Tales of Zestiria the X
Episode 21

by Rebecca Silverman,

How would you rate episode 21 of
Tales of Zestiria the X (TV 2) ?

The problem with episodes before a major showdown is that the characters have to get to the major showdown. That's what we're dealing with in this week's Tales of Zestiria the X – having somewhat miraculously purified the dragon plaguing Ladylake, and after nine days of rest we're not privy to (I can't blame them; we didn't really need to see Mikleo worrying extensively), Symonne reappears and lets everyone know that the Lord of Calamity is gathering his Malevolent forces in the far north. So that means it's time to suit up and get trekking!

The major issue with the episode is that it feels a little disjointed, particularly in its first half. We open with the heartwarming scene of most of Ladylake's population praying for Alisha's well-being to Sorey's cheerful entrance, where he seems to be totally unfazed by his five-day nap or the fact that his squires haven't awoken yet. Only poor Mikleo seems at all concerned about Rose and Alisha, which is interesting. It either speaks to the fact that he's the brains of the Sorey-Mikleo team or that he's the youngest Seraph present and hasn't seen this sort of thing before, while Lailah and Edna know better than to fret. Arguably, he's more emotionally invested in the humans because of his relationship with Sorey. This seems to be borne out by his obvious surprise that Dezel isn't keeping watch over Rose, since the wind Seraph's attachment to the young woman is obvious.

As it turns out, Dezel has been sparring with Symonne, although who instigated this isn't clear. Symonne seems to be suffering from some sort of crisis of conscience at the moment – she isn't a fan of Sorey and his pals, but she also looks to have some doubts about the Lord of Calamity's plans to end the world. She appears to be trying to motivate the group to head north, but she has serious reservations about their fitness to do so; watching an attempted Armatization by the squires toward the end of the episode, she looks genuinely worried that they won't be able to make it to the north, much less fight her master with any kind of success. Since I have my doubts that she's concerned about her boss having an enjoyable fight, this casts doubt on her motives.

Lailah's motivations also feel a little shaky, or at least her early faith in Sorey. After Symonne shows Sorey and the Seraphs a preview of the world's end, Lailah produces a second volume of Shepherd lore that she's been holding back from her present Shepherd. On the one hand, she's been around a long time and has seen a lot of Shepherds come, fail, and go. On the other, she's been deliberately not giving Sorey all of the information he could use in his fight, which isn't a great sign. Again, only Mikleo seems to find this unsettling, but it doesn't sit particularly well with me.

Among all of this serious stuff, it's nice to see the episode also deliver some lighter moments, and there are particularly good ones this week. Rose and Alisha appear to be forming a genuine friendship, and the scene where they wake up and then promptly fall back asleep is both familiar and funny. Rose's attempts to find a stylish winter coat for Sorey (not possible if you want to actually stay warm) are a lot of fun as well, particularly the vaguely stunned look on Sorey's face as she conducts her mini-fashion-show. We also see a return of Sorey and Mikleo's easy close friendship, which has been on the back burner lately (along with some fanservice bath scenes for both guys and ladies), and Dezel has been noticeably more comfortable with the gang since Zaveid showed up. As an added bonus, we can see that Sorey's work really is making a difference – people from both nations he's visited show up to help out in his quest, and the fondness Alisha's people feel for her makes it clear that we've come a long way since the start of the series.

As the gang heads to what looks suspiciously like Maine's Carrabassett Valley, Symonne's motivations will be worth keeping an eye on. Whether or not Alisha and Rose can Armatize with Edna and Dezel (and I am a little surprised that it's Edna and not Zaveid for Alisha) will have an impact on their fighting capabilities, so we shall see what Symonne's next moves will be – and if she's having second thoughts about where she wants to place her loyalties.

Rating: B

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

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