Review: Tales of Zestiria the X, Episode 4: The Shepherd’s Destiny

Review:

The story in this episode seems to deviate down its own path for its latter portion. While the first half seems to stay pretty faithful to the game (Sorey wakes up in the inn and then proceeds to visit Alisha, where she is able to communicate with the Seraphim using Sorey as a conduit), the first foray into the Subterranean Aqueduct is replaced with Sorey, Lailah, and Mikleo discovering some ruins within Ladylake, which ultimately appear to be a dumping ground for those killed in secret by the ruling powers. The episode’s ending, which features the reappearance of the giant storm from episode 0, is another new addition not found in the game (in fact, I don’t recall the giant storm being in the game at all, although there is something similar when the Lord of Calamity appears).

That said, certain deviations are to be expected. While playing the game, you are essentially moving from cutscene to cutscene for the plot, with bits of exposition and banter among the characters being thrown in during your travels. It works in the game setting because there are plenty of other things to do in between the story progression, such as leveling up or improving your weapons. For an anime adaptation, though, there has to be something to connect the plot points together, and watching the cast run across large fields (or through labyrinthine dungeons) for extended periods of time doesn’t work for an anime adaptation. That said, it does seem that there will be changes to the plot itself (or at least in how it unfolds), as opposed to just having original content to connect the major points. On the one hand, this kind of hurts the concept of the anime as an adaptation, since deviations from the source material don’t exactly fit the definition; on the other hand, it does help to make the anime more entertaining for those who have played the game, as we can’t simply bank on our game knowledge to know what happens next.

Accolades must be given to the battle scenes in this episode. Though only contributing to a minor portion of the episode, the fight scenes themselves were intense, and did a great job of showcasing the characters’ fighting styles within a “live battle”, versus the combat system of the game. The inclusion of the in-game battle music was a nice touch, and keeps in line with the anime’s history of using the game’s BGM at the appropriate points. My only point of confusion is that, in the anime, Mikleo seems to be capable of defeating hellions, which I don’t believe was possible until a certain point in the game (no spoilers from this writer!). At this point, it’s not like the writers haven’t made other changes, so it’s not exactly surprising, although it does sort of diminish the importance of the Shepherd if Mikleo is already capable of killing hellions. Time will tell, I suppose.

A Christian Perspective:

Alisha suffers from something that a lot of people (even Christians) suffer from in the real world: spiritual disconnection. Okay, so that’s my own term for it; I’m sure you’ll find some kind of “official” Christian term out there, but I’m too lazy to Google it, so I’m using my own terminology. Hey, at least I’m honest.

Anyway, we discover in this episode that, although Alisha has a certain sensitivity to the Seraphim, she is ultimately incapable of hearing or communicating with them unless she has a conduit (in this case, Sorey). In the same way, many people in our world—Christians included—are incapable of hearing God’s voice and receiving direction from Him. Regardless of what you believe about this subject (whether you believe that God still directly communicates with people, only does so through His Word, or some where in between), I believe many Christians, if they are honest, will say that they aren’t really sure what God wants from them, personally, and that they don’t hear His voice or feel His hand guiding them. Perhaps it is a form of spiritual apathy, doubt, or something else that blocks our ability to hear His voice, but in this situation we can certainly relate to Alisha.

A more positive spin would be to look at this situation in light of 1 Timothy 2:5 (For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus). I previously established that Sorey is a Christ-figure in this story, so applying this verse to the situation would further the comparison, as it makes Sorey a mediator between Alisha (a human/part of mankind) and the spiritual forces of their world (Seraphim, which are the closest thing to gods that their world seems to have). Previously, Alisha had no access to the Seraphim but now, through Sorey, she has access to them.

Content Guide:

Language: None

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: None

Violence: Sorey, Mikleo, and Lailah do battle with hellions

Blood/Gore: None

Other: Lailah and Mikleo use magic artes; Lailah fights with talismans

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3 thoughts on “Review: Tales of Zestiria the X, Episode 4: The Shepherd’s Destiny

  1. PrimeJourney

    Hey there! I’ve just stumbled across your site, and I’m really pleased to have a way to determine whether certain anime hold up to the Christian standards! I was interested in watching this certain anime, (so I’m doing my homework on it before I jump in blindly,) so yeah, I’m happy to have a way to figure it out in a Christian perspective.

    I do have a question though. I have skimmed over the game details, and apparently there are, well…homosexual “ship” teases scattered throughout, specifically on the main character…Does the anime make any such references at all so far, or stay completely true with that from the game? It’s not something I agree or am comfortable with, so this would be nice to know. Thank you!

    Reply
    1. rmiller1656 Post author

      Hello, and thanks for reading! Sorry it took me so long to reply. When I played the game, I honestly didn’t see anything that seemed to intentionally make homosexual references to Sorey and Mikleo. What you’ll find online are people trying to twist, pervert, and manipulate things to their own design. This is a particular irritant to me, because anime fans do it a lot, and people who have little to no knowledge of a show/series will sometimes come across this ship stuff first and think that’s what the show is about, so when you say you like something they recoil because they have a false impression. A good example is K-On! People were trying to ship most of the girls as being lesbians, even though there was nothing in the show to actually suggest this as reality (save for one character who made some iffy comments, but those were relatively minor in the grand scheme of things).

      Anyway, I did feel like one episode of the Tales of Zestiria anime was wording things in a way that was a bit shady. I’m hoping this isn’t the writers trying to toss a bone to the shipping crowd. Specifically, the comments were about how much Mikleo cares for Sorey (I believe it’s in episode 6 or 7). Thus far, there hasn’t been anything to blatantly suggest homosexuality, so I’m hoping that’s as bad as it gets (and even then, I find it annoying, as I feel the wording is a little more intentional). Sorry if I’ve talked in circles. Long story short, there is no actual homosexual content in the game or the show, but it did feel like the writers were winking to the shipping crowd with a couple comments in one episode.

      Reply
  2. PrimeJourney

    Ah, thank you so much for taking the time to answer! And it’s fine, life happens.

    Ah, yeah…so that’s what it is. I guess TV Tropes wasn’t a great source to look it up on, lol….

    Well, poo. I actually did watch the first couple episodes and wnated to like it, but when the two were introduced, I got paranoid…I know anime is known for “bishie”, and I don’t mind that too much, but I couldn’t help but interpret the Seraphim protagonist as…THAT, now that I know people’s sordid interpretation….

    Darn it, I really hate fan service XD Maybe I’ll give the series another try if the later episodes don’t show anything beyond suspicious exposition wording…I don’t want ANIME a ton, (because, right, fanservice), but the graphics looked so beautiful and I liked the spiritual allusions, I wanted to like it.

    Oh well. I’ll have to see. Anyway, thanks again! I really appreciate this. How are you liking the show so far, yourself?

    Reply

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