Honestly, I don’t even know where to begin with Blast of Tempest; after several episodes I was worried how to tackle it as it’s quite unusual and the first few episodes were left open for many questions.
The first episode promises an epic tale of magic, action, love and friendship, with a mystery revolving around a strange disease which is turning people into metal. The main character, Yoshino Takigawa, is grieving over the loss of his girlfriend Aika, who was the step-sister of his best friend Mahiro Fuwa. Mahiro sets off to find the murderer and comes across Hakaze Kusaribe, a powerful mage who is trapped on an island with her powers subdued. Having all of this happen in one episode was a lot to take in, but it’s better explained in later episodes.
The show manages to tell you just enough so that you’re not completely lost each episode, and this way of withholding answers kept me on the edge of my seat as I had to know what would happen next; woe is me when I realised that Collection Two wouldn’t release until December! There are multiple references to the works of Shakespeare, mainly The Tempest and Hamlet, leaving you to wonder if there’s a possibility of a happy ending for the cast.
Everybody in the cast is fighting for their own reasons and each can come across as selfish, to the point that everyone looks like a pawn to someone else. Because of this, I liked everybody as nobody seemed inherently evil but were willing to do whatever it took to get what they wanted, whether that’s to avenge a murder, protect their country or to save lives. It’s a show which could feel sluggish due to the amount of talking involved, but it’s told in such an in such an interesting way that I needed to know what would happen next; I still need to know!
I was fond of the main three characters, Yoshino, Mahiro and Hakaze who are all very different from one another, as well as secondary characters Evangeline Yamamote, a government volunteer and Natsumura Kusaribe of the Kusaribe clan. The only character I didn’t like was Aika, the step-sister of Mihiro, who I found impossible to sympathise with as her character is explored.
The fighting in the show really appealed to me as Yoshino and Mahiro are forced to use talismans to fight but they’re only embued with speed and defence buffs, but with zero offence. These talismans break after being used for an extended period in battle, and so every battle is tense as they’re human and vulnerable in a fight without. Many of their foes are true mages and can summon magic ability from offerings from shrines, and so have unlimited access to magic without the need for talismans.
Blast of Tempest is visually impressive with a boastful amount of detail depicted in the cast (Hakaze in particular has her figure focused on, and you’ll hear no complaints from me), environments, and even more so during the action. Due to the heavy use of magic when fighting, there’s many streaks of colour lights and explosions, various talismans with unique designs and high-speed movement to focus on; if anything, the fighting won’t bore you. It can be a bit of a violent affair though, more so towards the end, so you might want to watch out if you’re queasy to blood!
You might’ve already realised that despite the show’s good humour, it’s quite dark in tone and this is depicted in the soft hues and grey tinge that seems to cloak the show, as if it’s going to rain and act as a bad signal of things to come; the cast are always worrying about the disease and what not, so why wouldn’t the weather want a slice of despair pie? Of course, the island that Hakaze is trapped on is vibrant and filled with bright colours, which perfectly matches her flowing red hair and bubbly personality.
The animation may be lovely but the subtitles are not. The first thing I noticed was how horrid the subtitles look as they’re blocky and yellow – yellow! I thought for a moment I had revived the ancient Teletext system and it’s even worse when the font is stylized in italics. There’s nothing wrong with white and rounded subtitles as they’re unobtrusive and easy to read, but the chunky yellow text I was presented with was an eyesore which was no help as the dialogue is important and needed to not be lost with the story.
The OP and ED are almost polar opposites from eachother in visuals and audio, as the OP focuses on plot points from the show such as Yoshino looking at a picture of Aika and Mahiro is unaware, which plays a huge role in the overall story, alongside battle scenes and the mysterious Aika. The ED however is filled with static imagery of the cast in school uniforms along with a much softer tune, in comparison to the rocky OP, and feels as if it’s showing us a window of what life could’ve been like had the cast met under different circumstances.
Sadly, there’s no English voice-over and I feel Blast of Tempest would have greatly benefited from it, particularly due to its obsession with Shakespeare and heavy focus on explaining the plot via dialogue; there are episodes with no action at all and a lot of going back and forth during arguments and plan making, and it’s a lot to keep up with when Japanese isn’t your first language.
The soundtrack is composed by Michiru Ōshima who’s delivered great music for animations and games including Fullmetal Alchemist, Patema Inverted, Ico, Arc the Lad and she’s even helped with some arranged for The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. It goes without saying that Blast of Tempest is also treated to an equally sweeping and dramatic soundtrack as her previous works, and the Shakespearean theme fits in perfect with the OST. It’s an OST I’ve found myself singing along to, even with its lack of lyrics.
Blast of Tempest hasn’t had the pleasure of being on blu-ray and can only be purchased on DVD, but it’s a great transfer none the less although I do feel a blu-ray would’ve been suitable for this release as it really is fantastical to look at; although I prefer grey days to blue skies so I might be biased in its beauty!
I’m hugely excited for part two, which I’ll review here and expect a stark contrast in tone, but for now I can fully recommend that you give Blast of Tempest a go. It won’t be to everyone’s liking and some may wish for a less complex tale and more fighting rather than talking, but it gripped me from beginning to end. The way it manages to make an almost fully despicable cast likeable is amazing and each character is well fleshed out in both their present and past. I can’t wait to see what they’ll get up to next, especially with one of the best cliffhangers I’ve witnessed, but all I can do now is patiently wait for the release of part two next month which rounds the series to a full 24 episodes.
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