I have to give credit where credit is due: the anime’s handling of the “war” between Hyland and Rolance feels much more fluid and serious than the game’s handling of it. I’m sure this is partially due to the fact that, in the game, the story is basically progressed by the player, so in-between cutscenes you can either fight as much or as little as you want before jetting off to the next major plot point; but, in any case, the anime’s approach definitely gives a strong sense of how visceral the battlefield is, and the new additions to Sorey’s Shepherd powers add a new dimension to the story, as well. On Alisha’s side, I believe the anime adaptation gave her much more courage in how she went about things. The whole encounter between Alisha/Rose and General Landon’s forces is especially tense, and the conclusion of that fight is certainly a new take (although not entirely unexpected, given some of the dialogue leading up to this point). Dezel’s pseudo-introduction was also pretty epic.
If I had to criticize this episode, I would say that the onset of this war still comes out of nowhere, much like in the game, although we did know that Alisha was butting heads with some of the other people in power previously, so it’s at least not totally unexpected. I would also question whether this incident qualifies as a “war,” since there has only been one battle so far and, if the anime follows the game, that’s all that there will be. I suppose that’s a bit nitpicky, but one of my criticisms of the game is how the story failed to flow at points. The anime has mostly fixed this issue, but some incidents could have still used a bit of polish. Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see if the anime is bold enough to take a different approach with Alisha’s fate, and seeing the Lord of Calamity’s introduction in the next episode is exciting enough, if only to see how he will be handled compared to the game.
A Christian Perspective:
The most obvious Christian parallel I can think of in this episode is the subject of spiritual warfare. As the battle rages on and the death toll rises, we are shown shadowy specters floating above the battle field, courtesy of Sorey’s eyes. While he and the Seraphim can see them, the existence of these beings is completely unknown to the soldiers below. It is unclear whether the specters are also driving the soldiers’ bloodlust, but we do know that the violence and killing are causing the malevolence.
Regardless, the point I want to make still stands: there is another dimension to life that we aren’t always aware of, and very few of us ever see. I don’t think it’s unfair to say that the majority of Christians probably go their entire lives without actually seeing into the spiritual realm (and some will argue that this is impossible, while others will argue that it is a spiritual gift; I’m not here to get into that). It becomes easy to be complacent about that which we cannot see, and that is what our enemy, the devil, wants. If we become complacent, we become easy targets, because we let our guards down.
Ephesians 6:12 states “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Similarly, the battle in Tales of Zestiria seems to be spawning (and as a result, perhaps further fueled by) spiritual beings, though the soldiers only see the enemy forces in front of them. We must be on our guard at all times so that we are prepared for the foes that present themselves to our naked eye, as well as those that will present themselves in the unseen realm. We must “Put on the full armor of God, so that you [we] can take your [our] stand against the devil’s schemes.” (Ephesians 6:11)
Spiritual Content: Ghostly specters hover over the battlefield
Alcohol/Drug Use: A man holds a glass of wine; several Rolance men are shown holding glasses of wine; Rose takes a glass of wine from a servant
Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Shiller makes a comment about Ian’s breasts, prompting Ian to grab her own breasts (clothed, no nudity)
Violence: Soldiers are shown crossing swords; scenes of further sword fighting, arrows raining down, catapults launching burning pitch, and explosions; Alisha and Rose fight off soldiers
Blood/Gore: A soldier is stabbed with a sword, and blood splatter follows; further scenes of blood splatters as soldiers are injured and killed on the battlefield; the soldiers that Alisha and Rose fight bleed
The Bottom Line