「罰あたり、ふたり」 (Batsu-atari, Futari)
“The Cursed Pair”
To say the least, there are many ways to succeed. It’s true in real life and it’s true when pertaining to creating successful anime. Some series rely on an immensely complex plot that blows you way, others go in with something more straight forward, and stick to it the entire way. Of course, by now, you’ll know that Zetsuen no Tempest definitely fits in the latter category. Four episodes in, it might not be the most complex thing you’ve ever seen, but its straightforward nature gives it a unique charm that elevates it a cut above the norm. And how does it do it? Simply by not trying to do too much. Too many series aim for that complexity and that high ledge, but lose track of the foundations that made the series what it was along the way. What Zetsuen does is avoid this completely by just basically saying: “This is what we want to show. This is what you’ll get, nothing more, nothing less.” It caps the ultimate ceiling the series reaches, but this too is one way to succeed.
And well, if there’s one thing you’ll notice with Zetsuen as a result, it’s that virtually every event and even most of the dialogue, is rife with its own meaning, link, or commentary. Sure, it’s quite obvious at times, but the way these events and dialogue are inserted are so well done that you just don’t mind ’em at all.
Take for instance, the two children you see at the beginning of the episode. It’s obvious that they’re present there as a contrast to Mahiro and Yoshino, but at the same time, the way they’re weaved and connected into the back story of our protagonists and the rest of this episode, make it so that you don’t mind it at all. I mean, there’s just so much that comes from it, despite its obvious nature. For one, there’s the nice commentary on how Mahiro and Yoshino’s relationship as “buddies” and “friends” isn’t anything near what those kids and normal people in general had. They were forced together by circumstance and never did manage to have those carefree moments the kids are having in that scene. At the same time, the deaths of these children also highlight just how ridiculous this world is and to a degree, the fate and destiny that our two protagonists have. Basically, it says “they might be normal, but they’re not the ones alive now. However, you are, and you’re responsible for doing what needs to be done as a result,” and it’s not only some strong commentary, but links to the Shakespeare quotes from earlier. Furthermore, while it’s a rather simple message, its impact is much more than “simple”.
Moving forward, the differing reactions to these children further highlight not only the differences between our main characters, but some similarities as well. And it highlights the effects each of them have had on each other. See, Yoshino attempts to save the children, despite his knowledge of the scenario and the fact he should know better. Mahiro on the other hand, doesn’t bother at all. In this respect, Yoshino does exactly what Mahiro would do, which is react on instinct. It’s something that not only contrasts with what he normally does (in that he’s more reserved), but also seemingly (albeit loosely) shows Mahiro’s influence on him, similarly to how Mahiro’s actions at the end of the episode seem to have been influenced by Yoshino. There’s just that dynamic interaction between the two and it’s just nice to watch, despite the rather simple nature of it all.
Shifting around for a moment, there’s just a measure of irony in taking a bath in a cursed village, as well as the fact that Mahiro and Yoshino are even friends despite their seemingly opposite natures. In turn, this makes the decision to include the flashback of the past in this episode that much more pronounced, as we not only get the answer as to why they’re together, but also a further reinforcement of one of the repetitive themes of this series: fate and destiny. And well, at this point, it really seems like they’re linked together by fate for a certain destiny, because no matter how strange it is to see them together, no matter how much Yoshino’s attempted to avoid Mahiro and vice versa, both of them have ended up together despite that, and even more surprisingly… both have benefited from the exchange. Yes, the concept of being destined for something isn’t something new, but the method Zetsuen uses to emphasize this (which is indirectly through events and dialogue rather than actually saying they’re “the chosen ones” or something) is rather novel and differs just enough to make it a successful tool for making the anime more enjoyable, once again, despite its simplistic nature.
Overall, the same results seem to come out every week for this series. It doesn’t necessarily blow your mind away, but it does enough with its straightforward nature and its acceptance of itself as a series that won’t try to go too far out of its norm to wow you, that you just can’t help but enjoy it a little bit. Sure, it is a tad bit slow-paced in ways, but it’s definitely a solid (there really is no alternative word to use) series. And with that, I’ll catch ya next week. Hopefully, the impending hurricane/storm won’t knock out my internet/power though…
Finally, before I end things here, I’d like to give BakaMochi my thanks again, for her cappin’ of this episode. Thanks! 😀
Mochi’s Note: Banzai manservice!