Tales of Zestiria the X
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 9 of
Tales of Zestiria the X ?
Tales of Zestiria the X has been pretty good about not rushing things up until this week. Not that the episode itself felt rushed once it got going, but the introduction of Edna, Zaveid, and the whole dragon revelation seemed to happen in double-time, throwing the characters at us without fanfare (literally in the case of Edna) and giving us major plot information with all the finesse of a firehose. Given that this first cour is approaching its end, that does make a certain amount of sense, but it still makes this episode stand out in a bad way.
There's pretty much no time wasted on Mikleo exploring the fantastic underwater ruins, or Sorey and Lailah getting to the mountainous region where the miasma is so thick you can see it. No sooner have they gotten there than Edna is chucked right off a cliff and into the story – first her parasol comes tumbling down, then she's hurtling towards Sorey. She's been fighting a particularly ugly hyouma, a boar-like creature with bilious purple horns, and before Sorey can purify it, a shot fired from afar utterly destroys it, much to his horror. Both Edna and the man who fired the shot, Zaveid, take this as a sign of his adorable innocence, thus setting up the ideological groundwork for the episode. Sorey believes it's always worth trying to save someone, while Zaveid thinks that sometimes you just have to put them down.
Edna forms the middle ground here, which is interesting because she doesn't really do much, but the scaly dragon who appears shortly afterward used to be her brother Eizen. It turns out that dragons are Seraphim who have been somehow transformed, presumably from too much time around negative energy. Lailah tells Sorey that once someone has become a dragon, there's no bringing them back, but naturally Sorey can't accept that. Still, if he's going to try and save Eizen, he'll need to convince Edna and Zaveid that it's possible. It feels like a foregone conclusion that he'll convince them, because he's the Shepherd, and saving people is just what Shepherds do. What Zaveid sees as naiveté is what makes Sorey a Shepherd in the first place, and Zaveid dismissal of this trait as silly speaks to how long it's been since there were other Shepherds wandering around. Hopefully, this will tie back into the Berseria episodes, which seems possible given the dragon and dead brother links between those episodes and this one.
Personally, I suspect that Mikleo will be a large part of saving Eizen, because while he doesn't get a lot of screen time this week, what he does have seems important. Using his knowledge of ruin exploration, he manages to find an altar across an invisible bridge where a large bow is enshrined. Unlike the spear he can materialize, the bow has the power to purify (or at least drive off) hyouma, as he learns when he's attacked by three bug-like foes. This would be the perfect weapon to fight Eizen in his dragon form: long-ranged with the ability to purify, rather than kill like Zaveid's own ranged weapon. Not only does it illustrate the philosophical differences between Team Sorey and Zaveid, but it also would serve Mikleo's need to be useful now that his childhood buddy has become such a powerful figure, as well as making him an indispensable part of the group on his own merits. And since Edna has asked Lailah for a sort of sub-contract with Sorey, we know that the Sorey/Mikleo combo we see in the opening theme is more than just a possibility – when they meet each other again, things are going to take off.
First, however, we have to deal with the plague-stricken town Alisha has been sent to check on. A terrible storm has knocked out the bridge, although whether that's before or after she's arrived at the town isn't yet clear. (I suspect after, just for dramatic purposes.) It's possible everyone will meet back up at the plague town before Alisha contracts it or gets herself into some other sort of trouble, but whether or not that happens, let's just hope that it feels less rushed at the start than this episode did.
Tales of Zestiria the X is currently streaming on Funimation.
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