The malevolence spreads and the fate of the world is at stake.
What They Say:
Sorey continues on his path of peace while his abilities as the Shepherd grow stronger. But, unbeknownst to him, his ally Rose leads the Scattered Bones on missions of vengeance. When she plans to exact revenge with the wind Seraph Dezel, can Sorey stop them from shedding more blood? Or are they and everyone else doomed to fall to malevolence? The final battle against the Lord of Calamity begins!
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo while the English mix gets a 5.1 boost, both of which are encoded using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. The series works a fairly strong forward soundstage mix in general because of the use of the magic and action so that there’s plenty going on in each episode. It moves elements across the screen smoothly and with depth as needed while dialogue follows a similar pattern as needed. A lot of it is fairly straightforward but there are some fun moments that stand out a bit more. The 5.1 boost helps with the bass a good bit in the action and has a more expansive feeling with the theme and other music elements that gives it a richer and warmer take. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2017, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The show is split across two discs with nine episodes on the first and four on the second. Animated by ufotable, the series has a really strong look to it with great visuals throughout, animated and more obvious CG elements alike. The flow of the animation is very appealing in the high motion scenes but the quieter scenes showcase the backgrounds with all their rich details which hold together beautifully. It’s a design that really looks great and does a solid job with the blend of the animation styles, which the encoding captures very well. Colors are rich and full of great range while some of the and the darker areas hold up wonderfully well. It’s a great looking show that got a great looking encode.
The packaging for this release is pretty nice as we get a slightly thicker than usual Blu-ray case that holds both formats inside on hinges. The set comes with an o-card that replicate the artwork from the case but the case sid doesn’t have the border, giving us a really neat cover with how all the blues tie together with Sorey in this form. The back covers are the same with a nice visual of some of the cast along the top and a very easy to read summary of the premise done in black against soft white that’s not all cramped together. A few shots from the show add some color as does the Digital Copy strip just below it. Extras are clearly listed and the technical grid breaks down both formats clearly and accurately. While there are no inserts in the set related to the show we do get a great two-panel spread of beautiful artwork on the reverse side that shows off the main cast.
The extras are kept to the second disc outside of the commentaries and there’s a lot to like here. The commentaries for two episodes are definitely fun to have, especially with one of them being an always enjoyable video interview. Beyond that we get a new round of promos and commercials as well as the clean opening and closing sequences for these episodes.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The first half of the Tales of Zestiria the X series wasn’t exactly a struggle to watch but it was one that I felt was challenging. I enjoyed the visuals of it a great deal with how the characters were presented, the vibrancy of the production as a whole, and the scale of the backgrounds to really give it a big world lived in kind of feeling. At the same time, even after watching some other Tales shows in the past, the show simply felt too inside baseball for me. I’ve never played any of the games themselves but it just has this veneer to me that felt like it was aimed squarely at that audience and they were happy if other folks got into it as well. That put up a barrier for me that I couldn’t quite cross and that, in the end, left me in the position of enjoying it visually but not really connecting with the story. It does all come together very well in the end, though what made me really understand that it didn’t connect for me was that my favorite thing in there being an epilogue didn’t have much meaning for me.
A lot of what we got in the first season was introduction and setup for the adventure ahead, which culminated in the war getting underway at the end involving Hyland and Rolance. The malevolence has been building throughout the land for some time and the various effects on it have been in place and expanding from there, largely through Heldalf and what he represents. As the opposite of Sorey, the two are definitely strong visually in showing different ways to deal with things though there’s a familiarity to it as well in fantasy design. As much as I like Sorey and how he works with the seraphim to accomplish the goal, the slight of figure and more by intelligence and understanding aspect of the character is a frustratingly easy fallback. It’s rare that our leading male is just as much of a brick as the opponent because that requires more work in solving the puzzle of how it all ends. But it generally offers a bit more to work with.
A decent part of this season is still what you get in a two-cour show in that it’s journey material. That’s at least instrumental to our lead character of Sorey as the Shepherd since he’s been told that the way to defeat the malevolence is to understand the world and its people. That journey moves forward well as things come into clarity with hoe there’s a powerful mass of malevolence known as the Lord of Calamity, which gets a bit interesting toward the end in how it’s more of a vessel even if we know the person that wraps around that container, who in a way ends up not being all that important because of how the malevolence operates. Sorey’s journey is more than just an education on the world itself but on the darker side of things and how in an indirect way the malevolence is created. It’s simply reaching a point where it’s more than the world can handle and it’s up to the Shepherd to figure out the right way to handle all of that.
A lot of what the show moves through are interesting character pieces in the moment that they unfold but they never felt like they connected in the larger side for me. I liked everyone as we got them with the group that Sorey is aligned with and I really enjoyed the material involving Ladylake and the dragon side of it since that’s a nice callback to other story elements. There’s almost a cat and mouse kind of thing going on with Sorey and the Lord of Calamity as the show moves further in but it often comes across as a kind of padding to keep things moving in the tradition of most fantasy projects with the journey itself. That said, when we do get to that final arc and final few episodes with the main confrontation, the exploration of the Lord of Calamity’s past is really nicely done and the two-stage fight that Sorey goes through with his armatization and then ultimate form brings it all together beautifully. It was simply the characters that I could never fully connect with.
Tales of Zestiria the X is a beautiful show. Flat out. I loved every aspect of its visual design, detail, and color choice. It’s striking on the big screen in a way a lot of shows aren’t and I was drawn to it with that. Unfortunately, the story itself – which is fairly straightforward – never connected for me on the character level and that created a barrier that I couldn’t get past. It simply felt like it wasn’t accessible to me as a non-game player. I love fantasy shows in general since we get so few of them and this one was even better as it avoided populating it with science fiction elements and the like as many of them tend to do. While it didn’t connect for me it is a show that I can enthusiastically recommend for the right audience because it does so much right. Funimation’s release complements the first season release just right and it looks great, sounds great, and has some solid extras. This property is being very well treated here.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Episode 22 Commentary, Episode 25 Video Commentary, Promo Videos, Commercials, Textless Opening & Closing Songs
Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: A-
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B+
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: March 13th, 2018
Running Time: 325 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.