Tag Archives: Summer 2016

Review: Tales of Zestiria the X, Episode 2: Elysium

Review:

This episode continues with a nice mixture of game content and original content, with Sorey and Mikleo taking Alisha back to their village. From here, the show takes time to show scenes of Sorey and Alisha interacting, even going so far as to explore bits of the ruins in which Alisha was found. I could be wrong, but I don’t believe the game went that far into developing a relationship between them prior to Alisha’s departure from the village. Knowing what I know of the story, these scenes are a bit bittersweet, because of where things between the two characters will eventually go. Hopefully the show is considered to be “canon” within the story of Tales of Zestiria, because additions such as this add a new level of depth to the overall plot.

The way the battle between Sorey, Mikleo, and Lunarre was especially satisfying. While the Tales games offer a much more enjoyable RPG battle experience than the typical turn-based combat, there’s still a limit to how much action the system can simulate. This episode’s rendering of the fight may have been brief, but it was undeniably intense, and it makes me excited to see how future fights will be handled, especially when the larger and more dangerous enemies begin to show their fangs. Still, I am a bit apprehensive about the pacing of the show, as the limited number of episodes in comparison to the scope of Zestiria’s story makes it hard to believe that all of the details can be adequately covered, especially when, after three episodes, Sorey is just now leaving his village. Of course, there is still hope that this will only be the first season of more to come, so for now, only time will tell.

A Christian Perspective:

But that is a selfish thought, to think that one’s own safety is the only thing that matters. – Gramps

Philippians 2:4 – Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.

“Gramps’” statement in this episode seemed to reflect a very Christian ideal, as expressed by Paul in Philippians 2:4—we should concern ourselves with the wellbeing of others around us, not just with our own wellbeing. When we are concerned only with ourselves, we tend to be selfish and make decisions that are only in our best interests, with little to no concern as to how those decisions will affect others, but Jesus tells us to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39), which means that we should show concern for the wellbeing and interests (indicated in Paul’s letter) of those around us, and especially those belonging to the Body of Christ. In direct relation to Gramps’ quote, we may find ourselves in situations where it may compromise our safety, comfort, or security to help someone else, but to only think of ourselves would be a selfish endeavor. Instead, when we find others in need of help, let us strive to be like the Samaritan in the Parable of the Good Samaritan and lend a helping hand to our fellow man, even if it means a cost to ourselves.

Content Guide:

Language: None

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: None

Violence: Sorey kills a boar; a Hellion chokes a Seraphim; Sorey and Mikleo do battle with a Hellion

Blood/Gore: None

Other: Mikleo uses magic artes

Review: Tales of Zestiria the X, Episode 1: Capital of Seraphim

Review:

This episode begins with more original content, as Alisha stumbles upon some ruins after somehow escaping from the scene at the end of the first episode. While it would have been nice to see those events played out, it is understandable that we might not get to see every little detail; after all, the show is apparently slated for just 13 episodes, with the game being at least 40+ hours of content. Honestly, I can’t see the story concluding in just 13 episodes, unless the story is rushed, minor events are completely removed, or the 13 episodes will only comprise a “first season”. Regardless, let’s look at this episode for now.

Those who have played the game will recognize that a Normin is introduced in this episode, although the show doesn’t identify the creature. This is where us gamers have an edge, because we understand why Alisha isn’t reacting to its presence, even as it defends her from a horde of bugs, whose role I hope is explained later, because they seemed to be coming after her with a purpose. Whatever the case, we now know how she ended up unconscious in the ruins, where we first meet her in the game. This may have also been mentioned within the narrative of the video game, but if it was then I don’t recall. This new content is also intermingled with a new introduction to Sorey and Mikleo, as well. At first I thought they completely changed this portion of the story, but then Sorey discovers the ruins where we first meet him in the game. All of this was greatly enjoyable because it not only gave new information not provided by the game, it also helped ease this gamer into the anime without feeling like I was just watching the same stuff over again. Now that we are in the proper story of the game, this may change, but I am still eager to see how they adapt things.

The art retains its excellent quality from the introductory episode, and the anime continues to utilize background music from the game at the appropriate points, which I still maintain is a nice detail. Some areas appear to be more fleshed out (for example, the interiors of Sorey’s and the Elder’s homes appeared larger in the anime than they do in the game), which helps to better fit the transition from game to show. Overall, I am very pleased with how this adaptation has started and I can’t wait to see how it will progress.

A Christian Perspective:

Okay, I am going to claim some gamer privilege here and utilize knowledge that hasn’t been presented in the anime yet. Forgive me if this is overstepping my bounds.

Early in the episode, we see Alisha stumble into some ruins, where a strange creature is seen hanging around her. Though not named in the episode, this creature is known as a “Normin”, and it is a spiritual being, like the Seraphim who are mentioned later. As the context of the scene suggests, Alisha cannot see the Normin,and as you will find out if you haven’t played the game, the majority of people are unable to see or sense spiritual beings in the world of Zestiria, whether Seraphim or Normin. If I recall correctly, it is basically due to unbelief, though I believe some people are also more attuned to seeing them than others. Nevertheless, this is reminiscent of the world in which we currently live, where so many people are numb to the spiritual forces around us due to their unbelief. Even worse, some seek out the wrong spiritual forces through demonic practices, such as Tarot cards, Ouija boards, seances, etc. I guess this isn’t strictly a “Christian” perspective, but as we know the only spiritual force worth knowing is God through His Son, Jesus Christ, for He is the only source of good in the universe. All other spiritual forces (angels notwithstanding, though we don’t seek to know them, and to do so could constitute idolatry) are evil and seek to lead us astray from God, so while we should be aware of them (for our own protection and for the sake of discernment so we know from what to flee), we should not seek to know them; however, many people would deny their very existence right along with God’s, opening themselves up to manipulation by demonic forces while simultaneously rejecting the only One who could save them.

Content Guide:

Spiritual Content: Characters use magical Artes; there is discussion about an “era of the gods”, as well as the beings known as Seraphim who would receive worship from humans and bless them in exchange

Language: None

Alcohol/Drug Use: Dezel and Zexceed may be drinking alcohol in the closing credits

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: None

Violence: A Normin fights off some bugs; characters are thrown around by lightning

Blood/Gore: None

Review: Tales of Zestiria the X, Episode 0: Age of Chaos

Review:

Normally I would start my reviews with a summary of the episode; however, I’m going to try to move away from that. We’ll see how it goes. Anyway, here we have the first installment of the Tales of Zestiria anime adaptation, dubbed “Tales of Zestiria the X”. What does “the X” mean? I don’t know. Maybe it’s answered somewhere out in the infosphere, but I didn’t go looking. In any event, the first thing you’ll notice about this episode is that it contains content that is completely original from the game. The entire episode follows Alisha, a princess of the Hyland kingdom, as she and a few companions search for one of her subordinates that she had sent out to do some investigating. A little flashback section reveals that she was butting heads with some of the nobility who wanted to conscript civilians into military service during a festival, which Alicia adamantly opposed, as well as showing some discoveries and concerns that are arising throughout the kingdom. This little bit of backstory helps to flesh out Alisha’s character a bit, and it gives those who haven’t played the game an immediate clue into Alisha’s clash with the nobility. Admittedly, the story is a bit confusing though, even for someone who has played the game, because all of the material is new! I’m not sure how this will tie into the story of Tales of Zestiria, but from what I’ve seen elsewhere, the anime is supposed to answer questions that were left unanswered by the game. There were certainly terms mentioned that I don’t remember (ley lines, specifically), and the whole concept of the giant mist is new from what I can recall. Those who have played the game will recognize certain faces that pop up in this introductory episode.

Artistically, the show is beautiful. The moments where CG is used are fairly obvious, but the scenes themselves are still well done, so the use of CG doesn’t come off as cheesy or cheap. Those who have played the game will recognize the use of the game’s BGM during certain scenes, and the layout of Hyland is faithful to its in-game counterpart. In that respect, the show manages to throw some fanservice (the good kind) to the gamers while also being inclusive to those who are just now being exposed to the world of Zestiria. I suspect those of us who played the game are also in for some new treats, as the intro (which is played at the end of this episode, as is the case with many anime first episodes) shows a few scenes of Velvet, the protagonist of the upcoming Tales of Bersaria, which is said to take place in the same world as Zestiria. How she will be incorporated and how much of a role she will play should be interesting to see, as giving her too big a role would seem to disrupt the established story, I would think.

One of the biggest criticisms I had of the game (you can read my review here) was how certain characters were handled. Specific to this episode is the character of Symonne, who is not introduced until late in the game (though she makes a few shadowy appearances earlier on), making her role feel more shoe-horned than anything. While her appearance here doesn’t necessarily mean that she will play a larger role in the anime, it is at least nice to see her make an appearance early on so that viewers can immediately identify her as an enemy, if nothing more. Overall, Zestiria was not my favorite Tales game out of the ones I’ve played, but I still enjoyed it well enough, and so far the anime has my interest, even though I know the crux of the story. The new content in this episode, as well as Velvet’s appearance in the intro, make me think that I (and my fellow gamers) will still be in for a few surprises. Tales of Zestiria the X can be watched either at Daisuki.net or via Funimation Now. This review and all subsequent reviews will be using Funimation Now, as I have a subscription to the service, which means I get to see the episodes as soon as they are released.

A Christian Perspective:

Keeping in mind the fact that I have a good grasp of Alisha’s character from playing the game, I will point you to her adamant refusal to conscript unsuspecting citizens into military service in this episode. As you will come to find out (and may have begun to suspect), Alisha holds what could be called a very righteous attitude. She doesn’t deal in deception and underhanded schemes, which puts her at odds with the nobility. Instead, she conducts herself with honor, making it a point to care for the citizens of Hyland, as well as her own subordinates (again, as we see in this episode). This demeanor is reminiscent of what Christians should strive for: rather than doing things deceitfully as the world does (in this case, tricking people into bolstering the military forces), we should do things honestly and with integrity, as Alisha does. As you will come to learn, Alisha’s attitude doesn’t earn her many friends among the powerful nobles, but it does cause her to be loved by those under her (as we see with her subordinates in this episode). Similarly, we can expect that the world won’t love us when we refuse to do things their way, and we may not even gain the love of those underneath us (those who hate the light will hate the light), but if we stand for what is right then we may gain the love and, more importantly, the salvation of those who have been wronged by this world and its systems. Not that we ourselves gain their salvation, but our conduct may be the path that leads them to knowing Christ and his saving grace.

Content Guide:

Language: None

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Maltran’s top shows cleavage; Velvet’s outfit in the intro (outro in this episode) shows cleavage; Symonne wears a rather skimpy outfit, although you don’t see anything inappropriate

Violence: A band of assassin’s attack Alisha and her group; two beings battle with what appears to be magic; characters are sucked into a giant whirlwind

Blood/Gore: None

Other: Characters appear to use magic