It’s hard to write about Blast of Tempest without being too spoilery because the first episode starts off by throwing the viewer in the deep end, not really having any idea what’s going on. Everything’s very dramatic and mysterious (approaching melodrama) but it’s worth sticking with, as each episode fills you in bit by bit and by episode 3 or 4 you’re finally on board with what’s going on. The story follows Mahiro and Yoshino, young men connected more by circumstance than real friendship. The other connection is Aika, Mahiro’s recently-met stepsister and Yoshino’s secret girlfriend. Mahiro has a confused relationship with her, to put it lightly, so Mahiro and Yoshino keep their relationship a secret. But when Aika is murdered by an unknown culprit, Mahiro swears revenge and is willing to do anything to get his wish.
That includes allying with Hakaze, a female mage trapped on an island but able to communicate through a pair of magical wooden dolls, one of which found its way to Mahiro. Hakaze is the Mage of Genesis, who draws her powers from the Tree of Genesis. Mahiro strikes a deal that if he borrows her magic to help her to escape her island exile and stop the resurrection of the Tree of Exodus, she will in turn find Aika’s killer so he can exact his revenge.
Yoshino, not dealing with his grief particularly well and estranged from Mahiro since Aika’s death, stumbles upon Mahiro and his pact and takes up with him, while around them a cataclysmic event is occurring. Did I mention the fate of the world is hung in the balance between two magical trees? It’s all rather convoluted and it’s possible to read the blurb on the back of the DVD set twice and realise you still don’t have any idea what it’s about. But jump in and stick with it! It’s worth it.
The series refers frequently to Shakespeare’s Hamlet and The Tempest as one of the main themes, though if you have only dim recollections of Shakespeare from high school or uni, you might not get much from the parallels, quotes and references. The way they’re explained to the viewer is heavy handed so there’s no chance you’ll miss a reference.
Like any good mystery story, Blast of Tempest stacks up little blocks of logic bit by bit, and then knocks them over again once a theory is disproved or a new piece of information comes to light. If you’re not paying attention it can be easy to be left behind by their logic-building, but there is a lot of explaining in this series. So much explaining, sometimes from one character to another, sometimes to thin air. It’s somewhat necessary though, as where the story starts off is miles away from where it ends up.
In such a convoluted story it’s essential that characters are powerful enough to keep you interested, and thankfully Blast of Tempest delivers on that. Yoshino is an excessively passive character. His inability to deal with Aika’s death has caused him to bottle up all emotions but he wields manipulation and deceit to his advantage. He reminded me a little of a less extreme version of Light from Death Note. His blond counterpart Mahiro is the exact opposite, a ‘bad boy’ type who’s driven only by the need for revenge and is willing to destroy the world to get it. I was initially wary about the clichéd use of female character death to drive a male protagonist’s story, but Aika is fleshed out fully through flashbacks and is a very important character in her own right, not just a corner of a love triangle.
There’s a lot of talking in this series but there is plenty of good action as well, with magical powers wielded and military strength deployed, and even some superhero action. The animation is beautiful and the characters display a lot of aesthetic movement even when just standing around, such as scenes where Hakaze is stuck on the island and talking through the magical doll to Yoshino. Instead of showing her just sitting on the beach with only her mouth moving, she’s always doing some other activity such as eating, swimming, combing her hair any other activity one can get up to on a deserted island. This adds interest and character, and shows there was real effort put into the series by the animation studio Bones.
All in all I very much enjoyed Blast of Tempest and found it to be a good, solid series that I could easily watch multiple episodes of at a time. It’s released by Madman on DVD with Japanese and English subtitles only, and I have to make a special mention of the gorgeous stained glass pattern on the discs. The complete collection contains 4 discs with 24 episodes, textless opening and closing, and trailers.
A review copy was provided by Madman Entertainment to the author for the purpose of this review.