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Tales of Zestiria the X – 13 »« Tales of Zestiria the X – 11

Tales of Zestiria the X – 12

「災禍の顕主」 (Saika no Kenshu)
“The Lord of Calamity”

It’s a good thing there’s already a second-cour confirmed, because this episode didn’t have the feel of a finale. If this were the true ending, there would no doubt be waves of disappointment, but this has always been paced as a 2-cour adaptation, so this instead feels like a natural place to pause for a breath. Some episodes have been slower than I would have liked, or existed purely to advertise the latest Tales game, but it’s been an effective season in terms of set-up, and has maintained its sleek and polished aesthetic from start till finish.

Like the previous episodes, this one split the story between Sorey and Alisha. Sorey got to face off against who a humanoid hellion appears to be the big baddie, after making a conscious effort to uphold his beliefs and quell this war without killing a single soul. I do have to say that it was a tad cliché that he basically survived because his opponent “allowed it”. It happens all the time in shonen battle manga, and it seems that element carries over here. And amusingly, even though this is a video game adaptation, this was one of the few occasions where it felt like a boss encounter was unfolding on screen.

As straightforward as Zestiria is, I have to give it credit for its consistent characterisation across the board. It would be so easy for these characters to be thrown into their respective plots and changed based on the whims of the scenario writer and the necessity of the story. But throughout this first season we’ve seen Sorey and Alisha’s journeys unfold in a natural and believable way. I expected to dislike Sorey’s happy-go-lucky attitude after a few episodes, but his warmth grew on me, especially after the darker attempts shown in Berseria. But I’m also glad that he’s been pushed to his emotional limits and has at times questioned his pledge not to kill. We saw it last week, but this episode had him nearly cross the line. The moment he encountered the man who almost murdered Alisha, it seemed like he was overcome with vengeance, right up until he did the “right” thing. He and Alisha are both Lawful Good on the spectrum, which is rare for both the male and female lead. It may seem a little too naive at times, but it lends to a rewarding watch when things do work out, because at the end of it all what they say makes sense and doesn’t exist purely to please action and war lovers.

The one scene that almost gave me a heart attack was when Sorey was solemnly looking over Alisha’s near-dead body under the starlight. For a good minute they purposefully avoided showing Alisha’s body, even though she was speaking naturally and is if she wasn’t in pain. A few seconds in I propped up and thought she had already died, and for whatever reason Sorey was conversing with the spirit of Alisha as they both looked down on her body. I was waiting for that to come, practically screaming: “Don’t kill her! Don’t kill her!” in my head, because they’ve done so well in adapting her characters and giving her a proper story arc, that it would be a terrible shame to see her go out like this. I wouldn’t hate it, because it would help set the tone going into the second season, but I’m damn glad Alisha is still around now that she can see Sorey’s friends in person (and what a genuine reaction that was). She’s got so much more to give, and by the looks of it Rose’s anime counterpart is much more likeable than her original character in the games – she appears to inspire rage across all quarters of the fandom in some way or another, and so far I don’t see anything worth disliking. All things considered, this episode was a nice continuation of the characterisation we’ve seen thus far, and I’ll be expecting the cast to develop even more come 2017.

Final Impressions
It feels odd to give final impressions where there was no attempt at finality to this episode. There were no nail-biting cliffhangers, no big questions still to be answered, no massive reveals that change the course of the series going forward – all it did was continue to show the positive spirit of these characters and get us, the audience, excited for the next episode. I do wish it was coming next week, but as I mentioned prior, it’s a good thing that ufotable does these split-cours to recharge their batteries and give their staff some time to maintain the level of quality you expect from their titles.

One thing I can talk about overall is how damn good this show looks. Is it the best animated anime I’ve ever seen? No. Many scenes are framed simply and have limited character movement; but where a lesser staff would stall on the lingering shots and give the viewers something to complain about, it all fit well with the tone and pace of the show, and there were very few shots that looked anything other than great. I have to give credit to all those behind the art direction, colour design, and 3D camera work. It’s a rare thing to see those elements done so well, and it makes sense why many consider ufotable and Kyoani the top of the pack when both excel in those departments. For what it’s worth, I think Kyoto Animation do well across the board, especially in the finer details and subtle character animation. ufotable lack in that department, but they deliver more than enough to make up for it, and the fact that there hasn’t been a noticeable dip in quality throughout this run is testament to their talent and forward planning.

And that’s it for me. Honestly, I don’t think I’ll be blogging the second cour of Zestiria when it arrives early next year. It’s been a fun watch and just as fun to write about, but it’s just not as deep as I initially hoped. It does what it does well, but I fear I’d be at a loss for words if I were to still for the full 24 episodes. What words I can say, to finish off with, however, are: Alisha is awesome. It’s a stellar adaptation. It’s immensely pleasing to the eye. And I’ll be anticipating its return when it comes around.

September 26, 2016 at 7:30 pm
34 comments »
  • September 26, 2016 at 8:54 pmsonicsenryaku

    In all honesty, as another reviewer put it, this was a very vanilla series. A lot of these characters have likeable traits but they are never truly fleshed out past their general traits. Overall, i think the anime is better adaptation when compared to the game, but i dont think it’s a considerable step forward as the series didnt really didnt have any strong characteristics in its storytelling. It ended up just being an average story with nice looking visuals. In terms of what the anime did better, i think some of the narrative flowed better and i like that alisha was made to be a more confident character. What i think is a weakness of this adaptation however is that the characters dont have the time they had in the game to be fleshed out. Also, the writers seemed to be so concerned about making certain characters more likable that they made it difficult to give these characters meaningful character arcs to ultimately arrive to. Im also hoping that the series doesnt forget to give alisha a bit more conflict in her character arc. As much as i like her as a badass, I also appreciated the fact that she didnt always have all the right answers.

    You know what i would suggest Samu? Since you seem sort of invested in this series, i would say to watch the game cutscenes of tales of zestiria (if you have the time) and make your own opinion about the writing decisions in terms of character and narrative rather than listen to the biases of the fanbase; good or bad.

    • September 27, 2016 at 12:28 pmSamu

      I’m afraid I don’t have the time or interest to play the game, especially when so many weaknesses of the source have swayed me from playing it. The anime is giving me what I need, so I’ll refrain from trying out what is considered the sub-par alternative.

    • October 2, 2016 at 10:32 pmKaleRylan

      I don’t see where Alisha has had all the right answers. Her main character trait is that she’s ‘nice.’ Which apparently is big in this world because they’re all being corrupted to be ‘not nice.’

      I guess one could make the argument that being nice in a world of not nice is kind of like having all the right answers, but I think that’s a bit unfair. A lot of what she’s done is just desperately grasp at straws and, fortunately for her, make some very powerful friends.

  • September 26, 2016 at 10:06 pmAnimeFan

    I was almost screaming when this season ends. Not because it’s bad, it’s the opposite in fact. It’s a really good and entertaining show. But this makes me want to scream even more because they completely dropped the ball with the game, especially regarding the story and characters development.

    • September 27, 2016 at 12:26 pmSamu

      At least we’ve still got another cour to look forward to! But I agree, I wouldn’t mind watching the rest of the show right now if I could.

  • September 26, 2016 at 10:12 pmL002

    http://randomc.net/image/Tales%20of%20Zestiria%20the%20X/Tales%20of%20Zestiria%20the%20X%20-%2012%20-%20Large%2004.jpg
    I can’t get over how she looks exactly like Anya Alstreim (Code Geass). The horror T_T for such a cute girl to have turned evil.

    http://randomc.net/image/Tales%20of%20Zestiria%20the%20X/Tales%20of%20Zestiria%20the%20X%20-%2012%20-%20Large%2008.jpg
    Anyway, while it is nice that they made a dignified looking villain, who looks like Ganondorf, for some reason I feel someone like Monokuma would make a more fitting Lord of Calamity.

  • September 27, 2016 at 3:05 ameldaron

    It’s one thint that they wan’t to focus more on Alysha in the anime, but why cut stuff about Rose in the process. I wanted to see Rose kick ass.

    • September 27, 2016 at 5:32 amLord Nayrael

      My guess is that they wanted to make the path to Rose kicking ass less sudden and more natural.

    • September 27, 2016 at 12:26 pmSamu

      Fear not, I think she’ll have plenty of opportunities to show off her skills next season.

    • October 1, 2016 at 10:53 amJustCommenting

      “Rose waifu” should’t be even in anime – I wonder how many Japanese viewers dropped this show moment when she fist time showed on screen.

  • September 27, 2016 at 5:53 amMagnus Tancred

    I have to say, it’s easy to be idealistic if one grew up like Sorey, but for Alisha to maintain hers despite all the crap thrown at her is nothing short of miraculous.

    • September 27, 2016 at 8:57 pmhaseo0408

      It only gets worse from here on for Sorey and Alish in the game, it´s like the creators were looking for new ways to make them suffer. The anime has done an incredible job giving new life to characters, depths they lack painfully in the game but here you can see them grow in the face of whta the darkness throws at them. I´m really exited to see how they´re going to adapt the rest of the story and if there is more Berseria in this adaptation, I would love if ufotable makes an adaptation of Tales of Berseria in the near future, actually I will be very surprise if they don´t.

    • September 28, 2016 at 8:30 pmJuan

      She happens to have a good friend named Emiya Shirou who helped support here :P

  • September 27, 2016 at 7:45 amzztop

    Has anyone here played Berseria yet? If so, how does it compare to Zestiria’s storyline?

    • September 28, 2016 at 4:51 pmZzzz…

      Personally i find it a lot better in all senses, storywise i would say it is a little more cliche (if that is even possible) but really more solid than zestiria, oh and you don’t have to worry about characters suddenly leaving the party for a while or all that bullshit of a sudden change of protagonism from other characters (im looking at you Rose), and about the gameplay it is also far better, plus is pretty interesting to see the origin of many zestiria concepts and characters

  • September 27, 2016 at 3:06 pmJuan

    I’m not really much of an Animation-nazi but I have to call uFotable out on this one. I understand that they try and save some budget to put it in better places but some of the scenes looked really really akward if not just plain bad. One scene in particular this episode was when Sorey was sitting beside the injured Princess and she starts talking about how she was remembering the past and she wasn’t moving at all. I personally had to make a double take because I was confused if she was dead, speaking in her head or whatnot.

    For a studio as well known as uFotable for the eye candy value of their projects. I feel like this is unacceptable especially when people like me who don’t usually notice these things start to notice them or when they affect the story telling and not merely the visuals

    • September 27, 2016 at 7:00 pmdean

      I’m pretty sure that that was intentional in order to make the viewer belief she really died.

      • September 28, 2016 at 8:32 pmJuan

        honestly not too sure about that. even in the prior episodes (the one where they are riding the horses going to the battle) they had a bunch of scenes with the characters talking but no movement

  • September 27, 2016 at 5:28 pmrandom viewer

    I hoped to see Alisha and the Seraphim talked face-to-face. Or at least let us know if she can shake hands with them.
    http://randomc.net/image/Tales%20of%20Zestiria%20the%20X/Tales%20of%20Zestiria%20the%20X%20-%2012%20-%20Large%2029.jpg
    I’d definitely agree with how wonderful the art design and high-quality the action animations are. The story isn’t too much of a stand-out for me, since it’s still the cliched RPG plot of finding the dragons/monsters/human wars and bring peace to the world. The big question is does this anime make me want to play the game right? Honestly, I prefer watching than doing the game-play but that’s just me for these “Tales of…” games.

  • September 27, 2016 at 6:13 pmShahir

    • September 27, 2016 at 6:20 pmAnimeFan

      Unfortunately Sorey has already been taken by Mikleo

      • September 27, 2016 at 9:47 pmhaseo0408

        Not so sure in this adaptation, in the game Sorey is completely oblivious to the oposite sex but here he even blush when Edna was fooling arounf with him, also his bond with Alisha hints more to romance in the anime than the game.

      • September 27, 2016 at 11:05 pmAnimeFan

        God I hope you’re right. I really want to see Sorey/Alisha and Mikleo/Edna being teased.

    • September 28, 2016 at 12:45 pmChan

      Unfortunately there’s a lot of bad things that could happen Sorey ends up in a relationship with Alisha, Sorey actually mentioned it in the last episode, that he can’t show favoritism towards Hyland. Being in a relationship with Alisha would only put him in a bad position.

    • September 28, 2016 at 9:02 pmYosh

      Honestly, I’m sticking to Sorey with Rose. Especially seeing them sleeping next to each other after a battle in the game lol

  • September 27, 2016 at 8:17 pmboingman

    Other than Sorey being a bit boring (hopefully the 2nd season will tell us more about him), I enjoyed the first cour of this series.
    What it lacks in originality it made up with ufotable’s spectacular mix of anime and CGI work.

  • September 28, 2016 at 12:41 amWanderer

    Thank you for covering this. In doing so you showed me that Alisha receives enough attention to do her character justice. Which is good, because when I knew nothing about the series and all I had to go on were the first couple episode review posts, it was images of Alisha that caught my eye, and made me think “oh, if she’s going to be a main character maybe this will be worth watching.” Then I read comments that said bad things about what would happen to her in the future…

    Anyway, I’m glad this season treated her properly like a main character. Learning that convinced me to watch this series just tonight, and I marathoned it straight through (skipping the unnecessary Berseria episodes). Alisha is win, and I hope she isn’t heading off to disappear from the story for good now.

    • September 28, 2016 at 6:15 amSamu

      You’re welcome! I’m glad this coverage helped you decide to marathon this, that’s nice to hear. And I agree that Alisha is win. I hope she has an equally impressive story arc in the 2nd cour.

  • September 28, 2016 at 4:49 pmDelwack

    This is executed so much better than the game. Freed of Sorey’s sole point of view… and with the characters better integrated together. Yes it’s a simple, basic messiah hero’s journey, but I’ll take a well-executed one every now and then. It reminds us of the basic goodness within us all. It’s amazing that they make sorey empathizable, and that they get you to care, despite him being nearly perfectly aligned with lawful good in such a way that he himself is not that interesting of a character.

    It’s always been the character interactions that delivered in tales, and here they’re taking that in stride and using it to expand it, to great effect.

  • September 28, 2016 at 6:57 pmWanderer

    BTW, whenever Rose speaks I keep hearing Kato Marika. Probably because I’ve been rewatching Mouretsu Pirates lately. But still, it’s a little disconcerting.

  • September 29, 2016 at 9:38 pmChromeNova

    I dunno If I’m just watching Zestiria with rose-tinted glasses, but I’m really liking what I get here. Everything feels so well executed, and the character moments never feel forced or shoehorned it. Sorey and Alisha naturally got along over the course of the season, and both characters had to face their own battles, which made the scene with Alisha becoming Sorey’s squire and her seeing all the seraphim much more satisfying. Also, I already love Rose as a character, and Dezel also seems like a charming guy too. Story doesn’t blow me out of the water, but the character development and interactions as well as the amazing visuals makes this an entertaining watch. Can’t wait for the second season, go Ufotable!

  • October 2, 2016 at 12:02 amDorian S.

    I bit the bullet and watched the cutscenes for this after finishing the anime and lordy, I pity you people who played it. What happens to Alisha from a creative standpoint is just insanely stupid. Lords. I’m so glad we got what we did in the anime, because game wise I don’t think I’ll ever touch Zestiria except to add another notch to my played RPG list.

    I don’t think I can recall a character being creatively sabotaged that much in a video game.

  • October 5, 2016 at 9:50 amiron2000

    I wonder will season 2 be “Tales of Zesteria The XX (Doublecross)” :P

    Enjoyable so far.
    Really like how the anime make the world more believable.

    But the Berseria part feels forced just to coincide with the game release.
    Was hoping for some reason and a more integrated feel.

  • October 7, 2016 at 8:54 pmMiyuki

    Throughout summer, this was the anime I always wait. I eagerly waited for every episode as I wanted to know how the anime team would handle the things I had issue with in the game. And omg….I love it…but I do have a little bit of complaints.

    I love the characters more than the game. They’re better and feels more natural. What I’m curios now is how they’ll handle Rose later. So far, I love what they did to her and it already established a firmer reason for her to join Sorey and co in their journey later.

    The story didn’t feel disjointed and very natural(as I feel in the game) but in the last few episodes, the attempt to bribe fans glared at me. I’m talking about how they praised Alisha through the other characters – it was so obvious I couldn’t help but shaking my head.

    I also didn’t like how they insert two episodes as teaser to Berseria game. That’s not the kind of crossing I expected….so I was disappointed.
    Still, this is a beautiful anime and it did many things better than the game.