Civilization Blaster? Sound ominous…
Bones has had it hard for the past few seasons. With a few less than memorable series under its belt as well and the lukewarm reception to Eureka Seven AO, things have looked better for the anime powerhouse that brought us Escaflowne. How does Zetsuen no Tempest add up in light of recent years? The first thing that stands out is the fantastic art direction in this series. The washed out colors of the city contrast nicely against the bright colors of the island scenes. Diversity keeps each scene fresh and give its own distinct character. But this is just the icing on the cake. The interesting use of floral colors painted against somber hues creates some magnificent set pieces. At one point a rift opens into the ocean. The gaping black hole is soon surrounded by a rabble of bright yellow swallow tail butterflies that twist about it in a cyclonic dance. It’s breath taking to say the least. Bones once again proves that they aren’t slackers when it comes to production.
Surprisingly though, Zetsuen no Tempest strongest aspect is the mystery surrounding the series. I really don’t know exactly what the hell is going on. There was a sister that was murdered, a girl that was stranded by an evil mage on an island, some sort of illicit magic ritual, voodoo dolls, and a disease that turns people into metal statues. It doesn’t all quite come together in this outing, but I applaud that it lets the viewer do some mental heavy lifting and speculation. I really want to know where this all goes, and whats the point for all this craziness. Oh and I did I mention Sauron makes an appearance in the last few seconds. No Joke.
One of my complaints would have to be some of the voice acting. Kouki Uchiyama has a very stale delivery as Yoshino. At times it feels as if he’s just reading off a paper. Toshiyuki Toyonaga does show some emotion, but there only seems to be one, anger. Sure both of these problems might be because of the script which I’ll discuss more later, but its still up to the seiyuu to try and give the most dynamic performance they can.
Sadly, there are a few problems with the writing. Everything seems so overwrought with melodrama. The characters seems inclined to drop one philosophical statement after another. It’s a bit trying as your piecing together the exact meaning and the ramifications of their saying to the larger plot. This one note direction gives a heavy atmosphere that makes you want to take a break for some fresh air.
This creates further problems for the characters who come off as two dimensional. No depth in their personalities is betrayed because of the heavy handed dialogue. They all seem to be doused in some sort of melancholy. I understand that the show wants to evoke a dreary feeling, but sometimes it comes off as if it is trying too hard. I really do hope that this series can show some dynamic going forward as this is a series I’d love to watch.