Malevolence continues to spread across Zestiria corrupting all. Heavenly beings, known as the seraphim, and humans once coexisted in harmony. As humanity lost faith in the seraphim, they became unable to see these heavenly beings and malevolence began to grow. As mankind gives into their evil desires, they become twisted into hellions and threaten the existence of both humans and seraphim. The Celestial Record speaks of the Shepherd who will rise up and defeat the malevonance and save the land. Many disregard the tale of the Shepherd to be mere fantasy, but with all existence hanging in the balance, what else can they do but hope and believe?
The series centers around a young human named Sorey. Sorey lives among the seraphim in Elysia and has the unique ability to see and speak with them. The young human and Mikleo, a seraphim, spend their time exploring ancient ruins and learning from Master Zenrus. One day while exploring some ruins, they stumble across an unconscious human. They soon find out that Alisha is a princess from the town of Ladylake. Alisha has witnessed the destructive power of the malevolence and seeks to find the Shepherd in the hope to save her land and people. Sorey brings Alisha back to Elysia, but a hellion intruder quickly prompts her departure. Sorey and Mikleo decide to travel to Ladylake in order to offer their aid to Alisha.
After arriving in Ladylake, Sorey and Mikleo attend the Sacred Blade Festival. The ceremony allows brave souls the chance at removing the sword from its fixed position and signifying the return of the Shepherd. During the festivities, a hellion begins to wreak havoc inside of the great hall and Sorey jumps in to protect Alisha from the hellion as well as an unknown assassin. Alisha directs Sorey to dispose of the hellion and leave her to defend against her assailant. Sorey turns to the sacred blade and speaks with Lailah, a seraphim connected with the sword. They make a pact and Sorey is able to remove the blade, merge with the seraphim and defeat the hellion. Our young hero is now the new Shepherd.
Sorey soon learns that he has the ability to merge with any seraphim as long as they form a pact. As every seraphim possesses a different elemental power, the young Shepherd will have access to a variety of powers. Sorey soon learns however that his duty to purify humanity from the malevolence comes at a personal price. As particular members of the government seek to overthrow Princess Alisha, a war between opposing kingdoms commences. This battle results in the widespread of malevolence, resulting in Sorey to test the limits of his new abilities. After overcoming insurmountable odds, Sorey and his companions encounter their most lethal threat yet, the Lord of Calamity. This embodiment of human iniquity towers over the Shepherd. Their clash ends in unlikely fashion and leads our heroes down a strange new path as Sorey hopes to reunite humanity and seraphim.
Season 1 Review
Tales of Zestiria the X was a thoroughly enjoyable surprise. This is the most cinematic series I have ever seen. So much work was put into blending a variety of animation techniques which I found to be breathtaking. I can see how some may not enjoy the blending of techniques, but it spoke to me. So much care is placed into the details of the art and it comes across beautifully. The action sequences are very well choreographed and add excitement to the series. The voice acting was fantastic. Having never experienced any of the “Tales of” series before, this iteration was easy to jump into thanks to the engaging voice work.
The writing doesn’t talk down to the audience by shoving every important detail down your throat. The storyline forces you to think and engage in what is occurring on screen. Many of the characters are well thought out and display a rich amount of backstory. One thing that I really enjoyed was the slow, but steady pacing of the season. Many shows try to throw a million things at you and force the story along, but Zestiria lets everything develop naturally and realistically… Well as realistically as a fantasy series can be. The season is masterfully scored. The music matches each scene perfectly allowing you to immerse yourself even more into the dialogue.
Now for the not so great parts of the series. The are quite a few things that are never truly clarified. Characters throw out so many concepts that are never sorted out. I don’t want to go into too much detail because most of the issues I have are in spoiler territory, but lets just say some things are never fully realized for the sake of moving the story along. Another issue is that there are MAJOR spoilers for the series in the episode intro. For 3 episodes they build up this search for the Shepherd, but the intro shows Sorey with the sword and then merging with Seraphim which would have been an awesome surprise later on. The later intro may have even spoiled some things for season two, but I’ll deal with that later.
Two of the episodes in the season focus on the side series Tales of Berseria. I enjoyed the episodes, but the story never connected with the main arc which was disappointing and quite strange. The season finale felt like a let down at first, but the more I thought about it I loved it. Besides the Lord of Calamity looking like Leomon, his encounter with Sorey was refreshing. I am thoroughly excited to see where this series goes in season two. There are knights, magic, dragons and Sorey is pretty much the avatar… what more could you want?
Box Set Review
This is hands down the best box set I have ever reviewed. The case is styled just like the Celestial Record from the series with some incredible art on the front and back. All 13 episodes come on both Blu-ray and DVD. The series can be enjoyed in both English and Japanese. The set comes with four character art cards that are perfect for display. This box set has an unbelievable amount of special features. It includes multiple episode commentaries, a Dawn of the Shepherd short, promo videos, commercials, episode previews, trailers, textless songs and a trailer for season 2. These are only included in the Limited Edition version.
Overall, this series was a fun and aesthetically pleasing ride. The animation alone deserves recognition. I for one can’t wait to see what season 2 has in store. You can order your copy from Funimation right HERE! The series is discounted at the moment so head there now!
Note: We received a free copy from Funimation in return for an honest review