If Tales of Zestiria the X continues delivering one disappointing episode after the other, Rose is not going to be the only one seeking revenge. I am going to assemble my own assassins’ guild and seek out the people who are responsible for this mediocrity.
I am joking, of course, and since I’m always all in for subjectivity, in my subjective opinion this was just another episode that confirmed that the series has lost its way.
Japanese Title: 復讐 Revenge
Rose is the undeniable protagonist of the second season thus far. Sorey has stepped back a bit and forgot his Shepherd duties (and the fact that dragons exist, and Malevolence is around the corner, and that there is an antagonist we know nothing about) so we could spend an hour of anime screen time on pointless dialogue and shallow philosophies. The most disturbing fact is that there we will have more episodes focusing on Rose.
In another failed attempt to construct a tight narrative, Tales of Zestiria gives us a bit of background information on Rose amidst a repetition of plot points we already knew about. The way Prince Konan is introduced, in a hurry and without a scene that could purposefully establish him as the antagonist, failed to give him a place in the story. The ‘he is a drug dealer who betrayed his betrothed’ could have worked if only we had a reason to care about Brad or the guild or even Rose herself. I couldn’t feel her pain, or empathize with her situation. Her struggle was drowned in bad scene directing and awful writing.
The silliness of the whole plot was evident in Sorey’s realization that Rose is an assassin and his determination to stop her. His character was never before so shallow and so unexpressive. I am curious to see if there will be any improvement after the focus shifts from Rose and we return to old good malevolence.
Preview: This is what this episode forced me to do: Include the after-credits preview in the highlights. Usually, the preview is nothing but a silly exchange between the characters in a video game-like format that has nothing to do with the actual episode. This time we had Mikleo showcasing his cooking skills. It was stupid, but it was also much more interesting than most of the episode.
Vital Point: Rose, the highly experienced assassin who has killed numerous people, hit the prince with her knife in a vital point that 99.9% of the time means certain death. But no, the prince just had to endure the hit and survive long enough to have a ‘do you remember me’ talk and a cliffhanger where we are left wondering if Sorey will manage to stop her from committing murder. Not that it matters to Sorey that ‘murder’ is what an assassin does, and that Rose has done it numerous times in the past. This time she won’t, because the Shepherd is here.
Themes & Trivia
The main theme of the episode is ‘revenge.’ It’s a shame that even Masamune kun’s Revenge, a campus romance comedy, does a better job at portraying the feeling for what it is: a burning desire to seek justice.
Tales of Zestiria the X is based on the popular video game of the Tales of series. During the last episode of the previous cour, I expressed my delight at the announcement of the second season because in my eyes that meant that the series were not just an attempt to shill the video game and promote that and the next one called Tales of Berseria (season 1 had a few episodes focused on the latter.) But after four episodes, the series seems to have lost its focus. I know we still have eight episodes to go and it’s more than enough time to deliver some quality, but I wonder if these episodes are indicative of the rest of the season. The pacing is slow, characters come and go without any serious try in building their presence in the story, and most of the screen time is consumed by unnecessary dialogue and awkward repetitions of plot points we have heard more than once already.
The game has been criticized before for its storyline flaws, but taking them into the anime is unforgivable. Unless the anime IS just a promotion and staying true to the plot was a constraint that Director Sotozaki Haruo had to work with. I respect ufotable for the amazing work they do with the CGI (the night sky is just amazing) but this is not an art gallery. We need a story and we need cohesion and we need to believe that we are in a world where the boring parts are left out.
And some battles, please. You know, real battles.
‘At least it looks good’ is something I will never say when it comes to an anime story. I don’t know if there was a specific reason we spent four episodes on Rose when it could have easily been one or one and a half, but I can easily guess: there is not much story to tell so they are trying to drag it as long as possible. ‘Yes, we can probably waste another episode having Sorey giving Rose a lecture. Piece of cake. Let’s have some kind of cliffhanger to keep the interest.’ Sadly, that cliffhanger was so lame that I really don’t care if Rose kills the prince or not. I’ve only known him for half an episode and he is a jerk. And Rose has killed before. Geez, Sorey, what the frak is wrong with you and that super-good Shepherd thing?