「不破愛花」 (Fuwa Aika)
Continuing a string of great episodes, this week brings us literally a calm before the storm — the lull before the final battle. With Hakaze’s revelation of the truth, both Mahiro and Yoshino are forced to accept Aika’s decision, and what results is just a superb, character driven amalgamation of greatness. And I wouldn’t have it any other way, because if you really got down to it, that’s what Zetsuen no Tempest has been about. Yes, the story’s been spectacular and the animation just as superb, but the bottom line is that there ain’t no way we would’ve been as invested if it weren’t for the great characters and the amazing development they get week after week.
I mean, gosh darn, everyone was just bouncing off each other this week. For one, we had Hakaze, Yoshino, and Mahiro trying to console each other over the blame and the fact that they needed to accept what they’ve learned. This in turn gives way to Samon and Evangeline’s mixture of worry and relief at how the former were able to keep their control… and ultimately sets up the stage for Hanemura, who stands up and calls everyone out for being unreasonable — beating the crap out of both Mahiro and Yoshino in the process.
Suffice to say, it’s a powerful moment because it shows both just how hard our protagonists have been and trying to keep things in a way that makes sense — to the point where they’re arguably being unreasonable themselves in terms of how hard they’re trying to repress the emotions that make one human. In addition, it just emphasizes just how hard the revelations hit them and how despite the feeling that Mahiro has about it being “the end for him,” there’s still a lot to do here. As Hanemura puts it so aptly himself, “nothing has ended yet” and it’s something that just gets built upon as our characters realize how true that statement is. Because as Mahiro says in response, they won’t be able to “move forward, cry, or even yell if they can’t defeat the Tree of Genesis.” And as Yoshino follows further, “if we don’t end it, nothing can start” — in other words, you can’t start anything new if you don’t give what you’re doing a proper end. And “even if nothing at all begins,” it’s better to finish what you started regardless.
It’s just some amazing stuff to say the least and something made even better by Evangeline and Samon’s discussion about how while there’s such a thing as being at the wrong place at the wrong time, there’s also something as “being at the right place at the right time.” To top it off, there’s some great moments of bittersweet comedy in here as well, with the whole bit about Yoshino saying Aika has a terrible personality and was a weirdo, as well as that bit where he suddenly just starts bleeding out and collapses as a result of Hanemura’s attack.
Ultimately, all of this just sets up a bit of closure for everyone, and both sets up the ending — the need to defeat the Tree of Genesis while killing as little as possible of the military protecting it — and gives some key answers to questions we had last episode. Specifically, we get the revelation that the Tree of Genesis’ core is the key to its destruction, as well as flashbacks that explain Aika’s suicide as one driven by her steadfast adherence to her philosophy, which was to not rely on others and be decisive. In the end though, I do admittedly wonder somewhat, because if Hakaze’s return to the past lead to her death, then would there not be one original timeline where Hakaze wouldn’t have influenced it? I mean, the fact that she killed herself in order to preserve the timeline after Hakaze revisited makes a fair amount of sense… but if you go by the current explanation we have… the future influenced the past…
and it just feels odd. I guess when it comes to things like the space-time continuum… that could be possible, but I do find myself wondering if there was some alternative scenario that led to Aika’s death the first time — one that was not Hakaze — but led to the same result and started this whole loop. In this context, it would be quite possible her Mage of Exodus powers alerted her to the events her death would trigger… but again, it seems like from the explanations we’ve been given, there was no alternative cause for her death, and the future did indeed influence the past.
Actually, after reading this and this, it seems like that is possible after all. Well darn, you learn something new everyday after all.
In any case, the final battle begins next week, and I’m admittedly quite disappointed that I won’t be able to cover it. I’ll be going to PAX East and won’t have the time/internet access to do so sadly, but there will be coverage from Guardian Enzo, who will be covering episode 23 in my stead (Thanks good sir!). It may be a day or two late though, so just a heads up on that.
Full-length images: 31.