「届かない理想より目の前の正義」 (Todokanai risou yori me no mae no seigi)
“Justice at Hand rather than Ideal beyond One’s Reach”
Can I breathe a sigh of relief? I think I can breathe a sigh of relief. With Sorey not falling into the pitfall of saving Rose from a certain kill, Zestiria has provided a decent conclusion for one character’s arc. Given the numerous ways this episode could have gone wrong, I’m pleasantly surprised how Sorey’s and Rose’s denouement was handled. Sorey of course stuck hard to his “killing is always bad” mantra, but was quite considerate, thoughtful, and mature. He never once directly questioned Rose’s actions, instead allowing her to speak, answering her questions without any arrogance, and simply stating his beliefs upon prodding as an alternative to Rose’s way of life. This was the Sorey I was expecting, the questioning Shepherd newly aware of the messy intricacies of the world and how he must learn to account for them. Having Sorey publically state his realization of Malevolence inhabiting everyone is a notable development, especially his initial avoidance of purification in the forest—the old Sorey likely would have tried given his then absolutist beliefs.
Rose too was well handled here, where she doesn’t renege on her beliefs, but instead questions them and asks how they can fit in this new world open to her. She may have successfully killed Konan—we actually got an answer for that critical hit “miss” too—but Rose discovered that her methods are imperfect for dealing with challenges literally beyond her comprehension. I especially liked how Rose actually defeated Konan herself with no help from Sorey—beyond his rescue during the fall—and how Rose’s assassination moonlighting built upon Sorey’s struggle with moral ambiguity rather than being abandoned immediately for a “see? Sorey is right!” conclusion. Instead of stating that there is only one way—Sorey’s—for dealing with evil, Rose’s methods are simply called out as the wrong solution for the current situation. Among the many possible ways to resolve these storylines, Zestiria picked one of the best.
While I greatly enjoyed how the character development was handled this episode, the one glaring issue I had was the amount of time devoted to Rose. Were three-ish episodes really necessary to properly tell Rose’s story? It is hard denying after all that this episode started wearing thin in the latter half, especially with the excessive moments of silence amid travelling between locations. Rose’s development could have easily been trimmed down while still producing the same results I think, particularly given how much Sorey has progressed with less devoted screen time. This just brings up the question—again—about where Zestiria wishes to end things. Are we gearing up for a third season, or is an anime original in the cards? Seven episodes remain, and with current pacing, Zestiria likely won’t finish the actual story. At least next week may answer that question as we are set to return to Sorey and his quest. Maybe, just maybe, we shall see some story-related developments next time around.