a delightfully mismatched set, which I suppose is fitting given their respective roles in what’s playing out.
As wonderful as all that hyperbole was, it’s a testament to the charms of this quirky series that my favorite moment came from none of the above. No, it was once again Samon who delivered the crowning moment of the ep for me with his somber “This is a wig!” bombshell. It’s only made better by the fact that it came on the heels of a hilarious sequence showing Hakaze in a massage chair – like so much of what makes Zetsuen great necessary for no other reason that to provide color and atmosphere – and that it he capped it by announcing that “Being troubled for as long as I have, you start wanting to make a joke or two.” Oh Samon, if only you realized – you’re possibly the best comic character of 2013 so far. It’s the oddities and the little details (like carefully placing all of Hakaze’s artifacts in a coffin of all places for safe keeping) that make this such a wonderful and weird series. No other show in recent memory combines the great and the ordinary with the wit and charm of Zetsuen no Tempest, and it may be a while before we see another show that can match it.