These two series present a marked contrast - one lyrical and almost graceful, and the other a display of narrative brute force.
Zetsuen no Tempest – 04
This was certainly a change of pace episode for Zetsuen, a look back at the meeting of Yoshino and Mahiro. It comes at a pretty good time, too, because I really haven’t been all that interested in any of the lead characters thus far, and liked the show pretty well in spite of that. Getting a little background on the pair at the heart of the show went a ways towards making them more interesting and sympathetic.
Yoshino, for certain, seems a little more 3-D after having his past revealed a bit. I enjoyed his blunt “I’d rather not deal with you further” when he was forced to visit Mahiro in the hospital – frankly, I wouldn’t have wanted anything to do with him either. I also thought Mahiro’s wry “absurd food” comment about Yoshino’s cooking was one of his more engaging moments. There are some interesting unanswered questions, like where Aika might have been during the flashback – and I’d like to know for certain if Yoshino was getting ready to tell his friend the truth there at the end (I assume he was).
As always, Zetsuen does a fine job with the atmospherics – I find the post-apocalyptic scenes after an outbreak of Black Iron Syndrome quite creepy. And the use of the two doomed boys as a way to frame the flashback and show a bit of compassion from Mahiro was nicely played as well.
Btooom! – 04
Man, this show is seriously screwed up. I couldn’t honestly say that I like it, per se, but I do find it compelling in a gruesome accident sort of way. The people we meet seem to be getting more and more twisted, slowly making Sakamoto look saner in comparison. This time around it’s 14 year-old psychopath Kira Kousuke (Sawashiro Miyuki), who’s already killed then raped three women, and been sent to the island with his sympathetic (for the moment) lawyer and twisted father. And like Sakamoto, he’s a Btooom player, and a pretty good one.
It’s interesting to speculate on whether someone like Kira is worthy of any sympathy after doing the things he has. I must say I disagree with his lawyer’s eventual conclusion that he’s worse than his father, because it was his father’s cruelty and apparently sexual abuse that clearly drove the kid off the cliff. Bad gene pool for sure, but the Dad was a real piece of work – and after what he did to Kira, I wasn’t at all sorry to see him get rewarded. It all presents a sort of moral dilemma for Sakamoto, who has to decide whether he’s ready to kill again, and a child at that – and after hitting his head against a rock dodging one of Kira’s attacks, seems to forget himself and imagine he’s back in his room playing a mere game. Seems like there’s more to that story, stay tuned.
I know I’ll be in the minority on this, but I’m getting a bit tired of Sawashiro Miyuki. Frankly she’s just in too many shows the last couple of seasons, and it’s especially a problem in her case because to put it bluntly, she doesn’t have much range and basically uses the same voice in every role, male or female. I’ll admit up front she’s not one of my favorites – she’s definitely a larger-than-life personality and very good at a certain type, but rather than seiyuu who overact I tend to prefer more natural actors who blend into a role (Tomatsu Haruka comes to mind) over stars who effectively play themselves. She’s certainly a talent, but she’s too recognizably herself in every role to appear in as many concurrently airing series as she is without it becoming a distraction.