When the world faces a turning point that could have everything eaten away, the fate rests in the hands of a very small and unusual group of people.
What They Say:
One day, a sorceress princess was stuffed into a barrel and banished. One day, a girl was suddenly murdered, and the culprit still runs free. And one day, a battle spanning time and space over magic and revenge began! Sanity and madness, sense and intelligence, self-confidence and convictions – the tragic tale of this irrational world begins here.
Contains episodes 1-12 plus a 16-page booklet and a reversible mini-poster.
The audio presentation for this release is quite good as we get only the original Japanese language on the unfortunate side, but we get an uncompressed PCM track for it. Encoded at 1.5mbps, the track sounds quite good throughout, whether it’s handling the various action and magic sequences or the interesting sound effects of the rain. But it also handles the dialogue well as it comes across very clean and clearly with some precise placement and depth throughout it. With a small cast of characters to it, it handles things well and there’s a lot to like with this track and its overall presentation, one that wouldn’t see much of an improvement in shifting to a high definition format. With the actual show itself and the opening and closing sequences with the music there, there’s simply a lot to like.
Originally airing in 2012, the transfer for this twelve episodes TV series collection is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The show is spread across three discs evenly with four episodes per disc, giving it plenty of space to work with. The show has a strong visual design to it and it comes across well here with some great colors, lots of detail and a good sense of fluid animation where appropriate. The colors remain solid throughout with little in the way of noise and no issues with cross coloration or line noise. The opening and closing sequences stand out, especially since the color scheme is different from the show itself, and that tend to look the best in a way since it goes with stark colors, especially the ending sequence. There’s little to find fault with here beyond some real nitpicking and fans of the show will be pleased by this DVD presentation.
The packaging for this release comes in a standard sized clear keepcase with a hinge inside to hold all three discs. The release also comes with a slipcover that’s different from the sleeve inside the case, which is always a welcome thing to see and makes it worth keeping. The slipcover gives us a look at Yoshino in his school uniform, all done loose, while he holds onto the talisman. They use an interest choice of colors for the logo that runs across him with a mix of green and purple, also noting that this is the complete first season. The back of the slipcover gives us a look at the same artwork in pencil rough form with a purple filter which is also used for the premise. We get a very good breakdown of what’s included in the release, extras, episodes by number and title and a line of small full color shots from the show. The technical grid is simple and small but it covers everything cleanly and clearly. The case artwork gives us an image of Hakaze in her dress, albeit one not torn as it is in the series, and it uses purples and reds for the logo that blends well with her design. The back cover provides a shot of Aika in some simple clothes where it’s almost a bit sad feeling, but it doesn’t fill it up with anything other than the logo, making for a good cover design overall. The release has artwork on the reverse side of Samon on one side and Evangeline on the other, both of which use different color combinations for the logo, making it an easily reversible cover.
The release also includes a reversible poster where one side has Yoshino and Mahiro together with a dark look about it while the other side pairs Hakaze and Aika together with a light nature and lots of white and roses. There’s also a small booklet included in the release that’s full color that breaks down the individual episodes with a summary of what they’re about with a shot from it as well as a few pages worth of character design material.
The menu design for the release uses some of the elements from the closing sequences here where it’s an off color of gray-green of some sort with some black tendrils/roots coming through it along with chains and butterflies. It’s all kept to the sides while the center has the actual navigation, which has the simple logo along the top and basic access points below. It’s a functional if bland menu overall that definitely works and is easy to navigate, but it just feels a little too bland to really work well. Submenus load quickly where available and subtitle selection along the top is obviously helpful. The release does not default to the menu but just starts playing the show, which is a feature that I still don’t like.
The only extras included in this release are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
Based on the manga Zetsuen no Tempest by Kyo Shirodaira that began in 2009 and completed after the anime series ended in 2013 with nine volumes, Blast of Tempest is a two season series with twenty-four episodes total. Animated by Bones, the series began in the fall of 2012 and had the second season follow right behind it, which was pretty welcome for the fans since the series in its first season leads up to a massive moment and leaves you hanging. Well, you’re hanging more with the DVD release since the simulcast viewers, which I was not one of, just had to wait a week. The first season of the series is a bit complex in a way as it teases things out and doesn’t spend a lot of time on fluff and just dives right into things. Which, admittedly, works against in those first episodes until the viewer gets their footing since there’s so much going on.
The basic premise of the series is that within this world of the present, there is a layer of magic that does exist throughout it, but it’s not visible to most. The way the world works is that there are two competing Trees out there, the Tree of Genesis and the Tree of Exodus and each of them has a “princess” that when they’re in existence, indicates that the Trees may be dealing with their ages old battle once again. With the Tree of Genesis, it’s one that does devour things of civilization and mechanical in order to power itself so that it can finish transforming the world that is, at the moment, incomplete. The Tree of Exodus is obviously the opposite, and what’s helped for the last phase is that the Tree of Genesis was wounded in the last battle ages ago and has been hibernating in recovery. But with it revived and in action as well as the Tree of Exodus, events are moving forward again.
And we see some of that in the early phase here as the Tree of Exodus is infecting certain remote and coastal towns in Japan with an iron born virus of sorts that turns people into metal, killing them nearly instantly. It’s largely being kept secret, but with the progress of it and the growing incidents, it’s causing more problem and what the government and military know about it is minimal and largely aimed at deflecting from the true goals of the mages out there o the Kusaribe clan that has been dealing with this for ages unknown. The clan is also working through their own long term goals, which is why the princess of the Tree of Exodus, a young woman named Hakaze, has been shipped off and sealed on a remote island where she can’t use her magic or interfere with the plans of the clan overall, since she doesn’t believe their approach is the right one. Hakaze, however, has found a way to reach the outside world with a talisman in a bottle that has washed ashore and been picked up.
This is where we really get the driving force of the series as we’re introduced initially to Yoshino, a high school student who has long been friends with Mahiro and his sister Aika. Unfortunately, the trio ran into problems over the years as Yoshino fell for Aika and Mahiro was relatively okay with it since it wasn’t a situation he could insert himself with. But it went worse when Aika ended up dying from some mysterious intruder and Mahiro left to search for him. He’s ended up returning at the start of the series with the talisman in hand and a promise from Hakaze to use her magic when she’s freed to find the killer. This all surprises Yoshino when he finds out, and as Mahiro uses some magics that prove him fairly powerful at this stage, but mostly it’s just a reminder of how driven Mahiro can be and that becomes one of the reasons that the two eventually do pair up again. But it’s an uneasy alliance overall since it keeps coming down to the fact that Mahiro really is obsessed.
Where it becomes complicated, as the Trees start to become more involved and the young men make a direct approach on one of them, is that we do learn that Aika’s killer is a member of the Kusaribe clan, which is why Hakaze could make the promise she did. It also makes you wonder if the Tree of Genesis is using its ability to work the logic of the world to force the two men into this situation for its own purposes, especially when we see how brutally the two of them are treated at one point. When they force their way in and deal with the new de facto leader of the clan, another driven young man named Samon, it becomes a real test of wills for several episodes about the truth and nature of the situation and the world. It’s not heavy on the action, but more of the verbal sparring and deflecting that goes on, which isn’t what I expected but definitely works well once you settle into the way the series operates.
And that’s kind of the toughest thing after the first few episodes where a lot is thrown at you. It’s not a show that’s all about weapons and fists being thrown about but rather a battle of beliefs, wills and what the nature of the world should be. When I started watching the series, it definitely wasn’t the easiest to get into as there’s practically no “normal” time here to get to know the cast and it just goes from there. What helps as it progresses and reveals itself is that it really does keep itself to just a few characters. Yoshino and Mahiro define a lot of it, but we also get a lot of interaction from Hakaze even though she’s on some remote island and not interacting in person. Samon has a lot of moments that become more as everyone comes together. And with Aika killed before the series even starts, she has a strong presence through some useful flashbacks but also just in the fact that she’s the reason that Mahiro is so obsessed and driven.
Blast of Tempest wasn’t a show that was easy to jump into, but it’s one that really grew on me as it progressed. I’m admittedly a bit hesitant on it at this point because the first season that we get here is largely setup that goes into a world changing event just at the end and there’s no real payoff in a way. But it’s built up some intriguing material and done it with just a few characters, excising most of the useless junk and fluff that often just gets in the way. It has a strong look and some intriguing ideas to work with, but it also takes its time to get to it all in a slightly less than clear way. But it also eschews heavy reliance on action and violence in favor of verbal sparring, mostly in the latter half, and that changes the dynamic a lot as well. The series is one that I now do regret not catching in simulcast form, but it’s also one that I think really does work better in marathon form.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: A-
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Aniplex USA
Release Date: August 13th, 2013
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Apple TV via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.