Sep 11, 2019
DoctuhD (All reviews)
Tales of Zestiria the Cross is an action adventure that forgot to bring the action and was too busy with dialogue to make the adventure feel meaningful, but there's still enjoyment to be had here and moments where everything (temporarily) fits together.

Story 5/10; Mediocre

If you watched the OP (or better yet, the game's OP) and thought there'd be more like it in the anime, you're in to be disappointed. It follows a pretty generic fantasy adventure plotline, but the world is captivating enough to hold your interest. Ancient ruins to explore, a city in the middle of a lake, spirit-filled forests and demon-laden catacombs can all be found here...but you never get to feel like you've experienced any of them because the story spends so much time with the protagonist "Sorey" or one of two female deuteragonists talking about their ideals in forgettable battlefields or lazing about town. If you've ever been annoyed by a moment when a character refuses to kill a villain because he/she "didn't want to stoop to their level" then worry not, you'll get your annual dose from this single show. On the bright side, at least its consistent enough to be thematic when the characters' unrealistic idealism is the foundation of the plot. That said, the story hits a few peaks where you may find yourself really invested in what's going on and hyped for what happens next.

Art 10/10; Outstanding

Ufotable's animation is held in high regard for good reason. While there are moments when the CGI is painfully noticable (anytime there's a crowd), the worst the series ever gives you is 'respectable' and the brilliance of its animation and perspective that comes from having a CGI base proves its merit. It's a shame that this is held back by how boring the actual contents of most of the "fights" are. Characters that have interesting fighting styles never really get to use them, as most of the time they exist as batteries for screaming at malevolence or whirling some generic powered-up attack from the MC until it goes away in beautiful, shallow action sequences.

Sound 7/10; Good

The soundtrack does what it needs to do, enhancing action and giving a peaceful aura to the quiet moments, and the sound effects are above standard for sure. But there's nothing too memorable about it. The voice acting is excellent enough to make even the shallowest of characters have a personality, and even the English dub is noteworthy for how well it captures them. And there are moments when a character theme comes on at the right time to make the character feel more alive than the poor caricatures they turn out to be.

Character 6/10; Fair

The characters in Zestiria have great designs and personalities, but are devoid of substance. Each feels unique and presents a captivating personality through their outfits and appearances, but that's the peak of its characterization. The show puts action and adventure on the back-burner to focus instead of the characters story arcs, and yet somehow still manages to make the characters feel like they haven't developed at all. Only 3 characters ever seem to get any meaningful development, and yet still remain flat with only a few things they care about. Their personalities are all interesting, but good characters are often determined by their actions and Zestiria's characters usually are too busy doing nothing. Since the Seraphim characters spend most of their screentime lazing about in the background, one character's ability to do nothing in the most interesting way somehow manages to be the second most memorable part about her, after her personality. Their lack of development would be forgivable if it weren't for the fact that they almost never got to show off their abilities.

Enjoyment 6/10; Fair

There are several times when you may be excited, worried, or captivated by what's going on, but the most endearing parts of the anime are generally held back by the aforementioned flaws. The Seraphim characters seemed to all have unique and interesting fighting styles, but they were hampered by never actually getting to use them. Watching the game's OP, as well as the ED of season 2 made me nostalgic for things that seem like they never even happened.

Overall: 6.8/10

There was so much potential here for a great series, and I do recommend watching the prologue and the two stand-alone Berseria episodes (5 & 6), but beyond that you will be disappointed by how every seemingly interesting character or plot element gets ignored in favor of another speech about ideals.