Normally I would start my reviews with a summary of the episode; however, I’m going to try to move away from that. We’ll see how it goes. Anyway, here we have the first installment of the Tales of Zestiria anime adaptation, dubbed Tales of Zestiria the X. What does “the X” mean? I don’t know. Maybe it’s answered somewhere out in the infosphere, but I didn’t go looking. In any event, the first thing you’ll notice about this episode is that it contains content that is completely original from the game. The entire episode follows Alisha, a princess of the Hyland kingdom, as she and a few companions search for one of her subordinates that she had sent out to do some investigating. A little flashback section reveals that she was butting heads with some of the nobility who wanted to conscript civilians into military service during a festival, which Alicia adamantly opposed; the flashback also reveals some discoveries and concerns that are arising throughout the kingdom. This little bit of backstory helps to flesh out Alisha’s character and gives those who haven’t played the game an immediate clue into Alisha’s clash with the nobility.
Admittedly, the story is a bit confusing, even for someone who has played the game, because all of the material is new! I’m not sure how this will tie into the story of Tales of Zestiria, but from what I’ve seen elsewhere, the anime is supposed to answer questions that were left unanswered by the game. There were certainly terms mentioned that I don’t remember (ley lines, specifically), and the whole concept of the giant mist is new from what I can recall. Those who have played the game will recognize certain faces that pop up in this introductory episode.
Artistically, the show is beautiful. The moments where CG is used are fairly obvious, but the scenes themselves are still well done, so the use of CG doesn’t come off as cheesy or cheap. Those who have played the game will recognize the use of the game’s BGM during certain scenes, and the layout of Hyland is faithful to its in-game counterpart. In that respect, the show manages to throw some fanservice (the good kind) to the gamers while also being inclusive of those who are just now being exposed to the world of Zestiria. I suspect those of us who played the game are also in for some new treats, as the intro (which is played at the end of this episode, in the tradition of many first anime episodes) shows a few scenes of Velvet, the protagonist of the upcoming Tales of Bersaria, which is said to take place in the same world as Zestiria. How she will be incorporated and how much of a role she will play should be interesting to see, as giving her too big a role would disrupt the established story, I would think.
One of the biggest criticisms I had of the game (you can read my review here) was how certain characters were handled. Specific to this episode is the character of Symonne, who is not introduced until late in the game (though she makes a few shadowy appearances earlier on), making her role feel more shoe-horned than anything. While her appearance here doesn’t necessarily mean that she will play a larger role in the anime, it is at least nice to see her make an appearance early on so that viewers can immediately identify her as an enemy, if nothing more. Overall, Zestiria was not my favorite Tales game out of the ones I’ve played, but I still enjoyed it well enough, and so far the anime has my interest, even though I know the crux of the story. The new content in this episode, as well as Velvet’s appearance in the intro, make me think that I (and my fellow gamers) will still be in for a few surprises. Tales of Zestiria the X can be watched either at Daisuki.net or via Funimation Now. This review and all subsequent reviews will be using Funimation Now, as I have a subscription to the service, which means I get to see the episodes as soon as they are released.
Keeping in mind the fact that I have a good grasp of Alisha’s character from playing the game, I will point you to her adamant refusal to conscript unsuspecting citizens into military service in this episode. As you will come to find out (and may have begun to suspect), Alisha holds what could be called a very righteous attitude. She doesn’t deal in deception and underhanded schemes, which puts her at odds with the nobility. Instead, she conducts herself with honor, making it a point to care for the citizens of Hyland, as well as her own subordinates (again, as we see in this episode).
This demeanor is reminiscent of what Christians should strive for: rather than doing things deceitfully as the world does (in this case, tricking people into bolstering the military forces), we should do things honestly and with integrity, as Alisha does. As you will come to learn, Alisha’s attitude doesn’t earn her many friends among the powerful nobles, but it does cause her to be loved by those under her (as we see with her subordinates in this episode). Similarly, we can expect that the world won’t love us when we refuse to do things their way, and we may not even gain the love of those underneath us (those who hate the light will hate the light), but if we stand for what is right then we may gain the love and, more importantly, the salvation of those who have been wronged by this world and its systems. Not that we ourselves gain their salvation, but our conduct may be the path that leads them to knowing Christ and His saving grace.
Alcohol/Drug Use: None
Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Maltran’s top shows cleavage; Velvet’s outfit in the intro (outro in this episode) shows cleavage; Symonne wears a rather skimpy outfit, although you don’t see anything inappropriate
Violence: A band of assassins attack Alisha and her group; two beings battle with what appears to be magic; characters are sucked into a giant whirlwind
Other: Characters appear to use magic
The Bottom Line