“The Sacred Blade Festival”
This feels like a flagship series in the making. After a misstep with God Eater, it seems like ufotable may just have found their Next Big Thing. Of course, it’s not yet clear how popular it will be in the long-run or whether it will have the selling power it requires for such a title, but if we’re to measure Tales of Zestiria the X’s success by the effort put into the production, then this seems a surefire hit. I hear that this week was the largest departure from the source material (and feel free to correct me if I’m wrong), but that seems to only please the fans more. Whether they are shifting minor character details, re-arranging scenes to better fit this format, or are re-writing the story altogether, it appears to be working.
If I were to highlight one negative for this episode, however, it would be that it was predictable. That’s not an entirely bad thing, but it’s worth noting that I pretty much knew exactly what was going to happen several minutes before it actually happened – and I’m not familiar with the games to know anything in hindsight. This mainly tells me that we’re more likely to go for a traditional action-packed fantasy than something that will bend and twist expectations. Again, I’m fine with that – but it would almost certainly make for more compelling viewing if they were willing to experiment more with the story and maybe even go farther from the source material. Perhaps that would pose too many risks, and would likely anger diehard fans who felt their favourite game was being badly handled, but so far it seems this is getting the best possible adaptation you could ask for. Similar to the Fate series, ufotable are pulling out all the stops in making this a feast for the eyes and ears, but what remains to be seen is whether the foundations of this Zestiria story stands up to that of the beloved Fate franchise.
I did appreciate the brief moments of politicking, even if it was pretty standard stuff; like the gross and untrustworthy advisor wanting to assassinate the princess. There may not have been much subtlety in those scenes, but I’m glad they were there if only to flesh out the background characters. The more we learn of this world – from the forests to the cities to the powerful gods that walk the land – the more curious I am to see what will happen when the true plot kicks in. Even though we’ve gotten a prologue and three episodes already, it seems this is where the true story begins, as Sorey pulls out the legendary blade like it’s out of some Arthurian romance. The action that follows is a spectacle, and even if the story is uninspired from here on out (which I don’t think it will), at the very least we’re in for a pretty action anime.
As always, I’m keen to read the opinions of those familiar with the franchise and how this adaptation and its apparent changes are working out. We’re starting to get introduced to more characters featured in the OP, so I suspect before too long we’ll set out on a quest to save the world. I just hope Lunarre stick around for the long haul, even if he doesn’t remain the overarching villain. I’ve enjoyed his scenes in previous episodes, but his shift in attitude could be a sign that he’ll end up my favourite of the bunch.