The Y’s franchise may or may not be known to you. Basically, it’s a series of action RPGs that helped define the genre back in the late 80s. It’s also Falcom’s best known franchise with around a dozen installments at this point but Falcom also doesn’t have much else under their belts that’s memorable and even their best known games aren’t all that well known compared to a lot of other franchises from bigger name companies. Don’t get me wrong, though, most of the franchise is made up of quality games. Back in the late 80s, when the series was in its infancy, Falcom worked with Tokyo Kids (a studio so minor they don’t even have a wiki page) to produce OVAs for the first and second games. The first one being what we’re going to look at today.
Our tale opens with a traveler named Adol Christin trying to book passage to the land of Esteria, a land blocked by a tempest and rumoured to be overrun by monsters. He manages to break through the storm and reach the land, learning that the rumours were true. Furthermore, a young fortune teller named Sarah claims that his coming was foretold and that he can save Esteria, but first he has to go on a perilous journey to find the six books of Ys.
Those of you familiar with the game will recognise the plot as will those of you who have never even heard of it. The story isn’t exactly original. The whole “destined hero” storyline was really common when the game came out in the late 80s and it’s remained so to this day. To be fair, the game was initially released back in 1987 when the technology was a lot more limited and there was only so much they could do with a game’s story without sacrificing gameplay and the story itself, though nothing new, isn’t badly told and does have some compelling dramatic moments and exciting adventurous moments.
The pacing is mixed. The action does flow pretty well from one episode to the next without being overwhelming or rushed, but it’s done at the expense of character moments. There’s never much of an opportunity to get to know the characters or for the characters to develop since Adol has to move from location to location, action scene to action scene too quickly.
As you can probably surmise, the characters in this aren’t very strong. Take our protagonist, Adol. His motivations are really flimsy and he’s just kind of a stagnant, generic hero. He doesn’t know why he wants to go to Esteria and he supposedly doesn’t believe the prophesy about himself, but he does exactly what the prophesy demands from him because… moon prism power. There’s really no development between his doubts and his deciding to follow the path of the prophesied saviour. It just switches from one to the other without explanation. Our antagonist, Dark Fact, is just as bad. The only motivation we get from him is that some people are short-sighted and careless but that’s a really weak justification for him to try to destroy everything.
The art is pretty good. It definitely shows its age, but you can tell that a lot of time and effort went into the character designs and backgrounds. That being said, the action sequences over-use motion blurred backgrounds and the final battle sequence is kind of weak and anti-climactic.
I have no complaints about the acting. They got some strong actors. Adol is voiced by Kusao Takeshi (who also voiced Cless in the Tales of Phantasia OVA.) It also features the vocal talents of Takayama Minami, Honda Chieko and Hayami Show, to name a few. The music is just really good.
There is no ho-yay, or romance at all really.
Ancient Book of Ys is a decent enough anime, if you want a simple adventure. Unfortunately, the characters are weak and the story has been done much better before and since. You should definitely see it if you’re a fan of the game. If you just want a quick fantasy adventure it’ll probably appeal to you too. Otherwise, there’s not much of a reason to watch it. My final rating is going to be a 6/10. Next week, Doki Doki Precure.