「(はじまりの戦い」 (Hajimari no Tatakai)
“The Battle of Genesis”

I think any worries that Zetsuen no Tempest would slip out of character and go for a subtle, understated ending can safely be set aside…

As guest-hosting gigs go this certainly is a pretty good one, so thanks to Zephyr for asking me to fill in for him covering Zetsuen’s penultimate episode at Random Curiosity. As my LiA readers know (I actually covered an episode at RC earlier as well) this series has emerged as one of my genuine favorites, probably second only to Shin Sekai Yori in the class of Fall 2012 and a very likely bet to end up on my 10 best list for 2013 (unless it’s a truly amazing year). In terms of pure unapologetic BONES grandiosity, a better fit between studio and material could hardly be imagined.

At times like this I’m glad I’m not a manga reader, because I can enjoy the last few episodes of Zetsuen without obsessing over what changes the anime makes. My relationship with Okada Mari as a writer has been a rocky one, a kind of love-hate affair, but as with BONES I think in Zetsuen she’s found a perfect muse for her talents – and I’ve always felt she’s at her best working with a strong director who can reign in her overreaches (Andou Masahiro certainly qualifies). Of course with a series like this overreaching is really a big part of the charm – as I’ve said before this isn’t a show to be watched so much as experienced. It’s as operatic and grand and excessive as any anime in recent memory, and I think it’s the fact that it not only accepts that about itself but celebrates it that really makes the whole thing work. And what better writer to feed the beast in a situation like that but Okada?

It’s been fascinating to watch the way the various characters’ roles in the larger story have shifted over the course of the narrative, with their respective stars waxing and waning as circumstances changed (very much in the Shakespearean tradition, in fact). It seemed quite fitting to me that Mahiro and Yoshino would be the ones to emerge as central to the finale given their essential role in the overall story, but while Mahiro’s place was obvious – he was the one who thought of the plan all of the older and theoretically wiser heads decided to pursue – Yoshino’s was less clear. And it seemed that Hakaze was going to struggle to find relevance in the end, given that her magic was effectively neutered within the likely battle zone surrounding the Tree of Genesis’ central pillar.

So how did Zetsuen find a way around this? Well, in Yoshino’s case it seems to have been getting shot – which is certainly an attention-grabber, especially as it seemed he was pretty much along for the ride in Mahiro’s plan. In fact neither of them were originally going to be involved at all, though they weren’t about to accept that (thankfully, from a dramatic standpoint). Having them be part of a skeleton-crew attack on the survey ships closest to the Pillar seems like a sensibly safe choice, but I’m not really sure why the normally suspicious Mahiro would assume that just because they were science ships the crew would be unarmed – either that, or the boys let their amateur status show though and forget to thoroughly check the crew for firearms before restraining them. I’ll withhold judgment on this development until we learn more about it next week – at the moment it seems a bit forced, but Zetsuen is so good at Byzantine plot twists (and selling them) that I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt on this one.

As for Hakaze, the way her role in the plan is handled is much more obviously ingenious. Having she and Hanemura switch places – she posing as the Mage of Exodus, he as the “Dancing Princess” (yes, Okada-sensei – you finally managed to get Kaji Yuuki in drag after all, but I’ll forgive you this once) is a darn good idea by that scamp Mahiro. Not only that, but having Hanemura swap places with Tetsuma in the middle of the battle – very clever indeed. It allows Hakaze to use her magic in an effective way, in a place where it can still be used – and allows the “Mage of Exodus” to appear to be a greater threat to the military fleet than would have been the case if Hanemura had taken them head-on. As with pretty much all the major battles in this series it was handled beautifully from an animation standpoint – it’s quite simply a joy to watch BONES indulge their passion for good old-fashioned hand-drawn action sequences, and Andou Masahiro is a director who excels at the broad canvas as few others in anime do.

This episode is full of the touches that make Zetsuen no Tempest such a majestic and quirky series – the food porn, the sweeping orchestral background music, the use of Samon as one of the most unorthodox yet brilliant comedic devices of the year. But it leaves us with many questions still to be answered in the finale, and that’s not even factoring in Yoshino’s condition. I for one refuse to believe everything will come down to a one-on-one between the Tree of Genesis and Hanemura, a second-tier character – it just doesn’t fill like something Zetsuen would do, and his “It’s my fight and no one can help me” speech had the feel of ironic foreshadowing. We still know little of Samon’s role in the final plan, though there are hints it might be a suicide run. And I continue to believe that the mysterious girlfriend card is going to be played – though time is running out – or else it’s one of the great red herrings of the anime year. Add to that the fact that Aika hardly seems like the sort of character who’d let everything play out without directly impacting it in some way, and certainly guesses could be made – but we’ll find out soon enough, and at the very least we’ll surely see the contents of her “posthumous” letters to Yoshino and Mahrio revealed.

Whatever happens I expect it to be preposterous, spectacular and probably better suited to Puccini (or Shakespeare) than conventional anime. And I wouldn’t want it any other way, because it’s that quality that makes Zetsuen no Tempest stand out so boldly in a medium where shows that truly break from the pack are all too rare. Ultimately, I suppose, the question comes down to what it’s seemed likely to be all along – are we watching a tragedy, or a comedy, Hamlet or The Tempest? Zetsuen is a series that excels like few others at juxtaposing the mundane and the grandiose to great effect, and the title of the final episode – “To Each, Their Own Tale” – suggests that it’s going to deliver a conclusion that transcends the distinction altogether, and gives us something that’s neither (and both).


It’s that time of year again: the Spring 2013 Preview and Poll is online at Lost in America. Please stop by for a read and share your most anticipated series for the upcoming season.




    1. more offtopic: don’t let authors who visit RC twice a month take on awesome shows to blog *cough*psycho pass*cough*, cus then we can’t talk about it weekly in the comments, very disappointing.

  1. I can’t wait for the finale of this series! But I’ll be really sad to see it go. Every week this show raises more questions than it answers and I couldn’t get enough of it! This show has brought about unpredictable (at least for me ^^;;) twists and turns that never disappointed. So while I will be impatiently waiting for the final episode next week, it’ll be hard to say goodbye once everything is said and done!

  2. Ok, Yoshino was just shot, and I yelled just as loud as Mahiro did. But the episode preview seems like he’s ok. But if its just a flashback trollin I will start hatin >:O

    Anyway, nice subtle beginning, to an epic start of the mission. Some last thoughts and talks before the storm, that one seen with Yoshino and Hakaze was pretty amazing. Emotions, emotions everywhere!

    And its friggin nice to see Samon in his usual attire now! Lol He reminds me of when he was an antagonist now 😀

  3. Yoshino has died multiple times in this series, and while many may seem shock that he got shoot, it really loses it’s effect while knowing full and well that Hakaze will just.. cure him. At this point I’m wondering why they even bother to create that ‘fake’ drama while knowing that he’s just going to be bloody fine…Is it really worth freaking out over?

    1. Except she can’t get close to that ship to cure him since it is still in the no-magic zone and after Hanemura takes out the pillar she won’t be able to use magic at all, or so it was hinted at. Even assuming Mahiro get the boat out of the no-magic zone I doubt the military will just allow her to take a short break and heal Yoshino.

      1. Trust me, he’ll be fine. The big 3 are always fine. The preview even showed him unless it’s a flashback, heck we can even have a 2nd season of just Hakaze going back in time again to prevent his death and pull a S;G just to justify this.

      2. There’s also the issue of once the tree is destroyed Hakaze becomes just a normal girl and cannot use magic anymore, so she can’t heal him. I think it’s an interesting addition to the story and we’ll see what happens. It’s definitely not a given that all is ok.

      3. @Solara
        Point isn’t really that Yoshino will survive or not, the real meat of this plot point (and what will determine if they succeed or not at making it belivable/necessary) is how he is he going to recover from a bullet wound to the chest .. the HOW is what matters.

        Why do i have a gut feeling that Aika might play some role in that (but that’s just me), we will just have to wait and see.

    1. She killed Mahiro’s parents as well. Im not sure if they were in on it or not; It has been stated that Mahiro’s parents were politically powerfully. Plus it wouldnt be farfetched to assume that they adopted Aika while knowing something about her identity. I mean, why did they decide all of a sudden to adopt her; as very powerful people, what would they gain by adopting her (practically speaking of course). Id assume they knew of her identity as the mage of exodus and complied with dying along with Aika to make it more convincing that it was a random murder. Either that or Aika made that decision herself, and if that’s the case, it puts a new, more darker perspective on Aika considering that she was willing to go that far and sacrifice that much to ensure the world would not reset.

      1. Wait, what !!! from the previous episode with the Aika flashback when Mahiro and Yoshino first met her it was pretty obvious that Mahrio’s father was going to meet Aika’s mother and probably marry her (whom she said was late for an hour to the appointment), Mahiro’s parent didn’t adopt Aika, her mother married his father so she technically had to move to live with Mahiro as his pseudo-sister .. where did you get the idea Mahiro’s parent adopted her ?

        Besides, there is no reason whatsoever for Aika to murder Mahiro’s family nor was there any mention of anyone else dying on that day besides her killing herself.

      2. I think there is a good reason why the anime removed that point because really it was unnecessary for her to do that in the whole scheme. Plus it really does make Aika become more of a villan if she killed her mother and step-father.

      3. @Scruffy
        My memory might be hazy but didn’t they mention that his parent died in some different accident (maybe it’s just my memory acting weird), but if it isn’t in the anime is it in the manga, anyone knows which chapter did they mention this ?

        Besides, Mahiro seems to never mention taking revenge for his Aika and father, it’s only Aika .. and again .. from what happened between Aika and Hakaze in the time-travel part there is no reason for Aika to kill the parents .. Hakaze never mentioned anything that would make her do that !!?

      4. @HunterWulf

        Sorry i didnt mean adopt; when i originally contemplating what to write i meant “adopt in the sense that they she was brought into the family from outside of Mahiro’s family tree but yeah you should probably go back and watch ep 15 or 16 (sorry i forget which one); Megumu notes how even though Mahiro’s entire family was killed by the mage of zetsuen, the only one he obsesses over is Aika; to which Mahiro responds that its because his parents had already lived their lives while Aika hadnt. So yeah, its safe to assume Aika killed them as well to make the murder much more believable. Im sure the anime proceeded to gloss over this piece of information because it would make Aika’s self-sacrifice less noble and make her seem sort of like a cold murderer.

  4. Zetsuen no Tempest, is a epic show, it keeps me on the edge of my seat nearly every episode.
    I really wonder what will occur on the final episode, tragedy or a miracle or maybe both?

    I can’t wait!!

  5. Thinking back to the previous episodes, how Aika would “normally” contact Kusaribe, Aika’s unexplained foreknowledge, that “time is out of joint”, the snake pattern etc., the ending will probably send things back into cycle, possibly repairing it.

  6. I actually was kind of surprised Yoshino didn’t get hit even earlier by something, like for example his breather failing while he’s underwater or something, that tree of genesis is like final destination ever since they brought back Hakaze, first pierced by the tree, now by the bullet.

  7. OK, that naval-magical battle was awesome, and keeping logical flow in the events – though I am surprised no one in the control of the Combined Fleets has thought about Halsey at Leyte (keep the objective protected!)… Switching the Mages is a perfect ploy rivalling setting carriers as a decoy in the same battle – I hope Hanemura will be more decisive than Kurita there!

    1. They didn’t keep the objective protected or stay near the tree becasue they know the only real threat to the tree in the mage of Exodus, and all their ships plus the fake-princess are all attacking him, so why would they need to stay near the tree to protect it if the only threat is moving away from it and they are all bounding it with a wall of cannon fire and missiles !!! that’s the brilliance of Mahiro’s plan.

      1. To enlighten you… In 1944 Battle of Leyte, similar tactics were used on Japanese side. They used their last remaining carriers (false MoE) to lure away main US fleet (under adm.Halsey) to allow battleship and cruisers strike force (false MoG) to enter US landing area and destroy defenceless troop transports (tree core). It almost succeeded, if not for brave defence by few smaller US ships and disastrous decision by Japanese commander adm.Kurita to turn back a few miles from objective…
        Even in MMOs I play, when in PvP battles you defend an objective, you STICK TO IT, not chase after enemy “most dangerous player” – because someone can snuck in and take objective.

      2. @ewok40k
        Thanks for the history lesson, but Napoleon begs to differ, offense is the best defense, and it isn’t case of the “most dangerous player” .. but rather the ONLY enemy that can hurt your objective, if you attack him with full force and take him out that’s unarguably your best defense.

  8. Now that’s what i call IMPACT, this episode delivered in spades, everything is coming together beautifully and all the characters we watched struggle and fight for their own goals all this time are coming together beautifully .. the dialog between Hanemura and Mahiro mirrored by the dialog between Yoahino and Hakaze were amazing, the moment Yoshino revealed why he wanted to come along with them despite the danger sent a shiver down my spine .. it was an accumulation of a lot of different moments .. Aika’s death, all the time he spent with Hakaze and the others, the moment he learned how Aika died .. etc etc .. this moment brought everything together wonderfully (and that music, it’s rare to see an anime series that makes such great use of orchestral music).

    And then there is Mahiro’s plan, which is pretty brilliant and uses the skills and abilities of everyone eloquently (there are no superheros who do everything on their own and without a plan XD), i just hope that Yoshino getting shot isn’t going to be a needless attempt at creating cheap drama (becasue they really don’t need to at all) .. they will need to be very careful where they go with that so as to not ruin the ending .. so far they have been doing a great job .. so let’s hope they don’t screw this up.

    Zetsuen is definitely a BONES series at its best (it has those brilliant BONES moments like FMA and Eureka), and for me it ranks as one of the best anime of 2012 … almost a tie with Shinsekai Yori XD

    And where can i find a woman like Yamamoto, she is just so awesome XD

    1. Definitely one of best winter seasons, and we had loads of fine series, even in the usually empty “action and serious thought” departament swamped by “moe and romance” shows.
      Zetsuen no Tempest, Psycho Pass, Shin Sekai Yori, Maoyuu Maou Yuusha, Chihayafuru 2…

  9. DAMMIT! I WANNA KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT ALREADY! This is hands down one of the most underrated series that I have ever seen. Why Zetsuen no Tempest doesn’t get enough recognition is beyond me.

  10. Am I the only one laughing over how Hakaze keeps reminding Yoshino how much she loves him and he doesn’t give a rats ass? Lol Seriously, at this point it’s just pitiful and I feel bad for her, Yoshino you’re such a prick, the least you could do is say something out of courtesy or put her out of her misery by simply saying ‘I don’t even find you remotely attractive, I’m pulling a Sankea here!’ just sayin’.

    1. I think you misunderstood what Yoshino was saying to Hakaze in the swimming pool. He basically said she was important to him. It certainly wasn’t a rejection of her feelings.

      1. It certainly wasn’t an acceptance. He more or less acknowledge that he ‘knows’, but doesn’t state anything potentially useful for Hakaze to lead on in the future. If anything it still is a one way street. Yoshino appears extremely neutral to the point of not caring or being indifferent to anything romantic coming out of Hakaze’s mouth. And that is rather harsh considering how obvious Hakaze is. Yoshino even stated a few times that he is just a guy who is still hung over Aika. Apparently Hakaze is adamant that being stubborn is the way to his heart, but I have seen nothing come out of Yoshino that basically implies “I will develop feelings for you down the line”

        It’s basically “I love you! LIsten to my rants damnit!” and he’s all like “…thats nice.”

    2. That wasn’t the point of the scene at all, Yoshino was trying to say that he cares about her and everyone else as friends (which is why he wanted to be there with them when they are fighting and taking important decisions and not let them shoulder the whole responsibility on their own like Aika did when she committed suicide) .. this was a brilliant moment for Yoshino that shows he learned something from Aika’s death and that he cares about those people we spent so much time with … i don’t know what’s there to laugh about .. you are just looking at it from a completely wrong perspective.

      And telling someone you love them out of courtesy is plain evil and deluding, Yoshino is quite honest about his feelings towards Hakaze, he cares about her as a friend but not romantically like he did with Aika.

      1. Thats what I gather from that scene, that he cares for her as a friend like he cares for others, but nothing romantic wise.

        I said nothing about Yoshino saying such words just to make Hakaze happy, I stated that it would be nice if Yoshino, while being honest which is possible, to be up front about his feelings or at least implied that he may or may not fall for her in the future. Staying quiet is rather cruel and harsh. If anything its like he dodging the elephant in the room when Hakaze states her feelings many times that it sounds like she is talking to a wall.

        Hakaze even got annoyed by the fact that she even said it to him and reminded him and he just turn the conversation of ‘friendship and caring’ in that scene. I’m just annoyed by the one way street situation it is and he’s just ‘bland’ about it without any resolution.

        Like in the earlier episodes everyone went on about how cute they were together and so on and on, and no one for a moment stopped and wondered ‘what does Yoshino want? Does he even like her like that? etc’, like apparently it doesn’t matter what he thinks.And I still don’t know how he feels about her, besides that he cares for her as a friend.

      2. @Solara
        You make a good point, but what did you want him to say to her, telling her he cares about her as a friend (like he cares about the rest of the group) is clear enough of a signal that he doesn’t love her (now who isn’t seeing the elephant in the room .. you listening Hakaze XD), in many romatic shows/movies saying “let’s just be friends” is usually a sign of breaking up or loss of romantic interest in someone.

        You can’t expect him to go for an extreme like telling her “I will cut the chase, i DON’T LOVE YOU HAKAZE, get lost already you witch” .. or the other route of giving her false hope that’s almost a plain lie “I might fall with in love with you sometime in the near or far future !!!” … IMO he was subtle and courteous as can be .. he just isn’t interested romantically in her and she knows it, so she needs to stop wasting her time with a one-sided love and find someone else XD

      3. Of course, nothing like that xD Something subtle works, but also body language speaks volumes. How about a mild expression or a tiny subtle flirt coming from Yoshino that will implied that he may develop feelings for her in due time, not someone so stoic about it. Something that may make me want to root for the pair and not think Hakaze has lost it by claiming him, which apparently she has by saying “MY YOSHINO!” and being a spoiled brat.

        And I’m sure that during earilier episodes if Yoshino was blunt about things everyone would had stopped talking about ‘the princess has fallen in love with Yoshino, now the fate of the World rests in his shoulders!!’ Like apparently him NOT loving her in return wouldn’t change anything..

        My main issue here is that Hakaze didn’t put in the work to make him fall for her, (not lke there was time anyways it’s not a rom com) and Yoshino didn’t make room for her to work with since he was excluded only to Aika, which has resulted in Hakaze stating she loves him many times (apparently not being affected by the possibility of not being liked back at all), to a very stoic wall of a character that is Yoshino. And I’m suppose to be okay with this like its natural and root for some sort of resolution when the bases of it all is just as whack. At the realization of this, you just have to laugh at how ridiculous it is Hunter. That’s the perspective I’m coming from.

      1. Instead she shall be crazy and is determine to win him while she fights, she did said “Watch me Yoshino! Are you watching watching? I SHALL DANCE FOR YOUUU” Okay, so I added that last part in. But she might as well say that.

        I just don’t like the way she presents herself like “its going to happen if I keep this shit up!” Just let it go, Hakaze! Let it go! D8 Yoshino belongs with Mahiro

      2. Truthfully, I hardly see how Gaurdian Enzo could have made it any more obvious to the commenters that that’s somewhat obvious. HEs simply too in love with them to admit it.

      3. I’m not sure that’s true. This is the first episode where Yoshino has admitted to himself that Aika is dead and gone. Until he did that there was no way he could have returned any feelings to Hakaze. Anyway I think the reason why Aika decked Hakaze in her time travel trip was because the only person who he could cry in front of was someone he had feelings for .. so she was jealous!

      4. @Scruffy
        Are you trying to rationalize the falcon punch?

        In that case…. Aika sure showed her! She went off and committed suicide to be out of the picture and leave Hakaze to be with Yoshino. The madness I say! Like how dare she make it so simple? That’s outrageous! (ノ °益°)ノ 彡 ┻━┻

      5. @Solara. Rationalize? So you thought it was out of character?

        Aika killing herself was to save the world and the two people she loved. The fact that another girl had the hots for her man was sad but nothing you can do once you’re dead 🙁

      6. @Scruffy
        Can’t speak about her character because we don’t really know her character base on flashbacks for the most part. We only know it was ‘terrible’ base on Yoshino’s comments about it. But it was certainly something I didn’t expected. If we’re going by character here, Aika proved to be the best girl, besides her sacrifice, she made it clear that she did it to save the World, whereas Hakaze made it clear that she only cares about those 2, not the World. Heck if I could I would make her punch her again, Aika is still the best dead girl ever. Aika’s nobility outshines the Princess any day.

      7. Aika’s suicide was a little forced IMO, if she cared so much about Mahiro and Yoshino instead of the world shouldn’t she have considered the fact how much grief her death would cause those two?It would have been better if she at least tried to find a solution where she would live even if only for the sake of people she cares about.

      8. I agree with the others. Hakaze must REALLY let go of her feelings for Yoshino. Even though Yoshino didn’t really state outright to Hakaze that he can’t and will never be able to return her feelings, Hakaze should at the very least know that Yoshino will love Aika and Aika only. Holding on to her love for Yoshino won’t help any one of them.

    3. Frankly the whole thing with Yoshino and Hakaze….Aika being his girlfriend….Samon thinking Yoshino was the MoE…was dragged out too long, what was it 6-7 eps?They could have done a better job with 2-3 eps.

      1. You wanna talk about drag? A lot of things were dragged, the number one thing that was dragged was that whole ‘BF idenity’ drama, and for the amount of time that it was building up, Mahiro didn’t even beat him up, or anything dramatic happen. Instead Yoshino found it appropriate to mock Aika’s breast size to Mahiro like it was nothing. Like seriously, wtf.

        Thank God they didn’t drag anything when Mahiro had to confront Yoshino just to ‘confirm’ if he was the BF, it was the following next episode I believed. Out of all the things that were drag that one surprise me the most. When Hakaze was still in the island, as annoying as it was to see Samon bang his cane on the floor, it was actually done ‘tastefully’ that made you eager for more, but it was dragged on to build up the suspense of the ‘Boyfriend’ episode.

        About a good 10 episodes were all about how Hakaze is in love, has fallen in love, could be in love, is definitely in love with a person who is hung over a dead GF, and how that can change the World. Not the fighting, not the mages, nothing utterly amazing like that, no it was just how Hakaze felt about a boy; which still to this DATE, has been obvious about not caring about her like that. When you really think on it, it’s really WTF.

  11. What a cliffhanger. My heart nearly stopped when he got shot, then the preview came up.

    I don’t know how Mahiro is a ‘normal high-school teenager’ with that kind of plan. Crazy, dangerous, requiring excellent timing and good coordination…But brilliant. Makes you think he isn’t so out of his league when he says he wants to change the world.

    Romantic developments don’t seem to be in much focus here though, but the meeting between Yoshino and Hakaze couldn’t have came at a better time (since Yoshino got shot. Makes you wonder whether the Tree of Genesis might be behind that too). I’m still not totally convinced Yoshino should be on the front lines either, but that’s really up to him since he did give his reasons.

    Now…how will it end?

  12. I haven’t been this frustrated since watching Geass. Dangit, i need closure.

    all i know is, if he dies, i think everyone on that boat is going to die. If Mahiro would destroy the world for his love interest, i think he could destroy a boat for his best friend. :p

  13. I’m not so fond of comparing Mahiro with Yoshino. You either take them both or none 😉 they complement one another and that’s why it’s a pity we didn’t have more time to how they work out thing together. As for Hakaze and Yoshino I don’t agree that it has been decided they’re not for each other. They can’t be couple just for NOW, but it’s out of discussion anyway cuz it would be to early for Yoshino and his love for Aika would be fake if he even considered falling for Hakaze, when “all of this” has to end yet and he even didn’t have a chance to read Aika’s letter. And I believe it’s not so bad that Hakaze is honest with her feelings, I wish there was more girls in anime like her, cuz it’s so annoying when you watch all these wishy-washy indecisive ones.


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