For the sake of my dignity, I won't divulge just how many hours I've previously devoted to Tales of Symphonia, nor will I make it known that I will be purchasing a Wii primarily for the fact that Tales of Symphonia: The Knight of Ratatosk is slated for release sometime this coming fall. What I will say, however, is that I had mediocre expectations for this OVA at best, as there was simply no way it could possibly compact the sheer magnitude of its story or the three dimensionality of its characters into a mere two hour block. Indeed, many of the key points in the story such as the Renegades are touched upon only very briefly, and serve only to unravel its coherency instead of clarify certain events; for those familiar with the game it offers no new insight, and for those not it's but shallow, boring babble.
As such, I'm not really sure how to judge the OVA - it's neither a productive watch for those familiar with the Tales of Symphonia nor an interesting watch for those not. Though the fight scenes are cool, they are few in number as most of the time is devoted to trying to flesh out the story (which wasn't such a bright idea in my opinion, as Tales of Symphonia's story can only appreciated in its full context, not simply its first arc.) Considering the OVA only manages to cover the first 30% or so of the story with a skin-and-bones presentation, though, it's a lackluster success at very best. I must admit that I was actually rather bored, as I had to fight the urge to just go play the game instead of watching the full two hours. In fact, had I not the motivation to get this review written for it, I probably would have done just that.
Plus, a lot of the cool content to look forward to was excluded, especially with the Desians; hell, Colette cripples Magnus with Angel's Song of all things, avoiding that fight altogether. Kratos' execution of Kvar was also rather lame, as he kills Kvar in a single, swift blow instead of drawing out the death scene while he vents his anger. Not only that , the slaying of the seal guardians is comprised of a shot of the temple followed by a brief clip of the guardian dying. They even skipped the the Tower of Mana altogether. This decided lack of content really dulled my interest, and I can't see it being too entertaining for most fans of the game, either; if you really find yourself drawn to the title, I'd strongly suggest going back and picking up Tales of Symphonia again instead, as it will be a much more satisfying experience.
The animation follows a very similar pattern to the games as far as character designs go, but the scenery is much more detailed. This creates a somewhat odd interplay between the two, as it keeps the characters familiar but doesn't keep the world atmosphere the same. While I actually thought the scenery to be quite pleasant, the two just seem at odds with each other most of the way through. Still, it's more a peeve than an actual glaring flaw, as for the most part it's tolerable and doesn't seem to be obtrusive in any overbearing fashion - it works well enough for that it set out to do.
That said, the fight scenes are pretty cool when it's between humanoids, especially those involving Sheena. This more than compensates for the previously mentioned issue, as ultimately it gave the OVA some saving grace.
I don't know if the original Japanese seiyuu voiced their respective characters, but I have to say that the English cast did a much better job overall. Kratos' voice was way too deep to really fit his physiology, and Sheena's suffered in a fashion similar - the girl's supposed to be seventeen or so, not fifty-five. The music actually turned out better than I expected, but it never got me past the grating sensation the voice acting surfaced in the fathoms of my eardrums. Especially for those familiar with the English dub it's pretty awful, so keep that in mind if you choose to watch it.
Expectedly, the characters are overly dull. Lloyd is ten times more annoying than he is in the game, as at least in the game he's respectable on some levels. Here, though, he whines and bitches like any other standard protagonist in his shoes, so it's a big turnoff. Kratos, on the other hand, is a little too emotionless, as his total detachment in the OVA parallels rather poorly with his pragmatism in the game. The others are just generic, one dimensional extrapolations of their respective characters, though, so overall there's really not much to mention other than I didn't really care for them - they were much more round and complex in their original setting.
Still, in lieu of all my negatives, if you're interested in seeing Kratos or Sheena kick some ass it'd be decent a way to burn a couple hours; I did actually enjoy those scenes quite a bit. Other than that, though, I'd suggest passing this title up - generally speaking, it's simply not worth your time.
Every year that passes, the lifeblood known as mana which sustains the world of Sylvarant slowly ebbs away. The land itself is dying, fields are turning barren, and life itself is on the brink of collapse. In the quiet country town of Iselia the last remaining hope, the Chosen of Martel, begins the Journey of World Regeneration – a quest which, if completed, would renew the world’s supply of mana and bring prosperity once more. However, Colette is not the first chosen to attempt the Journey; many have already fallen before her. Along with the mercenary Kratos and the half-elf school teacher Raine, Colette must travel to each of the elemental shrines and release the seals so that the regeneration can begin.
Though I'm a big fan of slice of life and romance, I'll watch just about anything that catches my interest. My opinions tend to be pretty level-headed, but I have been known to be controversial from time to time! Feel free to lay into me if you so desire, as I always appreciate feedback - positive or negative. I hope you enjoy reading!