Tales of Zestiria the X
Episode 4

by Rebecca Silverman,

How would you rate episode 5 of
Tales of Zestiria the X ?

So apparently the title of this show is pronounced Tales of Zesitiria the Cross not Tales of Zestiria the Ex. Good thing they said it out loud in the preview, or I would have been stuck forever waiting for X to mark the spot or something equally piratical in the show. However you say it, this show continues to be worth watching in its fifth episode, with Sorey awakening three days after he fought the hyouma in the temple as the Shepherd. Clearly, bonding with Lailah takes a lot out of him, something she seemed to be expecting. Mikleo and Alisha, on the other hand, look like they've spent a few sleepless nights keeping an eye on the comatose Sorey – the gingerly way Alisha opens the bedroom door speaks of waning hope, and the fact that Mikleo is seated right next to Sorey's bed suggests that he has been parked there the entire time. (Lailah is standing a bit further back and her body language is much less worried.) As for Sorey, he appears fit as a fiddle now that he's woken up, which may be as much due to his life among the Seraphim as anything – he's clearly used to doing things that ordinary people would find difficult in general, as we saw when we first met him scrambling around the ruins.

Of course, his new bonded status does come with some special extra quirks. Malevolence now affects him just as much as the Seraphim, if not more; when he first gets hit with it, he almost crumples, while the previously affected Mikleo is fine. Whether this is because he's just awoken from a three-day nap or because this is the first time he's experienced the feeling isn't stated; both seem equally likely at this point. On a more promising note, he can now help people communicate with Seraphim, although he's not very good at it yet. It can't be as simple as just shoving them in Alisha's face, though that is what he first tries. Poor Mikleo ends up nose-to-nose with the oblivious princess, resulting in some faces as good as the ones in last week's preview. I have to admit that I kind of wish it had gone even farther, so that we could know if they're only invisible or intangible as well, but I have a feeling that if their faces had touched, Mikleo might have expired on the spot.

I must admit that he's rapidly become my favorite character, partially because he feels like the most developed. Right now, Sorey is still the brash young hero, Lailah is sweet and mysterious, and Alisha is earnest and hopeful, but Mikleo feels like he has more emotions and thoughts that we're only barely privy to. The considering look on his face when Lailah mentions that Sorey can contract with multiple Seraphim indicates that he's already considering possibilities, even as he keeps them to himself, and his forced disinterest whenever Alisha is around also hints at things he's just not voicing. He's the character who feels the most complete, although I'm sure that at least Sorey will also reach that point as the story goes on – as the hero, this is his journey, after all.

While there is a fight scene this week, it isn't on the grand scale of previous battles. Despite that, even Sorey leaping around with a sword swatting at hyouma bats is fun to watch, and the horror of what lies beneath the city more than makes up for a lack of gorgeous fight choreography. It seems Alisha may be the sole good person in the ruling class, although a lot of that is doubtless due to her naivety. This dark underbelly does speak to the overall condition of the kingdom and sets Sorey's band up for what they're going to have to deal with in the future, so it does seem safe to assume that the worst is yet to come. How this will factor into Sorey's journey to discover how he can combat the source of all malevolence as the Shepherd will be interesting, particularly since he's so intertwined with his friends. His truth is going to rely on them, which I suspect will help to boost Alisha's plans for a peaceful kingdom.

But first they're going to have to survive next week. A tornado of malevolent intent is bearing down on Ladylake as the episode ends, and Sorey and Mikleo apparently have next week off (cue the hot springs fanart!), so there's a lot to wonder about. Who will be in the next episode? How will Alisha handle this new crisis, and how much of Ladylake will it destroy? How beautiful will the rubble be? It's going to be a long week waiting to find out.

Rating: B+

Tales of Zestiria the X is currently streaming on Funimation.

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