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.
A very common flaw of many stories that turn into anime is their inadequacy to make the viewers care for the characters (see Qualidea Code). Tales of Zestiria not only made me care, but it managed to sell me shameless videogame promotion by giving me in return a quality series. Well played, ufotable.
After learning a bit about the story and the protagonist of the new Tales of game, we are back in Ladylake where Sorey and the two Seraphim are faced against a malicious storm. The storm is caused by a huge dragon who, after destroying a few houses, decides to abruptly leave without engaging in combat.
Bartlow, the slimy, shady member of the royal council that wants to start a war with the neighboring kingdom, invited Sorey to a meal. Even though the invitation felt like a trap, the two talked about trivial matters, and the only thing that Bartlow seemed to be interested in was The Shepherd’s future plans. He clearly doesn’t want Sorey and Alisha in his way as he manifests his sinister plans.
True to its title, besides Bartlow, the episode focuses on its and every character’s thoughts. We get to know Mikleo’s concerns on his role as Sorey’s friend, Alisha’s hopes for the future, Sorey’s heroic morality, Lailah’s desire to guide both Sorey and Mikleo, and even a few minor characters’ subtle thoughts.
Nature Metaphor: It’s fairly obvious now that the Seraphim and their relationship with the humans are a metaphor to our relationship with nature. The Seraphim are able to control the four core elements (water, fire, earth, wind) and in ancient times:
“People perceived Seraphim and co-existed with them”
People once perceived nature and co-existed with it. We lived in harmony, a symbiotic relationship where all life was part of nature and vice versa. Eventually:
“Man lost their reverence for the Seraphim. Their hearts became consumed with suspicion, wickedness, and conflict.”
I am not sure if the connection was made on purpose or if the moral implications of the hero’s journey happened to coincide with the Seraphim’s relevance to the elements, but there seem to be several environmental concerns weaved into the writing.
Looking at the Same Moon: Although the moon by itself is a much used story trope, having characters looking at the same moon while on different settings is similarly common. Most of the time, the characters are sharing either a common fate they have yet to realize, or they are separated but still bonded by either friendship or rivalry (or both). That moon is also a symbol that the characters are sharing a common worldview. One of my favorite Haruki Murakami quotes says:
“We’re both looking at the same moon, in the same world. We’re connected to reality by the same line. All I have to do is quietly draw it towards me.”
The last two episodes, where we learned about Zestiria’s distant past and about Velvet’s Crowe’s adventures, were shameless self-promotion, let’s admit it. Ufotable is making the anime cut-scenes for Tales of Berseria, and Tales of Zestiria was the perfect medium to promote the new game. Bandai Namco could justify it perfectly: the games are sharing the same in-game universe. They made the transition as smooth as possible; there was no opening theme, they used the last minutes of the episodes to feature the new game intro and the new song by Flow, and they kept the same animation style. Why am I commenting the last episode here? Because I felt like the transition was so smooth, and the quality of animation so good, that I forgave the Tales of Berseria promotion as a quality interlude that is indirectly connected to the main story.
This episode didn’t have enough battle, but instead it offered us plentiful character development. Every character has a role to play and the story is unfolding like a good Japanese Role Playing Game.
NEXT TIME: Rayfalke Spiritcrest (霊峰レイフォルク))
Official Site http://toz-thex-anime.tales-ch.jp/en/