Zetsuen no Tempest Ep. 8: Screw the world; my imouto is dead

Oh, don’t be fooled by all the tanks and weaponry at the start. This episode features even more talking than before. One of the characters even ends up talking to himself! Enjoy!

Plot summary: Both our duo and the Japanese military force (heh) confronts Samon and his cult. The latter soon confront Mahiro and Yoshino, and explains how the world will end if the Tree of Exodus is not allowed to awaken. Hakaze disputes his claims, but he soon reveals her skeleton and argues persuasively that she has been dead for a couple years now.

Notes:

• Samon speaks of ending Hakaze’s “good fortune,” but how does he reconcile a concept like luck with the narrative’s immense dependence on the idea that logic controls everything? Or is he just trying to be sarcastic and it didn’t come across that well?

• Since Evangeline just happens to be onscreen, she reminds me of how poorly developed these characters are. It’s not just about having a purpose; rather, characters should also strive to have an emotional underpinning that makes them compelling as characters. Mahiro’s emotional underpinning is simple, but at least he has one: he is angry and confused over Aika’s death, and he believes revenge will restore logic to his reality. Yes, his purpose is to get revenge, but you can also see how this purpose is fueled by his emotions.

You cannot say the same for most of the other characters. Evangeline’s purpose is probably to aid the government, but beyond that, we don’t understand much about her character or her feelings. She’s just sort of there to help move the plot along. The same could be said of Samon or Hakaze. They all have a purpose within the narrative, but none of them have any emotional impact. They feel replaceable.

• So how does the anime explain why the Tree of Exodus is actually necessary in order to save the world? By cutting to a lonesome Junichirou who proceeds to talk to no one in particular. Wha? I can’t be the only person who feels that there is a better way to do this, right? First, this is obviously just exposition for the sake of exposition. Second, who the hell is he talking to?! The guy is just walking down the street when all of a sudden he stops and decides to vomit exposition to the wind?

• The conflict here seems simple enough. The debate between Hakaze and Samon actually seems kind of interesting, but nevertheless easy to understand and follow. Each side simply disagrees on what would happen if the Tree of Genesis wakes up. What I am painfully reminded of, however, is all those strained attempts to hammer us over the head about the world’s logic in previous episodes when the conflict itself wasn’t all that complicated or convoluted to begin with. If anything, the previous world-building episodes tried too hard and comes off a bit pretentious now in light of this new information.

• Both Hakaze and Samon sound like ideologues though. Neither of them offer any evidence to support their arguments, so they’re just shouting at each other and we have no reasons to believe either.

• Mahiro: “Conscience and grace, to the profoundest pit. I dare damnation. To this point I stand that both the worlds I give to negligence. Let come what comes, only I’ll be revenged.” Again, Mahiro quotes Laertes. In other words, he doesn’t care not just about the world, but what happens to him as well. He only wants to avenge Aika.

See, this is what I don’t get. I keep reading elsewhere how Mahiro is supposed to represent Hamlet, but they are nothing alike. If anything, Mahiro is Laertes and this isn’t just because he quotes the guy all the time. Look, when he found out about his father’s death, Hamlet takes his pretty little time. He broods and simmers, questions and wonders until he finally understands the problem. Which of our heroes does this description fit more? Yoshino, right? On the other hand, Laertes jumps into action as soon as he finds out his father was killed. He immediately raises a mob to storm the palace and demand answers. At the same time, however, his rashness leaves him vulnerable. Claudius could manipulate him because all Laertes cares about is getting revenge. Mahiro, like Laertes, raises a “mob” of talismen, then storms the barrier. He doesn’t care about the fate of the world or why Aika was somehow involved with some strange clan. Mahiro just wants revenge, and Hakaze manipulates Mahiro’s blind desire in order to further her own aims against Samon.

Plus, there’s the small matter of Mahiro (Laertes) being in love with his sister (Orphelia).

• Oh dear, Hakaze has been communicating with our protagonists through time. But is there one timeline or are there two, one in which Hakaze is dead and one where she isn’t? Oh hell, I doubt the anime is worried about that. I never have faith that any fictional story gets time traveling right anyway.

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12 thoughts on “Zetsuen no Tempest Ep. 8: Screw the world; my imouto is dead

  1. Lirael

    I agree with how hammered in the exposition was. Samon explaining everythuing nonstop would have been better than the chnage between him and the blond guy simply because it would have made more sense, or even a flashback showing someone explaining all of that to the blond kid.

    I think Zetsuen suffers from making everything too forced and unatural sometimes.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      I think Zetsuen suffers from making everything too forced and unatural sometimes.

      It just feels like Bones isn’t even trying.

      Reply
  2. Rae (@CSrae)

    TBH, the manga doesn’t really help much with the plot development either. I find it too convoluted as plot line to be accessible to the audience. I thought Jun was (slowly) walking towards where the others were waiting at the ToE since his town was closed off.

    OT: Anyone reminded of SMT: Nocturne with the Reason b/t Law and Chaos? I didn’t manage to play the full game, but I read a Let’s Play and the idea how each of the leaders are trying to convince the protagonist their Reason is correct.

    I wonder who would win in fight Mahiro vs Yoshino? I still think the world is screwed either way, when you have these two protagonists as the only hope. Will Hakaze ever do ~anything~? Who knows.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      SMT: Nocturne is too cool for this show, but if ZnT was anything like Nocturne, I hope they take the secret ending option and get Lucifer to take over the world and both trees.

      Reply
  3. wanderer

    Ok, I think I will give up on this adaption after the next episode or two. We’re (finally) getting into the one part I wanted to see adapted and it seems the adaption is making things worse, not better, and the way the main points have been delivered so far feels extremely unpromising.

    The source material has the same over-reliance on an overcomplicated scenario requiring too much exposition to set up, and the adaption hasn’t done anything to really improve things here. I think if you squint enough you can see that there’s the beginning of a potential jenga-like unraveling of the scenario that’s been built up, and this was the segment I thought could be made into something quite gripping if executed well; it’s not looking executed well, the key parts are delivered in ways that feel off, and then the “off”-ness of the presentation obscures what logical underpinnings are in place that connect one mini-monologue to the next.

    It’s not done very well in the source material (the writer seems more of a “plotter” than a “writer”) and it looks like the adaption isn’t likely to see what potential there is in this material get improved upon.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      Well, we’re pretty close to the end of the series. You could always just stick it out. But yeah, this is probably the most disappointing show of the season.

      Reply
  4. Fadeway

    This post made me aware of how rarely I’m bothered by exposition. But then, I love Nasu, so I guess it makes sense.

    Anyway, the time travel caveat, does it really matter? I’m usually annoyed by authors inventing physics laws around that concept, mostly because thinking even in the rough direction of the particular plot thread tends to open holes in it. However, the way it’s set up now, nothing can be done about it: Hakaze can only contact the future, the future guys can’t go back in time to help her out, and nobody in the present will do so either. She may be isolated in a space station that doesn’t conduct magic for all we care, spatially. No timeline changes can be made that result in paradoxes, because they’re only changing the future, and not going back in time to accomplish it. Most TT problems in narratives come from having specific seed events that initiate the chain of traveling, which subsequently may eliminate the seed events themselves; here, there’s no such thing, because there’s no backwards travel.

    Of course, the real crutch is that now imouto can die to assure Mahiro’s assistance. I hope there’s no backwards-travel involved there. If the tree has an agent that can kill imouto, it could have instead sent him on a boat.

    Reply
  5. Ryruko

    It does seem that Shirodaira, when writing the series, leaned more towards making initial impact to draw readers in, instead of taking his time with the characters and the plot progression.
    So this Manga caught the wandering eye quite well (well enough to merit an anime) but Shirodaira should have “struck while the iron was hot” and use the momentum of an exciting beginning to propel readers and viewers alike into a deep and well-thought out story.
    I really do enjoy the series ( I am a bit biased because Shirodaira wrote my favorite Manga, Spiral Suiri No Kizuna) but I do agree that the characters aren’t as deep as they should be.

    Although, I have to be honest, the fact that every character doesn’t have a back-story does make it easier to watch. I mean, who really wants to sit through a series with flashback, after flashback that explains the actions of every single character insignificant or not (Naruto and Bleach are the two main culprits of this). I am still hopeful for the series, Shirodaira just needs to slow it down and give the characters and the plot some more time to develop.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      Although, I have to be honest, the fact that every character doesn’t have a back-story does make it easier to watch. I mean, who really wants to sit through a series with flashback, after flashback that explains the actions of every single character insignificant or not

      Well, it doesn’t have to be an extensive, plot-laden backstory. It would just be nice if a character like Evangeline wasn’t just window dressing. I don’t care what her past is, but I’d like to sort of know what she’s thinking.

      Reply
      1. Ryruko

        I suppose as far as Evangeline goes, she is an undeveloped character. It would be nice to why she works for Takumi so willingly and what her actual position is (Special Forces, detective, etc).
        I didn’t really notice the lack of definition in some of the characters until it was brought up here, mainly because I never watch/read one anime/Manga at a time. Watching Naruto and (re-watching) SKET Dance or Wagnaria with this series makes it easier to digest. Of course, this does nothing for its shortcomings.

        Reply
  6. alsozara

    Fuckin’ called it on the time difference. I pretty much agree with all your gripes, I am still interested in where it’s all going to go, though. This episode was more enjoyable than the last few, hopefully it’ll keep warming up as it head towards the finale.

    Reply

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