Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Anime Review: Blast of Tempest

This was a bit of an odd show for me, I was really excited for it going into the fall season, I had tried out some of the  manga beforehand and liked it, got a bit bored with it, and then right around where I had stopped reading (about the midpoint of the show) it picked up again for me and then I liked it for the rest of it's run. Interestingly enough, even though I consider one of Studio Bones' trademarks to me "really strange anime original endings" I think this might have been the same ending the manga had, they both ended right around the same time and from the poking around I did it seems like they stayed pretty similar up to the end at least. Although, guys who was in charge of the English title for this show? It already had the perfect subtitle/English title already, The Civilization Blaster, and while the title makes sense around 2/3rds of the way through (or even earlier depending how much time you spend thinking about it) it's still so awkward that I feel silly just saying it.

Blast of Tempest (Zetsuen no Tempest: The Civilization Blaster)

Summary: One year ago Aika Fuwa died under mysterious circumstances and neither her brother Mahiro or his friend/her secret boyfriend Yoshino have really gotten over it. Mahiro has disappeared and one day when Yoshino is by her grave he's interrogated by a strange lady at gun point about Mahiro as a swarm of butterflies appear and herald the beginning of a strange and sinister plot  

The Good: One thing I wasn't expecting this show to do as well as it did was all of the relationships between the characters and the show wouldn't have worked nearly as well without it. Heck, around the two-thirds mark the characters have all split up, there are so many factions I couldn't begin to keep them all straight, and I thought "oh well I guess they'll be fighting against each other now and then will team up against whatever the even greater villain is at the end in a tsundereish fashion" and nope, the story was too smart for that which I was pretty thrilled about. And related to that, Yoshino and Mahrio (Mahrio especially) really grew more than I expected, for a show that I started because it had kind of a cool plot and some really cool looking action I got way more out of it than I expected.

The Bad: I'm still not sure however why I had a little slump in the first half of the series, around the one-third mark. Maybe it was because I had already read the manga up to that point and, since this show does rely more than a bit on a few key plot twists, it might not be something that holds up well if you already know them. Or maybe I was just bored, from what I can tell I was the only person who was bored/frustrated by the show at that point. There are however two other good reasons to get frustrated with those show, one is the afore mentioned reliance on plot twists (there are two, maybe four depending on how you count them) and I'm less fond of series that rely on "twists" more than "plot" to be entertaining. The other is that the series doesn't exactly go through a genre shift halfway through but it shifts from being more or less all action to 50-75% action, 50-25% new genre. I thought it pulled it off well but that might have been because I knew it was coming (I saw people complaining about it in advance online and managed to guess rather accurately what it would be) but again, some people aren't going to like it so just try to keep an open mind in the second half of the show.

The Audio: Right, I know I'm in the minority here but I really liked the first opening song, yes Engrish and all. The Engrish was comprehensible enough that I think it made sense (or as much sense as you could hope for) plus there was some fantastic timing with pairing up the lyrics and the beats to the images. The second opening grew on me after a few episodes but I was never really a fan of either ending, they were both a little too light and cheerful for me. All the voice acting was pretty solid as well, I've seen some other people praising the shows soundtrack but when I looked for it and gave it a listen I was only lukewarm about it. It worked just fine within the show but it isn't something I'm going to remember by the end of the year.

The Visuals: Pretty good looking art throughout the entire series and all the fight scenes looked great, I didn't see any drop offs in quality and the choreography and the camera work, as odd as it sounds to apply those words to a work of animation, were spot on. And that's about it, the animation was nice, the fights were good, the characters didn't look ridiculous, the color schemes generally made sense (although I do keep staring at some things, like Mahiro's really yellow jacket and go "why?"), there's just nothing really stand-out here.

I'm giving this a solid 3.5 out of 5, maybe a 4 and yes would like to own this on DVD. Which is in and of itself it's own problem, it's been licensed by Aniplex which generally means really expensive releases (I have some issues with the way they do their pricing scheme but that's a rant for another post). Hopefully this release will be a bit cheaper and simpler than some of their others since it wasn't a mega-hit like Madoka Magica or Sword Art Online (or Magi to an extent I guess), although hopefully this also doesn't mean they won't release it at all, I'm just going to be a bit nervous about this one until I see an actual product listing online. I also do hope someone brings the manga over since I'd like to read that again as well, it's a Square Enix title and Yen Press has brought over a lot of their stuff in the past so I think there's a pretty good chance it'll be licensed, just that YP is a bit slower these days to bringing out stuff that was on air recently.

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