The Tales series games have made welcome additions to any RPG aficionado’s collection since the 16-bit era. Every single installment I’ve played has been, at the very least, good. Not surprisingly, a lot of the Tales games have received anime adaptations. So, where should you start when looking at these adaptations? How about with the original Tales game, Phantasia.
The story in the OVA is close to the story in the game. A demon lord named Dhaos is revived at the expense of two villages and two young people, Cress and Mint, are sent back in time to find two magic users to bring back to their time and defeat him. If you’ve played the game then you can probably spot some difference there. That’s why I said “close to” rather than “exactly like.” The OVA does leave some stuff out, mainly for the sake of time, it’s only four episodes. For those of you who are curious about the OVA but aren’t interested in playing the game, as little sense as that seems to make, I’ll talk about how it stands on its own. It’s a really fast paced adventure. The story is a lot of fun and they manage to get quite a bit of complexity into it. Really, there are two issues. The first is that the pace is hectic. There’s a lot of story in the game and they fit as much of it into the OVA as they possibly can. The result is that things progress really quickly without much time for things to wind down or the action to fall. The other issue is that there are some scenes that only make sense if you’ve played the game. Without that background they seem to be kind of pointless. Now, these are pretty minor problems for anyone who’s played the game, but they could bother you if you haven’t.
Tales of Phantasia has some spectacular characters. The OVA keeps their personalities intact. It also fits in the most important aspects of their backstories. The only real exception is Suzu who barely plays a role in the OVA, showing up in only a few scenes. One thing that the OVA does do better than the game is fleshing out Dhaos’s character. In the game his motivations are barely touched on and he comes off as being randomly evil for the evils until the very end. In the OVA they actually make him a really sympathetic character which makes the conflict much more three dimensional and interesting.
The art is pretty good. They manage to copy the monsters really well. The action scenes are exciting and have a grand scale. It looks similar to the cut scene art in Lunar 2. My only real complaint is that the noses look bizarre. They’re barely there in most scenes, although they occasionally become more pronounced for no apparent reason. It’s a minor complaint but it bothered me.
The voice acting is really well done. Kusao Takeshi does really well in the hero’s role, almost like he’s played a similar role before. Which he has,several years before Tales of Phantasia he played the role of Adol Christin in the Book of Ys OVAs, I may get to those eventually. At this point, I have gotten to the first one. Kanai Mika, Inoue Kazuhiko and Itou Kentarou also do really well. Morikawa Toshiyuki is well suited as a villain. In fact, I think I’ve heard him do it before in a different video game based anime. Admit it, you looked it up. The background music is really similar to what you might find in a game, appropriately enough, and the theme music is… not particularly memorable, sorry to say.
The yuri factor is a 1/10. I’ve always thought that Phantasia would be a better game with some yuri, not that it isn’t awesome anyway, but the OVA did not change that.
My final rating for Tales of Phantasia is an 8/10. This is a great anime, especially for fans of the Tales games. You will probably like it better if you’re a fan of the game, but it’s still enjoyable if you just like a good fantasy story. Either way, give it a try.