Tales of Zestiria V.S "The X"
Sorey is a human youth that grew up among the Seraphim, spiritual beings invisible to others.
Sorey believes in the folklore that says "long ago, every human was able to see the seraphim" and dreams of unraveling the ancient mystery to make the world a place where people and seraphim can live together in peace.
One day, Sorey visits the human capital for the very first time. He becomes embroiled in an incident during which he pulls out a holy sword embedded in a rock and ends up becoming a Shepherd, one who casts away calamity from the world. He begins to realize the gravity of his mission, and his dream of coexistence between mankind and the seraphim becomes more intense—And thus, the Shepherd embarks on an amazing journey with his companions.
Rare is it that a video game gets its own anime adaption, right? No? Well, okay, maybe not anymore, but how many of them actually seem to succeed in making their anime as good as its game's standards?
Better yet, I'll ask this: IS the anime ever better than the game itself, or is it a mass of convolution and left to pure luck that the anime isn't something to completely scrap after a few episodes?
With the conclusion of this anime's first season just over a week ago, and the knowledge of the video game still decently fresh in my mind from about a year ago, I decided to craft this little event.
Is Tales of Zestiria worth playing, or should you just skip to the anime for its story? Maybe even just play the game and skip the anime? Watch and play? Huh. Which one is the better option overall?
Before I begin, I'd like to recommend that you have basic knowledge of the video game Tales of Zestiria before reading over this review. Maybe you don't even have to have completed the game, or watched the anime. But I'm going to try and keep this as spoiler-free as I can for most of the development. And don't worry, I'll warn you of the spoilers.
ROUND ONE: OPENING SONG
We're going to start this off pretty simple.
Which version of this saga had the better opening sequence?
We are comparing "White Light" by Superfly of the video game to "Kaze no Uta" by Flow of the anime!
- As far as appeal goes, I feel that "Kaze no Uta" has a much stronger rhythm to it, and it seems to have more of an adventurous spirit behind it, whereas "White Light" seems to rely more on the aspect of stepping into battle and wanting to cleanse the world of malevolence. Both themes are extremely important to the story of Tales of Zestiria, but I'd have to lean more towards "Kaze no Uta" for appeal because it relates heavily to Sorey's character and the adventures that he takes while he is growing as the Shephard.
- Lyrical wise, which song has the stronger suit? I'm gonna give examples of the English lyrics here, and let you guys decide on it!
Following your path that leads far into the distance
Let us ride the wind!
The answer we're searching for won't be found easily
But we knew that when we took the first step!
We've left footsteps in our dreams from the detours
But once we open that map we've been drawing all this time...
Without a single word, become white
Let’s live life in a phantasmagoric way
Black, darkness, all tossed away
I’m just so so sick of them
Please, one last chance
I wanna be white, white now
- As far as the animation for each sequence go, I think that they both suit their respective songs incredibly. That would be the beauty of ufotable at its finest! But once again, I lean more towards "Kaze no Uta" for the way that it introduces the characters, shows off their personalities more, and still retains the sense of stepping into battle that "White Light" exuberates.
ROUND ONE WINNER: Tales of Zestiria the X
ROUND TWO: STORY PROGRESSION
One of the biggest issues that I had with Tales of Zestiria was the story progression. The video game felt incredibly slow to start, and that pacing continued for quite a while, up until around the time that Alisha controversially leaves the party and Rose takes her place. And even after that, the story still felt like it had some inconsistencies in pacing.
Some people also comment that the anime moves at a similar pace, mainly with the first two episodes of the anime taking place in Elysia, where Sorey and his best friend Mikleo are from, meeting Alisha, and the entire first season working in the fashion of the first, maybe, six hours overall of the game.
I'd like to disagree with people about the pacing of the anime versus the game. I personally feel that a lot more is executed in the anime, and a bit faster than the game did for me. Heck, three and a half hours of gameplay amounts to about the story development of four episodes. If you account that, the game is almost twice as long to work through. And that's not even accounting the actual gameplay, this is just projecting up to the story's sequence of events.
My biggest applause goes to the way that the anime switched up the sequence of events. And it's so noticeable and seems to flow much better than the way that the game executes it. Not only that, but I also admire some of the changes that they made to the characters. I'll list a few examples, hopefully avoiding a slew of massive spoilers:
- During the early start of Sorey's journey as the Shepard, Mikleo is coming to terms with the new ordeals of malevolence and wanting to help him to understand more about what he is facing. In the game, Mikleo flat out runs off and leaves Sorey and Lailah while he goes to think about the right method to help in addition to being annoyed with Sorey's gung-ho attitude towards the situation. In the anime, I feel that this situation is handled better because Lailah actually tells him of a way that he could help Sorey, and Mikleo leaves without telling Sorey, and Lailah keeps him the dark, which is a huge boost in Mikleo's character development.
- After Sorey first takes up the mantle as Shepard, Alisha is actually attacked by the Scattered Bones assassins, something that didn't occur in the original storyline, which was pretty impressive. It gives us more insight into Alisha's character that way.
- Speaking more on Alisha's character, she was originally slotted as the main heroine, but she was controversially replaced by Rose without warning, and leaves the journey at the end of the Marlind arc. In the anime, she seems to have a much broader part in the story, acting as a major influence to Sorey throughout the entire anime rather than just the first 25% like in the game. Which made me pleased, because I thought that Alisha was a character that deserved to be fleshed out more, and she is among one of my favorites in the anime for these reasons.
ROUND TWO WINNER: Tales of Zestiria the X
ROUND THREE: CHARACTER IMPACT
I'm not going to go into a ton of detail on each of our main characters here, but I will give you a general idea about who they are, what you can expect from them, and who my favorites are overall from both the anime and the video game.
Sorey: Let's start with our hero, the Shepard Sorey. Growing up in the mystical world of Elysia alongside his best friend Mikleo, the only human able to interact with the Seraphim due to his high levels of resonance, he is very optimistic and is a thrill seeker. He and Mikleo have a tendency to search through ruins, always seeking to explore new regions and uncover new mysteries. After meeting Alisha Diphda, a human from the land of Ladylake, he draws forth the powers of the Shephard and he seeks to follow his dream of allowing the Seraphim and humans to once more interact.
I always found Sorey to remind me a bit of Sora from Kingdom Hearts, and that's aside from similar names and appearances. He's optimistic, fun, loves adventure, and he finds a lot of passion in his dreams. That and his relationship with every character seems so... dynamic. He can make friends with anyone that he meets, and that is only expanded on in "The X."
Mikleo: A Seraphim of water, Mikleo is the right-hand man of Sorey. Aaand he is also considered the heroine by many fans because of how pretty he looks. He is Sorey's contrast--where Sorey is more optimistic and gung-ho, Mikleo is very calm, collected and observant, and is almost always at Sorey's side, wanting to assist him in any ways that he can.
Of all of the guys that are in the story, Mikleo is definitely the most interesting for me. I adore his behavior, and his sense of humor is so unexpectedly good for him. I especially love seeing him paired up with Edna, because she's such a snarky person, and he can be so hotheaded around only her, and it's a side of Mikleo you wouldn't expect. His loyalty is admirable, and I love him in both versions of the media he appears in.
Lailah: Lailah is the Seraphim of flames that ruled over Ladylake, awaiting the return of the Shepard. When Sorey steps up to the plate, she sees his potential, and works to help him as much as her "contract" allows. A fan of baking and a motherly type, Lailah is definitely a strong fighter and an elegant person.
What I love most about Lailah is not only her gentle nature, but I also admire the way that she carries herself, especially when it comes to withholding information. She always tends to be ditzy about it, jokes around, and it's shown most in the game above the anime. The anime portrays her more in the motherly sense than the charismatic and fun girl that she really is, and I definitely prefer her fun side to her motherly side.
Edna: Seraphim, strong as the earth with a tongue that splits through air, walks Edna. The younger sister of a powerful Seraphim, she is introduced atop the mountain range. Her older brother Eizen has been corrupted by malevolence and transformed into a dragon, a powerful being in need of purification. Edna seeks a way to restore his mind, and joins Sorey's quest to achieve that goal.
I... ADORE Edna. She's by far my favorite character in Zestiria. I think that her attitude, despite it being one that could be perceived as obnoxious, snarky, mean, I really do find her personality to be so strong and ladylike in a way that contrasts Lailah's motherly nature. She has that older sister quality about her, but she also be a younger sister given that she actually is one, and that younger quality about her is most evident around Mikleo. She teases him, gives him the nickname "Meebo," carries a parasol given to her by Eizen, and generally has a sweet look about her. Yeah. She's my favorite.
Zaveid/Dezel: Nope, they're not at all the same person, but they are both Seraphim of the same element, Wind. And I decided to group them together because they both essentially got the same amount of screen time in the anime and game combined.
Dezel (with the hat) is the Seraphim that guards over Rose, and is introduced in the very last episode of the anime, and about midway through the game. He is very stern, serious, and even now, there is a lot that is unknown about him. He is a complete contrast to his element in my opinion.
Now for Zaveid (long hair). He is a loner, rides wherever the wind takes him. He is first introduced when Edna is seeking a way to restore Eizen back to his former self, and it is revealed that he was a close friend of Eizen's, and has the desire as well to see to it that he is either saved or restored. Zaveid also has the duty of watching over Edna, a promise that he made to Eizen.
Of these two, I would definitely give my props to Zaveid. I like his personality, and in the game, his interactions with Lailah are pleasing. She cares about him, yet is still uncomfortable enough with him to tease and harass him. His relationship with Edna is also touched on in the anime, something that I honestly didn't expect much to occur. Dezel didn't really stand out much as a character for me. Maybe he will in the anime though!
Alisha Diphda: Princess to the kingdom of Rolance, she is a faithful knight and an advocate to her land. She stumbles upon the world of Elysia after her country is besieged by malevolence and seeks the guidance of a Shepard. Under the watchful eyes of Sorey, she comes to learn that he can see the Seraphim and invites him to the ceremony of Ladylake to determine a new Shepard. After Sorey succeeds, she becomes a close companion to him and acts as his primary follower and aide.
I personally find Alisha to be a strong character, not solely for her titles, but because of the way that she goes about situations. Many perceive her to be naive and foolish due to her idealism that she would risk her own life for the lives of countless others, but I feel that as a princess to a struggling kingdom, that is definitely the right path for her. She is foolish for choosing to be a fatality if it is so thrust upon her, but she is still someone that I feel is worthy of her behavior.
Rose: Rose is seen as an enigma in the beginning of Zestiria, working as a merchant for the Sparrowfeathers. She is the first person that Sorey meets when he arrives in Ladylake, and she lends him a helping hand in exchange for a favor. This momentum keeps up, but there is definitely more to Rose than meets the eye.
Personally, I love all of the main cast, but I would have to put Rose as my least favorite of the Tales of Zestiria cast... the video game, at least. The anime seems to flesh her beginning out much better, and it really expands on the relationship with Alisha that she develops. The game doesn't seem to show much of any--it really only shows Rose to be more antagonistic towards her, whereas Alisha shares a mutual distaste and yet still sees them as friends. I think that Rose is a bit of, well, a bitch in the games. The anime, I do not. It's a strange combination.
ROUND THREE WINNER: Tie
Now that we have our results, I'd say that in terms of character development, story, and overall appeal, watch the anime for the better results. If you don't want to watch the anime... definitely try out the game, and maybe it could influence your ideals on wanting to try and find the differences in the anime the way that I had!
I would rate the overall series, game and anime, a 6.7/10. Individually, I would rate the game a 6, and the anime a 7.3. I just preferred the pacing of the anime and the fleshing out of the characters much more, especially given that I played the game first.