Alicia’s Bad Day: the Anime.
Timmy’s verdict: Pretty Intriguing and Intriguingly Pretty
It’s been a little while since I watched a Ufotable affair but it was a quick reminder of how competent they can be, especially in the fight scene and crazy CG effects department. Story wise there is plenty here in this prologue episode to lay the foundation and let you know whats in store and if you will care about it. There were some bits that I thought were hilariously over the top, but generally I am interested enough to come back for more. As an aside, I am curious to see if Alicia being the feature character of this episode has the potental reopen some old wounds in the fandom due to that whole DLC thing of days past.
Iro’s verdict: This Sure Is UFOtable
Flippy jumps, heavy CG use, and lots of fancy particle effects are basically what UFOtable lives for at this point and this show is sure full of ’em. It’s definitely very pretty, in that sort of slavishly-on-model sort of way, but I also couldn’t really tell you what’s happening plotwise. I’ve heard that Zestiria has a generic JRPG plot even among JRPG plots, and this episode alone has ley lines, a strong-willed princess, quirky minibosses, and an evil world-ending cataclysm. So, yeah. Seems like pretty standard fare for UFOtable to take on; they probably need to recover after the production disasters that were Unlimited Blade Works and God Eater.
Artemis’ verdict: Big Hot Mess
First off, the fact that this show even needs a prologue rubs me the wrong way. I’m supposed to be watching an anime series, not reading an epic fantasy novel; if it’s truly necessary for an entire episode to act as a prologue for viewers to understand what’s going on, it’s a sign that the story is needlessly complicated. (Or that the team behind it has a disproportionate view of their own self-importance. Either way, not good – but very like Ufotable.)
But hey, we’re all grown-ups here, I can totally put my biases aside for a second to judge this episode solely on its own merits.
… Nope, still not good. I don’t care that this title is based on a game franchise – unless an anime is acting as a direct sequel to a previously released season, it should always be able to stand on its own, and the premiere of Zestiria simply doesn’t. The storyline is so dense and so quick to jump between characters and scenes that it’s borderline incoherent (so if this is only the apparently necessary prequel, I shudder to think of what the ‘real thing’ will be like).
Ultimately, the only thing that kept my attention for 20 minutes was the visuals, which are every bit as stunning as I’ve come to expect from this studio. The animation is highly polished, the colour palette strikingly vibrant, the background art positively stunning. Unfortunately, this doesn’t make up for the lack of intelligible writing, nor the elements of the story that all but scream their JRPG-style genericness. As per usual, Ufotabe has delivered a show that’s all craft and no heart, and that’s not incentive enough for me to stick around.