Tales of Zestiria the X
Episode 15

by Rebecca Silverman,

How would you rate episode 15 of
Tales of Zestiria the X (TV 2) ?

For a change of pace, I watched this week's episode of Tales of Zestiria the X on Daisuki instead of Funimation. Apart from the fact that I had to sit through two commercials, the only major difference I noted between the two streams is that the name “Groodman” is instead spelled “Gouldman” on Daisuki's version of the show. (A glance at Funi's version did look like Groodman was still in use, though their player and my computer were having a difference of opinion, so I can't be 100% sure.) Not having seen it written down in phonetic Japanese, I can't say which is the more accurate spelling, but I do prefer Gouldman, as it looks a little more like a name to me.

Regardless of where you choose to watch it, this installment of the show has the definite feel of a transition episode. The first third is definitely the strongest part – that's where we pick up with Dezel's attempt to destroy the Cathedral in an effort to please Rose. This is also the best part visually, as we see a return to the beautifully rendered CG with both Dezel's wind walls collapsing the stones of the building and the suddenness of Edna's jagged rocks springing from the earth, to say nothing of Lailah's intense fireballs. This feels like the first time we've really seen what Lailah is capable of as she fights to stop Dezel from succumbing to Malevolence, something she feels is a real danger. She's ruthless as she launches her attacks at him, her face carefully blank and her body language quiet and contained despite the fact that she's using major force against him. It's almost as if she'd rather he die than give in to Malevolence, but honestly doesn't have strong feelings either way; she's just stopping him because that's what Sorey would want her to do. Watching her stand on a spire and create a massive ball of fire to lob at Dezel without emotion is chilling – there's clearly more to Lailah than she's been letting on, and I do wonder how that will affect her relationship with Sorey in the future.

What's also interesting about Dezel's attack is that it is clearly coming from his love for Rose. (That love now appears to be brotherly or paternal, given that he watched her adoptive father raise her.) We've seen before that a Seraph can be consumed by Malevolence even though his actions are derived from positive emotions, but Dezel's risk feels especially poignant. He must be fully aware of the risk he's courting by vowing to destroy the corrupt and powerful for Rose, but he chooses to keep it up anyway. So what is the turning point for emotions? What line must be crossed when actions are performed out of love and care for someone else to transform the Seraph into a monster? It feels like a question that's going to have to be addressed, because if we look at Sorey's and Mikleo's relationship – and Mikleo's statement that being true to himself means staying with Sorey – that could be an issue for the duo further on. Their close bond could prove to be both of their weaknesses when it comes to Malevolence, and that feels like it goes against everything that the two of them stand for.

Of course, that's not going to come up too soon, because now Sorey's off to Pendrago (derived from King Arthur's family name, Pendragon) with Gouldman even though he's refused to become Rolance's pet Shepherd. Alisha's also come back into the story with her unit being all but wiped out by her old enemies in Ladylake, who are fairly certain they've killed her for real this time. Of course they haven't, and she's taking inspiration from her relationship with Sorey to return to the city and face them head-on. Again, this seems ripe for an exploration of how Malevolence occurs: Alisha's clearly ready to do some buttock-prodding if not outright ass-kicking, all in the service of her life and beliefs. At what point will she have gone too far and endangered her people? If her new actions serve to strengthen the squire/shepherd link she and Sorey established so that they can speak across distances, what does that say about Malevolence and the motivations behind everyone's actions? This is something that the series will need to continue addressing to make thematic sense going forward – hopefully, it can do so without wasting too much time on Tales of Berseria episodes. I admit that each time the preview starts, I begin to worry that we'll end up back in Berseria next week. So far so good…

Rating: B

Tales of Zestiria the X is currently streaming on Daisuki and Funimation.

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