There is a problem with analyzing anime episodes: we instantly assume that we can interpret everything in its fictional world at face value. ‘This is what happened’ and every action or reaction has a meaning that is connected somehow to the plot. Fair enough, but Episode 21 of Tales of Zestiria the X was probably the exception that validates the rule: sometimes fault can be found to the writing that sucks and to a plot that is non-existent.
Japanese Title: いつか夢見た世界 The ideal world
Episode 21 feels just as disjointed as the rest of the episodes. After suiciding the only concrete villain we had, and after miraculously killing the giant dragon in a few seconds of eye-candy visuals, we are transported 9 days into the future. 9 days that will probably have been filled with Mikleo bitching about their current situation and the rest of the gang going through what they know about their current situation. Probably seeing tornadoes still.
Symonne, after an uninteresting sparring season with Dezel, informs the gang that her Boss is waiting for them beyond the wall along with a few White Walkers. She is probably having second thoughts about the Lord of Calamity destroying the world, and it would be interesting to see where her loyalties enough, but not interesting enough to keep me excited for the next couple of episodes. Her two or three cameo appearances are too few to justify her importance to the non-existing plot.
Her sudden appearance, like an NPC giving the group their next quest out of nowhere, was not the only out-of-place incident. Lailah had been hiding Celestial Record Vol.2 because who knows, and a few scenes were wasted with Sorey reading about Velvet Crow. Now that both squires are with Sorey, Dezel tries the armatization process which also felt like it was rushed and introduced just to bring something of value to the series. The fusion was difficult, but most of the air time in the last episodes was wasted on the characters bitching about how difficult things are: purifying, staying true to their purpose, purifying, doing the dishes, purifying, going after tornadoes, purifying, and so many more.
In the end, Sorey and his merry gang start their journey to the North to fight the Lord of Calamity. For all its flaws, at least now the series gave us a clear-cut purpose for the characters.
Rose and Alisha: The two squires seem to be forming a very sweet friendship. The scene where they wake up together and fall asleep again was very sweet and reminded us that behind their strong façade, they are still in need of friends.
Sorey Fashion Show: Tales of Zestiria the X has few comedic scenes. The scene where Rose is trying to find a proper jacket for Sorey was funny enough to get a smirk out of me, but nothing more.
Themes & Trivia
Companionship: A common trope that could have been explored more. In many games, just before the final battle, the hero is joined by the people he’d met during his travels. It’s a sign that his benevolence and bravery have made a difference in the world and that the people are inspired to follow him. From the people who prayed for Alisha’s well-being, Sergei and his knights, and the expedition volunteers to the seraphs and the Normins, everyone whom we met during the ‘exciting’ journey is gathering for the final battle.
So much potential. The ingredients were all right in this episode: the kind protagonist who is joined by an array of characters on a journey to the final battle. The new powers that are needed against the final boss. The camaraderie between old enemies, rivals, or people who just didn’t get along. If only they were given to a good chef who could have delivered an awesome episode, and if only the characters and the plot up to this point have created the necessary background that could have made us actually care.
To the North, my brothers!
I miss the good old days when the episodes were part of an arc, but could also stand on their own. I sound like an old man grumping about the past (and probably I am) but I feel that Tales of Zestiria the X is very hard trying to be something that it isn’t: a coherent story. I’m sure that ufotable is going to bring us some amazing visuals during the battle with the Lord of Calamity, but is that enough to save the show from the depths of anime hell?