[After leaving Elysium, Mikelo and Sorey arrive to Lady Lake, where the festival of the Sacred Blade is currently taking place]
In front of the city’s entrance they meet with Rose a cheerful girl who informs Sorey that he needs a pass to enter the city. Hopefully she has one since she’s a member of some merchant gang called the Sparrow feathers. Of course that’s a bit fishy since Rose was also a part of the thief group who attacked Alisha in the prologue episode. She’s obviously fishy. But Rose might have some secrets and might be a bit close to her money, she still has some principles since she gives the dagger back, understanding that it might be important.
Although the whole city looks lively, there’s apparently a high degree of malevolence in it and it has an effect on my sweet Meebo’s body who’s getting a bit weaker.
At some point, Sorey and Mickey boy see fox guy, so Sorey decides to follow him by doing parkour on the roofs, his specialty. According to Fishy Foxy, he’s not after Alisha but someone else is. He also talks about some sort of contract that is still active but none of his bullshit makes sense for the moment.
In the meantime, Alisha is having trouble imposing her views on the rest of the council members and at the same time, a chancellor is planing to assassinate her by asking the help of the gang I called thief before. They are a gang of assassins but they have some principles: they refuse to attack Alisha if her assassination is not going to spare some innocents’ life. However, they accept the contract anyway, judging Alisha’s refusal to wage war is only going to do more ham than good. Although Alisha is not “trying to sacrifice the common folk for her ideals” to quote the chancellor, it is understandable that her ideals can be viewed as naive and might not be in the interests of everyone. However, assassinating her for that, that’s a bit rough… I see people in this show are quite Machiavellian… I like that.
Now, Alisha is busy supervising the “Rite of the warrior”, some sort of sword pulling contest that could determine the next shepherd. Sorey and Mikleo are attending the ceremony too and spot a strange girl sleeping next to the sword. They quickly understand that she’s a Seraph too, since nobody seems to notice her presence. As expected, no shepherd is found probably because they can’t see Lailah, although that might not be the only requirement to be the shepherd. You also need to be the hero of the show, or at least be a named character, otherwise it won’t work.
But just take a moment to look at Lailah, isn’t she beautiful? She’s precious… and I love her personality too… What is that? Am I liking anime girls? Dear lord, I’ve changed so much.
Alisha announces that she did not organize this festival in order to find a shepherd because she believed in that old myth. But rather because she wanted to appease tensions between her country and their neighbor, Rolance. In other words, this festival was for her the occasion to show that even in hard times, waging war is not the answer. In this context of growing tensions between two countries, she wants the people to believe in each other and coexist peacefully, like humans and Seraphs before. Her views applied to the current situation: she’s against war and prefers to defend rather than to attack the other country.
However, her words aren’t really effective and soon the atmosphere of the whole room changes, getting filled with malevolence. It’s apparently the fear of people that brings malevolence and soon some sort of water/transparent dragon appears. Because it’s an hellion, random pleb can’t see it thus only shepherd can purify it. So Sorey has to accept the burden of the shepherd in order to fight the dragon. Lailah asks him why he wants to become the shepherd and Sorey answers that his dream is for humans and seraphs to live together. Thus, he thinks being the shepherd will get him closer to his dream. His answer seems to satisfy Lailah and she accepts him as the shepherd after warning him about the dangers of being one.
At the same time, Alisha is attacked by that assassin girl whose identity isn’t a secret anymore. Looking back at episode 0 it is clear that this assassin is Rose. They offered us a pleasant fight, exclusive to the anime which gave again, more room for Alisha’s character development and Rose’s one as well.
And now, the highlight of the episode: the epic transformation of Sorey, using Lailah’s fire powers. He transforms into a super hot [got it?] dude who gets rid of the dragon in two sword cuts. However, after this power up, Sorey collapses once he’s back to normal. I think those transformations are called “Amartization” in the game, which is the fusion of a human and a seraph but I’m not quite sure… Anyway, it was epic.
That scene after Alisha’s speech… oh wow. That CGI dragon is okay, I’m not a big fan of CGI in general but oh well, it did not bother that much. But the OST, the OST…. it’s amazing, I could listen to the track they played while Sorey was fighting the hellion for hours. I loooove epic music with chores like that. And the animation…dear lord it’s beautiful…. just… wow… ufotable… I can’t wait to see the upcoming fights with all the other armatizations… this is going to be some awesome… I wonder what was the budget for this episode…
I quite like the growing importance of politics in this anime. The different views of characters on the war matter stroke my interest. It is still hard for me to determinate who is right and who’s wrong between the Chancellor and Alisha. I might be too realistic and pessimistic but I find some understandable things in the Chancellor’s speech. Although I disagree on how he is handling things, his way of thinking makes sense to me. Overall, the politic background isn’t that complex after all and pretty easy to understand but that’s fine, since TOZ isn’t really about politics.
Now for the negative points: the pacing was really fast and in my opinion the transition between every scenes were a bit too abrupt, especially at the beginning, aaaand that’s it. I’m sorry but I can’t really find anything negative to say about this episode… Maybe the talk about Sorey having to handle loads of difficult things when becoming the Sherperd was a bit déjà-vu, with all that “with a great power comes great responsibilities” thing but oh well. Every anime has its fair share of obvious statements and little conveniences like that, so I’m not going to hold it against them. Even more, if the anime decides to become darker buy making Sorey suffer a lot due to him fighting malevolence and saving people against his own life that’s fine! That might be actually interesting to see.
I’m also glad to see strong women in an anime. Of course nowadays there’s more and more but it’s nice to see a princess like Alisha’s who’s standing for what she believes in and trying to improve the situation on her own. She might be a princess but she’s fighting for what she believes in, playing an active role in the political context. She also knows how to fight and to defend herself. She doesn’t ask for Sorey’s help when she’s attacked and asks him to protect everyone instead of helping her. How cool is that? well, too cool for me.
Speaking of another strong woman, we finally got introduced to Rose who’s also a character that I like [I like almost everyone in this anime, which is something]. Rose is independent, mysterious, knows how to fight and employs her abilities to accomplish what she believes is right. Again, her views of justice and rightness can be challenged but that doesn’t negate the fact that she is powerful and competent. She’s actually quite similar to Alisha and the hints in the ending and opening sequence can lead us to believe that the two of them will be good friends, fighting together against the bad guys.
Finally I’m glad we did not spend 1 episode on Sorey wondering if he really wants to be the Shepherd and if he’s fit or not for the job. It’s a plot device that I tend to dislike: “the hero is gifted with powers but refuses them cuz he thinks he’s not worthy of them, although he’s the only who can do it”. That’s not the case here and that’s perfect.
I’d say that for the moment, the anime is doing a great job at correcting the game’s flaws. Tales of Zestiria continues to surprise me with its good execution, I might already know the story and what’s going to happen next but I’m hyped for new episodes every week. Furthermore we soon are going to discover more about that Berseria crossover we were promised, and that is really interesting.
Now I want to see the rest of the cast! I want to see Edna… Give me Edna… maybe next episode?
Also, I won’t say no to Zaveid…
I quite like him too…
In fact, I like the whole cast.
Expect Fox guy, he can go to hell.
Ps: Nice Dezel cameo by the way, I like that.