Review: Tales of Zestiria the X, Episode 3: The Sacred Blade Festival

Review:

This episode contains the most deviations from the game of any episode thus far (episode 0 notwithstanding, since it was comprised of completely original material). The general plot remains the same, but a lot of the details are different. For example, in the game Sorey and Mikleo have to bribe their way into the Sacred Blade ceremony using Alisha’s knife, where in the anime they appear to have just walked right in. Although Sorey chases Lunarre in the anime, he doesn’t fight him like in the game (and in the game, we encounter the assassin’s for the first time in the post-fight, as opposed to in the midst of the job offer to assassinate Alisha). There’s also the fact that in the anime, Rose attacks Alisha in the midst of the hellion attack, which is completely different from the game. Perhaps the biggest deviation is that in the anime, the shrine is attacked by a single hellion that the people can’t see, while in the game the people themselves begin turning into hellions because of the malevolence, which actually does have some potentially larger consequences for this adaptation. Allow me to explain.

In Tales of Zestiria, people would become hellions if they were filled with too much malevolence. Of course, the average person couldn’t tell the difference from a normal human and a hellion, which is shown during Sorey’s first visit to Ladylake when he encounters a child giving people a hard time. To everyone else, the boy looks like a normal child, but Sorey can see that he is actually a hellion. Thus far, this aspect has not been introduced in the anime, and unlike some of the other changes it could have implications on the anime’s handling of the overall plot, because it removes certain consequences, one of which is the fact that Sorey himself is capable of becoming a hellion, even though he is the Shepherd. In fact—without spoiling anything—it would completely alter the backstory of the story’s main protagonist. With all that said, hopefully the show writers are just putting off introducing this aspect; actually, I do believe we saw Lunarre become a hellion in episode 0, so hopefully that was an indication that this aspect of the story still remains.

Visually, the anime does do a greater job of presenting the amount of traffic that the Sacred Blade ceremony attracts than the game does, since games are a lot more restricted in the number of characters that can realistically be rendered on screen at once. The layout of the city more-or-less remains faithful to the source material, and the background music maintains its faithfulness as usual. Having played the game, Sorey’s meeting with Rose is a lot more significant to me in this episode than it was in the game, since I know where their relationship is going (it’s also helpful for following the plot, because when I played the game many hours went by between first meeting Rose and encountering her again, to the point where I completely forgot who she was). The handling of Rose’s character in this episode should help those who have never played the game remember Rose a lot more readily when the time comes, though.

Overall, Tales of Zestiria the X continues to be an enjoyable adaptation of its game counterpart despite the changes, some of which make sense for a more fluid narrative, and some of which are confusing, though they do not detract from the narrative as a whole. I would recommend playing the game at some point, if only to see the differences between the two.

A Christian Perspective:

Isaiah 53:3 – He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

Okay, so I failed in taking down quotes from the show that would have been helpful in relating it to the passage of Scripture above, but essentially if you refer back to Lailah’s warning to Sorey about what he would have to endure as the Shepherd, then you should be able to see where I’m going with this. There is no doubt that the Shepherd is painted as a Christ figure (though an imperfect one, for reasons that I don’t believe the anime has completely divulged yet), and this episode draws those parallels out a bit more. Lailah’s warning to Sorey is essentially that he would gain great power and be able to defeat hellions and drive back the malevolence, but he would be hated by the world and basically ostracized. Jesus, though He was God incarnate, and though He performed many miracles among the Jewish people, was ultimately ostracized and cut off from His own people, treated as a madman, a lunatic, and a blasphemer, when He had truly come to save those who accused Him of such things. The biggest difference here is that the Shepherd is a human granted divine powers, while Jesus was the Divine stepping down into our world and putting on humanity to live among us. In other words, one is imperfect by nature while the other is perfect, hence the Shepherd cannot be a perfect Christ-figure, but the connections are still there, and for Christian viewers (and gamers) they tend to fly right in your face.

Content Guide:

Language: None

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: None

Violence: A hellion attack the ceremony; Alisha fights an assassin; Sorey fights a hellion

Blood/Gore: None

Other: Mikleo uses magic artes; spiritual beings fight

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