Tales of Zestiria the X is finally finished after a five-week delay on the last episode, “The Legend.” The series was split into two parts with a season break in between. You can read my thoughts on the first part here, where my overall opinion of the beginning was one of dissatisfaction; the work felt disjointed in plot and flow. I still enjoyed the world and its idea of humans, seraphim, and Malevolence, but wish certain areas were expanded upon, cut, or rearranged. The second season of Zestiria the X improved upon the weaknesses of the first and I finally felt invested in the actions of Sorey, Alisha, and Rose.
Whereas the first season included a promotional arc for the newly launched title Tales of Berseria, which takes place in the same world as Zestiria, this second season focused on the main timeline. The story picks up with Rose’s history and present role in the Sparrowfeathers. She was introduced in the previous season, when most of the focus was on Sorey and Alisha. The switch to Rose feels natural given Alisha’s dueling responsibilities as both squire and royal heir.
Instead of completely replacing Alisha with Rose as Sorey’s squire as executed by the game, the show sets the two girls up as equals. Both of them assist Sorey through to the end, and they are shown to keep their friendly relationship in the ending credits. The anime’s decision to continue Alisha’s involvement greatly improves the story and character development.
As much as I approved of the more focused direction, I was annoyed as anybody at the announcement (link) of the final episode’s delay. The couple of weeks surrounding the end of one season and the start of another are always hectic for reviewers, since we have double the load to follow. I typically try at least one episode from as many shows as possible, and while many of them get dropped in the process, I still feel the need to give everything a fair chance. This means closure of the previous season so I can turn and pay attention to the new. Almost five weeks of new faces and stories is a lot to ask from your audience.
So was the last episode worth the wait? Yes, and no. No, because the final battle was nowhere near as climatic as I expected. Although no real reason was provided for the episode’s delay, I expected it had something to do with the possible stress of increased action for the fight with the Lord of Calamity. The fight was over in about eleven minutes. That’s not exactly the kind of final boss confrontation I anticipated.
The rest of the episode was spent on an epilogue–this brings us to the satisfying portion of the series. It was admittedly great to see the result of our characters’ fight against Malevolence. Alisha’s journey in particular was fraught with political unrest and possible war. Seeing her walk out as Queen felt right after everything she did to maintain peace. If she had been cut out of the story midway through like in the game, this ending would not have felt as suitable, nor emotional.
Among other Tales works brought to anime, Zestiria the X stands at the top with its writing and art. The Vesperia movie was fun as background to the game, but too short to feel complete on its own. The Symphonia four-part OVA completely bored me. Like with Zestiria, I watched it before playing the game, so perhaps a re-watch (there are also two sequels to the first I have yet to try) is in order to re-evaluate.
If you are a fan of the Tales of games, then I recommend watching this anime whether or not you have played its namesake. There are plenty of franchise constants that are fun to point out, like the end-of-episode skits. You might even be persuaded to give the game a chance.
As a work on its own, the show does not stand out among other fantasies. With current series like Rage of Bahamut and even light-novel adaptations like Zero no Syo, there are plenty of others in the genre that do a better job of characterization and storytelling. They don’t have the need to cover a story that in gameplay would require many more hours than allowed. Zestiria pegs in at an average of 30 to 40 hours to finish, not including side content. The anime, including both seasons, can be finished in a little under 11 hours.
I do now want to play the game, despite my earlier avoidance of it. I initially thought I’d jump straight to Berseria. The time I spent with Sorey has me wanting to experience the battle system myself–how do the seraph and squires work with a second player? Will my husband lose control if I have to armatize with his character? I’ll just have to find out for myself, after first finishing Xillia 2 and playing Abyss and Symphonia: Dawn of the New World.
A PS4 would be nice, too…
Rating: 0 dango
- 0 dango – average and forgettable.
- 1 dango – very good in its category.
- 2 dango – excellent show that is worth a try.
- 3 dango – exceptional show one must watch.