This one was so hard to finish.
The story of Blast of Tempest is told from the point of view of Mahiro and Yoshino. The two are childhood friends who were thrust into a world of magic users when Mahiro finds a magic talisman that belongs to a Mage Princess, Hakaze Kusaribe. It turns out that the princess has been stranded on a deserted island by her enemies. Mahiro forms an arrangement with Hakaze to help her in exchange for finding out the identity of the person who killed his sister, Aika. Mahiro has been haunted by his sister’s mysterious death for years and wants nothing more than to find her killer. Yoshino goes along with Mahiro because the world around them is rapidly changing. Strange butterflies appear and people start to turn into iron. On to p of that, the boys are attacked by military personnel and magic users, all of whom are focused on something called “The Tree of Genesis”.
That is a very vague description, but I don’t want to really spoil the plot because, if you do watch it, that’s going to be the best part. I actually think that this anime my work better as a book or a series of essays. The characters (and probably the writer(s)) are very heavily influenced by Shakespeare. They often quote lines from Hamlet and The Tempest and aspects of several of the characters are allusions to Shakespearian characters. Layered on top of that is the fact that they’re spending a lot of time dealing with a mystery. Not only are they trying to find Aika’s (Mahiro’s sister) killer but they’re having to figure out the nature of the Tree of Genesis and Tree of Exodus and what role they play in Aika’s murder as well as the events that are unfolding before them. On top of that they have to deal with the issue of people having the ability to move back and forward in time as well as the princess trying to help them while being stranded on an island.
p.s. This the only show I know of where two trees fight each other…so yeah, there’s that.
Normally, I bemoan shows that get cut off at the 13 episode mark and never make it to the 23/24 episode full season but this show is the exact opposite. Through the first 13 episodes, the show is above average and is playing this balancing act between shounen, mystery, magic and even some mind game elements of a story. Then they hit about episode 14 and everything falls to pieces. Actually, it probably would’ve been better if it fell to pieces. Instead, Blast of Tempest seems to almost become a completely different show in it’s second half. There is very little action by comparison to the first half and most of the time is spent delving into character backgrounds and using an episode’s worth of dialogue to say something that was already obvious or that could’ve been said in like 2 minutes. Finally, they hit the end of the series and “BAM!” some good ‘ol Deus ex Machina style heroics occur; the conflict is over; and everyone moves on with their lives. Oh, and did I forget to mention that the “hero” in this situation isn’t even introduced until over halfway through the series. *sigh*
Now, don’t get me wrong, the show isn’t terrible. The plot and the dialogue are actually very well done, even if they are really dense. The problem is that the show tries to get so deep in itself that it gets bogged down. There’s a 10 episode stretch where the show is working so hard to deliver dense dialogue and add complexity to the plot that it feels more like a book than a TV show. I actually thought that they were going to get into a set of filler episodes because things were moving so slow, but each episode does actually contain some elements that are important to the plot. The problem is that you don’t need to see the entire episode in order to get the information that advances the plot.
All of the different moving parts of the plot are enough to make your head spin. All these factors lead to a ton of different scenarios of what could be going on, some more plausible than others. The characters spend plenty of time talking the viewer through several of those scenarios during the show. I honestly can’t think of a show that has this much talking in it after starting off with so much action. It goes beyond Death Note and Code Geass levels of expository dialogue at certain points. Now, they do try to spice it up by working the dialogue in between different characters and cutting to different scenes/locations when the really dense dialogue moments happen. They also try to affect the impact of what’s happening with character reactions as well as music. For what it is, they don’t do a bad job at it. However, there are certain points where I started to wonder “why don’t you just, you know…use magic to blast someone instead of trying to talk this out.”
The show is very self aware. I think it’s in part because the characters act as sounding boards for different possible view points or reactions from the audience. Because there’s a decently large cast of characters (for an anime) there are several different view points they can exploit. With that being said, there self awareness did frustrate me at times. There’s an episode in the 2nd half where the entire point of it is to say that two of the characters like each other. In the middle of that episode one of the girls says “What is this, a romantic comedy…when the world is at stake?” In the show she’s trying to snap herself out of that way of thinking, but I have to believe it’s also a nod to the audience. Because, in my mind I was actually yelling “Why did they suddenly turn this into a show about romance when all this serious stuff is happening.” Unfortunately, instead of finding this self-awareness cute I was even more frustrated. If you know what you’re doing is kind of stupid or off putting then maybe, instead of laughing about it, you should just not do it.
I can’t say that I would recommend the show for myself. However, if you’re the kind of person who likes to sit down and read mysteries or short stories about time-travel paradoxes then give the show a try. Since the show is only available subbed for now (that I know of) you’re going to be doing a lot of reading anyway. It works really well as an overall plot but I think I actually would’ve rather read this than watched it.