Category Archives: Tales of Zestiria the X

Review: Tales of Zestiria the X, Episode 12: The Lord of Calamity

Review:

The first portion of Tales of Zestiria the X wraps up with plenty of blood and action to satisfy any action fan. Alisha’s fate manages to be one of the biggest draws of the episode, although Sorey’s encounter with the Lord of Calamity certainly shouldn’t be dismissed. In terms of plot, the anime still follows the game, although at this point it is to the most bare bones degree. Sorey still confronts the Lord of Calamity and afterward heads toward Rolance, but that’s about it. The whole Alisha/Rose alliance never happens in the game (in fact, Rose doesn’t even become more than a supporting character until after the first encounter with the Lord of Calamity), Sorey doesn’t struggle with malevolence (to the best of my knowledge), Alisha’s status as squire has already been established and revoked by this point, and as far as I remember, her squire status did not enable her to see the Seraphim.

Overall, it almost feels as if the writers are trying to rewrite the deeper details of the story. Even if this isn’t true, the development of the anime’s story is certainly a little more cohesive than what it was in the game, and the greater focus on Alisha is likely a much welcomed change for fans of the game. One of the biggest complaints that people had when the game first released was how little Alisha actually figured into the story, despite her prominence in promotional material. On top of that, the way she was written out of the greater part of the story within the game felt pretty weak. This time around, we see Alisha reach a point where she becomes a stronger character, and her establishment as a squire feels a bit more justified, although it will be interesting to see how things play out concerning Rose with these new developments. Either way, it makes me glad to know that there is a second season coming which will (hopefully) tell the rest of the story, because the anime has certainly dealt with some of my complaints concerning the story so far.

A Christian Perspective:

I’ve probably used this comparison before, but Sorey’s struggle with malevolence is symbolic of our struggle with sin: although we have the power to overcome it, we still have to be wary of it pulling us in. To take this episode further, though, we can liken the Lord of Calamity to Satan, especially as he challenges Sorey to see how well he can handle the large swarm of malevolence attacking him. We have no hope of overcoming sin in our lives without relying on Jesus and His work within us.

Content:

Language: None

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Symonne’s outfit is a bit fanservicey

Violence: Soldiers are blown back by a Seraphim’s attack; Sorey battles the Lord of Calamity and a hellionized human

Blood/Gore: Blood on and around Alisha’s body; blood on Alisha’s clothing; blood on the battlefield

Review: Tales of Zestiria the X, Episode 11: The War

Review:

I have to give credit where credit is due: the anime handling of the “war” between Hyland and Rolance feels much more fluid and serious than the game’s handling of it. I’m sure this is partially due to the fact that, in the game, the story is basically progressed by the player, so in between cut scenes you can either fight as much or as little as you want before jetting off to the next major plot point, but in any case it definitely gave a strong sense of how visceral the battlefield was, and the new additions to Sorey’s Shepherd powers definitely gives a new dimension to the story, as well. On the Alisha side of things, I truthfully don’t remember how it went down in the game, but I believe the anime adaptation gave her much more courage in how she went about things. The whole encounter between Alisha/Rose and General Landon’s forces was especially tense, and the conclusion of that fight was certainly a new take (although not entirely unexpected given some of the dialogue leading up to this point). Dezel’s pseudo-introduction was also pretty epic.

If I had to criticize some things, I would say that the onset of this war still came out of nowhere, much like in the game, although we did know that Alisha was butting heads with some of the other people in power previously, so it’s at least not totally unexpected. I would also question the reference to this as a war, since there has only been one battle so far and, if the anime follows the game, it will be the only battle, at least for this first war. I suppose that’s a bit nitpicky, but one of my criticisms of the game was in regards to how the story flowed at points. The anime has mostly fixed this, but some things still feel like they could have used a bit of polish. Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see if the anime is bold enough to take a different approach with Alisha’s fate, and seeing the Lord of Calamity’s introduction in the next episode is exciting enough, if only to see how he will be handled compared to the game.

A Christian Perspective:

The most obvious Christian parallel I can think of in this episode is the subject of spiritual warfare. As the battle rages on and the death toll rises, we are shown shadowy specters floating above the battle field, courtesy of Sorey’s eyes. While he and the Seraphim can see all of this, the existence of these beings is completely unknown to the soldiers below. It is unclear whether the specters are also driving the soldiers’ bloodlust, but we do know that the violence and killing are causing the malevolence. Regardless, the point I want to make still stands: there is another dimension to life that we aren’t always aware of, and very few of us ever see. I don’t think it’s unfair to say that the majority of Christians probably go their entire lives without actually seeing into the spiritual realm (and some will argue that this is impossible while others will argue that it is a spiritual gift; I’m not here to get into that). It becomes easy to be complacent about that which we cannot see, and that is what our enemy, the devil, wants. If we become complacent, we become easy targets, because we let our guards down. Ephesians 6:12 states “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Similarly, the battle in Tales of Zestiria seems to be spawning (and as a result, perhaps further fueled by) spiritual beings, though the soldiers only see the enemy forces in front of them. We must be on our guard at all times so that we are prepared for the foes that present themselves to our naked eye as well as those that will present themselves in the unseen realm. We must “Put on the full armor of God, so that you [we] can take your [our] stand against the devil’s schemes.” (Ephesians 6:11)

Content Guide:


Spiritual Content: Ghostly specters hover over the battlefield

Language: None
Alcohol/Drug Use: A man holds a glass of wine; several Rolance men are shown holding glasses of wine; Rose takes a glass of wine from a servant
Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Shiller makes a comment about Ian’s breasts, prompting Ian to grab her own breasts (clothed, no nudity)
Violence: Soldiers are shown crossing swords; scenes of further sword fighting, arrows raining down, catapults launching burning pitch, and explosions; Alisha and Rose fight off soldiers
Blood/Gore: A soldier is stabbed with a sword, and blood splatter follows; further scenes of blood splatter as soldiers are injured and killed on the battlefield; the soldiers that Alisha and Rose fight bleed

Review: Tales of Zestiria the X, Episode 10: Alisha Diphda

Review:

After we see Sorey and Mikleo working to purify Marlind’s water source, we get to meet the Seraph who was the drake from the previous episode. In this way, we find out how Seraphim can become corrupted by malevolence, as well as the original form and function of Seraphim within human society. Much of this information stays the same from the game, so if you’ve played it then this shouldn’t be particularly new information. From here, the episode begins to set the stage for the first war that will take place in the narrative, with Alisha and Sorey discovering the plans when Alisha’s troops are ordered to mobilize. While Sorey wants to accompany her, Lailah does not believe it’s a good idea, and Sorey quickly discovers why when he (conveniently) discovers a hellionized human, which is apparently the first one he comes upon in the story. This is a huge shift from the game, because you discover a hellion in the form of a child fairly early on there (not to mention the Scattered Bones member who had attacked Sorey’s village at the beginning of the game).

 

The whole system of the Shepherd’s purification seems to have been deepened with this adaptation. For starters, by purifying a human, the Shepherd seems to take the malevolence into himself. As far as I can remember, this was not the case in the game. Additionally, by purifying a human hellion, the Shepherd is able to see what caused the hellionization in the first place, and through this we find out that Sorey can even purify the souls of the dead. All of this was not in the game to the best of my memory, and while it does make the anime feel a little less like an adaptation and more of an alternate retelling, it does add to the overall weight of the Shepherd’s task, so it is definitely a good change. Other differences include Alisha and Rose’s meetings, both with Rose acting as a Sparrowfeather and as a Scattered Bones member. Again, as far as I can remember, the two don’t cross paths in the game until after Alisha has left the party and Rose has joined, but again, this sets the stage for a potentially deeper character relationship, and so it isn’t necessarily bad, unless you want a completely pure adaptation. All in all, the stakes are being raised as we enter into the last few episodes of the show, but fret not! A second season has been confirmed for 2017!

 

A Christian Perspective:

 

Atakk mentions how he’s seen entire villages disappear, albeit small ones, disappear, and that it always starts over a tiny thing in the beginning while Sorey’s party is discussing the corruption of Marlind with Rohan, the guardian Seraph of the village who had been a drake in the previous episode. Now that Rohan is healed, Sorey’s party is asking him how Marlind reached such a state. While he doesn’t remember, he believes it is something small, like the theft of a book. This is the basis for Atakk’s comment, and it is very reminiscent of how sin works in our lives. It starts out as something small–an innocent search on Google turns up an unexpected image, which sparks the desire to see more; a simple glance or accidental brush against a coworker sparks a flame that leads to infidelity; etc. This was certainly the basis for King David’s affair with Bathsheba recorded in 2 Samuel 11. King David happened to catch a glimpse of Bathsheba bathing, which sparked lust within him, leading to adultery and then to David conspiring to murder Bathsheba’s husband, which he ultimately succeeds at. In the end, this all then leads to the death of the son that Bathsheba birthed as result of their infidelity. One glance lead to a multitude of sin and the loss of two lives. The theft of a book lead to the corruption and plaguing of a city within our anime. In both cases, something seemingly insignificant lead to damage and destruction. We would be wise to monitor our personal lives and to deal with the “little” things as they crop up, rather than brushing them off as “no big deal” so that we don’t find ourselves one day mired in the fallout of a situation that could have been easily avoided if we’d dealt with our wrongdoing at the very beginning.

Content Guide:

Language: None

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Maltran cleavage

Violence: Sorey fights a hellion; Alisha squares off with the Scattered Bones

Blood/Gore: Blood beads out from a small wound on Alisha’s neck

Review: Tales of Zestiria the X, Episode 9: The Plagued City

Review:

This episode presents a familiar scene from the game: Alisha and company need to reach the infected town, but the bridge has been washed out, thanks to an angry spirit (though they seem to be oblivious to this). To my knowledge, the progression of events differs at this point, as I believe in the game Alisha sent for Sorey to see if he could do anything to help them, while in the anime Alisha and some of her team set off to find another route, with Sorey and his party coming across the bridge by other means. Regardless, we are still treated to an epic battle to quell the waters. As a side note, I also found it humorous that when the subtitles used the term “drake”, the characters were literally saying, “dragon puppy”. I may not understand much Japanese, but those were clearly English terms. That’s not a criticism of the translation at all–I just found the term “dragon puppy” to be amusing and thought it worth sharing in case anyone missed it.

In terms of original content, the episode brings about the end of Mikleo’s quest and his subsequent reunion with his friends, but not before he rescues and befriends a Normin. Those who have played the game will remember the Normin as 50 individual creatures that each represented one of the 50 attributes that could affect your weaponry. The anime seems to have adapted this by having the Normin basically buff whatever stat it represents via magic while it is with the individual. In this case, Mikleo encounters Atakk who, as the name may suggest, is able to boost the Attack attribute, which we see played out when he buffs Mikleo and makes him capable of dealing more damage. It will be interesting to see if this plays more of a role in the remainder of the series, as such an implementation seems to have the possibility of making the characters too overpowered. 

Adapting elements of video games into a non-gaming environment is always interesting, as many gameplay elements wouldn’t necessarily make sense if the characters were actually doing them (when you think about it, most of the stuff that either gets cut or adapted–like weapon enhancement–the player actually does while the character remains stationary). So far, Tales of Zestiria the X seems to be doing a fine job with the elements that it included, and the stuff it has cut doesn’t seem to matter. The weapon enhancement system was frustrating in the game–I, for one, am glad that they didn’t try to adapt that within the anime! 

A Christian Perspective:

Matthew 6:1 – Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

One scene in this episode actually had two possible outcomes within the game–namely, the bridge scene. Within the game, you could choose to repair the bridge during the day, when there were people around, or you could choose to wait until nightfall, the reason for the choice being that people may not react well to seeing Sorey’s powers on display, since they wouldn’t understand them. I chose the daytime option, because I wanted to see what would happen as a result. While it doesn’t affect the story beyond this point, it did cause people to withdraw from Sorey. The anime, on the other hand, shows Sorey repairing the bridge at night, when no one is around. While the show doesn’t give a reason for this–and while the connection I’m about to make probably isn’t what Sorey intended–I did see a reflection of how we as Christians are supposed to behave.

You’ve probably already constructed the point in your head between the verse and my long lead-in, but as Jesus says in the verse above, we as Christians should not do our good works in order to be seen by men or to receive attention from them. The translation I used specifically says “righteousness”, but other translations use verbage along the lines of “good deeds”. The point is, we shouldn’t do our good works for the purpose of being seen by others. That’s not to say that others won’t see us–that’s almost impossible, especially if you’re serving people–but that should not be our goal at all. If we do good things so that we can be praised by men, then we have no reward in heaven because we’ve already received the reward we wanted; however, if we do our good deeds for the purpose of glorifying God and pointing others to Him, then He will reward us when the time is right.

Content Guide:

Language: 1 “d*mmit”

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Maltran cleavage

Violence: Sorey armatizes with Edna and battles two hellions; Sorey and company do battle with a drake

Blood/Gore: None

Review: Tales of Zestiria the X, Episode 8: Rayfalke Spiritcrest

Review:

Alright everyone, Edna is here. The best character has been introduced, you can all go home now. The show can’t get any better than this.

Okay, all joking aside, this episode really did justice to the introduction of Edna, Eizen, and Zaveid. Conceptually, the episode does a great job of sticking to the introduction of these characters. There are some differences: we don’t seem to get the clear picture that the hellion Zaveid kills was actually a person, and Sorey’s group doesn’t fight Zaveid. Those differences aside, the major pieces are still there: the introduction of Zaveid’s ability to kill hellions, Edna and Eizen’s backstories, and the fact that Seraphim can become corrupted by malevolence and turn into dragons as a result. Of course, the show had to fill time that would have been spent fighting random monsters in the game, and the writers did a great job of that this time around. The fight scenes are spectacular, and the show manages to maintain a healthy balance between exposition and action. It helps that Mikleo isn’t completely forgotten through the cutaways to his situation, although it still would have been better if it was played out the same way it was in the game.

It’s still hard to figure out how the anime will wrap up in only 13 episodes. We’ve barely scratched the surface of the story, and we’re more than halfway through. There’s always the possibility that high ratings will garner a second season, or that the anime was just meant to spark interest in the game, but the Tales of Link game promised answers to previously unanswered questions, and so far I haven’t seen any major information that wasn’t already available to me within the Zestiria video game. Regardless, this remains a satisfying adaptation, even if I would have done some things differently, and I would much prefer a “to be continued” style end to the series rather than a rushed mess that attempts to tie up a lot of game in a little time.

A Christian Perspective:

For all intents and purposes, the Seraphim seem to be the closest thing to “gods” that the world of Zestiria has. Although they are never referred to as such, they are spiritual forces that the average person can’t see, and they receive worship from the humans. Where the Seraphim fall short, though, is in the fact that they can fall to malevolence just like humans, as we see with Eizen. In contrast, our great God cannot be tempted, cannot fall to sin, and cannot be corrupted. James 1:13 reads, “When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;”. The Seraphim may be mysterious creatures, but when compared to our God one must ask why anoyone would worship the Seraphim (the answer, of course, is that the world of Zestiria doesn’t have anything better); however, even in the real world, people will worship lesser things than our God. Thankfully those of us who know Him know that He will always remain the same, yesterday, today,a nd forever. (Hebrews 13:8)

Content Guide:

Language: None

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Zaveid is shirtless

Violence: Edna hits Sorey in the face when he catches her; Edna, Sorey, and Lailah fight a hellion; Zaveid kills a hellion; Mikleo kills hellions; Sorey, Lailah, and Zaveid battle Eizen

Blood/Gore: None

Review: Tales of Zestiria the X, Episode 7: Each One’s Feelings

Review:

Well, after two weeks (or is it technically three?) we finally rejoin Sorey and his friends as they stare down the barrel of a giant tornado. From within, they can see a dragon, which flees when Sorey stands his ground. Honestly, at this point, the story really begins to deviate from the plot of the game. Well, I guess that’s not totally fair. The characters are still moving towards the same results and locations, but the “how” of it is being completely redone. For example, in the game, Sorey vehemently opposes Mikleo putting himself in a position of danger in regards to the hellions, with Mikleo taking up a certain mantle (no spoilers) when Sorey is in dire need of help. In this episode, Mikleo goes off on his own to search for a way to help Sorey (in the game it comes while the party explores an area together), and Sorey only worries for a brief moment before accepting what Mikleo is doing. Also different is the fact that the dinner between Sorey and the noble (whose name I’ve already forgotten) has a much more sinister twist in the game. I believe this is where the first attempt on Alisha’s life is actually made, which was already bumped up to an earlier episode.

Regardless of these changes, the story seems to be progressing in the same general direction: Mikleo should soon be capable of helping Sorey in his quest, and Sorey and Lailah should be meeting a new main character based on their location at the end of this episode and the not-so-subtle hint in the episode preview. One thing I hope to not see is the writers catering to the Sorey/Mikleo shippers. The game never gives any indication that there is anything besides friendship between the two, and that’s simply the way it is, but of course some people can’t accept the idea of two guys being friends (or in this case, more like brothers). Perhaps I’m just on edge, but some of the dialogue in this episode seemed like it was trying to suggest a potentially deeper relationship (Lailah commenting, “You like Sorey that much, huh?” on top of the montage near the end of the episode). Hopefully I’m just overreacting and this is nothing, because it is honestly a pet peeve of mine when people try to make characters gay when they aren’t, and it goes even further when the writers try to respond by making it official or semi-official, when it was never the case to begin with.

A Christian Perspective:

One thing that stands out in this episode is the fact that humans used to be able to see and speak with the Seraphim, but overtime they lost the ability due to unbelief. Similarly, mankind used to walk with God in the Garden of Eden (see: Genesis 1-3), but because of our own unbelief (see: Eve believing the serpent over God) we, too, lost the ability to directly interact with (and presumably see) God. It’s interesting to see this reflected in a story that likely has no Christian background, given the small number of Christians in Japan. It almost seems like we are subconsciously aware of how separated we are from spiritual things, and how our imperfect human nature will inevitably cause us to mess up any relationship we have with the spiritual when left to our own devices. Of course, the Seraphim are not infallible, so this isn’t a perfect comparison, but there were enough similarities there for me to draw this comparison.

Content Guide:

Language: 1 “d*mmit”

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Maltran shows cleavage

Alcohol/Drug Use: Sorey and another character drink what could be wine

Violence: A hellion attacks humans; Sorey drives his blade into a hellion

Blood/Gore: None

Review: Tales of Zestiria the X, Episode 6: Velvet Crowe

Review:

This entry picks up right where the previous one left off, with Velvet preparing to face off against Oscar. The action in this episode is intense, and in typical anime fashion we find out plot relevant details thanks to the characters spewing exposition during their battles. I’ve always wondered how they carry on a conversation from opposite ends of the battlefield with the sounds of combat, magic, dragons, and such raging around them…..but that’s the magic of anime for you. In all seriousness, though, this episode makes it a little easier to connect to Velvet, as some of her backstory is revealed, and we find that her imprisonment was actually no fault of her own, but rather the result of what appears to be a corrupt government. It also helps that I checked the Tales of Berseria Wikipedia article, as I now know that the story takes place in the distant past of Zestiria’s world. This would potentially explain why the only thing the two seem to have in common is the malevolence. It also stands to reason, then, that the events of episodes 5 and 6 will shed some light on events that will happen in Zestiria. Judging by the episode preview, we may rejoin the titular cast in the following episode.

Honestly, as a fantasy anime, this episode had everything you could want: swords, magic, dragons; however, I am concerened that Berseria just released in Japan, and won’t release worldwide until next year. How much of the story is going to be spoiled for us by this? I imagine that right now, all we’ve seen is what would amount to the beginning of the game, but if connections are made between Berseria and Zestiria in the anime, then will that spoil part of Berseria’s plot? I know this isn’t a direct reflection on the anime, but it would be a shame if the story of the game was spoiled either in part or in whole as a result of this endeavor. Admittedly, it was a nice change of pace to see new content since I have played through Zestiria already, but I just hope the cost for said new content won’t be too high when I finally get to play Berseria.

Overall, the episode was well done. The action was intense and the visuals were great. I suppose the CG used for the dragon could have been better (it was pretty obvious that the dragon was CG while everything else wasn’t), but that’s really the only negative comment I can think of. We still don’t know how this will all piece together in the grander scheme of the story, so I guess we’ll just have to keep tuning in to find out.

A Christian Perspective:

Seres’ sacrifice in this episode can be a symbol for the Christian life. How so? Well, in this episode, we see that Seres believes so much in what she is doing that she is willing to die for it. Her purpose and goal surpass her desire to live. This reminds me of how we, as Christians, are supposed to value Jesus and His Kingdom more than our lives here on Earth. In Matthew 16:25, Jesus states, “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” Of course, not everyone will die for their faith, but we should value Jesus so much that we would be willing to do so if it is demanded of us.

Content Guide:

Language: 2 “d*mn”

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Seres and Velvet cleavage…or whatever term you prefer for Velvet

Violence: Velvet and several foes do battle; Velvet and other characters fight a dragon; a flashback shows a child being impaled

Blood/Gore: Velvet coughs up blood; a character is impaled and is covered with/sitting in a pool of blood

Other: Use of magic

Review: Tales of Zestiria the X, Episode 5: Dawn of Chaos

Review:

Episode 4 may have ended with a cliffhanger, but episode 5 does not offer to resolve that for us. Instead, we open on a completely different scene featuring Velvet, the protagonist of the upcoming Tales of Berseria. I had previously commented on Velvet’s appearance in the opening credits of the show, so it seemed to be only a matter of time before she showed up. Unfortunately, without the context of the game, it’s hard to say what relevance this episode has to the overall story of Tales of Zestiria. We know that the two games are connected by previous information released, but to my knowledge the extend of the connection has never been revealed, which means that this episode is mostly shrouded in mystery. We are met with characters, terms, and locations that are completely foreign to us, and the episode does not do much to make the connections for us. Perhaps this will happen later, but for now we’re left scratching our heads. Hopefully this isn’t just an attempt to shoehorn some Berseria scenes in for marketing and instead an actual attempt at deepening the story of Zestiria. From what I recall, the only thing this episode mentioned that even connects the two is malevolence; other than that, there are no mentions of Seraphim, Shepherds, or anything else associated with Zestiria.

Connections to Zestiria aside, the episode itself is quite intense. More than likely, we are watching the beginning of the game animated, since it starts out with Velvet imprisoned, breaking out with the help of a mysterious visitor, and then attempting to escape off the island. New terms are thrown at us fairly quickly, but it becomes easy enough to at least gain a basic grasp of what’s going on. Again, hopefully all of this will serve to connect to the Zestiria story in a way that will make some elements of that story clearer and easier to understand. Unfortunately, as of this writing, we have no way of knowing that, so all that can really be said at this point is that this is an exciting episode, but it feels awkward and out of place since it was inserted right into the center of an ongoing story without any context or apparent reason.

A Christian Perspective:

My experience with the Tales series may not be extensive (my completed games include Graces F, Xillia, Xilla 2, Hearts R, and Zestiria), but one thing I have noticed is that the main characters tend to fall into a sort of “nice guy” trope, with Milla falling into more of a “naive girl” trope. It is usually easy to pull some kind of Christian message from these types of characters, if only because they generally don’t hesitate to help people. While I don’t have much knowledge of Berseria, this first introduction to Velvet may suggest a deviation from that pattern, as she doesn’t exactly seem warm, friendly, or nice. In fact, we’re introduced to her as she makes a break from prison with the help of a stranger. Granted, we don’t know her backstory yet, but based on first impressions she doesn’t seem to be a character with traits worth emulating. Perhaps this will change as we learn more about her character (which likely won’t be until Berseria releases), but as of now it is hard to pull any positive messages from this episode. That’s not to say it wasn’t an enjoyable episode, just that Velvet as a character didn’t present any traits that I felt were admirable or praiseworthy.

Content Guide:

Language: None

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Velvet’s top covers her breasts pretty much just in the front; another woman’s top shows ample cleavage

Violence: Velvet kills some werewolves; Velvet attacks a woman; Velvet and a woman fight several guards; Velvet and another character cut down several guards

Blood/Gore: Noticeable blood splatter as Velvet kills the werewolves

Other: Velvet uses some kind of monstrous hand to kill; monsters are referred to as daemons; Velvet is referred to as a Daemoneater; a woman uses magic

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

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