Tales of Symphonia was a Namco RPG released for the Gamecube in August of 2003, or July, November 2004 if you don’t live in Japan. It wasn’t the first Tales game to receive an anime adaptation with both Phantasia, which some of you may recall from one of my previous reviews, and Eternia getting adapted before it, but it was the first to have the anime adaptation handled by Ufotable, the same studio responsible for Kara no Kyoukai, Gakuen Utopia Manabi Straight, & Fate/Zero. Yeah, it’s a bit strange, but most anime adaptations of the Tales franchise have been handled by different studios. So, how did Ufotable handle the series?
We open with our heroine, Colette, getting ready to undertake a journey of world regeneration to save her dying world. An angel, Remiel, descends to give her instruction and send her on the way. With the aid of her teacher, Refill Sage and a mercenary hired by the church, Kratos Aurion, she heads out on her journey. Colette’s friends, Lloyd and Genis, both want to accompany them but are left behind. Until their village is attacked by people who want Lloyd’s Exsphere, a mysterious object. At which point they decide to leave for the safety of the village and rendezvous with Colette and the others to aid her in any way they can.
So, it’s basically the same plot as the beginning of the game. Now, you’ve probably already noticed the major problem, the pacing is horrendous. All of those significant events I just described are in the first episode with little time between them. Events are thrown at you one after the other with no time to get a good grip on what’s happening. The plot points also aren’t expounded on very well. If you haven’t played the game you will find yourself wondering what just happened on several occasions. Which is why it’s probably a bad idea to condense a good third of the narrative of a plot heavy, multi-disc Gamecube game down to a four episode series. Sure, they managed to do it pretty well with the plot of Phantasia but that was a SNES game and much lighter on the plot.
In all fairness, the anime does do a decent job of hitting all the major points in the part of the game they cover and the narrative, though rushed and condensed, does still hold up pretty well and has some really strong scenes, albeit somewhat weakened by being rushed through. They also chose a good stopping point considering that they had more OVAs to come.
The OVA has all the characters you see in the series, except significantly less developed since a lot of their conversations and other character scenes get cut. Still, the series has some great characters. Refill, Genis, Sheena, Kratos and Lloyd are all great characters. No, I’m not including Colette. Honestly, she annoys me. She’s one of those self sacrificing characters who worries about everyone else and is supposed to be pure and innocent. I’ve never been a fan of those characters. They just come across as kind of trite and boring to me. It’s even worse in the anime version since she doesn’t get any of her funny lines from the game.
The art is really good. The character designs, action sequences and background details are all really nicely drawn and animated. Really, there’s only one complaint I can make about the OVA. The action sequences, though mostly good, have too many blur line scenes. You know the type. Character is shown in an action pose, multi-coloured lines appear behind them and no contact is made between them and the enemy, assuming they even bother showing the character and their enemy in the same frame.
They got some really good actors. Mizuki Nana, Konishi Katsuyuki, Orikasa Ai, Touma Yumi, Okamura Akemi and Tachiki Fumihiko take the roles of our major characters. The music is also really good with Mizuki Nana and Kawai Eri doing lyrical work.
There’s not any ho-yay in this. Making the ho-yay factor a 1/10.
Tales of Symphonia the animation is made for fans of the game. If you’re someone who hasn’t played it, the pacing is going to leave you confused and without a lot of the context behind events. If you are a fan of the game, you’ll probably enjoy it okay as a supplementary work. For myself, I’m giving it a 6/10. It’s a decent OVA with some good moments but it definitely suffers from the pacing. Next week I’ll take a look at Potemayo.