Contains spoilers from the game and the anime. There are also Tales of Berseria spoilers as well.
Episode 13 starts with Lailah putting a quill pen back into the ink jar as she covers a presumably sleeping man with a blanket. This is Michael, dosage the previous Shepherd. Lailah is remembering him as Sorey reminds her of him. She remembers how Michael once said that it was his duty to rid the world of Malevolence. It seems that he hasn’t kept that promise because the age of calamity hasn’t been appeased and the world is on the verge of darkness. Though, the world hasn’t lost hope for she is travelling with a new Shepherd. She prays to the deceased Michael to watch over Sorey’s journey where his feelings and experiences will lead to Sorey’s answer.
The concept of Malevolence plays heavily throughout these five episodes. Sorey meets the storyteller Mayvin in episode 13 where the latter tells him the story of Shepherd Michael. Michael had once said to Mayvin:
“Everyone has a tainted heart slumbering deep inside. And if that’s Malevolence, I have it within me too. My troubles are nowhere profound. It’s being vague and not having clear answers. For example, if disposing someone will save many, is that a malevolent deed? Is accepting a necessary evil make people malevolent?”
This is a common theme in these three episodes. What is truly malevolent? The “disposing someone” part is also a foreshadowing of Rose’s actions because of her second job as an assassin where she kills. Is she malevolent? That is the question.
If this applies in real life, it’s like saying “Is murder wrong?” To me, I think murder is wrong, but that is how I was raised since birth. Others might think the contrary.
Then we have Rose who fits this theme. In the previous season, we saw her both as a merchant and an assassin. Only Alisha knew of this fact. Sorey was still in the dark.
Episode 13 shows the cheerful and merchant side of Rose when she’s with Sorey. She’s a good merchant who is beloved by many in Rolance. She knows how to sell products and she knows where each product is from and knows who is a con and who is not, as shown in beginning with Rose and the herb merchants.
She also has a strong sense of justice as she did her best to defend Sorey from Sergei who wants to arrest him.
Later in the episode, she walks out in the night and dons her Scattered Bones outfit. She and her assassin’s guild dispose the bishop Gaspard because he is a holy man doing bad deeds like hiding money and disposing anyone who found out about the hidden underground fortune. Because the man is corrupt, is disposing him the right thing to do? Does he deserve to die? Do all bad people deserve to die?
I know I am asking a lot of questions, but these types of questions make people think. I guess it boils down to your views on what makes a person bad. All people have their own standards of good and bad.
Episode 14 reveals that Rose and the Scattered Bones killed the bishop not only because of his corrupt methods, but also that fact he and his men killed one of her acquaintances, Guren (The guy Rose wanted Sorey to meet). Rose and the Scattered Bones kill because they believe it will save lives.
This pegs the fact that Rose and Sorey are very alike, but they have different views on ‘saving’ people. Sorey believes that saving people from malevolence is a way for his dream to come true. Rose believes that people will be saved if bad people, the ones causing conflict, are gone. They have their own standards of good and bad. Rose believes death is salvation and that killing bad people will save the weak people who were oppressed by said bad person. She has good intentions, so she’s not purely a villain and not a hero simultaneously. Sorey believes murder is wrong and that salvation is only given through purification. His intentions are pure, which makes him a hero.
The world of Zestiria (and Berseria) is quite convoluted. From what I just learned in Berseria, malevolence is the embodiment of sin in a person’s heart. Only humans generate malevolence while malakhim/seraphim do not. Once Malevolence stirs a person’s heart, it seeps into the land.
I think that Rose murders because she genuinely wants to save people. This is why she hasn’t succumbed to malevolence and why she hasn’t become a hellion (I almost put in daemon. I’ve been playing too much Berseria). This fact about Rose is addressed in the game. (I am not 100% too sure, but I think its somewhere along those lines. It's been a while since I've played Zestiria)
Though, her having malevolence is kind of questionable since Dezel isn’t corrupted. Then again, whether or not Dezel is using her as a vessel is ambiguous in the anime.
Speaking of Dezel, I’m not really sure what his role is in this anime. In the game, he protects Rose and uses her as a vessel so he wouldn’t be corrupted by malevolence as he searches for the source of his revenge. Here, he’s still protecting Rose by being by her side, but I’m not sure if he’s hell-bent on revenge like the game.
In Episode 15, Lailah asks him why he’s causing a storm in Lastonbell; he answers: “I’ll do as I please.” This makes me wonder if he does things as he pleases. Because the previous episode had him spew negative things about the church, I wonder if he kills to please Rose, or if he does it because he has the same ideals as her, but does it in a more violent way?
Though, thanks to his actions in this episode, Rose does start wavering. She tells him to stop as the seraphim fight (which is amazing since this is an RPG-based anime, so we need some action). I love the part where Lailah unleashes a giant Spirit Bomb-esque arte and clobbers Dezel. Do not mess with the Prime Lord.
Then there is his past that is a bit different and similar to the game. He did travel with a band of mercenaries called Windriders. In the game, he travelled along with his friend, a wind seraph named Lafarga. If you played the game, you’ll see that Dezel looks very different and Lafarga’s outfit is similar to the one Dezel wears as his default outfit.
In the anime, his past is similar, but the episode makes him explain the shared history he has with Rose. He was with the Windriders and he had a liking to the leader, Brad, who is Rose’s adoptive father. Dezel describes Brad as a great man. He was for the underdog, had a strong sense of justice, and had great marketing skills. Brad died, but the reason is unknown. It is probably going to be explained in a future episode.
Because Dezel will do anything for Rose, it makes me wonder if he’s going to die like in the game? Well, one thing for sure is that he’s quite…mellow here compared to the game. He has more interaction with Sorey and friends, which he sort of lacked in the game. In the game, other than being out for revenge, he happened to be quite a glum and brooding character. He was a bit snarky and really liked animals too. For interactions, he only ever interacts with Rose or Mikleo, so it was hard to describe him as a character.
Other than Rose and Dezel, Sorey does get a bit of focus in these three episodes. As the Shepherd, there are things he can and can’t do. However, his status can also be quite troublesome. The people of Rolance wants to use him. This is notable with his interactions with Sergei and Gouldman (an anime-original character). However, the Shepherd has to be neutral. His interactions with the other characters show how burdensome his position can be. Though, I do wonder which of the two nations are more corrupt. Is Hyland corrupt or is Rolance more corrupt? I haven’t seen much of Rolance, but because Hyland has Bartlow, I think Hyland is more corrupt.
Episode 15 also goes into great details about Sorey’s status. As the Shepherd, he must not take sides, but he needs to see what kind of people there are in the world in order to understand what the Shepherd’s duties are and what Malevolence is as a whole. He knows that he must go above and beyond as a Shepherd; purifying isn’t the only thing he should be doing. From his experiences, he knows there will always be conflict between people. Hyland and Rolance will always continue to wage war against each other. His dream is for a world where humans and seraphim can coexist, and he had thought about creating a world without conflict, but he’s not sure about it yet.
There’s also a character named Mayvin who is quite interesting. He’s a Storyteller, so he’s in charge of telling past history onto future generations. However, in the game, Mayvin’s identity as the Storyteller and his age are his oath, so he dies when he reveals it to Sorey. Here, Rose just says that he is 100 years old and doesn’t die. There’s a bit of a continuity error, but I’m not in charge of this thing, so I can only point it out and speculate what Ufotable is going to do with it. He’s also a wise character as he tells Sorey that he needs to be true to himself, which is one of the key themes for Tales of Zestiria.
Then we also have Alisha who appears in Episode 15. She seems to have some problems with her fellow knights as some of them are searching for her while some of them are hiding with her. Her squire pact has further details. Sorey and Alisha can communicate telepathically. This wasn’t in the game, so it’s quite a nice detail. Because Alisha is a squire, she can see seraphim due to Sorey, so it’s nice that they added in that little communication detail.
The segment shows that Hyland soldiers are divided. There are those who side with Bartlow and those who side with Alisha. With the way they are handling the ambush, it’s nice to see that Alisha’s faction cares a lot about her with the way they protect her.
There is also more detail about Alisha. She is not pure royalty for her mother is a commoner. This is most likely why many people looked down on her. The communication thing is also shown. Sorey’s words give Alisha strength as both squire and princess. With a strong resolve, she will head out to Hyland when dawn breaks.
Overall, these three episodes were kind of slow-paced, but it was necessary for exposition and to introduce Rolance to Sorey and to the viewers. This is also solid proof that the anime is going on a different path from the game. It’s not a bad thing, in my opinion. I think it does help tie in the plot holes and explain things that weren’t in the game.
Now, there are two things I hope the anime will answer by the time this season ends:
- If Zaveid and Dezel are going to appear, which one is going to armatize with Sorey? I want to see the wind armatus!
- Since Velvet appears in the opening, I wonder if we’ll get a Berseria episode or an episode that talks about the Berseria characters.
Also, the preview for episode 4 with Dezel and Rose squabbling over the ‘food’ she made was hilarious.
I know that this review was mainly speculation, so I hope that the next episodes will answer some of my questions.