After witnessing the first episode, it starts to seem only logical that the phrase “phenomenal action thriller” must be a translation of “Zetsuen no Tempest” – a complex stage has been set, and drama only just begins.
In the case of this series, it would feel inappropriate to begin with anything other than plot – precisely as it contains such an abundance of it, and all is of such a recognized caliber, one needn’t worry about the other aspects either way. However, it is very much crucial to say that one should hold every line of script in high value – even the most mundane of statements may not be what the mind will initially believe.
A typical summer day on its exterior is a day already quite atypical as one will come to later learn.
Walking down an average road, a paved hill following the route home from school, or perhaps vice versa, is a highschool kid looking not much different than a standard protagonist of his kind, an adolescent male – yet one can certainly praise the character design. Little will one realize at the time however, there’s certainly much more to revel over than merely physical appearance.
A friend of our protagonist rides up to him on a bike, apparently taking home a girl whom one would naturally think is perhaps his girlfriend. Seemingly, this girl isn’t too fond of our protagonist, even calling him a con artist after her chauffeur pedals a fair distance away – yet do take special notice that, more specifically, she mentions that our protagonist is merely posing as an average nobody, and that he can “lie with a straight face”.
Cue an intercession of moe, albeit in a manner both unusual and relevant – a barrel washes up upon an island, and emerging from this wooden cylindrical enclosure is a stunning bishoujo. Beautiful and young as she appears, one wouldn’t think it, yet she’s said to be a renowned mage. A questionable fellow, with a notable affluence, cast her onto this island in an effort to eradicate her for a reason not entirely known. Yet of course, she doesn’t intend to perish so willingly.
And then we return to our protagonist, who receives a message from his girlfriend via mobile phone reminding him of a date he has with her tomorrow. Besides being a little ambiguous, one wouldn’t think anything else of this development, yet do note how there’s an included image with the message – however, the photo is cut off from view.
Now a second facet which won’t be as immediately crucial, although is still bound to be of immense significance, is that our protagonist asks himself rhetorically after viewing that message “How much weight does a simple promise carry?” One should certainly like to know the answer to that themselves.
Yet forward we move, our protagonist is now at school – he reads from a text in a fashion of the usual forced class participation, all the while, a group of girls gossip about him. Their words aren’t anything to be concerned with for negative connotation – rather, they provide us some important information. Apparently, without someone named “Mahiro” around, our protagonist acts, or at least is perceived by others, as a fairly different person than the norm. Additionally, the fact that he has a girlfriend is reiterated once more.
Class concludes, and continuing on, one will further see that the fellow known as “Mahiro” has apparently disappeared – absent from school for about a month, and nowhere to be seen. Now making a fair inference, it’s not far-fetched, but rather logical instead, to presume the one who has went missing is also the biker seen much earlier – considering a bond has already been established between the two characters.
Delving further down the path of Zetsuen no Tempest, this point is perhaps our parting from normality. Jumping onto the fact that his friend’s not around, some petty creatures assault our protagonist for his wallet. Now this doesn’t matter in a “woe is me” kind of way one would see with most series of the lackluster kind, Zetsuen no Tempest is in a vastly superior league. We’re shown a flashback for comparison – a scene where protagonist and friend Mahiro are at the home of the latter, being lectured against fighting by the bike riding bishoujo from earlier.
It looks that when Mahiro is around our protagonist, the two are the kind to get into all kinds of mess – something which the blonde bishoujo places all blame on our protagonist.
However, it’s back to real-time – protagonist walking up steps towards a funerary site. Our protagonist contemplates consciously on how whatever it is Mahiro is out to find, it won’t bring about his happiness – just before then stopping in front of a relatively extravagant tombstone. He’s approached by an elder woman – and a bit unexpectedly, she seems to be hunting for Mahiro, weapon and all. After basic introductions, the woman starts reciting some disconcerting things – mentioning sightings of a boy, likely Mahiro, and that it seems areas go quarantined in his wake.
One won’t be too sure what is happening on the grander scale just yet, although it’s of course escalating rather quickly. According to this lady, Mahiro saved a young girl around a week or so ago – according to his friend, he’s not the sort to save anyone, yet this case could be an exception. Under what reasoning? Mahiro had an imouto named Aika-chan whom he held dear, in past tense – that blonde bishoujo who seemed to hate our protagonist was the very girl, and apparently, the characters on screen are currently standing at her grave. She’s dead.
As a flashback envelops, we see it – Mahiro was mortified by the passing of his sister. She was murdered, and he intends to find her killer – a fact which also leaves one with enough to feasibly deduct that Mahiro probably went missing for this very purpose.
Onto real-time, when discussion breaks down, our protagonist is left disadvantaged as the old lady prepares to eradicate him with her impressive guns – yet coming to the rescue with a brutal kick to the head, it’s Mahiro. Wherever he’s been, Mahiro has acquired some potent ars magus – and much in thanks to the transcendental animation, one will certainly both see and feel the fellow’s newly gained power. The miss 28-year-old Freulienwhatever is viciously yet mercifully put to sleep, in a manner which is, at least presumably, not fatal.
The action scenes pack weight in this series – the body moves naturally and beautifully, thus once the volunteer of pseudo-justice who calls herself something along the lines of “Freuleinwhatever” has her skull sickeningly smashed against the solid rock exterior of the Earth, one can’t help but become a sadist, even if only for a few seconds.
Now with hostiles out of the way, Mahiro breaks it down – an epidemic is sweeping the region which turns nearly everyone into a metallic iron casing. Our protagonist is immune for some reason, and Mahiro has little to fear as his arcane skills are not simply for show. Mahiro made a covenant with a certain mage, the female seen much earlier who was stranded on an island. She drifted a bottle out to sea with a request – Mahiro received it and accepted. He’s completing her objectives in exchange for her to find the one who murdered his sister.
Somewhere in the world, a group is attempting to revive that which should not be brought to life – it’s an obscure entity, a dangerous being which will inevitably destroy the world if left unchecked. Mahiro’s now out to obliterate it before the worst occurs, driven by the vehemence to avenge his imouto.
Justice didn’t make any sense – Mahrio proclaimed it absurd how his sister went from life to death so easily, and there’s not even a trace of who is responsible. It makes no sense – and incidentally, neither does magic. In turn, Mahiro insists that with these two perplexing forces, he will make something coherent – he will find his sister’s murderer.
As for where our protagonist sits in all this, he’s certainly not a spectator – after all, this is the fellow who can lie with a visage leaving one none the wiser. With this first episode alone, one can’t distinguish our protagonist’s role – reality may not be all as it seems.
Whilst he initially appeared average, our protagonist turns into the most suspicious character on hand.
Showing his concern for his friend as tension grows and the city is clearly unstable, Mahiro first asks our protagonist if his parents are away, and then secondly, the same of our protagonist’s girlfriend. Mahiro is a bit surprised that his buddy knew he had a girlfriend – yet we also become a little curious ourselves. Why did Mahiro ever bothered hiding it? Why keep such a matter from a friend?
Mahiro in particular seems to be a sincere companion towards our protagonist, even though the two look to have a very strange, almost cruel connection between them – such as how Mahiro insisted his friend wouldn’t save anyone earlier, or at the start of the series where Mahiro, whilst riding the bike, mentions that his buddy isn’t “a good guy”.
More shockingly however, despite knowing his friend has a lover, Mahiro evidently hasn’t a clue to her identity.
“Time is out of joint”, or so we’re told.
Back to the past, it’s the flashback of bike riding on fine summer day yet again. Since the last time we’ve seen it, we’ve learned the girl on the bike is Mahiro’s imouto – and now we’re also shown an extended cut of this clip. Apparently, after she mentioned how our protagonist is a liar, she admits herself to be one as well before then looking out to our protagonist’s direction and smiling – with our protagonist also smiling back.
Taking tsundere to another level, our protagonist’s girlfriend is Mahiro’s imouto, the supposedly diseased Aika-chan – in which case, one can only ask “what the hell is going on?”
Our protagonist has a date with a dead woman?
He may not have fancy majutsu – yet our protagonist looks to hold all the cards. Perhaps he was lying when he told Frealunwhatever that Mahiro’s sister was buried at that tomb – however if that’s true, it makes a mystery of how Mahiro came to chase an evidently fictional killer, as well as why there’s such a grand cover-up scheme going on in the first place. Not to mention, another major detail to recognize is that we’re shown the attached photo alongside our protagonist’s message from his girlfriend – and it shows Aika-chan in a highschool seifuku.
Unless her proposed death was in her middle school days, then there’s something quite elaborate in place.
It’s unlikely, or so one should hope, yet one can’t help but wonder what if it were our protagonist who slaughtered the cute Aika-chan – unforgivingly eliminating his friend’s imouto, his own girlfriend. That wouldn’t make any sense, though as Mahiro said himself, none of this makes sense – if our protagonist isn’t the suspect, then at which point will the pieces come together in this puzzle?
For episode one, this felt more akin to the start of a featured film.