Our heroes learn more about the Shepherd's role in the world as they are about to meet their biggest threat yet.
Unlike the Daisuki Sub reviews by a745, the Funimation Dub reviews will have a more episodic approach to the series and will not make as much spoiler references to the source material.
The episode starts with Sorey waking up in a bed and is greeted by Mikleo & Lailah. He learns that he was knocked out for 3 days straight with a high fever, and Alisha was taking of Sorey while he was sick. Alisha then walks inside and the two of them both exchange relief and satisfaction that the other is okay. The two proceed to eat while recapping the events that occurred during the Sacred Blade Festival. She then expressed appreciation of Sorey’s arrival and as a token of her thanks, she prepared an outfit for him that was similar to the one worn in the Legend. Lailah & Mikleo come in remarking on the outfit as Alisha watched in confusion, wondering if Sorey is speaking with Seraphim. We get short glimpses of Alisha’s point of view as Sorey introduced the Seraphim to her, but she couldn’t see them. This prompted her to reflect on that fact that she can’t do anything else to help him as she can’t communicate with the Seraphim.
This gave Lailah the idea to use Sorey as a channel to communicate with Alisha directly. This led to a nice scene of comedy as it involved some trial and error. Sorey not only held Alisha’s hand, but he had to close his eyes, plug his nose and hold his breath as Lailah covered his ears. Complicated as this setup may be, it enabled Lailah & Mikleo to only directly speak with Alisha. Lailah informs Alisha to not forget the Seraphim or else the Malevolence will rise. Unfortunately, Sorey was out of breath (to which Alisha hilariously asks Sorey to try one more time.) which caused the channel to be cut. Lailah explains that concentration is required to allow Alisha which was why she had Sorey block off his other senses. All of this excited Sorey as he thought with this he could have the entire world communicating directing with Seraphim, but Lailah corrects Sorey that it won’t work for everyone as Alisha is only of a select few who have a special talent. This experience does uplift Alisha’s spirit immensely as she now believes in existence of Seraphim without any doubt. She then receives word from a maid that she has to go to the castle, but Sorey decides to accompany Alisha during the ride there as per Lailah’s suggestion.
As they travel the city by carriage, Sorey was surprised by the amount flags with the Shepherd’s emblem hung throughout the city. Alisha explains that this was all hung up by the civilians themselves, proving that they’ve always been in wait for the Shepherd, but were too afraid to hope. Sorey was little distracted by something in the skies, but responds by how nerve racking it is to be the Shepherd these people believed in. Alisha then drops off Sorey & the Seraphim at the entrance of the castle and leaves them behind. Before they explored the city, Sorey suddenly wobbled a bit, stating that he was feeling sick. Mikleo wondered why he’s suddenly sick again since he was fine earlier today, which Sorey informed them that he started feeling the symptoms when they started travelling around the city. Lailah attributes this to the Malevolence in the area and it’s just his body reacting to it. Sorey sensed that there was a different source of the Malevolence that he wasn’t able to pinpoint it at first, but once he took the time to concentrate, he led the trio to an underground ruins. Sorey, while sick, resolves his will as they decide to go inside to search for the source of all this Malevolence.
At the castle, there was a meeting involving Alisha, Chancellor Bartlow, and a couple of council members. Bartlow demands that Alisha give them the Shepherd as he believed she kept his existence in secrecy, and that his immense power would be a great asset under their control. Alisha refuses, regardless of what the council mutually agreed on. Back at the ruins, the trio find themselves at a dead end, but Sorey and Mikleo believe that there’s a sealed entrance nearby that should lead them deeper into the ruins. Mikleo eventually finds a trigger by placing his hand in a lion-like bust, which caused a small part of the wall to slide outward. This partition was marked with the emblem of the Hyland Royal Family, which reminded Sorey that he forgot to return Alisha’s knife. Mikleo suggested that Sorey use the knife to open the entrance, which he does by showing the hilt in front of the partition. This caused a beam of light to connect the two objects, and the entrance is revealed by that exact same light before their very eyes (and further proving to the audience that this truly is an anime adaptation of a video game).
They proceed deeper into the ruins as the torches lit up responding to their arrival and end up in a room with a dragon statue. Upon discovering the statue, Mikleo explains that dragons are harbingers of death and destruction. The fact that this statue was built made him believe that there is something definitely wrong with these ruins. Sorey noticed that the Malevolence was a lot stronger here and wondered if the statue had anything to do with it, to which Lailah suggests otherwise and believes that it’s coming from a nearby entity; a Hellion.
Cue in a swarm of purple bats from above joining together to form Pteropus a larger bat Hellion as it attempts to charge at the party. Mikleo used his magic to hit the creature but this caused it split into smaller bats again. Sorey & Lailah managed to repel a couple of them away, but the bats combined together again and knocked Mikleo down. Sorey protects Mikleo from the Hellion by slashing at it, but this caused the Hellion to disperse and reform once more. Realizing they need a different strategy, Lailah had Sorey slash the Hellion to cause it to split as she prepared her magical sheets of paper across the room. They begin to envelop in flames as Lailah caused them to explode altogether, forcing the bats to escape. They rejoice in victory but Lailah worried if Sorey is out of energy. If he was, she offered a live demonstration of powering him up by turning into a ball of energy and going inside of him, which freaked him out a bit. After exiting his body, she advised him that there are other Seraphim he’ll need to form pacts with in order to obtain more power, but warns him that with each pact comes at a cost as the Shepherd. Even though they’ve defeated the bats, the team decided to head deeper into ruins as they can sense that there is more Malevolence to attend to.
This led them to a dark room which Lailah illuminates by lighting a paper sheet. Upon illumination, this revealed a multitude of human skeletons and skulls scattered about. Lailah explains that this was the fate of the people who rebelled against their rulers; they were slaughtered in secret for their actions. Before they were slaughtered, they left a darkness produced from their desires, fears, and hate, which later transformed into Malevolence, and thus Hellions spawn from the amount of Malevolence formulated from these people. Sorey initially wondered why they weren’t buried properly, but understood why after looking at Alisha’s blade again. Lailah validates this by explaining that these deaths were kept in secrecy to maintain the reputation of the royal rulers at the time. Sorey asked her if Alisha was aware of all this, and she responds by shaking her head. He then realized that Lailah knew about that these ruins existed all along and she brought them there so that they can witness the cause of Malevolence firsthand. She then describes the Shepherd’s one and true goal: To purify the creator of Hellions and the source of Malevolence, the Lord of Calamity. An entity so dangerous that the Malevolence it produces is enough to affect the entire world. She warns him that in his current state, he is not strong enough to purify the Lord of Calamity. The most that she can do to help is guide to find the solution in taking down the Lord of Calamity on his own. She advised him to travel the world, learn about the world and about himself, and discover the answer to rid the world of Malevolence.
Mikleo reassures Sorey he can do this, but as he stepped towards him they both noticed that there’s now water on the floor. Wondering where it came from, Lailah identifies that it was produced by the Malevolence, and ordered the rest of them to escape the ruin immediately. Suddenly, multiple bursts of geysers fired from the ground, which puts the ceiling at risk of collapsing inward. Mikleo responds by freezing the water with his magic, providing them enough time to escape the room before it closed in on them. They struggle through the escape, including the dragon statue from earlier almost collapsing on Sorey, but they managed to exit the ruins. Upon reaching the surface, they discover that there’s a heavy rainstorm outside which Lailah confirms is caused by Malevolence stronger than the norm. Alisha was then seen watching the storm from the castle as Maltran comments on how stubborn Alisha had been recently with the councilmen. She calms Alisha’s doubt in her actions and tells informs her that her strength is enough to keep Ladylake strong. They know that Bartlow was trying to obtain the power of the Shepherd in order to remove Alisha from her position. Alisha determines that Bartlow will most likely send her to Marlind next where there’s an apparent epidemic occurring there. She begins to talk about how she’s the only one currently in the royal family who can to provide her people aid directly. This caused Maltran to lightly tap her head, reminding her that she doesn’t have to do everything on her own. After accepting this, Alisha observed the storm and suddenly realized something dreadfully wrong. She runs outside to find out that the exact same tornado conditions she saw in Griel are now occurring here at Ladylake. We then cut to the Sparrowfeathers sheltering themselves while outside and to the Foxsassin, grinning gleefully at the scene in front of him. The episode closes off with Lailah, Mikleo and Sorey right in front of the turbulent winds, determined to take it down.
A very solid episode that had the right amount of humour, action, and exposition. We learn more of the Shepherd’s role in the world and his end goal: To purify the Lord of Calamity. We’ve witnessed Sorey’s first struggles as the Shepherd as it took a physical strain on his body throughout the episode. Not only that, but it escalated to their confrontation to the biggest threat we’ve seen in the series thus far, the dragon from the Prologue episode. How the party takes down this beast creates a lot of intrigue after the next 2 episodes. More on that later. The scene with Lailah & Mikleo communicating with Alisha was well done too. It was the right amount of levity after recovering from the events of the Sacred Blade Festival, and Alisha’s reaction upon finally being able to speak with the Seraphim felt genuine. Her eyes brightened upon hearing their voices, and not only was she very formal to them, but there was a childlike happiness she exuded as well. It felt good to finally see the series throw her a bone after all of the struggles she went through in the first couple of episodes.
The action scenes involving the party facing another Hellion and the environment around them was solid too. I especially enjoyed the Hellion fight scene because not only do we see a build to the animation’s complexity throughout the battle, but we also see a demonstration of the party’s teamwork—which is what Tales of games have always been about—and translated well in here. Bonus points to the orchestrated cover of A Formidable Foe That Stands in the Way, which is a traditional Tales of song since 2008. Recognizing it immediately had me grinning like the old school Tales of fan that I am.
Regarding the Dub/Translation: Not much to note except for one nitpick. Before Sorey revealed his Shepherd garb to Alisha, there was a moment when Alisha had lip flaps but nothing was heard. I had to rewind this to make sure I saw what I saw, and yes it turns out that Funimation missed a line. In the Japanese audio, she only calls out Sorey’s name in excitement, which I can see why they may exclude it in the dub, but the fact that her lips were still moving and her voice wasn’t heard was a little off-putting.
- Sorey’s strength as he starts to struggle through the physical demands of the Shepherd.
- Alisha’s reaction to hearing the Seraphim for the first time.
- Levity at the start of the episode was welcoming.
- The Hellion fight scene demonstrated good teamwork.
- The right amount of exposition to learn of the Shepherd’s goal.
- The music remixes from the game in this episode.
- Might be too much exposition for some people? I don’t see that personally, but if you’re on Episode 4 you should be used to this by now.
- The missing dubbed line during Alisha’s lip flaps at the beginning.
Overall, a very good episode that gets a 4/5 from me.
Now, the next two episodes will take a different approach as they will focus on the recently released Tales of game: Tales of Berseria. While it may be a bit abrupt to those who were introduced to Tales of Zestiria through this show only, rest assured that the two titles do have a bit of a tie between them. This will also be our first exposure to Tales of Berseria in a dubbed medium, so there is definitely a lot of intrigue coming into it. See you guys next time as we watch Episode 05: The Beginning of the Calamity