Tales of Zestiria the X
Episode 5

by Rebecca Silverman,

How would you rate episode 6 of
Tales of Zestiria the X ?

Sorey and Mikleo did warn us that it would happen – this week's episode is not about any of the characters we have met thus far. In fact, it introduces an entirely new trio, led by Velvet Crowe, the heroine of a different game in the Tales series, Tales of Berseria. Research shows that Velvet's story takes place in the past of the same world as Zestiria, which fits very well with some of the imagery that we've already been given. As I mentioned earlier, Tales of Zestiria the X uses elements of Arthurian lore, namely Ladylake and the sword in the stone that can only be pulled out by the one true Shepherd. Velvet's archnemesis is a man named Artorius, a ruler she apparently once thought was benevolent before he ran a child through and sacrificed him under a full blood moon. If this is the past of Alisha's kingdom, he's likely the fellow whose sword was stuck in the stone, or he's at least related to the reason the blade was in there for Sorey to pull out, and the falling out between humans and seraphim may be the end result of whatever Velvet and her companions are up to. Given that the next episode is called “Velvet Crowe,” I'd hazard a guess that we'll be following their tale for a bit.

I have mixed feelings on that front. Velvet, while definitely a leading contender for badass female character of the season, doesn't appear to have a motivation beyond the tried-and-true “revenge,” making her story just a little less interesting than Sorey's. She's the shadow behind his light, so to speak, and while a good revenge story is always a lot of fun, it doesn't feel like this has quite enough time to develop, seeing as it's in the position of side/backstory to the main Zestiria plot. Of course, the “X” (cross) may refer to the two stories crossing over, which would be a different story altogether. Seeing the past and the present play out at the same time could be very interesting.

The plot this week is very simple – Velvet has been imprisoned in the dungeon by Artorius, and Serres comes to free her. During their escape, they meet up with Rokuro Rangetsu, and the three agree to help each other flee the confines of the island – luckily Serres has brought a boat. Along the way, we learn about Velvet's motivations, as well as her ability to eat Daemons, which are the type of monster generally kept in the prison, then Artorius' ship sails in. That's a pretty thin plot for an episode of this series, so it's really the execution, as well as wondering how this will tie back in with the rest of the show, that makes it.

In terms of the actual episode, the usual gorgeous details are present. When we first meet Velvet, she's clearly been in the dungeon for a long time; we can see how her clothing has shredded and generally deteriorated. The slight waves of heat shimmer coming off her magical arm are barely noticeable, like what you see above the road on a hot day if you squint, and the scope of the island dungeon manages to be both vast and oppressive at the same time. The only major issue I have is the ship that we see at the end – there's just something off about the set of the sails in the wind. I also initially thought it was a bell buoy, not a vessel, but the sound may have thrown me off.

Who was the little boy Artorius sacrificed, and is there more to Velvet's outrage than the fact that he killed a kid? How did Serres break free and decide to save Velvet? What's Rokuro's deal? These questions make this otherwise thin episode work alongside its visuals; we'll see how long it takes for the series to supply answers without keeping us away from the main plot for too long. In the meantime you can enjoy the music video that ends the episode, which appears to preview what's coming up for Sorey, Alisha, Mikleo, Lailah, and other characters we haven't met yet. The song is more driving than the rest of the series' music, and I have to admit that I'm now on the hunt for a copy.

Rating: B+

Tales of Zestiria the X is currently streaming on Funimation.

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