Episode #01 of Zestiria X finds itself still before the game story proper, but then reaches to the very start of the game.
Episode 01 starts with Alisha finding a ruin for shelter. Before falling asleep by the entrance, she comments how this world seems to be beyond saving. From afar, a little Normin is watching her.
Later in the morning, Alisha ventures within the ruin and finds that it's another mural for the Shepherd. The discovery of something related to the Shepherd doesn't make her give even the tiniest smile, but her sense of wonder is still there.
She inspects the mural while reading excerpts from the Celestial Record, all the while that Normin is following her and imitating her without her knowledge - Normins are seraphim, after all. She comments silently how her excerpt is nothing more than legend, but it seems the Normin wants to convince her otherwise. Not that she can see him, really.
Suddenly, another calamity strikes. A swarm of insects make their way toward Alisha. They attack, but little Normin here uses his seraphic powers and shields her from their blow. As Alisha freaks out (who wouldn't?), and the little Normin tries his best to protect her from these creepy crawlies. We get a little more of little Normin's display of might.
The Normin blows a hole into the wall. Alisha notices that there seems to be another room beyond it and breaks through the wall as well. She freaks out again when the insects start crawling up to her and she falls back through what looks like an aqueduct.
She falls straight down into what seems to be a pool at first, and she swims up for air at the first sight of light - only to find that she's actually on the ceiling of the ruin. Because gravity, she falls down from the water and down onto the floor, losing consciousness for a bit.
Alisha wakes up to find the body of water indeed suspended to the ceiling, commenting that it must be something from the era of Asgard.
She makes it out of the ruin and into a patch of flowers with a waterfall by it. There, a big tree stands, and Alisha finds a small stone monument bearing the Shepherd's crest. She mentions how it might be where the light falls on the Shepherd's crest...and conveniently, light does fall on it for a bit. Seemingly activated, it moves out from under the tree and toward the waterfall. It shines and opens up an entrance from beneath the waterfall, making Alisha wonder if the legend might be true, after all.
After all this Alisha, we're finally face to face with Sorey and Mikleo. The two discover a ruin and are looking around outside of it, wondering why no one in the village knows of this ruin (considering how NEAR it is to Elysia in-game, that's saying a lot). The two discover one of their Gramps's illusions and breaks it, and are about to enter the ruin only to be stopped by Gramps himself. Gramps explains that the place has been sealed long ago and that he won't allow the two to explore it.
Back at Sorey's place, the two wonder why Gramps won't let them near the ruin. Sorey finds an excerpt in his copy of the Celestial Record which probably explains why - the place used to be the Celestial Capital where humans and seraphim lived in harmony - seraphim gave their blessings while the people gave their prayers.
Mikleo points out that the ruin also wasn't under Gramps's "palanquin route" (
Whatever that means. Apparently it's a mistranslation on the subs - he means "blessed domain." Thanks for pointing it out, @LightningKikib!), so the two decide to go and explore it anyway despite his orders. They then do their signature BFF fist bump, which they made much more complicated than its game counterpart.
Back to Alisha, she's still exploring within the ruin, this time in a place devoid of light. The darkness eventually gets to her and she gets a short panic attack, screaming into the darkness. Releasing all that tension calms her down a bit and she continues through the darkness.
Back to outside the ruin, Sorey lands at the ruin proper and discovers a mural for the Shepherd. He also discovers a (fingerless) glove that bears the Shepherd's crest, but Mikleo takes it from him before he can examine it further. He apparently got there before Mikleo could.
Those who've watched the Dawn of the Shepherd OVA will notice that majority of this scene was pretty much copy-paste, specifically the art. Can't really blame ufotable, really - I mean, it was already good in Dawn, so no sense in redrawing the whole thing if it'd be the exact same scene anyway. The dialogue also sounds the same for most parts.
The two are interrupted by the sudden fall of lightning - Sorey immediately notices it as not normal. The anime shows us what the game didn't - Alisha is actually very near the two, near an exit, and notices the lightning. She runs toward it, only to be almost attacked by it, making her run back into the ruin.
The lightning is made by Zenrus, aka Gramps. Kyme, a seraph, reports to him that someone's disturbing the area outside his domain. He also notes that Sorey and Mikleo haven't returned yet. He expresses his frustration with the two - it seems he knows they're in the very ruins he just forbade them to go to. He instructs Kyme to just do nothing for now.
Back at the ruins, Alisha reaches a dead end in the shrine within. The monument there lights up and hits the ground she's under with lightning - making it collapse. She falls down to the lower level and loses consciousness again. Gramps comments that he shows no mercy to anyone who enters his domain.
This is something I never really considered in the game at all, and something enlightening to see in the anime - this scene clearly depicts the lightning bolt after Sorey. Not even Mikleo, but Sorey himself. Initially in the game, I thought the lightning outside were just being random with their attempts - then I thought it was being specific to anyone who just invaded the shrine after the two find Alisha - but no. It feels like Gramps actually set his power at that time to target any human it detects.
Remember that in the game, Gramps has the power to actually detect what invades his domain and around it - for instance, when Lunarre invaded, he knew it was a hellion. So who's to say that he doesn't know that who invaded was a human? He now has his powers set to "attack the human who's invaded my domain," but then Sorey himself is a human - so it's attacking him, too. The lightning doesn't even aim for Mikleo - it really went after Sorey.
So anyway, Mikleo falls as the ground below him crumbles, and Sorey follows. The two free-fall down into the shrine, and Mikleo casts Twin Flow to cushion Sorey's fall.
Though the whole speculation may be wrong though since the lightning doesn't continue to attack Sorey when they're inside the shrine - or maybe Gramps already put his powers to a stop. We'll never know.
The two look around a bit and are ecstatic to find an even bigger shrine inside. From afar, a level below them, Sorey notices a human unconscious - it's Alisha. Sorey wants to help, and initially Mikleo doesn't want to - they shouldn't get involved with humans. Eventually, he relents anyway but wonders how they'll be able to get down. Sorey of course, has the solution. He grabs Mikleo and they swing down to the lower level.
Despite being down that level, Mikleo remarks there's no point since they still have to cross the wide gap to get to her. Sorey points out that there's dirt floating between that gap. Mikleo understands right away and casts a spell on the area, showing the form of a bridge. As the two cross it to the other side, they remark how no ordinary humans could have made this (initially) invisible bridge, so it must be from the Asgard era - similar to the water on the ceiling thing Alisha found earlier.
The anime is really showing that despite his dorkiness, Sorey is actually quite sharp when it comes to the obscure - as long as it has anything to do with ruins, that is.
They reach Alisha and Sorey wakes her up. She actually seems less wary of Sorey here than she did in the game here. After getting to her feet and getting Sorey's name, Alisha blurts out, asking Sorey if he is the Shepherd. The episode ends there, Sorey and Mikleo staring at her and her sudden question.
I actually find that last scene to be somewhat heartbreaking - the anime has so far shown us a side that we don't see of Alisha in the game. To be honest, in the game, I thought she just went away from Ladylake to deliberately look for the Shepherd - but no, she went through so much more horrible things.
She just lost all her close knight friends and an entire village. She has seen a young girl pretty much die right in front of her. She saw what seemed like a dragon going toward her (and we still don't know how she got out of that, exactly) as she hung on for dear life. She was pretty much attacked by a swarm of killer roaches. Not so serious as the previous ones, but she fell down from a body of suspended water and onto the cold hard ground of a ruin. Earlier, she was just lost in a room filled with darkness and had a mini panic attack because of it. She then got attacked by Gramps's magical lightning and fell another story down onto the cold hard ground - this girl has gone through hell in a span of...what, a day or two? She is panicked, she is scared, she is distressed, she is desperate - so the first thing she asks, after going through what seemed to be a ruin that the Shepherd's crest led her to, is whether or not this gentle soul right before her could be the Shepherd - the very person that could probably save her from the hell she's experiencing right now...and possibly the world that's falling into chaos.
Of course, we all know Sorey isn't the Shepherd. At least, not yet.
I think my only qualm with this episode was that they kept playing Mountain Ruins Overflowing with Passion for History so loud. I mean, I know they're trying to show how majestic the ruins are, but it just kept playing from the start each time that it just got old - and annoyingly loud to the ears. Then again, the game itself is notorious for having loud tracks during important scenes to the point that I had to lower the BGM volume a bit.
We're finally shown the ending movie, featuring the song "calling" by fhana. The ending shows everyone pretty much having a good time in a picnic.
The next episode previews of the anime are in skit form! This is certainly a welcome addition and for this episode, it was hilarious. Watch it, watch it now!
Next episode: #02 - Elysia. Tune in next week!