Zetsuen no Tempest Episode 6: The Paradox of the Skull
“I’ll save you” -Mahiro Fuwa
Summary: After learning more about Hakaze’s death from Junichirou, Mahiro and Yoshino leave with the super powerful talisman they retreaved. As they’re leaving town, another seed from the Tree of Exodus emerges and the black iron sickness spreads over the area. Our friend with the spear (Natsumura) visits Junichirou to try to persuade him to join Samon, but Junichirou instead tells him that he must remain neutral, after Natsumura tries to attack him only to end up flat on his back. Junichirou also alludes to the possibility that Hakaze and the Tree of Genesis might be the greater threat to the world.
Mahiro and Yoshino (as well as the bus they were riding in) make it to an area far enough away from the seed to be safe, and make camp for the night in the forest. They’re ambushed by the military, and Yoshino is taken away. It turns out he’s been cooperating with Evangeline and the government behind Mahiro’s back, giving then information and such in exchange (in this episode at least) for explosives. Yoshino tracks Mahiro down (much to Mahiro’s surprise) so that Mahiro is forced to make a quick “escape” to hide his tracks. The two continue on their journey, with Mahiro none the wiser to Yoshino’s spy activities.
Impression: And the twists just keep coming! I guess I should have known better than to assume that this was going to be a simple story about a pair of friends trying to save the world from destruction at the hands of a villain whose name is almost Salmon. Oh well. The first part of the episode is devoted to confirming that yes, according to Junichirou, the bones that Samon had were indeed those of Hakaze, so she really is dead. Although she doesn’t really think that she is. And she’s not a ghost, so then what exactly is going on here? Mahiro doesn’t seem to be in a big hurry to figure it out either, as he puts the issue on the proverbial shelf as soon as the seed/fruit/floating eye of death shows up.
Junichirou is a very interesting character, not just because he’s a neutral party, but also because even though he doesn’t have any magical powers, he can still somehow defeat people like Natsumura. We don’t know how, but he manages to knock him flat on his back which is surprising given how much trouble he was for Mahiro when the two of them fought. There’s obviously more to Junichirou than meets the eye. He also gives us one of three major shocks this episode, when he thinks about how Mahiro and Yoshino probably don’t know that it’s actually the Tree of Genesis and Hakaze that are the ones that might be more trouble for the world. What was a seemingly straight forward conflict has suddenly been cast into suspicion. Which Tree is the real danger? Who is really the person to be more afraid of? Hakaze or Samon? Since everything we know about the two Trees has come from Hakaze, whose to say that she isn’t lying? It gives our mostly black-and-white central conflict a couple of shades of grey, which is very nice.
Shock number two, if we’re going in order of appearance, is that Yoshino is secretly working with Evangeline and the military! Oh SNAP! Yoshino seems to be doing it as part of the agreement that he reached with Evangeline way back in episode three or whenever, and has been giving her information for a while now. Evangeline actually works for another guy who we meet this episode, named Takumi Hayakawa, and he’s the Assistant Director of the Black Iron Syndrome Countermeasures Force. Of course there was going to be a secret government agency that was started specifically to deal with magic, because in what show would there not be? Anyway, Yoshino has been secretly giving them information since he and Mahiro have the closest contact to the most powerful magician in the world, which is exactly what the government needs in order to deal with not only the Black Iron Syndrome but also Samon and his henchmen.
Yoshino has no qualms about keeping Mahiro in the dark about his dealings and doesn’t feel bad in the slightest about handing over a bunch of talisman in exchange for some grenades. Now that Evangeline has some talisman as well, it’s looking like she’s going to be joining the ranks of magic users. If that’ll be a help or a hinderance has yet to be seen. Also of note was Yoshino’s surprise that Mahiro came to find him. I don’t think that Yoshino ever expected him to care enough to come after him so fast, and with such little regard for his own safety. They have a very strange friendship, with neither one fully trusting the other, and we see it again with that. Even the end is strange. It’s like Mahiro is in denial not just about his feelings towards Aika, but also the fact that his friend might just have ulterior motives. He does go after Yoshino, but can’t even give a simple “because you’re my friend” when asked for a reason why he went to rescue him. Mahiro says he’ll save Yoshino, but it’s almost like he says it because that’s what’s expected of him. He can’t (or won’t) stop to think that Yoshino would betray him and his mission to find his sister’s killers. Yoshino, on the other hand, is still keeping some pretty big secrets for Mahiro, and yet continues to go along with him. Neither of them trust the other enough to give a voice to those thoughts, and so they awkwardly march on, ignoring the issues between them.
And last but not least we come to Mahiro’s relationship with his beloved little sister Aika. Turns out their not actually blood related! Ha! Actually, I should have seen that one coming, since in situations in anime where there’s even a hint of incest, it always turns out that they were never actually related (except in Angel Sanctuary, holy shit I haven’t though about that show in forever; that was one show that saw the incest line and steamrolled right over it.) Yoshino thinks (quiet correctly, I believe) that Mahiro is unaware that 1. he loved his “sister” in a romantic way, and 2. that that love is what is driving his need for revenge. What’s really strange is how Aika acts in the flashback’s where she comes on to Mahiro. Now, we don’t know if this is before or after she started seeing Yoshino, but everything seems to be pointing towards the fact that maybe she also had not-so-sisterly feelings towards Mahiro. The next episode looks like it’s going to be exploring some of these very issues, so here’s hoping that it’s done tastefully and not in a creepy (or too fanservice-y) way.
Final Thought: If you want a very good film version of Hamlet to watch, I can highly recommend the 2009 version by the Royal Shakespeare Company with David Tennant in the titular role. It’s a very modern take on the play (from the costumes and settings etc.), made by the BBC for television, so the production values are really good. It’s also got Patrick Stewart in it, so there’s that. Since so far the show has only quoted from Hamlet, it might be interesting to see some of the lines in the context of the play.