"Anime, based on an ero-game, featuring a man of a mysterious origin, leading a small tribe of oppressed people to fight the empire... Where did I heard of a such a setttin... Ah but of course - Utawarerumono!" - that could sum up my first thoughts of this show. Up to ep 7 (or somewhere around that) I believed this show would just be a cheap Utawarerumono rip-off . Fortunately I was proven wrong. It's true, that both animes share number of similarities, but in the end Tears to Tiara somehow manages to create it's unique story - a weird mix of Arthurian legends, ancient Rome setting and some christian mythology figures.
Story - 6.5/10
The show can be easily divided into 2 parts. First part (which covers around 2/3 of the anime) is focused on military struggles - ally gathering, battles, traps and betrayals - basicly the usual war theme. And I must say this part is so weak, that many probably will drop the show at this point. The battle tactic are just rubbish, logic isn't employed here at all and actions of certain characters are beyond any help. Dialogue lines are overly dramatized or just lack any sense and (apart from Lidia-Octavia relationship) nothing really interesting happens. The battles are dull, the comedy is weak, the "emotional scenes" are annoying. The only thing that keeps this part together is somewhat solid overall concept ( small Gael tribe versus powerful Holy Empire is good setting ) and the hopes, that later arc will be better. And fortunately it is.
The last 1/3 of the show steps away from the man vs man war theme, and ventures into a realm of mystics and magics, where only powerful ones have some role to play ( I don't consider being a spectator and gasping a role :P). Once the show get rids off the chains of pseudo-realistic battles ( you can't fight battles with few heroes versus a whole army, you need some army as well) it actually gets better. In a setting where one being can save or destroy whole world dramatic moments aren't a nuisance anymore, instead they fit perfectly. And 2 episodes about Arawn past are probably the best part of the whole show. Of course this 1/3 isn't perfect either - boring opponents, lack of consistency with what spells kills you and some unneccessary stretching just to make the show a little longer are some of the things that plague this part. Nevertheless at this point, the show already reached decent enough level of amusement, that such small issues can't spoil it.
Animation - 9/10
The animation is on par with other 2009 productions. While it's not always given a chance to shine, once some "epic scenes" appear it manages to deliver their potential. Though Morgan shooting looked a bit lame. I didn't like some of the clothes and weapons designs, but that's just a major issue and possibly a matter of taste. Most of the character designs were unique, and convincing. The animation crew also did a good job on the backgrounds, making this show real feast for the eyes.
Sound - 7/10
I don't recall any track that would catch my attention. The songs sung by some of the characters weren't bad but didn't really fit well with characters voices. Opening was average, and so I usually skipped past it. The first ending had somehow catchy tune, unfortunately it was later changed for a different ending. Seiyus did a good job, and conveyed emotions well.
Characters - 4/10
Ugh... My ranking of most annoying characters ever, received a new 3rd place - Arthur (only Nina from Code Geass and Shinn from GSD remained unchanged on their throne ). He is the worst thing this show have to offer. I often wished someone would just kill him already to end his (and mine) suffering. I understand you can be cocky, prideful, brainless and impatient... but give me a break, you could at least follow orders well... If you trained a monkey in a swordfight and human language you could probably get better character than Arthur. And before you ask - no, his change throughout the show doesn't redeem him in my eyes.
But of course this show doesn't end with just one idiot - there is also Morgan. The brain power that rivals the levels of Britney Spears, combined with a skill that got the worst animation in the show makes her a character you want to avoid at any cost. And the pitiful tries of showing her serious side in Octavia arc are just making her look more miserable. If she could die in about... 5 minutes after her first appearance, than it would be a nice motivator for Riannon and Arthur, but unfortunately producers didn't share my feelings toward her, and so she is one of the main cast.
Our main demon lord Arawn is kinda bleak. He just goes around with this "I know everything, so you should just listen to my wisdom" kind of smile, and plays chief. He got 2 awesome past stories - one of his origin, and one of his time with Pwyll, but in the present he just doesn't act much. However with the annoyance Arthur and Morgan combo causes, his boring personality is quite relaxing.
And there is Riannon who is shaped into walking incarnation of kindness, to a point that it gets stupid. On a bright side - she has her moments, and show some leadership qualities at times + got an unexpected role at the ending. On a not so bright side, half of her dialogues lines contains either "Arawn-sama" or "Nii-sama".
Then there is a good squad of supporting character, most of them are one trick ponies, based on a single line/dialogue (for example Llyr always says she is unlucky, and Rathty always want to make pots..). Octavia and Taliesin are slightly above average here, since they were lucky enought to get side-stories.
The enemies... *sigh*. Lidia is one of those characters, that has a really boring reason to hate someone. Somehow the tragedy of her story is dimmed by the stupidity of this reason. Gaius - now this is a different story. I wouldn't mind having more screentime given to him, maybe some side-story. He is a good, ambitious character. And Lector? I understand that character like this was needed for the story, but he was just another mad evil villain - a most overused enemy type ever. The others don't even deserve a mention...
Overall - 5.5/10
Have you watched Utawarerumono? If you haven't than go watch it instead of this. Tears to Tiara is clearly inferio to it. And if you have... Well I'm not sure I should recommend it. The first 2/3 might bore you to death, and the last 1/3 isn't extraordinary - just decent. But if you are really desperate for light, fantasy show + you watched all the others, then you can try this one as well.