Tales of Zestiria the X isn’t making it any easier for me to place it in the grand scheme of things, as far as its relation to the source material itself is concerned. Its clear that Tales of Zestiria the X has removed itself from following the story of its source game completely, but yet, there were still definitely traces of that same original story in this week’s episode. Four episodes in, and even with the rather decent amount of knowledge I do have about the world of Tales of Zestiria, I feel myself completely and utterly lost.
I don’t dislike that though. Its certainly a fascinating experience to go through a story you’ve already seen once, as if it were entirely new again. While that newness is definitely interesting, What I’m infinitely curious about, however, is where exactly the series is actually going with all of what its been doing thus far.
Complicating matters is the inclusion of key scenes that I remember quite fondly from the game, that definitely weren’t lost in whatever big picture game ufotable is playing at with this series. The first of those, was actually when Sorey woke up, at the very start of the episode. The scene where Sorey acts as a bridge between Lilah, Mikelo and Alisha, is a great moment, and one that’s almost ripped straight out of the game. The heart, the soul of that moment is definitely there, and the devil is clearly in the details here. Sorey may have some new founds powers as the Shepherd, but he also has some limitations and problems since he’s just starting out.
I always liked how in the game, a big part of Sorey’s limits are his own lack of maturation at this point. He has to literally tune out all senses in order to let Alisha communicate with both Lilah and Mikleo. The moment itself, is definitely a tender one. Its just great seeing Mikleo finally being able to communicate with Alisha, especially given the long amount of time where he’s been basically beside her and unable to interact with her. This scene is important, because not only does it give Alisha the one push that she undoubtedly deserves at this point, but its actually Sorey’s first step towards creating that world of coexistance between Seraphim and Humans that he so desires.
But that scene, is where similarities with the game come to screeching halt (for a good while). Everything that happens after Sorey and co seperate from Alisha, is the anime’s own unique take. There stuff like this whole fight that Mikleo and Sorey have in the game, certain things get moved around, and the story as a whole just changes entirely. See, Mikleo never actually goes down into the ruins with Sorey and Lilah, in the game (at least at first). But here, that happens, and because of that, we see something very different happen as a result. The big revelations that Sorey actually gets in the game, are quite different in the anime.
Instead of focusing on Lilah’s past (which actually starts to play a role in the story here), we get a more general idea of what exactly Sorey has to accomplish. The first mention of the Lord of Calamity happens this week, and what’s interesting is how different it is from the game. In the game, there’s these items that you can find, called Celestial Records, and what they do is playback a small movie-like memory of either the Lord of Calamity himself, or one of the Shepherds. This in turn, leads to the story and mythos of the world being slowly revealed over time.
The anime, however, simply has Lilah talk about whatever relevant information Sorey needs to know, at this particular juncture. In doing so, the anime actually solves an issue that the game itself had, which was basically a hamfisted reason for Lilah to stay selectively silent. There was a pretty hilarious gag that got played multiple times, but it also got fairly frustrating to deal with in the game, as it felt like a very artificial barrier that the game had erected.
But here, in the anime, I like how Lilah actually has a philosophical reason behind her silence. She wants Sorey to travel the world and find his own answers, because that’s half the job of the Shepherd. Knowledge, not ignorance, which again, is refreshing to see. Tales of Zestiria is a show with religious iconography and trappings behind it, but what it does do quite well, whether in anime or game form, is give a representation to both sides of religion itself. Religion doesn’t mean the rejection of logic, science and knowledge, and you can have faith without sacrificing those things. And its nice to see that Sorey’s big task, actually includes education himself. That’s also very much inline with what Sorey does in the game, but I will say that the concept here, is a lot more abstract and generalized. There’s a board sense of Sorey’s big challenge, which is to take down the Lord of Calamity and that’s it, there are no specifics just yet.
So Sorey’s overall mission is revealed this week, and that’s definitely the headline. The other real thing of note, however, is Alisha’s declaration that she’s going to save a village that’s being overrun with a plague. More specifically, its the political council of Lady Lake trying to send her on a suicide mission. But while it may seem like Alisha is being taken advantage of here, the big difference here, is that she’s aware of it.
Its another one of those situations were the anime is actually making Alisha look less naive. Which, again, I can’t nail down whether that’s a particularly sound choice or not. Its just different, to see Alisha actually be less of a naive character that slowly comes to realize her issues, and be someone slightly different that just pulls forward with her flaws in tow. Its certainly going to have some ramifications moving forward, because choices like this definitely will make Alicia’s character arc from the game basically moot.
Regardless of Alicia’s character arc though, her decision to investigate the village is key moment. It’ll be interesting to see, how the anime plays up this particular moment, and how Sorey will end up interacting with Alisha when it comes to this particular village.
But… Having said that, its from this point forward, that the anime moved into completely uncharted territory (for me). See, while Alisha is debating her situation with the council, Sorey, Lilah and Mikleo actually stumble upon some ruins that seem to be the source of a very strong kind of malevolence that’s engulfing the area.
Its here that Sorey actually finds out about his big mission, and he also finds some dead bodies that seem to have some kind of relation to a royal family scandal. After Sorey and his two companions find out about the Lord of Calamity and the bodies in the ruins, however, a storm starts to descend upon the entirety of Lady Lake. Now… This is key, because not only are the dead bodies a new thing entirely, but so is the storm.
There’s no storm in the game, and there’s definitely not some kind of big typhoon that’s possibly housing a dragon inside it. And its interesting, because there is a mention of the existence of Dragons and what their existence actually means in the world of Zestiria, in the episode itself this week. Dragons are pretty much what Mikleo outlines them as – The harbingers of Calamity and the worst state that can result from Malevolence. And here again, we have something that’s taken directly from the game, but happening much earlier than it did in said game. And I know I keep repeating this, but this particular change, again, has huge ramifications for the introductions of two major characters, later down the line.
And while we’re on the topic of changes, the whole moment of Sorey taking on a bunch of Hellions in the ruins themselves, was a pretty sweet mix of old and new. The music from the game playing in the background, coupled with some really gorgeous animation, made for a truly riveting and fan pleasing fight scene that had elements from the game, but was more in line with the anime’s depiction of Hellions.
The anime only has Sorey and co fight one opponent in the ruins, but it does go as far as to include Lilah’s “special attack” in the battle, which serves great fanservice. And then the jaw dropping escape from the crumbling ruins? Oh Boy, does this show just pack in amazing visual moment after moment, every darn week.
The degree of scale, the environmental effects, the animation, everything is so… Impressive. Its like ufotable almost has an unlimited budget for this show, and they have finally been told to go crazy. I just have no idea how they continue to make these movie quality animation scenes, that just take the breath away. I’m not sure how they’re doing it but… I definitely don’t want them to stop. I just hope to God they can keep this up for the full length of the series, because there’s a lot of areas and locations in the game, that I can’t wait to see come to life with the anime’s impressive presentation.
As to how we’ll actually get to those specific locations in this story? Well… That brings us to the big moment at the end of the episode this week, the preview. I don’t generally comment on previews so much anymore, but this week’s mentioned something really noteworthy.
It turns out that Sorey and co will be going on a “break” next week, which is puzzling, to say the least. Is this anime series actually going to simply jump right into Berseria territory next week? As a fan of the games, and one that’s looking forward to playing that particular game itself, It does worry me a little bit. See, while we’re still waiting for Tales of Berseria in the west, Japan has already gotten that particular game, and so it wouldn’t be entirely strange to see elements from that story get adapted in here. For myself, I hope the anime isn’t going to do that, and potentially spoil a game that I’m really looking forward to playing.
There is another scenario, of course, which actually takes the title of the next episode – “Begining of the Calamity”, into account. The next episode could simply be the anime actually covering the entire history of the Lord of Calamity and the Shepherds, in one fell swoop. That, would certainly be interesting, because the game actually spends the bulk of its time slowly revealing bomb shell after bomb shell, and I don’t even have to spell out how monumental of a chance THAT would be. I suppose we’ll have to find out for ourselves, next week.
And whatever the case may be, Its safe to say that Tales of Zestiria the X is,if nothing else, turning out to be something entirely unexpected. When I went into this show, all I wanted was a series that would faithfully adapt one of my favorite games. Now… Whatever it is that Tales of Zestiria the X is doing, I really am beyond curious to see play out. There’s a sense of mystery and an urge for discovery, that I think even the original game only had in spades.
And I think that’s the real important thing here. Tales of Zestiria the X is in a really unpredictable place now (for all audiences that are watching it). No one really knows where it going, and with that, its an entirely unique experience for oldies and newcomers to the franchise. Maybe… Just maybe, we might actually be on the precipice of ufotable pulling off a new kind of approach for game and RPG adaptations. An approach that goes in a completely wild and and unseen direction. Now wouldn’t that be something.
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