In late December 2014, a special anime covering the first hour or so of the then upcoming PlayStation 3 RPG Tales of Zesteria aired on Japanese TV. And while the game and anime counterpart both tell the same basic story, it's interesting to see what is the same and what is different.
Before we start, please note that this is not every difference between Tales of Zestiria and Tales of Zestiria ～Dawn of the Shepherd～, just the most obvious ones. If we covered every change, we'd be here all day.
Both the game and anime begin with the same anime cutscene by Ufotable (the people behind the animation of the stunningly beautiful Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works) that lays down some of the series' basic lore. But when the anime version of the scene ends, the game version continues on to show a town of people realising their impending doom.
After the introduction, the game and anime show us our hero, Sorey. While in the game he simply walks along the cliffside ruins, in the anime he makes use of his trusty grappling hook (an item that does not exist in the game at all).
He soon finds a mural showing a "Shepherd," a legendary hero who saved the world. At this point in the anime, he finds an artifact: a Shepherd's glove with the Shepherd's crest embroidered on it. In the game, there's no discovery of the glove; he just falls on his arse with the appearance of his friend Mikleo.
At this point a storm hits and the two decide to head home. In the anime, this is far more exciting as Sorey is forced to dodge lightning bolts as he runs across the ruins. In both tellings of the story, the floor collapses below Mikleo, Sorey catches him, and then the floor gives out again dropping them both into a pit.
Upon landing the pair soon discover a woman passed out in the ruins and try to make their way to her.
Then comes the first big difference between the anime and game. In the anime, Sorey and Mikleo fight a giant spider. In the game, you partake in the tutorial dungeon, killing many little spiders — as well as finding a Shepherd's glove in a chest.
Eventually, the spiders are defeated and the pair make it to the woman, Alisha, and wake her up. However, she is unable to see Mikleo because he is a spirit, not a human.
This scene and the one following it are largely identical in both the game and anime as Sorey leads Alisha to his village — a village full of spirits that Alisha is unable to see. However, while in the anime she flinches upon passing through the barrier protecting the village, in the game, she doesn't even notice it.
Then Sorey goes off to talk to his grandfather — who is none too happy about bringing a human into the village. When he returns from visiting his grandfather in the anime, Alisha is asleep, exhausted after her ordeal.
In the game, Sorey makes a side stop at his house to try on the Shepherd's glove he found. When he finds Alisha again, she's just looking around at the scenery. The two return to his house to converse and sleep.
The next day begins with another game-only scene of Sorey talking to Mikleo while Alisha watches — or as she sees it, Sorey talking to thin air. Sorey then takes Alisha hunting to get her supplies for her journey home. In the anime this is a montage that also shows them gathering various herbs and mushrooms. The game version requires you to do all the hunting as part of a quest.
Afterwards, in a cute anime-only scene, Sorey works on making Alisha a bag as Alisha tries her hand at cooking. This transitions into a scene common to both the game and anime where the two discuss the problems in the world outside of Sorey's peaceful village. The two then go to sleep.
At this point comes another big divergence between the game and anime. In the game, Sorey sends Alisha on her way in the morning, with her inviting him to come see her in her hometown of Lady Lake.
However, moments after she leaves, a monster invades the the village, only to be beaten back by Sorey and Mikleo and then scared off by the combined might of the rest of the village people.
These events all happen in the anime as well, only with one major change: They happen in the middle of the night before Alisha leaves. Witnessing a magical battle she does not understand, Alisha prays for Sorey's safe return.
In order to ease her fears, the spirits reveal themselves to her in a magical light show that is far more beautiful than any event the game version has to offer. The next morning she departs in a scene nearly identical to that of the game.
Later, in the evening after Alisha's departure in both anime and game, Sorey realises that the monster that attacked the village was not after them, but after Alisha. Thus, he packs his bag and leaves the village in the middle of the night — only to be confronted by Mikleo. Together, the two depart to find and warn Alisha. It is here the anime ends.
The game, on the other hand, continues with this badass opening (and an additional 40 hours of gameplay).
Tales of Zestiria was released for the PlayStation 3 in Japan on January 22, 2015. It is scheduled for a Western release later this year.
The anime Tales of Zestiria ～Dawn of the Shepherd～ aired on Tokyo MX in Japan and was included on the Japanese game disc of Tales of Zestiria on the PS3.
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