We are such stuff as dreams are made on and our little life is rounded with a sleep. – William Shakespeare, The Tempest.
Blast of Tempest is a 24 episode shonen fantasy anime from studio Bones. It aired in the winter 2013 anime season and was directed by Masahiro Andô, who directed the series Canaan and filmic masterpiece Sword of the Stranger.
Tempest follows a young man called Yoshino who is dragged into the world of magic and disaster by his childhood friend Mahiro. After their home town is wiped out a virus that threatens to bring humanity to the brink of extinction, the two boys agree to help a strange princess who can help them save the world, providing they can rescue her from deserted island she is trapped on. Oh, and also stop her brother and his magical cult from resurrecting a god in the form of a tree.
The series story is flung onto you like a pile of bricks, and with its brilliant structuring of the world rules and logic, it’s not hard to quickly pick up on what’s going on and run with it. And you’ll need to get to grips with the story quickly, because Tempest isn’t going to hold your hand, it has a story to tell and it’s going to do it with or without you.
Tempest’s story is masterly crafted to give the audience a constant stream of information that changes the way we understand the world and how it works, all the while without coming off as overwhelming or forced in. Never once did I get the feeling that the characters were just spewing exposition, as every sentence brought something new and refreshing to the table, especially the quotes from Shakespeare’s The Tempest.
If you haven’t gathered from the title, Blast of Tempest takes (loose) inspiration from William Shakespeare’s classic The Tempest, using the settings, themes, and sometimes outright quotes from the play to forge a similarly fantastical story. Using magic, betrayal, revenge and false friendship as just the starting point, Blast of Tempest quickly begins to tell a tale that feels like a modern rendition of the timeless classic, while also completely changing and reinstating the very message the play attempts to portray, that of forgiveness.
Characters all hold grudges over others, be it friends, family or loved ones, they all have a reason to fight in order to achieve the vengeance they desire. However, while in most stories the characters often slowly come to realise their anger is a lost cause, in Blast of Tempest their ambition to ruin others is the very driving force of many of the characters and only grows stronger throughout the show. The need to enact revenge is the very reason to live for some characters. This is clear with the shows antihero Mahiro, who will stop at nothing to avenge his sisters’ murder, regardless of the consequences.
The show builds and develops its characters to being honestly flawed human beings that struggle to face not only the danger in their path, but also who they have become and why they act the way they do.
All of this culminates to being one of the best shows of 2013 in the first 12 episodes.
Then the series jumps the shark.
Following the perfect climax of the first half, the series decides to perform a time skip and completely change the narrative of the story. What once was a magical post apocalyptic tale about revenge and betrayal suddenly turns into a romance comedy where characters have to train superheroes to save the newly formed world.
The whiplash left me scratching my head for days, questioning if I had started watching the wrong show. Sadly not, as Blast of Tempest continues on to become one of the biggest mockeries in anime.
Taking already established characters and settings, the second half decides to flip things around willy-nilly and completely ruin all credibility the story had. Suddenly enemies are friends and people who had never met hate each other. It entire plot falls apart and fails to pick itself back up by revealing plot twists that feel lacklustre and badly injected to give the show more flare.
Yes the animation stays orgasmic through the entire show, showing high octane battles in the first half, complemented by wonderfully drawn environments and never dipping in quality (minus a few funky drawn faces).
But it’s matched by the second half primarily being a bunch of talking heads remaining seated and spurting mad amounts of exposition to other characters who already know what’s happening. What was a fast paced drive through a mystical world suddenly becomes a crawl through the same tired Japanese comedy show, only this time with tree magic involved.
Do yourself a favour and watch the first half of Blast of Tempest. Do it right now, it’s incredible. But when you reach the point where you think it would be the perfect time to end it, turn it off and slam the DVD / Blu-Ray back into the case and slide it back onto the shelf. If you’re interested in seeing how a show with so much potential can turn into a poorly constructed mess, then maybe force yourself to slug through the second half. But I implore you to stop on top; it hurts to watch a series so wonderful fall to the lowest levels of mediocrity.
Should you watch Blast of Tempest?