Tales of Zestiria the X
Episode 12

by Rebecca Silverman,

How would you rate episode 13 of
Tales of Zestiria the X ?

If there's one thing I can praise about this episode besides the usual gorgeous scenery (it manages to be beautiful even when it's a wasteland!), it's that Tales of Zestiria the X manages to end its season with the same finality of a good last chapter when you know the author's working on a sequel. It's conclusive enough to give that feeling of satisfaction of completing the story while still leaving the door open for the next in the series. Since we have a firm date for that follow-up, there's more a sense of pleasant anticipation than frustrated irritation. It's not easy to end something on that precise a note.

Of course, as the old song says, the darkest hour is just before dawn, so there's got to be a fair amount of angst before we can reach that ending point. Last week left us with Alisha bleeding out, the appearance of the once-human Lord of Calamity, and a tantalizing glimpse of the wind seraph, so we've had plenty to look forward to. As it turns out, we really should have been paying attention to Rose – the young mercenary woman who allied herself with Alisha has a lot more going on than meets the eye. For one thing, she can clearly hear (although not see) Seraphim, and it looks as if the wind fellow has been following her around for a while now. When he jumps into the fray as Alisha's dying, it's not to save the princess – he's doing it for Rose. (In fact, later behaviors suggest that he might have a thing for her.) That's not to say he's the one who saves the day though; he's merely a distraction so that Rose can spring into impressive action and force a surrender. Sorey may have set the ball rolling to end this war, but it's really Rose who seals the deal. It does make sense if you think about it. He may be the fabled Shepherd, but he's got no practical experience, while Rose, as a mercenary, is much more accustomed to war. She's also better aware of the stakes at this point; Sorey's just ended a battle with no fatalities, but Rose is watching Alisha die, so there's more urgency to her actions. Her ability to hear Seraphim is an interesting bit of information to file away – did the wind guy give her that power, or is it innate? Does it indicate that she has Shepherd potential?

Those questions will have to wait for the show's next season. In the meantime, Sorey fails to take down the Lord of Calamity, reserving the final boss for the actual finale. He does prove his worth as a Shepherd to the Hellion, since he's able to remain uncorrupted as he purifies the numerous incarnations of malevolence that the Lord of Calamity has unleashed on the battlefield. It's impressive that can do so without the help of his Seraphim friends; Mikleo joins the fight as himself, not by combining with Sorey to use their special power. This speaks to both Mikleo's own power and his understanding that this is something that Sorey needs to face on his own, although he'd clearly rather be with him, as indicated by the alacrity with which he jumps in when Sorey collapses.

The portrayal of the Shepherd as a Christ-like figure returns in this episode, when he proves that he can not only combat evil (more a King Arthur reference) but also heal the mortally wounded. Presumably his little book contained a spell to heal Alisha, because we see him keeping watch over her after Rose asked for (or demanded) his help, and the princess does survive to become Sorey's squire. In medieval times, this would mean that she was his apprentice, showing that she has the potential to become like him in the future. Interestingly enough, she is clearly not bound by the same restrictions as the Seraphim, since she heads back to Ladylake while he joins Rose and Wind Guy bound for Rolance, but what really seems to matter most is that becoming Sorey's Squire allows Alisha to finally see the Seraphim on her own. It's a beautiful scene, and I can only imagine that it must feel like seeing your imaginary friends become real before your eyes. Hopefully it will have the happy side effect of making Mikleo more comfortable around her as well.

There's a lot to cram into this episode, but it largely works. Mostly that's because the ending is handled so nicely, with Sorey overcoming his final test as a Shepherd with a new adventure ready to be embarked upon. Characters like Mikleo and Edna end up taking more of a backseat than I would have liked, but on the whole this feels like an ending I can live with for the next few months, until Sorey and the Seraphim ride again.

Rating: B+

Tales of Zestiria the X is currently streaming on Funimation.

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