Category Archives: Zetsuen no Tempest

Year in Review 2013: N-List

So, the usual.

kirino new years

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Winter 2013 Week 7-8

The Civilization Blaster kids

Just want to do the TL;DR equivalent to reaction faces. I’ll try to keep it spoiler-free. Think of this post like “this week’s anime ‘turning points’ or ‘highlight’ or ‘peak episode’ or whatever.”

Shinsekai Yori Episode 21:

You know it is coming, it’s heavy and painful but yet full of drama potential, dripping with faint hopes, antagonism, despair, and a sense of loss. The watermill bit was brilliant. The writing in the sky is cool and I wonder why they don’t do it more often. The babies, well, are thankfully not as grotesque as it could have been.

The revealing of the key character in this episode was done well. It fooled me briefly but I guess it was kind of what I expected as the “worst case scenario.” The numbers all made sense chronologically. It’s the sort of conclusion you know it has to be. And it was. Yet you are powerless against it even if you knew what was coming.

Zetsuen no Tempest Episode 20:

Speaking of chronology, the biggest clue that wasn’t in this week’s episode was when… How do I talk about the 2nd half of Tempest without spoiling the first half? Let’s just say there is this character who got this power, and when he was introduced he briefly mentioned something about when the power began to manifest. That was a pretty big clue. It’s a clue that I kept in the back of my mind during the “This Week in the Being-Samon-Is-Suffering Logic Quiz Class” discussion as to what is the plot logic problem of the week. However I didn’t put two and two together. I knew whats-her-face is going to do whats-her-other-face in, but I didn’t know it was going to be like this. And let me just say that if you want to enjoy this show, you should do your best to not find out whats-her-face is going to be like this. Because it’s such a delightful surprise.

I ought to highlight Zetsuen no Tempest actually. It’s shaping up to be a very enjoyable watch. I think a big issue is that in order to praise it I have to spoil it, and without spoiling it all I can say is in a couple paragraphs. So here goes.

At heart Zetsuen no Tempest is a plot-logic-driven narrative. The story revolves around a defined boundary condition (or two or three) where the characters have to figure out what is the best thing to do, like a Clue game in terms of determining who is what is like how and when. The characters don’t really “develop” except for, strangely, the character who starts out dead.

The character that does develop is the second reason why Tempest is great. It’s like the one glimpse of romanticism, the Shakespeare quoting girlfriend that drives a revenge plot forward in which two best friends will end up at each other’s throats, with the fate of the world hanging in the balance. This beautiful character is at odd with the story’s logic in the same way that too is the part of the puzzle that paints a rational image of irrationality. It’s enough to obfuscate even simple logical conditions; she is the ultimate lampshade, to borrow TVTropes (who just borrows from, aptly, Shakespeare). In a nutshell:

And what’s more, it has some kind of significance in the story. It’s a theme.

Unfortunately, also, it is not an adventure anime, even if it poses as such. It’s a dumb show where the characters tries to figure out some weird mystery that is basically “magic” and unless you’re invested, it all seems kind of trite and you really empathize with Samon. Poor Samon.

gdgd season 2 Episode 8

Best episode of anime of the season. Prereq thing to watch. If didn’t see it before, try reading this. Or the TL;DR version. It also helps if you played Monster Hunter or played Mario Kart or something, but meh.

Da Capo III Episode 8

Oh. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah? Maybe. Only if Senren Kagura was like this? Thankfully Senren Kagura isn’t like this. It’s been a very long time since I last saw an episode of Baywatch but this is kind of like it no?

Vividred Operation Episodes 7-8

The power of friendship is a very sweet set of jets. Akane gives you wings. Vividred Operation, naturally, gives you a lot more than that–all the fireworks, all the drama, the tearing bedside in the hospital. It was, truly, a … self-titled sign.

Vividred Operation... lol

Runner ups:

The Unlimited: Hyoubu Kyousuke Episode 8 wraps up the inevitable flashback arc. It’s kind of a let-down honestly but it got the job done.

Seitokai no Ichizon Lv.2 Episode 7: If you were following Seizon S2 (it’s on air, after all), this week is Ringo’s proper intro. You remember Ringo right?


Autumn 2012 Mid-season Checkpoint

I voted for more shows dropped and more time shooting aliens this November, but I got wet from Konya wa Hurricane. The net total is this post about random observations. If I didn’t mention a show here I probably dropped it, or on hold until whenever like E7Ao.

Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! – It’s less mentally offensive than Hyouka because it doesn’t try to engage me on higher level of analysis and thought, so it is much easier to watch. But in a lot of ways it’s definitely inferior. I suppose this is why Dekomori and Kumin exist. I said most of what I wanted last post.

Teekyuu – What I watched: Teekyuu. What I expected: Sofuteni. What I got: Zero Punctuation. Also, this is Mappa? Good on them. About 3000 yen for all of it on Amazon! [Side note: man, pagerank for CR on this keyword is horrible.]

Seitokai no Ichizon & Ebiten – I lump the two together because clearly both are being screened on Nico first (how about that US merger huh) and then picked up by a TV station the season after. HOPEFULLY this means CR will stream it starting in Jan 2013. As far as Seitokai no Ichizon goes I’m pretty okay with the new season, once I got used to the new Akaba voice. It was easier to deal with Mafuyu’s voice because it’s a very neutral tone, although I miss the very subtle tonal acting that was present before, that gave it an extra edge of melancholy. Oh, I probably should mention Seizon Lv.2 Episode 0 was AWESOME, because man, I miss Houko.

Oniai – On the merits, it’s probably worse than NakaImo, and it is more or less the same schtick–crazy girls tries to get into main guy’s pants, entertain mostly with OTT antics and not with so much fanservice, hides its plot/character chops. Takeaways are the two underage seiyuus in Ibuki Kido (as the main sister girl) and Sumire Morohoshi (the 12-yo manager genius). Kido is actually a year younger than Akiko, and Morohoshi a year older than Arisa. My favorite gag has to be the T-shirts. It’s like “Primary schoolgirls are great” but even better. Because I can wear something like Che Akiko and not get arrested.

Zetsuen no Tempest – I’m fascinated by this show, but it’s not the most engaging thing. All the characters are mysterious and hard to read, and you don’t really know what’s going on. How can they build a compelling plot on that? Just turn a bunch of people into metal and have giant eyes float out from the ground, I guess. Oh, add a romantic triangle involving some really messed-up interpersonal relationships. What’s the best about all of this is that it’s done with the precision of a Shakespearean play, instead of something more, well, relatable and visceral. What’s the worst is that it’s all posturing and TL;DRs, with the reasons and rhymes in thoughtful dialogues and monologues. Yeah, it can be kind of dull. It’s no surprise that I like Tempest; I’ve always liked shows like this. Having Bones behind it just make it a lot easier and makes it possible that I can talk to some people who may be drawn in for those superficial reasons. Book of Bantorra, anyone?

Hidamari Sketch S4 – Really digging it so far. Although, as others pointed out, unless they do something with the new first years in a major way, this is going to be pretty much more of the same for another 13 episodes. What they did in episode 6 is exactly what has to happen for Nazuna and … the girl with the PC.

Jormungand S2 – Eh, it’ll do. A lot of the suspense is gone with the second season. Maybe I should write a blog post about sequels like this. And Hidasketch.

Space Bros – It’s gotten to the point where the anime just has to make one more mistake before I drop it (for the manga). Invariably it makes a mistake and I’m like, man, I don’t want to read manga, because I just don’t have that mode of consumption handy in the way my routine is. But invariably, also, Space Bros redeem itself in some minor way for me to keep putting up with it.

Psycho-Pass – I can put up with this. At least it rewards with some pretty cool ideas. And a strangled Ayanyan.

Robotics;Notes – This anime is my Yoshino Nanjou coming-out-of event. Granted at this point it’s all kept in the dark, plot-wise, so I can’t really say anything about this anime besides that it’s already seeding important details, as all non-linear narratives invariably do. I’m not sure it has given me enough to go on but I’m just blindly rolling along with Tall Robot Nerd Poplar. And is Kai a jerk? Who cares?

Magi – I think this is my top show this season. But it’s one of those “watch but don’t buy” kind of thing since the show itself is just excellent, but not something I’d obsess over. Maybe it will change and upgrade into something worth owning.

Busou Shinki – This is pretty lame. Limp, even. Especially when it’s less like Strike Witches and more like… Infinite Stratos? At least that’s how I’m watching it–for the mecha battles. The animation is what I like best, along with the tech/setting. But I’m not sure how else it appeals to the cute-girls-do-cute-things demographic. Maybe I’ll punt it after all?

K – The music is so pimp that I feel like playing Persona 4 Golden. Might punt it. And yes, this show works great as a comedy…and that’s it.

JoJo – OMG. On the other hand it’s just as I expected from David Pro.

Girls und Panzer – This show is brilliant. Not only it capitalizes on what is obvious as the concept became a thing, it did enough of a twist to make the whole venture seeming worth the while. Its ensemble-cast style organization yet focusing on a handful is a gamble ultimately, not because they’re doing that, but they better be focused on the best five girls out of that lot of dozens.

Medaka Box S2 – I guess this anime took the Negima turn? Not that I mind; Medaka makes a good protagonist, although it’s really just a 2-person show between her and Zenkichi vs. the world at this point. Not that I mind that, either.

Shin Sekai Yori – It’s the “different” anime this season, although how it’s different is unclear. I think it’s at least something interesting for a more “mainstream” audience (because it isn’t really mainstream) but this is definitely overrated. If I had to criticize it, two things–the pace is horrid and the direction and scripting is clumsy. Usually these two things cause me to drop shows, but the setting sort of redeems it. Or the underage sex, I’m not sure. I predict at least one commentator at the end of this cour will complain how it does not fully utilize its setting.

Muv-luv Alternative: Total Eclipse – Lots of BETA action in the first half. Second half is more about Total Eclipse of the Heart amirite.

Little Busters – It’s the sort of moment when you recall every Key/VA anime event you’ve personally experienced since the beginning and you go, “we’ve came a long way.” It isn’t to say the visual novel to anime mechanism has improved to the degree that those products are something worth while–maybe it has. But Little Busters was originally the concept, and now it has arrived; perhaps its only flaw was this anime existed starting after Angel Beats. None of that, however, heals its deadly pangs of boredom.

Initial D Fifth Stage – I guess no one sleeps in Tokyo in the night of fire about love and money. And I still would like to test out a FR-S/BRZ sometime.

Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo – The Pet Girl of Sakura House? Inn? Guilty Crown? I enjoy the roomful-of-lunatic approach to the series and it is very much got everyone looking at the characters as characters, and that is already a win for the anime. As usual I have a harder time buying in, but the array of otaku references makes the low production-value pill easy to swallow. [LOL I forgot about this show srsly…now it is included!]

I really want to keep watching Kamisama Kiss, but I have to drop something in exchange. I might.

At a glance you can tell Funimation is pushing a lot of new titles this season. It’s a promising thing because in the past 18 months they are major slacking on new acquisitions in my opinion, given the share of home video releases they put out. On the other hand, while I have been test driving their premium account across my phone and PC (mostly on the PC), their quality of service is still rather lacking. It’s better than just embedded Hulu streams that TAN is doing, but that’s like comparing your current self with yourself in 2002. At least I can get things to work after enough experience “jiggling” the various nobs and switches. Like how in Chrome when you change resolution to 720 it autoplays, and half the time it tries to play 2 streams in the same player if you hit the wrong buttons in the wrong in sequences.

At times like this I wish I was the kind of otaku who only watched anime off the tube, so I can cut it loose and just stick to this sort of services, paid or not.

There are three fronting shoujo series this season. Two go to CR, one to Funi and AN gets one of the two from CR. Not sure which one wins but that sounds at least fair.

Overall a pretty mild season without a smash hit, unless that boring Urobuchi show turns out to be a gem or Sakurasou becomes the second coming of Toradora. The various continuing series are all pretty strong and they will entertain, where as new series will have to flounder a bit before they find their footing. We’re at the half way point now, but I think shows like Garupan and Oniai have no real grasp on the audience at this point. Maybe that’s okay for those kinds of shows.

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It’s the weird feeling when  you are watching a show and you can tell it is the conglomeration of many different things you’ve seen before. And I don’t even mean it’s some kind of database/trope crap. It’s like channel surfing onto a Tarantino movie and you get the nagging feeling in the back of your head, saying “this must be a Tarantino movie.” In this case, it’s Zetsuen no Tempest, and the feelings I get are Okada, Ando, and a billion other things.

Zetsuen no Tempest, or Blast of Tempest (or what I’d call, WHO IS CIVILIZATION BLASTER) is streaming on Crunchyroll. This shounen-style manga adaptation is tricky to describe, precisely because it is a manga adaptation, and I don’t know what to credit the original manga. I guess I could read it, but guh.

I want to point out Okada because, for some reason, Zetsuen’s brute-ish pace reminds me the way Book of Bantorra was, in terms of throwing you in the middle of a pretty big setting and just let you sink or swim. The style of the fantasy technology/setting is also similar in how it makes very little sense except internally. And I can only really point to Okada as the one link between the two. Well, a Sawashiro character casting spells and talking over long distances might do the trick too. (For that matter, when’s the last time a major character is introduced to the audience by popping out of a barrel?)

The first episode? The non-linear arrangement (Rahxephon, E7, etc)? The standout, melocholilc girls (Star Driver, E7, DTB)? Nana Mizuki as some operative-agent (DTB)? The duo-male leads right out of Soul Eater? Seriously? And that’s not all. I half-expect a bunch of wolf-people to show up in episode 4 and a Chinese mage who uses electrical power, riding on a giant killer wasp to show up towards the end.

Joking aside, it’s good to see Ando’s magic fully at work for this show. I really enjoy his pilot episodes and it is interesting to see it here clashing with the almost senseless arrangement that probably didn’t pique as much as interests as a bunch of half non-sequitors could, as far as figuring out WHO REALLY IS IMOUTO. As in, clearly, this dearly departed sister/girlfriend of theirs play an integral role in all of this, other than being a sad Hanazawa Kana character on the back of a bicycle.

Well, given this story is WHO KILLED IMOUTO so far, we’ll get answers to all this in good time. Maybe we can get a strong finish for once! Hey, at least we already know why “civilization blaster” (and it’s not because they’re big fans of XCOM from the maker of Civilization over at Firaxis). All I know is I enjoyed the first three episodes.

PS. This post is nowhere nearly as funny if you aren’t in on the Who is IMOUTO jokes, truly.

Magi, Little Busters, Zetsuen no Tempest, Jojo

Thanks to killing aliens, tiresome anime cons, and a need for change, I’m probably going to drop the number of anime I’m following below 20 for the first time in a long time. Oh, you can also blame on Sket Dance ending.

There are three shows I’m kind of interested and a little impressed after one episode, and one show I’m actually really impressed. Can you guess which one?

As a total aside, the fact that we have Kyoto Animation fielding (in their usual straight-faced, laces-out way) a production about chuunibyou, it kind of ruins the way I see all the other dime-a-dozen stories with shounen dream-fuel. I mean, when I watched Psycho-Pass, I am just not impressed (at least, no more impressed than hearing Ling Tosite Sigure in an anime). I hate to say it but Ghost in the Shell? That was much better and highly more preferable, and not because of story or concept reasons. I think at core, otaku enjoy cyberpunk over, say, the endless regurgitated, finely-honed art of Japanese murder/crime mysteries. The methodocal and measured cinematography that comes with no rough spots (except spurts of gore I guess) leads me to believe it takes itself too seriously.

Too seriously is, in a nutshell, the bubble of chuunibyou. But I believe most otaku would rather ask “Y SO SRS,” at least ones overseas.

So, yes, this is why I think Zetsuen no Tempest is impressive–because it has that patented Ando pilot-episode juice and Bones-quality production. Remember Xam’d? This is almost that exciting. I have to admit though it kind of helps to be a fan of David Production’s Book of Bantorra, because the way they throw their setting-building babble around (re: bubble of chuunibyou) is almost the same. I think this is why that show hasn’t been so warmly received.

Speaking of David Pro, isn’t Jojo something? I don’t know why I don’t like to admit it, and I don’t, but I really enjoyed Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure (Phantom Blood). There’s just something really suitably cartoon-y about every David Production work that I really enjoy. And I’m not even a fan of the original material. I suspect this is why I watch so much crap, and have this nagging desire to finish Koichoco and Campione (as low as the odds of that may be). But it’s a lot of fun.

The whole hubbub about Little Busters is tiresome. I get it. I was into Key crap even back in the late 90s. But something is wrong when I’m happy that Kyoto Animation didn’t get to do this, so I wouldn’t have to hear about people wetting their pants about Little Busters both ways. I guess that is definitely more my problem than anyone else’s. Certain the anime looked just fine and hopefully there will be nothing to worry about. Thanks to meeting Tamiyasu at AX, I’m also slightly predisposed to like Rin, so that helps, however much little.

I think I came into Magi predisposed to like it, because, well, it’s the anime adaptation of a manga that adopted the general story to One Thousand and One Nights. How can I dislike it? My very first blue M:TG decks got djinns out the buttholes! I have to like it, right? It also helps that show is, as we know, not so serious. After seeing the first episode, I still kind of like it, but I learned quickly how I can dislike it. Not that I do, but I can see the intersection where the cookie cutter meets the characterization and plot dough. Still, I remain positive…

Conclusion: A large part of my reaction to this season’s offering comes by the way of predisposed expectations and having your opinion influence mine. Not sure if that is good or bad, but I suppose that’s just how the dice roll. But we all know that, right?