Since Rickoon took the perspective of someone who HAS played the original game, allow me to begin by saying that I have not. Though, as someone who has played other games in the Tales franchise, I am used to the anime being somewhat of a disappointment, which is why I was so surprised that I enjoyed this anime as much as I did.
As for my scores, allow me to explain each:
Story: The story, while fundamentally your basic "group of heros saves the world" plot, had quite a unique spin to it that I found refreshing. Both the heros and the villans were acting in a way that they thought was right, and their morals and beliefs really shone through, which is nice, because I'm all too used to seeing villan's opinions shoved aside, implying that they're doing what they're doing simply because "they're evil". Another thing that I found surprising was the plot twists- some of them were blatently obvious, but in other situations, I was quite surprised with what ended up happening, even if I had almost been expecting it. On a related note, it bears worth mentioning that it has been quite a while since an anime has made me cry, and this anime accomplishes that (or perhaps I am just a sappy person, but that's unlikely), so I am overall very pleased. Where it lost points for me was that, as a Tales fan, even though I've never played this specific game, I must agree with Rickoon's review and say that I know there could have been a little more character development through what would have been the "skits" in-game, but it's not like there isn't any character development. Also, romance is not a key focus, which is wonderful because I am tired of shows that claim to be adventure, but end up with a lot of relationship drama and such.
Animation: The animation was absolutely gorgeous. Expressions were believable, and made the characters feel more realistic. The motions were smooth, and the frames were interesting, so this got a near perfect score from me. The only reason it lost points is really because, as most animes do, people drawn as "background" characters, or characters that the camera is not currently focused on, are drawn rather blandly. Of course, realistically, there is no way they can put that much detail into every character, but I am just too picky, I suppose. Though, I must say that I agree with Rickoon on the point that there is not a lot of actual fighting action- there is some, of course, but some of the bigger battles were surprisingly short. I know they don't want to drag it out to the point that it gets boring or anything, but sometimes it's a little anti-climatic, and so that took a point off for me. On a tiny note, I liked that they incorperated the original "artes" in-game art; I find it added a neat touch of the game.
Sound: Sound wise... Again, I'm with Rickoon. Since I have played other Tales games, and seen other animations, I am used to having lots of interesting, unique melodies playing at all (or at least most) times. This anime lacked music for a lot of scenes where I think it could have been added in well, and so I'm a little disappointed. On the other hand, the opening and ending themes are both great choices, and the lyrics are relevant. As for the voice acting, it was well done, and the actors did a great job of portraying their character's feelings, so I am pleased about that.
Characters: Now, I am highly surprised that I loved most of the characters. Even Anise (a female child, usually my worst nightmare) has fond a soft spot in my heart- in fact, she's one of my favorite characters in this anime, simply because she doesn't act like your stereotypical child. She can be downright sadistic and cunning, and I find that's a wonderful change of pace from your typical crybaby pathetic little girls. I won't go into each character in detail or anything, but let me just say that every character is believable, and their motives (plus the fact that they even have them) all make sense with their personalities. I could go on and on about how much I loved most characters, but I won't, in the interest in keeping some suspence for those who want to find out for themselves. Of course, that's not to say that I think everyone who watches the show will love all the characters or anything, I'm just saying that as far as personalities go, these characters are unique and believable, and chances are good you'll find at least a few that you'll fall in love with. This section loses points for me though simply because as a Tales fan, I am aware that there are character developing scenes that we missed out on. It's not a big deal, and I got through the anime just fine without it, but I just would have liked to see a bit more of certain character's thoughts, though almost all of the main characters were properly fleshed out with a back story and motives.
Overall, I really enjoyed this anime. I didn't expect it to be so good, to be quite honest, and I am left pleasently surprised. Rickoon said in his review that "the show has difficultly standing without the game as support", but I disagree. I have not played the game, and I still very much enjoyed this anime- perhaps I would like it less if I played the game, but who knows? This anime was very well done, in my opinion, and was more emotional than I expected. I did not expect to get so involved with the characters, and so I was more than pleasently surprised. In the end though, my current feelings about this anime are almost entirely positive, and therefore I would recommend this series to anyone who likes action/adventure animes, weather or not they're Tales fans. This is an anime I will likely not forget.