I previously reviewed season 1 of Tales of Zestiria the X, the story of Sorey the Shepherd on his journey to purify the malevolence of the world. Season 2 continues Sorey’s journey as he eventually gets around to dealing with the Lord of Calamity. I reviewed this week to week here.
Review (spoilers for the final battle included – fair warning):
While I will freely admit that based on a game adaptations have a terrible reputation, there are quite a few that I enjoy. The original Resident Evil movie is highly entertaining (if silly) fun and there have been a number of anime I’ve enjoyed before later finding out they were based on games I’d never heard of. Tales of Zestiria I knew was a game because unless I disconnected from the internet entirely it would have been impossible to miss that, and yet season 1, despite some issues, was fairly enjoyable.
Season 2 spent a lot of time correcting that and came into line with the expectations of based on game adaptations. The sense of fun disappeared from the series entirely and a lot of the second season lacked direction or purpose. We spent a lot of time with Rose early in the season but in the end she and Alisha kind of seemed like excess baggage by the time we got to the final fight sequence. Some characters seemed to appear only because they must have actually been significant in the game but all they did here was distract and clutter an already cluttered narrative. They had no impact because in the anime they served no purpose.
Though perhaps the biggest issue season 2 had was the final episode just didn’t come out. No announcement in an obvious location about what had happened. It was a week after I stopped looking for the episode when I read on someone else’s blog the episode was delayed until the end of the month, but it wasn’t like anyone was going out of there way to make it known why there was a delay or that the delay had even happened. Part of the blame for that has to go on to the distributors though who just didn’t put up the next episode and didn’t bother to put any kind of notice on their blogs or email out to their subscribers. Amazingly enough, people don’t get half as annoyed by delays when informed about them.
Still, when you are already mid-way through a final boss battle and then the next episode just doesn’t show up, it really does break the flow. And when the show was already so problematic you had considered not watching further about mid-season, if not for my fairly insane levels of curiosity I may never have gone back to watch the final episode.
All things considered, it didn’t matter whether I watched it or not. By the time we get close to the final episode we already know what to expect from Tales of Zestiria. They have no commitment to theme. No commitment to actual narrative. Sorey is good because he is. There’s no other reason. He believes he can save the world because he does. There’s no other reason. Others have faith in him because they do. Some of them kind of have reason for this, but most just blindly listen to his unsupported assertions and after a half-hearted counter-argument, accept them as truth from that point forward.
There’s lots of shared smiles, hand holding, and pep talks, but little to support the connections that are supposedly existing between the main group. Even Sorey’s final solution for dealing with the Lord of Calamity is just him asserting that he can do it and it will work and the others once again accept it on faith that it will happen. Nothing could possibly go wrong with that plan.
It’s overly optimistic foolishness at best, and even if you put your own logic on hold and also just accept that whatever Sorey says is right for whatever reason, the narrative is still deeply unsatisfying. Most of the season they just kind of go from one minor issue or character drama to the next until the henchmen for the bad guy shows up and tells them where he is. She even escorts them there, before she gets turned into a dragon and ceases to have any relevance to the plot. Then again, the bad guy couldn’t have just sent Sorey a carrier pigeon and a map for all the impact said henchmen had so maybe her turning into a dragon was the most useful thing they could do with her.
They finally get through all the dragons and face the Lord of Calamity and suddenly we can combine powers and meanwhile, Calamity guy is just going to stand there and wait for them to discuss it, do it, and then get used to it. As a villain he kind of sucks. I know someone will argue that the human inside him actually wanted to be purified or killed all along and so was allowing Sorey the chance to do so, but then why is he actually scary? And why did the human inside allow him to stir up so much chaos and slaughter at the end of season 1 if the human actually cared about what was going on? It is inconsistent and makes no sense.
Still, we could have at least had a dramatic ending if the show had actually been willing to commit to self-sacrifice for the greater good and yet even then it fails to follow through.
All and all, Tales of Zestiria season 2 is full of pretty light shows and transformations, has a few minor character moments that are half-way interesting even if the overall plot gets thrown aside for these to fit in, it does bring things to a resolution, but is mostly a disappointment to watch and to be honest there’s plenty of better things you could be watching.
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