I’m tempted to start calling Zestiria the Tale of Buildup because for every spurt forward in the story, we receive three transitory episodes. Jokes aside, this week concerns Alisha as the trials and tribulations of Sorey’s first squire are explored. While this was another tepid buildup episode, I must admit that Zestiria at least knows how to make the most out of these moments. Backstory is interspaced with enough action to mitigate boredom, and the show has a good habit of revealing information in a pleasing manner—at least for me. No overbearing info dumps or jargon, just enough words to let the mind fill in the blanks. Might also help ufotable produces some of the nicest looking CG water in anime I’ve seen thus far.
As with the previous Rose arc, the central theme here continues to be the moral ambiguity of justice. Unlike Rose, however, Alisha tackles the concept from a quixotic good perspective—pretty much Sorey in female form. For me this leads to some annoyances, such as Alisha’s staunch refusal to kill or placing the lives of others above her own. Alisha’s desire to do good for example could be better served by first ensuring she’s still around to save others, or offering support covertly rather than out in the open–hard saving anyone if dead. Her “must not kill” pledge is particularly aggravating too when noting her knights—who she deeply cares about—are more likely to die if concerned about the lives of an enemy who does not care about theirs in the slightest.
What keeps Alisha from the developmental brink, however, is her own introspection. Alisha admits upholding her morals is challenging, maybe even impossible, and that some moments will require abandoning them. It’s similar development to both Rose and Sorey, where Sorey specifically too desires adhering to personal ideals, but understands the limitations restricting their usage. The talk with Lunarre was an excellent example of this, where Alisha never wavered under his devious, cachinnatory goading and stuck firmly to her own principles while acknowledging the truth behind his words. Still think the girl is nuts trying to prevent the death of everyone, but at least she recognizes her ideals may be fantasy.
Putting aside Alisha’s moral wrangling though, at least we are looking at an interesting upcoming fight. All major parties are coalescing in Ladylake around some serious bait, Zaveid has reentered the picture, and we’ve got a new, nasty bit of Malevolence certain (hopefully) to give Sorey and his
harem squires a good challenge. Also have a worthy evil in the form of Bartlow who certainly deserves any comeuppance. Given Zestiria is likely treading anime-original territory now, I have no idea how things will turn out next week, but it will certainly be entertaining in some form. After all, it’s about time Zestiria gave a good, protracted battle to make up for all the buildup we have received.