Posted by psgels on 30 May 2010 with categories: Anime Reviews

The Tales of-franchise stands out because every game gets to be adapted by a different production company and a total different staff. This leads to a wide variety of different adaptations with all their own focuses, interpretations and things at which they stand out. With Tales of Vesperia, it’s Production IG’s turn, and they went with the movie format. And holy crap, is it good. This is everything an RPG adaptation should be.

At first it might seem like your average fantasy story: alas, the protagonists are young. One of them appears to have a princess as girlfriend, there are more cute girls, meant to act as the voice of reason when the lead males go out of control again, blah blah blah. But make no mistake: for every cliche that this show uses, it subverts two of them. While this is a fantasy movie, it for once does not require the leads to travel across the world and have all kinds of adventures. No, these guys are part of a town guard: they simply belong to a unit, responsible for protecting a bunch of people. There’s nothing like saving the world in here. Aside from the initial cliches, there’s no attempt made to make these characters seem any bigger than they are: they merely follow the orders of their captain when they fight a battle.

Also, this is animated by Production IG, and it really does live up to their name. The battles here are incredibly well animated: in duels, there are no still frames or convenient cuts; a lot of focus has been put on the sword skills, team work (and not just a team of four warriors or something, they often fight battles with a small squadron in which everyone knows his place). Fights aren’t a matter of whacking a sword long enough until the other party goes down, instead they’re calculated, realistic and believable. Because of this, the magic system can also be fleshed out a lot more: the spells here are a lot more interesting, logical and believable than you usually see in fantasy series.

There is a lot of drama in this movie, most of it centred around the coming of age of the two lead characters. The two of them are flawed, and a lot of the focus of this movie is about fleshing these two out, and developing them. Especially in the first half of the movie these two like to cause trouble, which can be annoying to watch at times, but it’s all with a purpose: to get the best out of their development. They really both develop into great characters in the end. What also helps throughout the first movie is a great sense of humour: it’s got a very good comedic timing.

The fact that the characters for once are simple town guards also has another advantage: you really can get a good feel of the people who live in this town, and this movie takes optimal advantage of that: it chooses a few random townspeople and gives them a convincible personality and character, which all do a great job of bringing the town to life.

I do have a few question marks about the ending credits, though. I’m not sure whether it’s meant to be an advertisement about the games, or a sequel, but it showed many of the cliches that this movie avoided so well. In any case though, this movie is yet another excellent example of how good RPG adaptations can be when some actual effort is put into them. Despite some initial cliches, it’s got excellent characters, a believable scenario, excellent animation really manages to bring its setting to life.

Storytelling: 9/10 – It’s got a ton of fantasy and action, but brings this realistic and believable. Well paces, nice ideas and good attention to detail.
Characters: 9/10 – There are cliches, but makes up for this with excellent character-development and great chemistry between the characters.
Production-Values: 9/10 – What you’d expect of a movie: no cut corners, well portrayed battles that find a very nice balance between believability and action.
Setting: 8/10 – Inspired and lively, though loses points because of how young some of the characters are.

– Tales of the Abyss, Eternia, Symphonia, Phantasia.
Strange Dawn

9 Responses

  1. Firechick says:

    Wow, now I NEED to see this movie! I better hope it gets subbed soon!

  2. aquagon says:

    Though as far as I know, this movie isn’t supposed to be an adaptation of the game, but a prequel to it.

    And also, there are a lot of games that never got adapted into anime: Both of the Tales of Destiny games, Tales of Rebirth, Tales of Legendia, Tales of Tempest, Tales of Innocence, and Tales of Hearts. (And that’s only counting the ones that aren’t spin-offs)

  3. chounokoe says:

    Yes the movie is a prequel to the game and now I honestly want to have a look at it.
    I fairly disliked Tales of Vesperia compared to other Tales of entries…actually for me it was among the weakest in terms of storytelling and plot. One of the major flaws of the game was, that many characters felt wooden and clichéd and many things that seemed interesting about them was never discussed in further details…maybe this movie (which is actually canon) can change at least some of that.

  4. Joojoobees says:

    I am so glad I checked this review out. I only played one Tales game (Symphonia). I glanced at an anime adaptation of one of the others, and decided it wasn’t interesting. This one sounds great though! Looking forward to seeing it.

  5. nys says:

    I loved the fights against the wall creatures. I haven`t played Vesperia, but it felt like a RPG quest that built up to the final room. I also liked that their weapons were not at all dependable, which added some uncertainty.

  6. Roldan says:

    Yeah, i kinda like Tales of Vesperia then most of the Tales of games because of Yuri. He’s defiantly one of the best video game protagonist and in the game he’s like 26 and not 14 :D.. Gonna check this one out when the subs hit out.

  7. Miken says:

    As stated before — yeah this is a prequel movie, which sets it aside from Symphonia and Abyss, which are adaptations of the game’s main plot and Eternia…which was a sidequest.

    I was very glad Production I.G. handled this movie, since they cover the in-game anime cutscenes, thus creating a movie with no real change in character design or animation style. As for the credits, they used the OP sequence for the game. I do like that, since it gives a sense of rounding out the movie that basically says “And the rest? Well, you already know that~”

    I also liked that this movie spent the most of its time fleshing out Flynn and Yuri’s characters and friendship, since their conflicts in ideals is a big point in the game itself. Production I.G. also doesn’t have to worry about a huge world-saving plot simply because this is a prequel and saving the world isn’t even a part of the picture yet. Before all the main characters come together, there really was no grand adventure.

  8. Bruce says:

    I really liked this movie – it had a gritty and more realistic take on swords and sorcery than other shows, for example, Tales of Symphonia. I do hope they make an adaptation for the main game itself. Somehow I feel it just doesn’t do story justice to have such a great prequel and then a rather mediocre game for the actual plot.

  9. HENRCAST says:

    Mediocre? Vesperia was one of the best entries in the series (if not the THE best). The average age for the characters was much higher than usual, which resulted in the most mature cast in the series. Yuri and Flyyn’s conflict was brilliantly detailed, especially their debates about justice. Even the younger characters were given proper context (Rita is actually my personal favorite character)… Except Karol, I guess. The plot wasn’t the most original (like pretty much every Tales game), but it served it’s purpose of pushing character development well enough. Like the movie, it subverted most of the initial cliches.
    And yeah, the op is pretty weak. I guess it was created as a way to sell the game, or maybe 2 minutes just wasn’t enough to properly avoid the initial cliches like the game did.

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  • ninjarealist
    (Friday, Oct 9. 2015 02:09 AM)
    @Kaiser Sunny looks interesting but I’ll be honest, when I say Slice-of-Life I actually mean Cute-Girls-Doing-Cute-Things.
  • ninjarealist
    (Friday, Oct 9. 2015 02:07 AM)
    @Kaiser I actually haven’t seen Black Mass.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Oct 9. 2015 12:57 AM)
    These new Batman shorts called ‘Batman of Shanghai’ are pretty awesome:
    Props to Wolf Smoke Studios for the style and execution. I think this borrowed a lot from the Studio 4°C segment of the Batman: Gotham Knight anthology series. I haven’t been this entertained by a Batman cartoon since the original Batman: The Animated Series.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Thursday, Oct 8. 2015 11:09 PM)
    I have to finish the world is mine someday…and read all of Yamamoto Naoki’s works, looks like some good obscure seinen there.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Thursday, Oct 8. 2015 10:52 PM)
    @Realist: Slice of life fan, you’ll want to go off and read Taiyou matsumoto’s work, Sunny being one of them.
  • Kevin
    (Thursday, Oct 8. 2015 10:50 PM)
    @ninjarealist Ha u that one nigga that jet lol nice way to sneak back, I missed you. Remember me?
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Thursday, Oct 8. 2015 10:48 PM)
    @Realist: I imagine you will be seeing black mass?
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Thursday, Oct 8. 2015 10:47 PM)
    @Realist: Oh by the way I remember ages ago you recommended Meserine to me, not the biggest gangster fan out there and this did suffer from the usual issues of the bipic format but some great action bits in it =) and Vincent Cassel doing what he does best.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Thursday, Oct 8. 2015 10:45 PM)
    @Realist: Whatever name you prefer is fine. Though its Kaiser now so we may as well use that.
  • ninjarealist
    (Thursday, Oct 8. 2015 10:28 PM)
    @Kaiser/Emma (do you prefer to go by Kaiser now?) Punpun is the best, but I don’t see it getting adapted any time soon. As someone who personally loves slice-of-life, I love Dead Demons.

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