Blade of Tempest (Zetsuen no Tempest) does it's very best to pay homage to William Shakespeare, particularly his works "Hamlet" and "The Tempest." If it wasn't inherently obvious, rest assured as the characters will reference this point numerous times throughout the series, even multiple times in a single episode. While it is appreciated reintroducing a great storyteller to a modern day audience, the transparency in which they blatantly cite quotes in a similar situation begins to wear thin, even to the point of becoming cringe worthy. That aside...
This tale revolves around two seemingly ordinary youths, Mahiro Fuwa and Yoshino Takigawa as they unravel the mysteries of a new epidemic emerging that turns all organisms it comes in contact with into a metallic substance. Guided by the most powerful mage in the world Hakaze Kusaribe, who happens to be a teenage girl (go figure) stranded on an uninhabited island, the duo search for magical amulets to assist in their journey and fend off the occasional solider or mage who gets in their way. By sacrificing pieces of civilization, one of the Kusaribe clan can use magic, and the more modern object sacrificed, the stronger the magic. Equivalent exchange anyone?
It should be noted that a significant portion of the events and interactions between the characters have to do with the "logic of the world," by which Hakaze is protected by. Confused by this? Good luck keeping up, because the logic of the world is used to explain unexplainable circumstances, and this the guiding principal which will determine whether or not the trigger to the destruction of the world will be pulled.
Despite having quite a bit going on, the story takes quite some time to build momentum, but 5 to 6 episodes in, I was reeled in and invested. However, this anime is separated in what I will refer to now as Act I and Act II. About halfway through the series, Act I comes to a close in a suspenseful and interesting way that honestly left me waiting for more. Act II however seemed to disregard the somber mind game that was created in lieu of what could only be described as a romance comedy where magic became a gag at best. While I do not dislike the genre, quite contrary, the sudden transition was unappreciated as the setting the story worked so hard to build up to suddenly was placed in to the back seat. It does however close in a satisfactory manner, it is highly disappointing that the big M. Night Shyamalan twists are all expected and predicted very early on.
Addendum: It should be noted, and I apologize for omitting this originally. A large portion of the ensuing conflicts, interactions, and nearly the entire story stems from Mahiro's desire to locate and subsequently kill the one responsible for his sister’s (Aika) death. By agreeing to assist Hakaze with helping her by proxy, she agreed to use her magic to locate Mahiro’s target.
The character designs for each important role were all very well done, in regards to being distinguished and easily identifiable. Though this was all that stood out in regards to the visual appeals of the series. There were no faults per say, as the animation was smooth and the effects were nicely done, but nothing really stood out. The fact this section is so sparse is evidence enough in what can only be described as nothing special.
Much like the animation, there was nothing particularly special about the sound. I've only heard the Japanese voice-overs, but I hear Aniplex has picked them up for a NA release, and they usually do good work. I'm having difficulty even recalling any theme or song that appeared throughout the series, which means yet another point in the adequate column.
There are only thee characters that could be considered main, but the supporting characters are also fairly well defined. The fore mentioned characters in the story section have very fleshed out personalities and traits, as well as a clear backstory or purpose. It is actually quite impressive, so why the mediocre score? So much potential was lost, as many of the other supporting characters had so much potential but were instead brushed to the sidelines to act as mere plot devices for the main characters. In addition to that, Yoshino and Mahiro are for the most part static characters who remain exactly the same throughout, which is touched upon as a positive note by the supporting cast, but was not much appreciated given the circumstances of the anime. It wasn't until the very end of the series that it was briefly implied that they've grown from their experiences, but it is too little too late.
Despite some harsh jabs thrown, and some mediocre scores, as a whole Blade of Tempest is actually a decent series held back by only a sudden transition of genres and some phoning-it-in. I would suggest this anime to anyone who enjoys the magic and supernatural genres who are currently in a lull with nothing in immediate need to watch.
overall score: 6.5/10
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