Prologue 00. The Age of Chaos.
The Tales of games franchise has had a strong following in Japan, at least for the 20 years it’s been going. While having its ups and downs Bandai Namco’s JRPG series has done a lot of spreading into other media, and 2015’s Tales of Zestiria is the latest to so. Previous games have had anime adaptations including television series, OVAs, and a feature film. Tales of Zestiria the X (pronounced as “cross”) is animated by Ufotable, the studio who also provided the animated cut scenes in the original game. The series soundtrack is composed by Motoi Sakuraba and Go Shiina, the composers of the game’s score.
The story begins with Alisha, princess and knight, moving to investigate a dark mist over a village called Guriel. On the way she and her companion knights stop for the night in some ruins, the nature of her orders and other aspects of what she is dealing with. These include a government council and a festival she is organising to try to improve the morale of her people. The ruins themselves also provide a little bit about The Shepherds, legendary saviours of the world in days past. It is clear here that these myths and legends will play a strong part in the continuing narrative. Along the way, the party are attacked by assassins. They appear to be targeting Alisha and her party. From here there is quite a bit of action. The fight scene here shows Alisha as a competent fighter and parts of how the fight ends sets up how things will appear to develop later on in the episode, as well as the series. The action picks up when it comes to the climax. As a whole the focus on Alisha is very nice although there may be some aspects of her character shown here that might paint an image of a flat character. It will remain to be seen how things will develop.
It is worth mentioning that the event in this episode a completely new. They do not occur in the source material, which works for it being a prologue to the series. The events here are meant to set up the world and offer a look into the plight of the world before the main story. Admittedly, quite a few of these events will mean more to those who have played Tales of Zestiria. This is especially true regarding certain characters that appear here and their actions. It is a shame that the new characters here do not have much of a lasting impact thanks to the climax of the episode.
The series looks beautiful. There is use of 3D models in the back grounds and they are done very well. They really show the environment of the world and give it a strong sense of character. The character animation is pretty nice too. It’s best shown during the assassin attack.
As an opening episode, it is a decent start. It does some world building, mainly in describing the changes that are happening to the world. It is a little flawed in the character introduction but at least you can understand Alisha and her motivations. While it will mean more to Tales fans, this was enjoyable in its own right. It will be more telling for Tales of Zestiria the X when it moves into the story proper and things can get going. For me at least it looks promising and I would recommend it.