Tales of the Abyss Ep. 1: World of Scores

Words fail to describe how excited I am for this series, as it’s easily one of the top three shows I’ll be keeping track of (the others being To Aru Majutsu no Index and Jigoku Shoujo Mitsuganae).  I’ve played through the game before and came away impressed not only with the gameplay, but also with the storyline.  To me, it was like an early build of Eternal Sonata (which, by the way, I would LOVE to see animated.  That would be such an awesome series!).  So when I saw the anime version, naturally my expectations were high.  Thankfully, it looks like we’re in for a good show.  The animation is excellent, the VAs from the original game are back, and the story is just getting started.

Summary:

The world of Auldrant is in quite an interesting situation.  Fundamentally, the world is based on six powers, with the seventh, Sound, being discovered later, and the Fonist Yulia Jue proclaiming a prophecy of prosperity in the far future.  Politically, the world is divided between Kimlasca-Lanvaldear and the Malkuth Empire, both whom are fighing to control fragments of the “Score”, or the plan that will lead to prosperity.  The Order of Lorelei remains somewhat neutral, charging themselves with keeping the peace with the limited knowledge of the ‘Score’ that they possess.

Luke fon Fable has lead a troubled past, but doesn’t remember much of it.  Right now, he’s as carefree as can be, relaxing in his mansion and training his swordsmanship with Van, a legendary warrior and Luke’s personal mentor.  Aside from Van, Guy acts as Luke’s guardian, although they are more like brothers.  Natalia is supposedly engaged to Luke, but Luke denies any real implication of such a childish display of emotion.

With Van being called away from the mansion, he lets Luke train one last time with his favorite sword.  Hopping around like a little kid, Luke returns to the training grounds with the said sword, and the two prepare their stances.  Meanwhile, an unknown female manages to travel to the front gates of the mansion.  After subduing the guards with her song, she easily gains entrance to the inner courtyard of the mansion.  She is Tear Grant, part of the Order of Lorelei, and someone who swears wants revenge against Van.

Luke jumps in and defends his teacher from Tear’s attacks, but the two cause hyper-resonance, sending them far away from the mansion to the Taruru Canyons.  There, Luke finds himself face to face with the sea (along with a somewhat apologetic Tear).  Quickly, the two dispatch an attacking group of wild animals, providing Luke with his first real combat experience.

As the two wander for shelter in the night, they stumble on a man at the river, getting water.  After confirming their not slave traders, he tells them he can give them passage in his carriage for a fee.  Since the two are penniless, Tear gives up her pendant in order to take responsibility and help Luke go home to the mansion.  On the way there, however, they run across a huge battleship in the middle of the desert.

Impressions:

While I wrote the summary, I realized how little story was actually covered in this episode.  That’s okay, though, because there’s a lot of characters to go through in this series, and it can get very confusing.  What’s important is that we already see fragments of Luke’s tormented past (which he somehow doesn’t remember at all), so some pieces of the puzzle are given to us from the start.

Tales of the Abyss (the game, I mean) was something that, in my opinion, really had a great story and some great characters.  It’s easily translatable to an anime series as it is, and I’m surprised it took so long for it to get animated.  I’m really looking forward to seeing how all of the characters pan out, and whether they do so with the same kind of impact as they do in the game.  I’m not terribly impressed with Tear’s sudden mood shifts (seems a bit choppy, but I can’t remember ALL the game details at the moment), but other than that, I do like seeing all of these characters again.

One small issue is the OP revealing a whole slew of characters that didn’t even show up yet.  We see Anise and Jade already, in addition to some other faces that we’ll be meeting later.  Granted that it’s just the OP, but come on, can’t you at least make the effort to hide stuff a little better?  Spoiler tags required, everybody.

What the TotA anime series does have going for it is two strong production qualities.  First, the animation is quite good.  The characters look great, the scenery so far is outstanding, and the overall feel of the animation is that of a polished product.  To me, that’s a rarity with Sunrise Animation, but NAMCO seems to have a half-decent track record in terms of quality.  The second is that the VAs in the video game have returned to reprise their roles.  I’m continuously impressed with Yukana’s voice as Tear.  It’s COMPLETELY different than any other role she’s had in recent memory (Tessa, Mashiro being big ones).  It’s quite nostalgic, and subscribes to the “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mantra.

Like many other series, this was an introductory episode, so I’m eager to see what we’ll get in the second one.  However, I am quite sure that for now, I will be keeping track of Tales of the Abyss.  That is, in between the time I’m putting in playing Tales of Vesperia

Preview:

Strange preview format here, as they stuffed it right in the middle of the ED.  Anyway, next is “Forest of Mythical Creatures”, or something like that.  Can’t really tell from the preview what exactly is going on.  Who cares?  It looks fun.

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