Blast of Tempest (絶園のテンペスト) is a 24 episode action/fantasy/road trip series from 2012 by Studio Bones with scripts by Mari Okada adapted from a novel by Shirodaira Kyou (who also wrote the In/Spectre novel).
Two friends go on a cross country trip to try and find a way to free the princess of a clan of mages from the island prison she was stuck on by radical elements in her clan. One is doing it because she has promised to use her magic to identify who killed his sister 2 years earlier; the other is doing it because his friend is the only person in the world he cares about currently, and also he was dating said sister in secret and wants answers for himself. Also theres a magical apocalypse going on.
While the plot could easily be the basis for your standard shonen fare, Blast of Tempest frequently elevates itself by how little it cares about action scenes when it can have long character-centric discussions. At one point the big bad appears and it has all the hallmarks of a major fight happening, only for him to attempt to convince one of the friends to defect leading to a 3 episode argument between him and the friends over if his methods are the best or not- and its glorious because in a lot of ways he’s actually right and there’s a real chance the friend might join him. In/Spectre used this format a lot too, its just done in much stronger form here as the characters are much more interesting as a base to interact off of.
Speaking of, we need to highlight Aika Fuwa as possibly one of the greatest characters who technically only kinda appears in a show. Despite dying 2 years before everything starts she has such a powerful personality its easy to see how she still holds considerable sway over both her brother and boyfriends emotions now with any flashback she appears in making her more and more interesting.
If youre in this for the action (which is really good when it happens), well… more often than not you’ll be let down. There’s a lot of talking with some conclusions sometimes being abrupt after conversations end. The second half of the series also kinda sags a bit as the plot changes up a tad with an ending that works albeit so long as you don’t have too high of expectations for it.
Weeb Level: 2/10- There’s really not much in the way of the usual tropes here, especially with how dialogue heavy it is. They do love to quote Shakespeare (Hamlet and The Tempest get referenced almost once an episode) so there’s almost more to be said for a Western education helping you here.
Fanservice: 3/10- The mage princess does spend a lot of the early episodes running around in rags while shes trapped on the deserted island and there’s some near nudity with her later, nothing too sexualized though and very little male gaze.
Quality: 8/10- For a more mature look at the Seinen adventure its great. Its only held back by not really having any episodes that demand rewatching on their own, its very much an all or nothing series.
Where to watch: Crunchyroll has the whole series, sadly neither Prime or Funi carries it. The Blu-Rays/DVDs are available in the US as well, but from Aniplex and cost as much as anything else from Aniplex.