Tag Archives: Tales of Zestiria

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

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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

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 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