The truths are revealed, but more are still to come before they can decide if they can – and should – save the world.
What They Say:
A month has passed since the showdown at Mt. Fuji, but the world is once again thrown into chaos with the appearance of the “Mage of Exodus.” In order to discover the truth behind Aika’s murder, Hakaze decides to return to the past. There, she meets Aika and is told something completely unexpected. If everything happens for a reason, is Aika’s unfortunate death actually a blessing in disguise? All the puzzle pieces finally come together to reveal the shocking truth!
Contains episodes 13-24 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 2013, 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 Mahiro 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 red, also noting that this is the complete second season. The back of the slipcover gives us a look at the same artwork in pencil rough form with a green 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 a different full length image of Mahiro in the same outfit, and it uses purple and gray for the logo that blends well with her design. The back cover provides a shot of Yoshino in his uniform, 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 Hakaze on one side while Aika is ont he other, both sides of which are connected by the fiery sword that spans it. It uses some lighter and airier colors overall here that makes for a very appealing cover to reverse.
The release also includes a reversible poster where both sides have the core trio together from different periods where one side has the two boys with Hakaze while the other has Aika with them instead. 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 and some additional cover art style pieces that are pretty nice by giving the supporting cast some time.
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.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Blast of Tempest gave us an interesting first season with what it did, largely giving us a story where Mahiro and Yoshino were working together to try and unravel a mystery about the death of Aika by aiding Hakaze as she sat away on her island in the past. The nature of the relationship between the three was interesting, but it took several episodes to really find its groove, all while dealing with some of the stranger aspects that were being bandied about with the Tree of Exodus and the Tree of Genesis as well as their respective mages, the people operating behind the scenes with their own agendas and other little bits here and there. It wasn’t overly packed or dense, but some of the way the narrative worked left me a little uneasy about it. But it hit its stride as it went on with some good reveals and a few fun little twists.
While that half of the series had us largely pursuing that goal and showing us the two main sides while having the whole dueling Trees aspect in the background, this one wants to shift gears as it kicks off, bringing us to a place where the two sides are now on the same side as the real threat of the Tree of Genesis is revealed. For better or worse, the opening episode here is pretty much a recap piece, a bit of a haphazard one at that, but since it’s been something like seven or eight months between releases, I’m not going to complain much as a refresher helps. Moving forward by a month or so from events at the end of the first season, the boys are now in the difficult place of having to accept that Samon and those that he works with are now allies since the larger threat is there. But it’s something that’s done rather simply because both of them are the kind of people that accept the logic of the world and what must be done rather than how they want it to be. A certain pragmatism that’s kind of refreshing, though it unnerves everyone else.
Amusingly, we do get a new character that enters here that becomes a big part of events, though not a dominating piece in terms of character time. With Hakaze operating in the present through the trickery of the first season, the focus is on finding the Mage of Exodus in the present since they’ll need them to help deal with the Tree of Genesis. To their surprise, the guy practically walks right into them. Megumu isn’t sure about his abilities or what he can do and he doesn’t have a killer instinct like the others, and that makes him a bit of a milksop in comparison to them, though we do see him finding his footing over the course of the season as he knows he has to stand with them to do his part in the grand scheme of things. The idea that the Tree of Genesis will end civilization is one that’s interesting since it will cause a full on reboot for humanity in several years. There’s a moment where they talk about it as if it’s an alien intelligence or design, reminiscent of the Monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey, with how it’s a tool to gauge how humanity will react with the universe at large but also itself. When the Tree of Genesis kicks in here during the initial downtime with the attacks on it, we see how two billion people simply disappeared from the world. And how crime has dropped dramatically and there’s a kind of peaceful calm over much of the world as people go on about their lives. You kind of root for that in a way, but knowing the larger cost is one that makes you wary of it.
This arc blends into things well, but the other main arc that exists for a good chunk of this brings resolution to what was searched for in the first half. With Mahiro going through all of this in order to find out who killed Aika, and Yoshino obviously wanting to know himself, the exploration of it is the kind of thing where it’s basically right there in front of you, but it takes the right phrasing for it to be real. We get a really good bit of back story showing how that trio all originally met, making clear the step-sibling aspect of Mahiro and Aika, and how Yoshino was introduced to her for the first time. This makes Aika a lot more accessible as well as the relationship between all three. Which we learned along the way had a hidden component with Yoshino having dated her for quite some time before she ended up being killed. The interesting quirk that comes up along all of this is that because of what the Tree of Genesis is doing in the present, Hakaze’s feelings for Yoshino are dangerous since it could get the Tree to kill his girlfriend to give her what she wants. But he hasn’t revealed the truth about that girlfriend and that has Hakaze doing her best to hide and quash her feelings, which is difficult as everything the two experience together just reinforces them.
Everything goes in the expected big direction with regards to dealing with the tree and it works rather well, which I wasn’t sure it would, since the Tree of Genesis is really just an inanimate piece here with no agents out in the world. The focus is on the push by the team that comes together after having fought against each other for a time and seeing that progress, combined with the discoveries of the past, the reinforcement of bonds in the present and a unified front in dealing with the threat to humanity gives it a very good flow. It’s not overdone or overly dramatic and it has a smooth, natural build toward the finale, which admittedly feels a bit anticlimactic considering the scale involved with the threat. But it also makes a certain amount of sense when you do come back to the fact that it is, in the end, a tree. A magic tree, but a tree nonetheless. The resolution of everything is tied up kind of neatly in a way that leaves most everyone happy, but it also left me just wanting to see another season to see where Mahiro goes with his life since the hard work is yet to come and that part never really gets shown.
The second half to Blast of Tempest definitely works in the way a good series of this length should in that we get a pivot in the story as the scale becomes bigger and the truths and realities are revealed. I was a bit hesitant with the series early on in the first season but it got me intrigued as it progressed. This season takes what we had, shakes it up nicely and moves forward, though it doesn’t quite delve into the social scale problems that I’d wanted to see addressed more based on what the Tree of Genesis wrought on the world. With its heavier focus on Yoshino, Aika and Hakaze here, there’s a lot to like because their relationships are fairly central to what’s going on and need to be explored rather than a tacked on drama that has no real meaning. As a whole, Blast of Tempest is a solid series that has a lot going for it and I think it works much better marathoned than in weekly simulcast form since it’s telling a larger story as opposed to episodic events. It’s also one that I hope someday makes the upgrade to getting a dub and high definition release since the story here definitely would present itself better. But what we get with this set and the first is solid and well done across the board for fans of the series.
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: February 25th, 2014
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.