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.|