Series Review – Tales of Zestiria: The X

Written by Bananaowns

Images courtesy of Ufotable

I am a big fan of the Tales series of video games.  Admittedly, I’ve only been able to complete two of the games: Tales of Symphonia and Tales of Vesperia.  Tales of Symphonia is one of the seminal games of my childhood and I have a lot of love for the series because of this one game.  The animation powerhouse Ufotable brings an adaptation of what many consider to be the worst Tales game in terms of plot.  Ufotable did make some major story changes, but was it enough to save the plot?  I’m Bananaowns and this is an Otaku Youth anime review.

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Story and Characters

This series features a rather generic setting.  In the past, a savior known as the Shepherd rose up and battled the malevolence of the world.  The Shepherd was assisted by spiritual beings known as the Seraphim.  In the current era, humanity is unable to see seraphim and the local empire is pushed to the brink by mysterious dark forces.  In the current time, a young boy named Sorey has grown up among the Seraphim.  He embarks on an adventure to the capital and ends up pulling a holy sword embedded in a rock, making him the new Shepherd.  Sorey then travels the land with his party in order to stop the calamity of the world.

The story is rather generic, but it was much worse in the game.  Based on the reactions of those that have played the game, the changes to the story are much more effective and make it stronger overall.  Despite the generic setting, the story actually managed to captivate me.  This was mostly due to the interesting cast of characters.  The main protagonist, Sorey, is the typical naïve hero, but this soon changes.  He never loses his mission goal, but undergoes a character arc in which he realizes just how serious his role as the Shepherd is.  The standout character is Princess Alisha though.  This was the largest point of contention with the original game as the game pretty much tossed aside this fan favorite character.  She carries the stereotypical princess role in that she’s very caring for her subjects, but she goes much farther than that.  Alisha is willing to lay down her life in order to save her kingdom.  To top it off, she is far from a helpless character.  In fact, she is pretty badass with her display of martial arts prowess and her use of a lance.

There is one issue with the story though.  A new Tales game was being promoted with this series, so there is a two episode break that details the events that set up the new game.  It’s not completely out of left field as there are tie-ins as these two episodes take place well before the events of the main story.  In fact, these two episodes are actually pretty interesting and showcase the same level of quality as the rest of the series.  It was not great to have a two week break in the Zestiria storyline just as things were really beginning to pick up.  It’s not bad, it’s just weird.

The anime does have a continuation that will probably be airing by the time this review comes out.  Therefore, I won’t comment on the story much longer.  Just note, that despite the generic plot, the story is entertaining with a strong cast of characters.

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Animation and Sound

This is an Ufotable project and by this point, I’ve said so much in past reviews about their production quality.  The animation of this show is gorgeous and the show is worth a watch just to view this amazing animation.  The first episode has a catastrophic event involving a tornado and the animation seamlessly combines the 3d and 2d elements.  Every action scene is a work of art.  The particle effects combined with the choreography make a truly impressive display of animation.  The backgrounds are similarly phenomenal.  By this point, it’s Ufotable and that means the animation is going to be amazing.

The weakest aspect of this series so far involves the music.  It’s nothing bad, but it is rather generic.  It just sounds like the typical fantasy music that would be present in a video game.  The saving grace of the music is the opening though.  As for the voice acting, it’s pretty good.  Sorey carries a level of optimism, Alisha has the caring tone down, and Edna has the perfect cold element to her voice.  Nothing bad here, it’s just that there really isn’t anything that stands out.

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Final Thoughts

This series has a generic, but interesting story.  It has some of the best animation of the year, but does not really impress in the sound category.  I give Tales of Zestiria: The X a simple Watch Rating.  Now that the plot setup is out of the way, I am curious to see what the next slew of episodes brings.  Like always, thanks for checking this piece out and come back next week for another review.

Watch Rating

 

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