Covering a show in which I’m familiar with the source is proving to be quite challenging. There’s a visible gap between the resulting experience of audiences who’ve seen the source, and with audiences who are new to the title. I fall into the former when it comes to ToZX, which is why my impressions are somewhat wildly different from others. Needless to say, I’m still enjoying what I’m seeing so far with these two episodes–though of course my opinion is strongly biased by the fact that I’m well aware of what’s happening–as I don’t have to go through the menial process of repetitively asking myself what the f is going on. However, taking a step back, Tales of Zestiria the X is certainly lacking the substance it needs to grip the viewers into its narrative if seen as a standalone title.
We’re two episodes in, but we haven’t gotten a bit least of the needed narrative for ToZX to sell itself to the viewers. I gave the first episode a pass on this because, well, it was a prologue and it struck me as an episode meant to welcome both audiences–newcomer or not–into a vast, open-world. Sure, the setting is huge, but what’s there to volume when there’s no substance to fill the space? The first episode acted as a structure, a stage where the play will happen, but the following episode didn’t offer much in terms of what the play is. All we got were tidbits of information which can leave us scratching our heads even more. Honestly, if I haven’t played the game, I’ll be as dumb-founded as most people are. We had Alisha stumbling into an ancient ruins, narrating what a Shepherd is, getting attacked by bugs (ugh), rescued by Sorey and Mikleo aaaaaaaannnnd that’s it. The pace is definitely slow, and the chain of events are rather oddly disconnected. At one instance, we have a grampa doing an exposition, then we cut into the duo, then to Alisha, then back to gramps who… said something about his territory which won’t really make much sense at this point of time. The unusual choice of sequences felt kinda distracting, given that the tone of the show have to change in accordance to what’s happening on-screen. They could’ve just shown Alisha’s part > gramps scene > then lastly Sorey and Mikleo. This offers a much more fluid progression through minimal strokes that doesn’t need to disrupt the build-up of atmosphere.
Anyways, rant aside, episode 2 is still a great treat for the “me” that just wanted to see more of the game’s characters. The episode ended not without any highlights, to my delight. There’s this framing they did when Alisha was perusing the murals along with a dancing creature beside her. This is actually a nice directional touch–it just felt smooth and cute. Cute in a sense that we see Alisha’s brimming interest with the ancient teachings while she gives us info on the narrative, plus a dancing bear–all in just 20 seconds! Other than that, I do appreciate what they did to the preview in the end. It’s pretty creative that they thought of using the skit format from the game and implement it as an omake in the anime to further give us a view of the characters’ lighthearted side. A great idea, but I believe that only the viewers who have experience with the source are likely the ones who will fully appreciate this. I’m also liking the contrast that was made by the first episode. The contrast of a gray and dreary outside world, to that of the ruins is a source of information we can use to fill in the blanks of the narrative. Why is there a forest inside some ruins? Is this perhaps the “territory” gramps is talking about? Are Sorey and the crew unaware of what’s happening outside this territory? There are a lot more context we can derive based from what we’ve seen thus far, but I’ll leave that to you to piece your own puzzles ;D
Short thoughts on the episode:
- ED song was nice. I’m sure I’ve heard of fhanna. Can’t remember where.
- That scene with the rustling of bugs crept me out. I’m terrified of bugs, you see. Cockroaches in particular. That poor Alisha…
- Wait, isn’t that dancing bear Edna’s…?
A rather short post, but that basically sums up episode two. ToZX will probably hit its stride once a couple more of characters are introduced, so I do hope you’ll stay in touch until then! See you next week!