The thing I like about the Tales of-games adaptations is that they’re all done by different animation companies with different ideas. This way, the shows remain fresh, and are prevented from getting milked out, since all of them have their own styles now. Tales of the Abyss, while it suffers from some of the major pitfalls of RPG-adaptations, also manages to avoid quite a few of them, and is worth the watch if you’re into fantasy series.
The biggest pitfall it failed to avoid is of course the very questionable power management: teenagers have enough magical powers to save the world compared to adults with much more experience, little girls can control monsters as if it’s nothing, and trained royal guards die as easy as flies. It’s something that’s very hard to avoid in this genre, but it’s still pretty grating.
Thankfully though, the show has enough to make up for this. It really stands out in its character-development, which is pretty much a trademark of the Tales of-games by now. A lot of emphasis is put on internal trust: a lot of the main characters in this series are pretty flawed, and because they all have their own mistakes and secrets, a memorable bond grows between them. Especially the lead character, Luke is notable for this, as even though he may look like it, he’s far away from your typical male lead in such fantasy series. To explain why would be too much of a spoiler, though.
The storyline is also very well done, and impressive for an RPG adaptation. For once the king of an empire can be something different from either a fascistic pig or an incompetent flower-child. The show has plenty of villains, but all of them have at least decent motivations for their actions. The storyline is pretty complex, and no episode is really wasted, and I especially liked how th emagic system in this show has turned into a sort of science. Especially how it affects the world that the characters live in is very detailed and full of imagination.
Near the end of the series, the show does get a bit rushed, though: it wants a bit too much in too little time, and especially the ending of the series just feels too lazy, but apart from that we have ourselves a very good series here. While it never really hit any heights, it’s been a solid and enjoyable series.