Let us quickly go over the show and why it is being briefly covered on this blog.
Put simply Tales of Zestiria’s story in both the anime and game is a straightforward yet still quite delightful fantasy adventure many JRPGs follow. That being the “Chosen One recruits a ragtag group of allies and go on an epic quest to save the world from a great evil”, in Zestiria’s case the “malevolence” that has plagued the world for ages turning wildlife and people into monstrous “Hellions”. The main draw of Zestiria is not the main plot since that is straightforward tried and true stuff. What makes the show (and game) enjoyable is its cast of characters, mainly Sorey and friends. There are cool side-characters like Sergey but our heroes and heroines are the main draw…as they should be.
Now one would ask, can I watch the anime and not have to play the game? Here is the thing. While the starting point and end goal along with the key points of the story are the same for both, how the anime gets there differs quite a bit from the game…and in my humble opinion I think the anime told the story better than the game. Sure, the game has some points that were done better than the anime but personally I feel that despite its hiccups here and there the anime handled the story and its characters better than the game for the most part. The treatment of one character in particular clearly showed me the anime was a subtle apology to players who had massive gripes with said character’s role in the game. More on that when I review the game. The aforementioned hiccups in the anime refer to some side-characters and the villains not having as big of a role in the anime compared to the game and that 1/6th (2 episodes, 6 and 7) of the first half of the anime were used to promote the Tales of Berseria game before its Japanese release (It is already available worldwide). The second half still promoted it but more as flashback material since, by now this is widely known, Berseria’s story is set many years before the events of Zestiria’s.
One thing worth noting is a certain reveal that in the game takes some time before it happens is unveiled immediately in the first episode of the anime. Other than that, the answer to the above question of whether one need play the game after watching the anime or vice-versa, the answer is that watching one or playing the other is good enough…for all but one major difference. As far as experiencing the main story and the character development you can do one or the other and be fine but to get the complete experience I recommend doing both.
Now for the main reason everyone is here, which is tied to that one major difference I mentioned.
Here we have Alisha and Rose, a princess knight and a traveling merchant who is really good with daggers. In the main game their developing relationship is kept to VERY subtle, almost vague, hints of the two having an interest in one another. It is not until picking up the Alisha’s Story DLC where the two start showing more signs. That is not the case in the anime. Put simply without spoiling anything major the two have several scenes showing their bond growing stronger, when they are both on the team that is. There will be times they are on separate missions before reuniting and further strengthening their bond until…this is another reason why the anime did the story better than the game. For those wondering “What about Sorey?” Well…he has…other matters he’s focused besides world saving. Yes.
PS: Make sure to check out every post-ED episode preview to get a taste of the Tales franchise’s famous “Skits”.
PPS: There is a Zestiria OVA (Tales of Zestiria: Dawn of the Shepherd) which is an animated retelling of the game’s prologue on Elysia. The anime also covers the Elysia prologue between episodes 2 and 3 but it with some changes compared to the OVA that more closely follows the game’s prologue.
PPPS: I watched most of the anime in English because I liked the game’s English dub and they all came back for the anime. They again do a good job. However, in a situation that reminded me of the first English dub of Samurai X, a few episodes had Sorey or Mikleo voiced by different actors. These were not permanent changes, just an episode or two. Oh and to the surprise of no one the dialogue during the “special” moments are more subtle compared to the “out in the open” Japanese dub.