Review: Tales of Zestiria the X, Episode 4: The Shepherd’s Destiny

Screenshot taken from: http://www.funimation.com/shows/tales-of-zestiria-the-x/videos/official/the-shepherds-destiny?watch=sub

Screenshot taken from: http://www.funimation.com/shows/tales-of-zestiria-the-x/videos/official/the-shepherds-destiny?watch=sub

Review:

The story in this episode seems to deviate from the game during its latter portion. While the first half seems to stay pretty faithful to the source material (Sorey wakes up in the inn and then proceeds to visit Alisha, where she is able to communicate with the Seraphim using Sorey as a conduit), the first foray into the Subterranean Aqueduct is replaced with Sorey, Lailah, and Mikleo discovering some ruins within Ladylake, which ultimately appear to be a dumping ground for those killed in secret by the ruling powers. The episode’s ending, which features the reappearance of the giant storm from episode 0, is another new addition not found in the game (in fact, I don’t recall the giant storm being in the game at all, although there is something similar when the Lord of Calamity appears).
That said, certain deviations are to be expected. While playing the game, you are essentially moving from cutscene to cutscene for the plot, with bits of exposition and banter among the characters being thrown in during your travels. It works in the game setting because there are plenty of other things to do in-between the story progression, such as leveling up or improving your weapons. For an anime adaptation, though, there has to be something to connect the plot points together, and watching the cast run across large fields (or through labyrinthine dungeons) for extended periods of time doesn’t work well in anime form.
That said, it does seem that there will be changes to the plot itself (or at least in how it unfolds), as opposed to just having original content to connect the major points. On the one hand, this kind of hurts the concept of the anime as an adaptation, since deviations from the source material don’t exactly fit the definition; on the other hand, it does help to make the anime more entertaining for those who have played the game, as we can’t simply bank on our game knowledge to know what happens next.
Accolades must be given to the battle scenes in this episode. Though only contributing to a minor portion of the episode, the fight scenes themselves are intense and do a great job of showcasing the characters’ fighting styles within a “live battle,” versus the combat system of the game. The inclusion of the in-game battle music is a nice touch and keeps in line with the anime’s history of using the game’s BGM at the appropriate points. My only point of confusion is that, in the anime, Mikleo seems to be capable of defeating hellions, which I don’t believe was possible until a certain point in the game (no spoilers from this writer!). At this point, it’s not like the writers haven’t made other changes, so it’s not exactly surprising, although it does sort of diminish the importance of the Shepherd if Mikleo is already capable of killing hellions. Time will tell, I suppose.

A Christian Perspective:

Alisha suffers from something that a lot of people (even Christians) suffer from in the real world: spiritual disconnection. Okay, so that’s my own term for it. I’m sure you’ll find some kind of “official” Christian term out there, but I’m too lazy to Google it, so I’m using my own terminology. (Hey, at least I’m honest.)
Anyway, we discover in this episode that, although Alisha has a certain sensitivity to the Seraphim, she is ultimately incapable of hearing or communicating with them unless she has a conduit (in this case, Sorey). In the same way, many people in our world—Christians included—are incapable of hearing God’s voice and receiving direction from Him. Regardless of what you believe about this subject (whether you believe that God still directly communicates with people, only does so through His Word, or somewhere in between), I believe many Christians, if they are honest with themselves, will say that they aren’t really sure what God wants from them, personally, and that they don’t hear His voice or feel His hand guiding them. Perhaps it is a form of spiritual apathy, doubt, or something else that blocks our ability to hear His voice, but in this situation we can certainly relate to Alisha.
A more positive spin would be to look at this situation in light of 1 Timothy 2:5 (For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus). I previously established that Sorey is a Christ figure in this story, so applying this verse to the situation would further the comparison, as it makes Sorey a mediator between Alisha (a human/part of mankind) and the spiritual forces of their world (Seraphim, which are the closest thing to gods that their world seems to have). Previously, Alisha had no access to the Seraphim but now, through Sorey, she has access to them.

Content Guide:

Language: None
Alcohol/Drug Use: None
Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: None
Violence: Sorey, Mikleo, and Lailah do battle with hellions
Blood/Gore: None
Other: Lailah and Mikleo use magic artes; Lailah fights with talismans

The Bottom Line

 

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Rob M.

Christian, anime fan, and gamer are a few words you could use to describe me. I've been a Christian since 2012 (and thought I was one prior to that), although I'm far from having the Christian walk down pat. At one point I started thinking about how I could use various things for Christ, and eventually put my thoughts to action, resulting in Cosplay for Christ (my attempt at a cosplay ministry) and Christian Anime Review (my review blog). As you can imagine, I enjoy playing games, watching anime, and going to anime conventions. I also like to build Gundam models, fiddle with the guitar (occasionally), and listen to music (mostly Christian rock and metal).

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