Episode 23 of Tales of Zestiria the X followed the same recipe as the last: more dragons and less substance. Our heroes are following the fleeting main villain on a trail of unnecessary cameos and inconsequential dialogues that led to a sacrifice that tried to put a few tears in our eyes. Sadly, the only thing I cried for was a series that could have been better, but decided to put its trust in dragons.
Japanese Title: 風になる Be like the wind
I really wasn’t expecting that there was going to be any fatalities from the side of the heroes in this series. It was too mild and too boring to go the extra mile and bring a sacrifice as the one we saw in this episode. I am not talking about the fox guy; his death was so important that the series decided to dedicate two half-scenes and a proper burial. Dezel on the other hand was one of the Seraphim that had the most screen time. The title was a hint that this episode would focus on Dezel and Rose, but having the Seraphim willingly jump to his death just to realize Rose’s dream (and kill (?) some dragons in the process) felt more like a suicide than a sacrifice. And what’s even more disturbing is that if felt like a manipulative way to invoke our feelings in an episode that was otherwise boring: The main villain just shared a quote and transported to the center of the earth as the characters shared information we either don’t care about because they are not explained fully, or they repeat what we already know (something that this series is a master of doing). I’m not even going to mention the Normin grandma. She came, introduced herself, and then did nothing. That’s why I felt that Dezel’s death was the writers saying ‘We are going for the final battle. You SHOULD care about something before the final battle.’ No, writers. No.
This episode, like all the rest in this season, was just a taste of what this show could have been if they devoted enough time on all the plot points they had not trouble just mentioning. In this episode for instance, Sorey has a vision-cum-dream where he meets with the protagonist of the other Tales of game that takes place in the same universe, Velvet Crow. Such an important moment could have been graced with a bit of meaningful dialogue. The same applied to the abandoned city they encounter, the 5 Seraphim Lords, Symonne the Dragon, and the Normin grandma.
In the end, this was just another ‘HANG ON, WE HAVE A GREAT LAST BATTLE FOR YOU’ where the only sacrifice were the minutes I spent waiting for the dragons.
Dragons: As much as I want to hate this episode, the dragons are fracking cool. They are the best CG dragons I have ever seen in an anime. Fluid movement, great flying, ominous-looking appearance. If only they had more screen time and we could see them fight instead of being blown away by a tornado-level green wind.
Dezel’s Eyes: I don’t know if there was any other meaning behind Dezel showing his eyes except achieving a ‘here is something you didn’t expect’ effect. This detail did make the scene a bit more dramatic, but not nearly enough.
Themes & Trivia
Red Moon: A red (or blood) moon occurs when Earth falls between the sun and the moon. The reddish hue is a result of the sunlight filtering through the atmosphere so that the lower end of the spectrum fall onto our natural satellite.
In NARUTO, the Moon is traditionally shown to turn red during bad situations. It’s simply an art design. In the 70s mecha anime UFO Robot Grendizer, the moon turns red just before the Earth is invaded by aliens. In Episode 20 of Beelzebub, we can also see a red moon. In Tiger & Bunny, the appearance of the Vigilante Man, Lunatic, is usually accompanied by a red moon. In Wolf’s Rain the moon turns blood-red (both in the show and in the closing credits).
Do you remember any moments in anime where a red moon appears?
I’m sure that for many the CG dragons and armatization animation along with the beautiful vistas are enough to get them through the series. I’m not saying that the action sequences are not important; of course they are, and this is an anime that proved in the first season that it could do action scenes and it could do them well. But the second season went from exciting to boring in just a few episodes. It was still as beautiful as always, but the plot took a big dive from which it never managed to recover.
The Sacrifice of the Seraphim
Dezel was not a bad character. His confession to Rose wasn’t the best in terms of word choice, but it made sense. And ‘sense’ is what I’ve been looking maniacally in an episode that tried to cram as much meaningless encounters as possible until the dragons could come and throw dirt in our thirsty for CG eyes.
Don’t forget to read our other anime reviews for Winter 2017, too! And if you are preparing for the next season, this new MANGA.TOKYO hashtag and pages list might come in handy: