Zetsuen to Tempest – 21

Zetsuen 21-15 Zetsuen 21-21 Zetsuen 21-35

Gods, there are times I really love BONES.  Thank goodness there are still folks in the anime business who care this much.

Zetsuen no Tempest may be last in my my list of tags, but it’s rapidly climbing towards the top echelon of recent anime.  I’ll spoil any suspense now – this is going to be in my Top 10 list for 2013.  There hasn’t been an anime year with 10 better shows since I’ve been a fan – not even 2007, though it’s close – and there’s pretty much zero chance 2013 will come near that mark.  I don’t value uniqueness above all other qualities – I’ll take a great formula series over a good trail-blazer any day – but the fact that Zetsuen is so unlike any other series of the last few years is undeniably another feather in its cap.

What we see in this episode is really a celebration of the BONES way of doing business – although as I’ve said in the past, this is also a show that reminds me a lot of the ones Gonzo used to do when they were at the height of their powers (it’s become fashionable to forget just how great Gonzo was in the early-to-mid 2000’s).  This is very much a series of that time, which was a very strong period indeed for anime; yet it’s also timeless, a celebration of Shakespeare and opera and any artist who dares to dream big and credit the audience enough to trust that they’ll let the grandiosity wash over them and embrace it.  That’s a good encapsulation of the BONES creative philosophy in general terms, and this is a series that proves to my satisfaction (along with the criminally underappreciated Eureka Seven: Astral Ocean) that BONES is still among the very best in the business at being themselves.

The philosophical struggle between The Tempest and Hamlet continues apace as the spine that runs through Zetsuen no Tempest, and more than ever it becomes clear just how much everyone has been dancing to Aika’s tune from the beginning.  She’s the one who introduced those plays into the mix in the first place, after all.  From the comedy, she offers the following words:

Which shall be shortly, single I’ll resolve you,  

Which to you shall seem probable, of every 

These happen’d accidents; till when be cheerful And think of each thing well.  

Come hither, spirit. Set Caliban and his companions free. Untie the spell.

What a magnificence the battle – if you can call it that – between the two mages was.  Truth be told, there are holes I could pick in this scenario’s consistency if I wanted to – the logic of this world really isn’t 100% foolproof.  But what would be the purpose of that, when we’re given such a marvelous display of theatrics?  The music, the stunning hand-drawn animation in the duel, Aika’s preposterously grandiose behavior – as always, Zetsuen is not a show to be watched so much as one to be experienced.  BONES always packs too much plot and too many ideas into their more ambitious series, but rarely have they had material so well-suited to it as they do here.  And even if Aika’s reasoning doesn’t really hold up (and I have some serious issues with her theory on why her death is the only way the Tree of Genesis can be defeated) I don’t much care, because of the seemingly endless supply of style and atmosphere the series provides.

The fact is, of course, that Aika pretty much owns Hakaze in every way possible.  Reading between the lines of her side of the conversation with Hakaze, it seems as if Evangeline’s alien theory might be pretty close to the mark.  In any event it does seem as if the Tree of Genesis’ primary function is to test civilizations’s fitness to survive, and the Tree of Exodus’ is a sort of field-leveller to give the humans a chance to prove they’re worthy of continuing on.  Seen through this lens, the power of Exodus is merely an extension of the power of Genesis – two sides of the same coin – and Aika is free to access it more or less at will, while Hakaze plays under a very strict set of rules (if so, why can’t Aika just defeat the Tree of Genesis under his own powers?  Oh well, why even ask…).  That of course gives Aika an insurmountable advantage over Hakaze, an after their fascinating conversation in which she plays the role of detective, murderer and victim in her own case, she puts Hakaze to sleep and returns to her mansion to set the stage for the future.  In the painful moment of discovering that she’s too late, Hakaze fittingly turns to the words of the tragedy:

The time is out of joint. / O cursed spite!
That ever I was born to set it right!

The tug of war continues, and Hamlet’s words reflect Hakaze’s frustration – the realization that all along she’s been nothing but a tool of fate, a cog in a machine within which the power to change events is seemingly only illusory, even for one as powerful as she.  A theme we see, over and over, is the irrationality of the human animal – time and time agin characters proclaim that they don’t give a fig for the fate of the species, only their selfish feelings about those they love.  Aika is by no means immune to this: she states as her primary reason for killing herself that she doesn’t want Yoshino and Mashiro to suffer the fate that will befall civilisation if the Tree of Genesis isn’t defeated.  Samon stands out as the one character who seems to at least try and see the forest for the trees (I apologize for that), but in every instance he’s helpless against a tide of impulsiveness and passion that he seems quite unable to understand.

There’s something to be said for the notion that in the end, the power of love might just trump all the world’s logic and those who try and act based on it.  Aika’s letter to Mashiro and Yoshino contains information that hasn’t been disclosed to us yet, but it seems indisputable from her inner monologues that she sincerely loves both Yoshino and Mashiro (especially the former) and there’s something rather touching about the lengths the characters in this series are willing to go to for those they care about – even if I quite sympathize with Samon’s perspective in the larger sense.  I’m not remotely convinced, though, that Aika is irrevocably dead (if indeed at all), given her powers and the degree of nonchalance she showed about the prospect.  Not to mention the matter of Hanamura’s still unseen girlfriend, and what a convenient position that would be from which to influence events from beyond the grave (and the fact that Hakaze has conveniently given Aika the knowledge of who the “backup” Mage of Exodus is to be).  There’s still a lot of hell to be paid before we find out once and for all whether Zetsuen no Tempest is a tragedy or a comedy, and given what we know of Fuwa Aika I can’t imagine she isn’t going to be directly involved in dishing it out.

Zetsuen 21-7 Zetsuen 21-8 Zetsuen 21-9
Zetsuen 21-10 Zetsuen 21-11 Zetsuen 21-12
Zetsuen 21-13 Zetsuen 21-14 Zetsuen 21-16
Zetsuen 21-17 Zetsuen 21-18 Zetsuen 21-19
Zetsuen 21-20 Zetsuen 21-22 Zetsuen 21-23
Zetsuen 21-24 Zetsuen 21-25 Zetsuen 21-26
Zetsuen 21-27 Zetsuen 21-28 Zetsuen 21-29
Zetsuen 21-30 Zetsuen 21-31 Zetsuen 21-32
Zetsuen 21-33 Zetsuen 21-34 Zetsuen 21-36
Zetsuen 21-37 Zetsuen 21-38 Zetsuen 21-39


  1. L

    We have now 3 episodes left and the manga is finishing to.I really hope Bones give us a manga ending after all,because just like Full Metal,this series deserves a proper ending.The best scenario would be the series and the manga ending together.

  2. T

    As for why Aika doesn't just destroy the Tree of Genesis I think it might have to do with the Mage of Genesis needing to be a part of the plan. Aika stated that she has to die because that is the only way for the series of events to play out where Hakaze turns against the Tree of Genesis. That would seem as a pretty good test of civilizations will to survive. Can you turn a people who are sworn to protect be and that have special abilities I give them against me? If so good job and you pass.

    All of this could be moot if Aika is planning something difference because who knows what is really going on with her but from what has been told so far I thought that was a decent explanation on the plot gap of why not Aika do it her self.

  3. s

    If i am correct, the episode started that Aika was killed because an Aika from the future time traveled in order to kill her. If that was the case, then perhaps, with her knowledge of the future, she is fully aware that she cannot stop the tree of genesis, and that the answer to stopping the tree of genesis lies with turning its own princess against it and the only way logic would allow that to happen is for something as grand as her death to affect events so incomprehensibly that Hakaze does indeed turn on the tree.

  4. M

    "The episode started that Aika was killed because an Aika from the future time traveled in order to kill her."

    I'm pretty sure they never said that.

  5. t

    Yeah – her solution was much simpler. Based on what Hakaze said she concluded the most logical course was to simply (using magic) kill herself.

    No additional time travel required – not sure where your permutations came from sonic.

  6. There's no way the episode said that…

  7. l

    So Aika is both Ophelia and Prospero. That's an interesting duality to contemplate.

  8. L

    My opinion was that the Tree(s) is/are Prospero, with Hakaze and Yoshino possibly ending up as Miranda (also Ariel) and Ferdinand. Just an opinion, but the level of manipulation seems appropriate to that character.

  9. s

    whoops my mistake, dont know how i came to that conclusion; I was under the impression that Aika, having been unaware that she was going to kill herself at the time, suffered her fate by another version of herself for some reason. Looks like it was just another case of a time casuality loop…..oh time travel

  10. B

    Omg. i totally called her killing herself quite a few eps back. i mean her body posture Just didnt look like someone who had been murdered . anyway, Aika is so fascinating. loving the last few eps

  11. e

    This was absorbing. And Aika got her own dancing princess moment among many fabulous words and actions. The girl scares me , but I'm also awed. And a bit moved at her inner loneliness and the crazy degree of her caring for the two boys in her life. I'd hope she can still come out of it alive somehow but given her character and the nature of this series itself it could go either way really.
    My poor Hakaze though. In spite of Aika's reasoning that's some guilt to carry.
    I'm not totally sold on the logic of the tree(s)' logic as seen thorugh Aika's goggles truly but again, given this series I'll just go with whatever it dishes out at me and leave the pesky rationale (or could we say let's trust there's method in the madness) for after the end XD.
    And yet provided how Yoshino run closely past Hakaze at the very end of the episode a bit of faint deja-vu on his part at meeting Hakaze earlier in the series would have been a nice touch in terms of consistency but oh well.
    Looking forward for next week developments. And some Yuki-chan tease possibly?

  12. B

    I've said similar things before whenever people have brought up the prospect of Aika still being alive, but I hope she stays dead. The scene in this episode when Hakaze arrives at the house to find she's too late was magnificent, and it will be cheapened if Aika turns out to be alive. More and more as the episodes go on I become more convinced that the show will be a LOT worse off if Aika is still alive. So many of the amazing moments that have happened hinge on her being dead and all of them will become meaningless if she shows up alive. It's okay for a character to be Dead For Good and I hope they go that route here, it makes so much of the show more powerful.

  13. G

    I finally cought up with this show and omg, what an exhilarating ride! First of all, BONES really loves the time warp idea, this episode reminds me of E7:Ao on so many levels. Let's not even talk about what they did with RahXephon, it was epic beyond words but no less convoluted than what we are given here.
    Anyways, I agree with you, I don't think Aika's justification for commiting suicide is foolproof, it's not strong enough or at least expanded enough to fully convince me. However, maybe she had reasons to believe she might fail somehow, or that once the tree of genesis awakens, she can't guarantee Mahiro and Yoshino's safety even if she herself has the power to fight the tree given that those two aren't really under the tree's protection. Therefore she banked on the future that she knew would happen, namely the future in which Mahiro and Yoshino live long enough to meet Hakaze and become part of the force that rebel against their fate.
    So I have to agree that if Aika is still alive somehow, it would render a lot of their actions meaningless and what transpired in the episode itself less emotionally powerful. I prefer her to stay dead in the next three episodes. I can't wait!!

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