Tales of Eternia was originally a Playstation RPG which I didn’t get to play until it got a PSP remake that actually got released in my location in 2006. I’ve talked about Tales anime adaptations before with Phantasia, Zestiria and the first Symphonia OVA. The anime adaptation is a bit of a different animal. It was released back in ’01, shortly after the game’s original launch. And it doesn’t actually show any of the events from the game itself. Rather, it’s a side story occurring shortly before our heroes travel to Celestia. Honestly, that’s not a bad idea. It gives audiences something new that can, if done right, supplement their playing experience. So, how did Production IG & Xebec do?
While on their way to Mount Farlos so that they can take the bridge of light up to Celestia, our heroes find themselves waylaid. You see, a bounty hunter named Marone Bluecarno captures Reid and takes him to a small group of islands in order to help her bring down a sea monster. The rest of the party gives pursuit and the entire group ends up side-tracked for various adventures. But there’s something not quite cricket going on that threatens our heroic quartet.
The biggest issue with the series is just that a lot of their futzing about on the islands isn’t really doing anything. Marone and Farah have a swimming race. The Black Wings show up and do their usual comedic nonsense. Meredy partners up with a girl from the islands to try and earn money through part time jobs, shenanigans ensue. And the vast majority of it is just filler until the last few episodes where the proper plot actually kicks into gear. The “romance” aspect is also an issue. A lot of the series revolves around the various attractive women on the island getting wet over Reid while he doesn’t notice at all. Just in case you’re one of a dozen people who really wanted to see what Eternia would look like if it had shit harem elements. There are also some contrivances where things are set up so that they look bad for our heroes, but then they catch a lucky break or get rescued at the last moment. These guys seriously have Milfeulle Sakuraba’s own luck.
With those criticisms out of the way, the story does have some decent moments. The Black Wings’ appearance is pretty funny. The big narrative, once it gets going, has some good ideas behind it. And I do like the concept of having a side story with some new characters instead of a straight up adaptation. If it had been really well executed then you would actually have had a lot of tension around the new characters and their fates. As is, there’s a bit but not much.
I will give the series some credit here. The game characters are recognisable as themselves and there are some original characters who are kind of compelling. Corina has some moments. Although her connection to her “mother” doesn’t make a lot of sense when you get into her back story. Marone has some strong points as well. If she wasn’t interested in Reid, she would’ve been pretty damn awesome. I mean, she’s a bounty hunter with martial arts and sword skills, she has a dragon and her back story is pretty definitively the best part of the series. Because she can do what she wants, she was voiced by Hayashibara Megumi. That being said, most of the side characters are kind of mediocre and the antagonist’s redemptive qualities don’t work particularly well.
The artwork in this is pretty middling. It has some nice visuals at times but it’s also bogged down by excessive fan-servicey nonsense and quite a few cost-cutting measures. Like focusing on a character who’s attacking during an action sequence and not actually showing their attacks land or repeating frames.
The acting is one area where I have to give the series nothing but praise. It has an exemplary cast. I already mentioned Hayashibara Megumi. We also have Ishida Akira, Horie Yui, Minaguchi Yuko, Minami Omi & Hoshi Soichiro. All of whom can act very well. Horie Yui even manages to convincingly act like she can’t sing. Even though we all know she can. We’ve heard her do enough good theme tunes. The music is good too. Especially the song Marone sings in that one bit.
There are points, particularly later on, where Marone seems to like Farah as much as she does Reid, and vice versa. It’s almost like they’re trying to give us a Skies of Arcadia dynamic. There are also a few moments where Meredy & Corina come across as more than friends.
Tales of Eternia is a series where the premise was a surprisingly good idea. Give your audience a side story so they don’t know what to expect based on having played the game and introduce some new characters so that they have somebody to feel tension for. Unfortunately, the series is bogged down by filler, trite harem shite, lazy artwork and excess fan-service. I won’t say it’s bad, since it does have some strengths as well, but it’s pretty below average. My final rating is going to be a 4/10. If you’re a major fan of the game, you might appreciate it just for some extra content with the characters. Otherwise, I wouldn’t bother watching the whole thing. Watch Marone’s musical bit because it’s amazing and, maybe, the Black Wings episode since it’s the funniest part. Next week I’ll continue looking at game adaptations with Devil May Cry.