「時の娘」 (Toki no Shoujo)
“Girl of Time”

As much praise as I’ve been lavishing on Zetsuen no Tempest lately, I still don’t think I’ve been giving it enough credit.

Note: Zephyr’s absence has been a boon for me, getting to write fill-in posts on two pretty amazing episodes. Z will be back next week.

I’ve noticed a curious trend in my reactions to ZnT. The series on the whole is, at the moment, exactly like each individual episode. I tend to be mildly interested at the start, something catches me, and from that point on I’m utterly rapt with attention. It’s almost as if seeing the Golden Ratio play out in dramatic terms – if you put Zetsuen under a microscope or look at it from space, the structure is exactly the same. This is a series that has to be judged as a whole and not the sum of its parts, and without wanting to sound too hyperbolic I’m beginning to think it has a chance to be an actual masterpiece.

I can’t always describe what it is that makes this show so appealing, but I can definitely say that it has qualities that no other anime I’ve seen in recent years has. If “charming” and “natural” are good words for Robotics;Notes, “grand” and “operatic” might be a start for Zetsuen. I’m quite astonished at how beautifully the story is pieced together, something that’s only now becoming apparent, and at how much I’ve bought into the characters after having been rather indifferent towards them even as I was enjoying the scope of the series. It’s a show where the style is perfectly suited to the premise – nothing less than the fate of the entire world would do for something this grandiose, and nothing less grandiose would do justice to the premise. As in Shakespeare – and the Greeks who so inspired him – there’s a sense that all the world’s a stage, and the men and women merely players (wrong play, I know), and of course that sense is a big part of the plot itself. It all fits together thematically and substantively in a way that’s rather breathtaking.

A lot of the credit for the recent run of excellence (during which the three principals still haven’t moved more than a foot) falls with Samon, to be honest. He’s a particular standout in this cast because he’s so utterly different from anyone else in it, but with his tortured intensity and theatrical body language he’d stick out in any show. I love the dynamic here in that we have a man cast as the villain who’s acting wholly in what he sees as the best interests of the world – and he’s no overreaching fool, but someone who’s in a position to know of what he speaks. When he urges Mahiro “Shounen! Think about what is right.” and to “Do what’s right” it’s the proof of his intellectual honesty. Samon is the antagonist, but he’s no villain – and further, I’m still not seeing any compelling reason to disbelieve that his course was the correct one, given the knowledge that was available to him at the time he chose it.

How refreshing, to see a series where we have a bunch of smart people all trying to do what they perceive as right, in opposition to each other not because some of them have evil ends, but because they have conflicting visions of good. Yoshino’s motives seem more and more driven by a deep sense that standing by Hakaze is a worthwhile thing in its own right, and less by the force of her argument. I think Samon is winning the logical battle for the most part – it really does seem as the Tree of Genesis is manipulating events to favor her (not that it’s necessarily wrong to do so) and that Aika was likely part of that master plan. Mahiro’s motives are certainly the most selfish in that his primary goal is revenge, but even he isn’t unaffected by the intellectual battle royale going on around him. For all his bluster and recklessness he’s no fool – not as sharp as Yoshino, but a clever lad capable of sorting through the facts and reaching his own conclusions.

Of course, the game seems to have changed now in a fundamental way that neither Samon nor Hakaze suspected. With the revelation that no one in the Kusaribe Clan was actually responsible for Aika’s death, it’s Hakaze who grasps what the new reality may be – that a new princess may have been brought forth by the revival of the Tree of Exodus – a “Princess of Destruction” as she puts it. This would surely be a fine example of the Law of Unintended Consequences, and I have my own ideas about just who such a “Mage of Exodus” may be – surely the same ones that many of you have – and I can only imagine the way such a revelation would rattle the foundations of the story as it stands right now.

One thing seems clear – one way or another, as the first cour draws to a close we’re in for a major reset. It seems that it’s about time for Hakaze to return from the past (naked). The means have been deduced by the boys and Hakaze and confirmed by Samon – her skeleton would act as the perfect transmitter, and Samon has hidden a sacrifice on her island just for such an emergency. Does this mean a new alliance between Hakaze and Samon against the Mage of Exodus? It seems very possible – Samon’s very plan was built around the notion that he would team with her again should things go off the rails, even if this is a different sort of debacle than he expected. If my suspicions for where things are headed are right, it’s Mahiro who’s going to be in for a major existential upheaval soon. And there’s still the matter of the mysterious Junichirou, not a mage – “I do not possess that ability”, in his own words – but someone able to toss powerful mages about like rag dolls without breaking a sweat. The means of his power and his desired ends are the most obscure of anyone in the cast, and that makes him someone that could fundamentally change the direction of the story.




  1. “One thing seems clear – one way or another, as the first cour draws to a close we’re in for a major reset.”

    Has there been any word on how the series is going to continue? Continuing straight into a second cour or a hiatus?

    The places I usually I check for series length still have the show at an unknown number of episodes and no final air date.

      1. Hell yes! Now that’s some really good news to hear. That means they’re not going to make a rushed ending next episode. Also, it means material that’s unscanlated so far too. Sweet!

  2. Love this series. Sleeper series of the season for me. Chuunibyou is good, but that’s different. As Guardian Enzo said, this series has immense potential. Let’s see if they can keep it up.

    As I grow older, the need for action becomes less, and the need more intricate dialogue, character development and plot twists forms my ideal anime. ZnT is slowly becoming that show.

    Winter 2013 looks like a pretty bleak season as far as anime seasons go, but with this show, I may not take a break from anime like I was planning to initially.

  3. I’ve really come to enjoy Zetsuen. I always liked it, but it grows on you more over time, and it does things other anime could rarely get away with. I don’t think I’ve seen anything recent where the centerpiece of a whole three or so episodes was a debate in which the participants have hardly moved a step, and yet it’s been utterly engrossing.

  4. Best thriller/mystery of the season, definitely. Now the bigger question for me is: How did the princess got “left” behind in the past, if an equivalent skeleton is required from breaking any time paradox? It is tempting to guess Aika’s body was used. But there doesn’t seem to be any predictable answer.

    1. Easy, they just left her on the island two years ago, but Hakaze’s dolls are connected through time, hence, the skeleton that is next to Yoshino is the present one, while Hakaze’s skeleton on the island is the past version. Basically by transporting Hakaze’s “guts” to the present, they can unite her with the present skeleton, leaving her skeleton, of the past, on the island and so preventing the paradox.

  5. It’s captivating listening to such reasonable and logical dialog. To have each character so well developed and intricate resembles the very plays they refer to. And the layers haven’t even been peeled away yet. Words like destiny, favor, fate, the explanation of illogical causality is wrapping the story in a nice little bow. Great show! Can’t wait!

    1. It would make sense if he is, since Hakaze’s magic points out the murderer as a member of Kusaribe clan (which he is…I think) while Samon & co’s investigation showed that the person doesn’t use Kusaribe’s magic, which he doesn’t.
      But the plot likes to surprise us though so I’m not expecting him to really be the one.

    2. I don’t think it’s Juunichiro, because for 2 reasons.
      1) it would be more interesting if the protagonist was Aika, for plot reasons. Mahiro would be torn once more and asked to pick sides if it was Aika (in season 2). If it was Juunichiro, Season 2’s plot would be too simple: Everyone would be united on one side vs. Juunichiro.

      2) The flashbacks we’ve seen for Yoshino and Mahiro when they were with Aika, clearly shows Aika’s was dropping hints all the time when she spoke to the two of them.

  6. Junichirou is doubly intriguing for me, firstly, as non-mage with other power source, he could be the one from outside Kusaribe clan being able to to kill Aika and escape the magic investigation? Secondly, we could be misled by Hakaze mentioning a princes, as well there could be a prince of the Tree of Exodus…
    As I suspected, Samon had a contingency plan for bringing back Hakaze from the dead – and now it has been revealed, and Hakaze wasted no time in getting about making it reality.
    And still we dont know which exactly side is right about the Tree they are siding with – not to mention, the characters themselves are not 100% sure, even someone as determined as Hakaze has her doubts!

  7. The mages of Tree of Genesis are helping the Tree of Exodus, the mage of Tree of Exodus is helping the Tree of Genesis. They sure like barking up the wrong tree! Sorry, couldn’t resist the pun.

  8. I just figured Junichirou was an amazing martial artist; and his Ki-manipulation is developed to such levels that he’s immune to magery.

    If Aika does turn out to be a mage of exodus, and it was all set up by her, my buddy owes me a cent. I totally called that the entire plot of the anime was all her cunning xanatos gambit from beyond the grave back in episode 3.

  9. This is the sleeper series of the season for me as well and I think it’s testament to the writing that they’ve managed to keep me on the tip of my seat, even though the characters have just been standing in one spot for the last three episodes, having a discussion. Both the world as well as the characters are superbly written and the way these personalities clash is a joy to behold.

    So glad this is a two-cour series, if it manages to keep this up, it’ll be in my top of the year list next year.

  10. It’s pretty amazing that this exact scene has been ongoing for more than 3 episodes and yet it still manages to be suspenseful and fun to watch .. it works kinda like a theater play where two or three actors could stand in the same location for an entire act of the play exchanging dialog and still manage to entertain the audience (considering the show is already referencing many Shakespeare plays in its dialog and plot-twists it’s kinda ironic)

    It’s indeed possible that Aika is the witch of Exodus as we really know nothing about her past before she met Mahiro (or even how she ended up meeting him in the first place) …. but even if she is the witch of Exodus i really don’t understand why would she kill herself instead of contacting Samon directly and helping him summon the tree of Exodus .. sure her knowledge/role would have helped him control the tree once it was summoned (meaning he wouldn’t need his sister’s help at all) .. guess we will find out next episode .. it would be hilarious though if the witch of Exodus turned out to be someone like Evangeline Yamamoto or Junichirou instead (although the choice that will create largest amount of Shakespearean drama is Aika of course even if it doesn’t fully make sense now XD)

    Speaking of Junichirou, so far he seems to be some sort of anti-mage or mage-nutralizer, probably redirects the energy of the mage and shifts it back at them (or something like that), and he really likes boobs too, doesn’t he –> https://randomc.net/image/Zetsuen%20no%20Tempest/Zetsuen%20no%20Tempest%20-%2011%20-%20Large%2006.jpg .. but i admit .. it’s hard not to like Evangeline Yamamoto ..she has her charms XD

  11. Why is it that our heroes are trying to bring Hakaze back to the present time?

    Instead, they should be trying to help Hakaze escape the island in the past. Why? Because in Hakaze’s time, Aika is not dead yet. If Hakaze can get free of her island prison, she might be able to save Aika.

    Isn’t that what our heroes really want?

    Shizuka the Cat
  12. Regarding the cultural sacrifice needed for the body swap that trancends time: I’m guessing that she can’t find anything on the island only to be told by Yoshino that it might be the island itself (an artificial island would surely be a major cultural achievement :P). It might sound grand, but then again travelling through time needs an enormous sacrifice and it would fit the style and scale of current developments nicely. 🙂

      1. as far as barrels go, they are not especially high tech… I doubt this particular one would be enough for anything more than party trick level of magic – battle magic uses up easily offerings like cars or tanks, and time travel would need probably even more “energy”…

  13. Not to spoil anything, but when I got to this point in the manga, I could not stop until I read straight into the next arc.

    I dont know how they will handle the next cour, there is so much story to tell, and I don’t think they can even fit in the big reveal. I hope they don’t pull off a really bad anime original ending, such as FMA a few years back.

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