Thanasis is a writer, professional geek, and assistant editor at MANGA.TOKYO. He started watching anime with the mecha shows of the 70s and hasn't stopped since. He loves JRPGs.
It beats me why Funimation would choose to change a perfectly good English title to something entirely different, but in the end it doesn’t really matter. Episode 15 of Tales of Zestiria the X is about principles, philosophies, and how differently we see the world through our own personal moral lens.
Japanese Title: それぞれの哲学 Each One`s Principles
It’s amazing how an episode can have tons of things happening, but none of them helping the story go forward. After 24 minutes of inconsequential events, the only things I deemed of importance had nothing to do with the main plot (that is Sorey and his quest [?] as the Shepherd) but instead focused on a side story that may or may not have anything to do with our protagonists. But let’s take it from the beginning.
Evident of the director’s confusion as to which scenes are important and which are not, Sergei is ready to fight Gouldman as the latter draws his sword and the former wants to protect Sorey and the Seraphs as they go to stop Dezel. ‘Awesome’, I thought, ‘that would be a great battle. Two knights, one fighting for the church while the other protects the crown. Great allegory and a chance to see some philosophical back and forths.’ I am sure I was not the only one disappointed when the battle didn’t happen. The reason we missed the battle was the fight of the Seraphs. Indeed, a very impressive scene and indicative of what ufotable is able to do with CGI. And there I was thinking ‘Ah, here we will see “each one’s principles”. Instead we just marveled at the flying fireballs and rocks and ice lances as the fight ends just because Rose said so. I don’t want to go on with my bitching about the plot, so I will fast forward to the interesting bits: each one’s principles. While not directly affecting the plot, our main characters briefly explored the reasons behind their individual morality and they ‘why’s’ that drive them forward. I always like it when shows get philosophical, and I’m very happy that Tales of Zestiria managed to bring some depth, but the truth is that these ‘principles’ would have been as important in any context, and they were not delivered because of the plot. A shame, but still, we have to get what we can out of it.
Rose and Dezel: After a short flashback about about Rose’s guardian and benefactor, Brad (a welcome but rushed backstory) the duo stays firm to sticking to doing things their own way. Not really a revelation from the Seraph that almost torn apart the Cathedral to bring retribution to the sinners and the girl who was raised as a killer and can kill in cold blood those she deems guilty.
Forget unreachable ideals. Get justice that’s within sight
Sorey: Sorey, as the good and honest Shepherd he is, remains true to his cause, even if he doesn’t really know what cause that is. Probably has to do something with that antagonist we haven’t seen in ages, or helping people, or something else similarly vague. Whatever it is though was enhanced by the most interesting character of the last episodes, Mayvic the storyteller. ‘It may seem contradictory,’ he says, ‘but rather than principles, reasons, and enlightenment, the most precious thing is to stay true to yourself.’ Well said, Mayvic. When a man stays true to himself then he also stays true to his ideals.
What is right is right. What you love, you love. What tastes good, tastes good.
Thus, Sorey, who in the previous scene was struggling with his inability to stop war and bring peace to the whole world, finally realizes that he has to do what he can where he is what the friends he has by his side. And stay true to himself while doing it.
Alisha: I missed Alisha. In this desert of boring dialogues and slow pacing, she was a much-needed oasis. Although a little rushed (which slowly becomes the norm in the series – rushing things and plotlines in a few scenes) we learn that Ladylake’s civil war is at a very critical point: Alisha will storm the capital and take back control of her country by force. At last, a struggle that makes sense, has great stakes, and a clear antagonist! After a parade of unnecessary characters doing unnecessary chivalric actions, we learn that Alisha’s ideals are connected with Sorey and his wish to become strong enough to help those in need.
I always thought that my ideals were in line with truth and justice
But if her ideals were the cause of all this suffering, then maybe she had focused on the wrong thing. Perhaps if she attended to the well-fare of her people, her actions would then indirectly align with her ideals of truth and justice.
Dezel Fight: I have to admit that the fight was short and amazing. The elements banged and roared as the Seraphs fought, and I wished that they could have spent another minute or two on the fight. Lailah was ready to burn the whole place down with that gigantic fireball.
Knight Fight: On the other hand, you had the down-to-earth fight of the Ladylake knights, which was amazing as well. I missed some quality action scenes from a show that should have had an abundance of them.
I really don’t have anything else to add in this section except that I sincerely hope that the themes I explored in the Plot section will be of importance in future events. We are still in the third episode of the second cour and there is still room for improvement, but for a show that continues numbering its episodes as though they are a direct continuation of the last season, things are going a bit boring.
It’s amazing how a shallow plot can highlight an event that could have been easily overshadowed by the main storyline. In absence of a real purpose behind Sorey’s journey, Alisha’s quest to take back Ladylake becomes the focus of the narrative, even if the writers had no such intention. The premise was rushed and delivered in a few scenes, but even as such it’s much more interesting than Sorey’s stroll through the park.
Battles. BATTLES. What is wrong with this show? Has ufotable spent all their budget for the (truly amazing) Seraph CGI and they can’t afford a battle like the one we saw in the last scenes during Alisha’s ambush? Forget the magic. I don’t want to see dragons any more. Even the dialogues are not my main concern now that the writers have proved that they are probably unable to bring a tight dialogue with flow. But, please, at least bring some battles!
Did you like Episode 15 of Tales of Zestiria the X? Let me know in the comments below, and don’t forget to check the rest of our episodic anime reviews for Winter 2017!
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