First Impressions – Tales of Zestiria the X

And the journey begins…

winter15-skylionUFOtable is back with another game to anime adaptation. Will it live up the game’s hype, does skylion care about that sort of thing? Keep reading and find out….


spring15-irenesOnce upon a time, in a faraway land, a company named ufotable decided to use all their powers of animation magic, to curbstomp a princess…


No Time For Playing Games

Skylion: I’ve not played many video games in the last decade or so; it’s not really a lack of time, though that is part of the equation, it’s mostly the lack of interest, but I won’t go into details here. What I’m here for is a cracking good fantasy story, so despite the game connection I’ll let an adaptation tell it’s own story for it’s own sake rather than getting too worked up over how well it cleaves to game materials. At the end of the day, that’s what really matters to me. Does this story makes sense by itself?

I would have to say that the first episode goes a long way to giving us a great big YES to that question. Yeah, I know there was an OVA out before this, I’ve seen it, it was about 45 minutes of fan material, the sort that seems uninterested in creating a story and moreso in replicating how the game feels. It stumbled around, was kinda uncharming and nonsensical, getting bogged down in it’s own esoterica, and then it was over. Mistake made, let’s move on.


A princess’ job is never done.

This first episode does, IMO, manage to do it much better, and in much simpler terms. We get the feeling this is a large, expansive kingdom with a massive and legendary history. But we also get to know it in a more immediate fashion through Princess Alisha. As seen in the OVA she’s a student of history, and aware of the Shepard legend. But much more important, she has her duties to her people and her vassals. She’s also concerned with the Sword in the Stone and it’s promised hero (Derivative? Sure, but most fantasy these days are to one extent or another), and the state of the kingdom going to war. But as a student of legends, she sees that there’s much bigger things ahead than politics; larger, more powerful forces that will plunge the world into chaos. Then she get’s a taste of it…


Another goth loli to add to sky’s collection

Wow. There’s bad weather and then there are chaotic tornadoes, and Alisha and her retainers meet up with the later. It was quite tragic, pretty darn sad, and filled with tension. They were able to advance a huge part of her story without devolving to huge tracts of unending exposition. Scene to scene they built up to these terrible moments, and it payed of in spades. She fought against forces that were much larger than herself or anything she knew, she was unprepared, and it hurt like hell. That’s the beginning of a story I enjoy seeing, and I’m looking forward to where it goes.



The direction of this episode has a deft touch to it. Nothing in the dialog was wasted, you got a sense of scope and scale with establishing shots, with little if any scene wasted in service of keeping it’s brisk pace going. They didn’t oversell any of the characters, and instead let their value be seen in how much Alisha cared about them, thus making their demise that much more impactful to her. She has burdens, she handles them, and seems capable of doing more, but with just the right amount of hesitancy to seem natural and useful to drama.

A Well Set-up World That’s Just Ripe for the Destroying


Why so serious?

IreneSharda: So what exactly do we have here? We have ufotable’s latest offering that, as I understand it, is actually very familiar territory for them. This being the latest in many Tales series they have taken part in, and at least the third time they have dabbled in the Tales of Zestiria universe. And this so happens to be the 20th Anniversary project as well! No pressure.

As I talked about in the Summer Picks, I know little to nothing about the Tales series. I’m not into video games at all, with the exception of perhaps helping my brother out with a Final Fantasy or two. I think the most experience I’ve had with “Tales” was a couple of episodes of Tales of the Abyss from 2008, and I wasn’t too impressed with that. Now, I have watched the Tales of Zestiria OVA that came out a couple of years ago (also done by ufotable), simple to prepare for this series and get a larger idea of what I was in for. Do YOU need to see the OVA to enjoy this series? No. If I’m following the plot so far, the OVA or something following a similar plotline, will basically be the next episode coming up and the actual start of the series. So, I doubt you will have missed anything if you give it a skip.

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Still images just don’t do it justice.

But what is it that we actually have here in what has been deemed as Episode 00? Well, first off, let’s get the obvious out of the way. Studio ufotable once again does an amazing job in animation, once again going to the style of Unlimited Blade Works and what they basically did for the actual game and following OVA. Some of the CGI could have been a little better in scenes, but the action and disaster set pieces more than make up for it. I could talk for paragraphs about how fluid and spectacular everything in the episode was animated, but honestly, all of you know about that already. You know what this studio has become known for (though some of you should check out some of ufotable’s stuff from the 90s and early 2000s to see how far they’ve come 😛 ) just know that they are basically in proper form here when it comes to Zestiria.

But what about the actual story, what’s up with this plot? Now that’s the hard part. Well, in all honesty this episode doesn’t really have much to it yet. It’s really all set up. We find ourselves in fantasyland [insert name] in the kingdom of…something, observing the young Princess Alisha as she struggles to maintain her domain (there is currently no sign of a King or Queen) against what seems to be the coming of the Ten Plagues! Her land is dying and calamity after calamity seems to be trying to lay claim to her country, and recently they’ve begun to look less and less like natural disasters, and more like something more sinister is afoot.

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Yeah, that doesn’t look good.

Unfortunately, there is not much anyone can do against acts of God other than prepare and try to deal with the aftermath. Alisha herself, begins to turn to the myths of her people and hopes to give them some hope through the legend of a savior, one which appears when calamities such as these threatens life as we know it. This chosen one this time, is called the Shepherd. However, of course no one really has time for silly stories anymore and most snigger at the princess’ belief, but if you know how these things go, you’re just waiting for it. The rest of the episode is really just more set up, telling us more about the calamities, the potential political backstabbing, and the introduction to a character or three that might just become important later. Oh, and the reawakening of a giant fire-breathing dragon that seems to rise from the storm from Hell…you know, the usual. 

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I see Smaug found a new hangout spot.

There is quite a bit of silly stuff here as well.  I love how the scientist of the group uses oh so scientific terms like the mist is becoming more “eerie” and “sinister”. And you send the one person who is the brains of your operation to the very epicenter of the danger zone? Not very smart princess, that’s what interns are for. 😛

And what was with those two magical beings deciding to play tag, I guess, in the desert? All the while the evil magical storm is literally out to get them and Alisha is trying to get away, proving that she graduated from the Prometheus school of running away from things. A wonderful cinematic experience to be sure, but still quite silly and a little confusing.

And we also have a legend in regards to a Sword in the Stone given by a Lady of the Lake. So, how long do we have before the drawing of not!Excalibur? Considering he’s supposed to return when his land needs him again–was King Arthur a Shepherd too? But more than just Arthurian legend, I’m pretty sure I heard the term “Asgardian” as well, sooo, Nordic legends as well has been mixed in there. And that as well as the talk of ley lines *cough*Lifestream*cough* and I’m really interested in how this mix and match and amalgamation of cultural myths will be displayed within the series.


“Legend tells of a legendary warrior whose kung fu skills were the stuff of legend.”


Show ▼


All in all, I might be setting myself up to be upset. Being based on a NAMCO Tales of…. Game there are a load of characters to get into, and from what I’ve read that boring as a glass of spilled milk dude from the OVA is our main character. So whatever they do with Princess Alisha is going to be shifted to multiple burners as this recipe cooks up. And I’m kinda ticked about that. But that’s all me. I’ll keep my eyes on this one to see if any other members of bland dude’s party is as interesting as this episode made the princess out to be….Good work UFOtable, I’m a bit hooked.


I’m interested in where this story is going to go, and to finally meeting our MC (for the second time for me). With the arrival of the Shepherd, how are he and his friends supposed to combat natural disasters? If you’ve read the preview for this series, you’ll know that there are some long living magical superior beings that will be helping our hero on his journey called the seraphim, and humanity has both forgotten about and can no longer see them. Think the elves from Lord of the Rings, but invisible. I’ll be interested in seeing them and how they’ll be involved in the story. We’ve gathered how beautiful this tale is going to be, so now, let’s see if how well they’ll be able to tell a story. I’m going into this pretty much completely blind and I’m hoping that they will unfold the story with people like me in mind.



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19 Responses to “First Impressions – Tales of Zestiria the X”

  1. BlackBriar says:

    Not sure to what will be offered and have never played any of the video games, this opening episode was great eye candy thanks to ufotable’s signature animation (Which you tell miles away even you went in, unaware which studio was selected) to keep me in place until the story begins.

    Apart from that, it was rather fast paced to the point I could only remember at least two names (Princess Alisha and Clemm), so the loss of the princess’ knight party merely amounted to temporary shock factor. More people are bound to come in and hopefully there’s enough time to get to know them before anything else happens.

    Not a bad start and while it may not rank as a must see anime on my list, Tales of Zestiria the X might do well enough to be moderately entertaining.

    • Di Gi Kazune says:

      Will this break the adapted-from-games-jinx? Or will it follow the path of ufotable’s last unmitigated flop? You know that one that I completely forgot about the name of the show.

      The last Tales anime I saw was Eternia. And AnimeCo’s SatanCow|SD’s bong rewrite of episode 13. That was hilarious.

    • Di Gi Kazune says:

      Forgot to add:

      A HF movie fan would say: ufotable, stop doing useless -bleep- and concentrate on the HF movie!


  2. BlackBriar says:

    I’m not into video games at all, with the exception of perhaps helping my brother out with a Final Fantasy or two.

    Is that so? Then you’d be quite the busy bee with what’s already out and what’s on the way. There’s already the remaster for Final Fantasy X and X-2 available, a remaster for the Japanese special edition of Final Fantasy XII for a worldwide release in 2017, Final Fantasy XV is coming this September 2016 and last but not least, the Final Fantasy VII remake that’s still in development. That’s without talking about a spin-off like Final Fantasy Type-0 HD, unless you’re interested. All for PS4. Square Enix is working in overdrive.

  3. HannoX says:

    I wonder if Clemm’s family name is Kiddlehopper.

    • skylion says:

      …as of right now, it is!

      It’s too bad about her and that tornado though…

      • HannoX says:

        I guess I should have looked up how to spell Kadiddlehopper correctly.

  4. sonicsenryaku says:

    yeeeeeaaaaa im more interested in seeing rose next episode according to people who saw the ep at anime expo (and she’s voiced by mikako komatsu; it’s a 2 for 1 deal); she was easily one of the best things about zesteria’s bland narrative….can ya tell i didnt really care for zestiria

    • sonicsenryaku says:

      as in i didnt care for the game; this first ep did an alright job as a premiere. Rumor has it that supposedly, the anime will not be taking the route of the game and instead construct an anime original story using elements of the game. I dont know how true this is, but if this first ep is anything to go by, perhaps that might be the case

      • skylion says:

        I think that imitating the game structure is kinda dumb; that’s what the OVA did and it wasn’t much fun at all. So if this thing steers away from that structure and tells it’s own story it’s own way, then I’ll support it just on general principle…

        • sonicsenryaku says:

          “So if this thing steers away from that structure and tells it’s own story it’s own way, then I’ll support it just on general principle…”

          But of course; im right there with ya. This is what im hoping is the case. Yaaay for originality and translating the material in a way that is properly suited for the medium. Lots of yes

      • Sumairii says:

        I think the heroine from Berseria appeared in the OP, and that game is supposed to take place way before Zestiria. So maybe this is a sign that the anime is going to diverge from the game. That said, I have never played any of these games, so I have no idea if this actually makes sense some how.

      • IreneSharda says:

        That would be good if they changed it, less chance for spoilers that way. 😀

        This would be my first go round so hopefully they do a good job.

  5. Rathje says:

    This OVA you’re talking about… does it go by the name of “Tales of Zestiria: Doushi no Yoake”?

    Oh, and the game OP is hands-down better than the completely forgettable anime OP.

    • skylion says:

      You are correct about the OVA name.

      As far as music is concerned, I’m not liking either one. The game music is some generic rock track and the anime OP is generic J-POP. So no winners in my opinion. The animation in both are pretty standard, but the game’s has an unfair advantage being nearly a full minute longer. It does manage to pack that longer run time with more character shots, including a super power loli.

      So, both are pretty average, but the game one wins by a loli…

      • Rathje says:

        Well, to each their own. I’m told I’m pretty easy to please, so I might not be the most discriminating judge of quality.

        I will say though, the OVA’s soundtrack was good in my opinion, but waaay too loud and overbearing. I felt like they needed to turn the volume down a few notches, and make more effort to match the soundtrack dramatically to what was actually going on on-screen.

        The anime seems to have done so, so far…

      • starqo says:

        Eh, I didn’t really like the game’s opening song all that much.

        The anime’s opening, meanwhile, is one of my favorite this season. I’ve liked FLOW since I first heard them (all those years back when I still watched Naruto), and I still found “Kaze no Uta” to feel…what’s the word…refreshing, in a sense. It’s definitely a situation where I probably won’t skip the opening.

        As for the anime itself, I personally look forward the most to seeing how different it is from the game.

        • skylion says:

          I’ve been told that I have no musical taste, and I’m partial to agree to that, so…don’t take me as an authority…

    • IreneSharda says:

      Yeah, that was the OVA I was talking about too. Like sky, I did feel that Sorey is a pretty dull MC at least in that opening, but we’ll see how he appears here.

      In terms of the OP, the guitar and extra length as well as the vocals make the game one better for me, though the anime one is pretty good too.

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