When the anime production team sat around the meeting table to find a title for Episode 14 of Tales of Zestiria the X, they must have surely asked each other, ‘What is the main theme of the episode?’ After finding none, they must have settled for naming the episode after its most impressive scene, which featured Dezel, the Wind Seraph. I wouldn’t have had any problem with that, if only that scene wasn’t just 30 seconds of the episode’s 24-minute run.
Japanese Title: 風の天族デゼル Wind Seraph, Dezel
I’m at a loss for words. Nothing of importance happened in this episode, and even the person whose name gives the title of this episode, Dezel, only appeared in the last minutes to wreak havoc upon Rolance and set the story for Episode 15. It seems that the anime shares the game’s hectic storyline and confusing story (which is understandable since it’s the source material) but I was hoping that the writers would have remedied some of the game’s flaws. Yet, I have promised myself that I would see the anime as a separate entity that could stand on its own.
The first scene hinted that a suspicious Sorey would question Rose about her actions, especially after the love-stricken general wasted 1/3 of the episode flirting with Rose and asking unnecessary questions just to provide Sorey with the information he needed (that the Bishop is missing) to prove his suspicions. After 24 minutes, that confrontation never came.
In this age of calamity, perhaps he really can save the world
Instead, we were treated to needless dialogues and random bits of information that served no immediate purpose. The breakfast scene? No. The ‘meet Guren’s wife’ scene? No. The ‘knights protecting the underground passage scene’? No. I could go on for another paragraph or two, but I’m sure that you felt the same boredom I did.
Gouldman could have been a great adversary, if only he could have said something more than just ‘This must not go public,’ and ‘What are you doing here, Sergei?’
All the roads led to the sanctuary and the battle with Guren. We didn’t need a whole episode to prepare the ground.
Opening and Ending Theme: The opening theme, Illuminate, is not as epic as Kaze no Uta, but it is epic enough to get me excited for the episode. After a mediocre episode, Innosense by FLOW made me feel better and reinstated my faith in the anime. It was as if the tune was saying, ‘Don’t worry, next time it’s going to be better.’
Laila’s Fire: This may sound a bit silly, but I was excited by the scene. It reminded me of countless Dungeons & Dragons seasons when someone had to cast light so we could ‘see’ in the dark dungeon. You don’t mess with nostalgia.
Purify: The second best scene in the episode after the last, and that says a lot. Nevertheless, the few seconds that the purification lasted were well animated and the direction made for a very interesting scene. Too bad it wasn’t a battle.
Dezel, the Wind Seraph: In the most impressive scene of this episode, Dezel demonstrates his wind powers as he goes out to do Rose’s bidding and kill all the nasty people of the Church who rob the people for their own benefit. Something like a darker and considerably more powerful Robin Hood.
Themes & Trivia
Pendrago: It’s evident that Rolance is based on a medieval knight-like theme. Its source of inspiration become more evident when we learn the name of its capital, Pendrago. The name is a direct reference to the surname of possibly the most famous knight in English folklore, King Arthur Pendragon.
I found it very difficult to talk about an episode where nothing happened. Episode 14 was reduced to nothing more than a showcase of the production’s amazing animation skills, and that’s exactly why I want to be just: Episode 14 of Tales of the Zestiria the X was beautiful. Ufotable’s animation is wonderful, and everything from the facial expressions of the characters to the lighting effects and water texture were wonderfully drawn and rendered. Dezel’s wind powers were impressive and the episode was full of little drawing details that were pleasing to my eye, like that hand-drawn frame of Guren and his wife. The opening and ending tunes really give the anime an epic tone, and the in-episode sound effects and background music are well-placed.
This writer, however, is unimpressed by technical prowess if it’s not accompanied by enticing storytelling. Maybe that’s why I’m equally unimpressed by modern art and every kind of art that isn’t supported by a narrative, but this episode of Tales of Zestiria was exactly that: deprived of any meaningful narrative.
The Story of the Shepherd
I’m hardly disappointed by the episode. It was the result of the hard work of many people and I respect that. But if my opinion has any value and as someone who expects to get something out of this experience, I want to say that I expect more story and less glitter in future episodes. And a battle wouldn’t hurt. This is based on a Jrpg for god’s sake; it’s supposed to have tons of battles.