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.
I thought that without having the intro song taking any seconds away from the episode, we were bound for a super 21 and something minutes. This Tales of Zestiria episode was a slow but powerful crescendo: it started with some uninteresting scenes, continued with a few necessary explanations, and ended with some powerful messages.
Japanese Title: アリーシャ・ディフダ
The name of the title may allure to what the episode is about, but it may not be as clear cut as you may think. Alisha Diphda is not just a name, it’s an ideal. Too bad we only got to realize that by the end of the episode.
Marlind is on the path of cleansing. Mikleo and Sorey are helping purify the water and the people are slowly but surely getting rid of malevolence. I wasn’t surprised to learn that the dragon was actually the Seraph of Marlind. We already knew that Seraphs could become dragons, and we also knew that any kind of creature can be tainted by malevolence. Thus, the first half of the episode was a little boring. Except for the beautiful animation, there was nothing important to note. Rose comes in town, Alisha learns that the snakes in her council are taking Ladylake to war with Rolance, Sorey is not yet fully aware what it means to purify a creature. In the meantime the help the villagers, eat food, and say a few uninteresting trivia about Normin Seraphs. I wish the spent the time a little better, since we are one episode from the last. Maybe that was exactly the reason they dragged the episode so much, but they could have included a longer battle instead of more peaceful, city-in-the-village scenes.
The second part though was awesome. I know a few people who would disagree with me, but I believe that Sorey’s realization of what it means to purify and Alisha’s speech to Rose were probably the best written parts of the whole series. There is a literal meaning to the title ‘Shepherd’ as it seems, since Sorey must take the malevolence of turned humans in him when he purifies them. He is something like a savior, a herd protector, a burden carrier. Alisha, on the other hand, is a true leader. She sticks true to her ideals and she is prepared to fight and die for them. She is a champion of peace, and no matter how hard Rose tries to convince her otherwise, it is Alisha’s intent to sacrifice herself that turns Rose to her side. The scene may have needed a few minutes more to properly unfold, though.
Graveyard Scene: From the moment the graveyard scene starts, so does the best part of the episode. Sorey starts to realize what it really means to be a Shepherd. It’s not about the fame and the simple tasks of helping rebuild and purify the water. Sorey is a guide, a lonely savior that will have to carry the burden of the tainted on his shoulders if he wishes not to taint anyone else. He is a vessel to carry the people’s hatred. And that’s exactly what the scene is all about. The colors and the animation were amazing, as were the back and forths between Sorey’s scenes and Alisha’s attack by the assassins. The music fit the scenes perfectly and the voice acting made me believe of the truthfulness of their words.
Regardless of who is responsible for the conflict, people whose loved ones die fall into despair. And despair turns into hatred
Remedying Nature: After purifying the water, Mikleo tells Sorey that it might take a year to complete the process. I wonder how many centuries would it take for us to purify our planet from all the ‘malevolence’ we have tainted it with. The problem with human nature is that we can’t readily take a task that will not be completed in our lifetime. We live for the results and we hesitate to selflessly do something for others, even if it’s for our children. Maybe at some point, when the earth is in such a state that someone must do something about it, it won’t be too late. I hope it won’t be too late.
Creating a new environment is a big task
Of course there isn’t enough time to finish the plot. The anime was not meant to be a full story. It was meant to be an introduction, a prelude to the game. And what a beautiful prelude it is. The backgrounds are wonderful, from drawings to color. The details, like the carriage wheels and the stone walls are meticulously created, and even the character expressions are in depth.
It’s certainly not a masterpiece, but visually it’s better than the majority if the anime aired this season.
I believe that ufotable will go full throttle in the last episode. It’s a rare opportunity to spend the rest of the budget in the awesome 3d scenes the studio is known for, and in an epic battle that will sell the game like peanuts. Not that the Tales of series is not worth it, but every bit helps, I guess.
NEXT TIME: War (戦争)
Official Site http://toz-thex-anime.tales-ch.jp/en/