Tales of Symphonia is a Japanese role-playing game released for the Nintendo GameCube on August 29, 2003 in Japan. The fans found the game very enjoyable, which was the reason for the creation of the new material: novels, manga, drama CDs, and, of course, an OVA anime series. A Steam version was also released on February 2, 2016. The TV series focuses on the two worlds; one world prospers at the cost of another. In one of these worlds, Colette Brunel and her guardians embark on a journey to save their world called Sylvarant and to replenish it with the mana that is needed for its existence. However, they do not know if they will be able to save their world, as well as the cost they will need to pay to save it.
So, the story of Tales of Symphony focuses on a young man and a girl, who have been friends since childhood. The girl, Colette, needs to perform sacred rituals, for her world to be saved from the destruction. Her closest friends embark on a journey with her to help her complete the ritual and, of course, there will be people that will do everything to kidnap, kill, or even to somehow influence the restoration of the world. And that is the whole story and it will probably sound boring, also it might also look boring for you, when watching the first episodes. However, as the story continues, it becomes much more interesting, there are so many things going on and the most important part about it is that it all makes sense and is quite catchy overall.
Animation wise, the animation was done by Ufotable and whatever they do is always amazing. Action scenes and attacks are splendidly animated and the way the animators paid attention to so many details does make the TV series that enjoyable. OST and music wise, it is amazing how many great tracks this series has. The whole OST fits the series’ tone well and helps you to appreciate the series even more. And not only that! The Japanese voice actors also did one hell of a job voicing their characters, helping the viewer appreciate the series even more, because thanks to their work, the characters they voiced all looked real and quite enjoyable to follow.
As for the characters, they all have intriguing pasts and quite a development. There are so many characters, they are all different, they all have a story to tell and this is amazing. I did not quite appreciate one of the main characters, he is caring, but annoying at the same time. He is the only exception to the stereotype list, but you might even understand him and find him not as annoying as I did. Other than that, all heroes constantly discuss something, make fun of each other and find themselves in awkward situations. The viewer sees not only comedy scenes, but also some well-made melodrama that is not forced and is very enjoyable.
Overall, too bad the TV series did not get enough episodes to show enough development. If you played the game, you should know what I am trying to say. If you, however, know nothing about the game and like great adventures, I am more than sure you will find the anime quite enjoyable. Do give it a try, it is not that long.
The story is rushed and all over the place and I know that since it's so short, they didn't have enough time to shoehorn in a lot of things from the game, but since the game is so long, I think they should've made this into a regular T.V. series than in OVA. That way, they can flesh out these complex characters and include more events that happened in the game. While, I can do with a few changes, such as the whole Chocolat thing because I don't care much for her, I would've loved if the series had stayed much more faithful to the game.
There is too much crying in it, while the game has came out in the time where video game characters hardly ever shed any tears, that still doesn’t warrant this much crying throughout every other episode of the series. Yes, I realise the characters have plights but I could do with some less crying. Presea cried a lot more than I remember her doing in the game. Now, let's go into more details about the problem with these characterizations and we'll compare them to the game:
Lloyd seems much more bubbly and silly here. While he does have a fun-loving side in the game, it's more toned down in the game. Yes, Lloyd is a kid, but he comes off as overly perky and it's annoying. Anime Lloyd is a lot more of a passive innocent bystander in the OVA while Game Lloyd was more of a pacifist who loves peace. Lloyd is also more of an idiot here than he was in the game such as in one scene that isn’t in the game where Soulless Colette is about to attack and Lloyd uses the power of love to stop her. What a cheesy scene. Game Lloyd was idiotic but showed some street smarts and logic at times.
Colette's tenancy to see the good is exaggerated here. She is so overly positive that she brushes off people fighting as a friendly sort of thing. While she was overly optimistic in the game, she still was more pacifistic in the game when it came to fighting and wasn't as optimistic towards people fighting.
Sheena is a lot more aloof in the anime and her hot-headedness is exaggerated here. She is a lot more violent than I remember her being. Anime Zelos is much more sassy here than he is in the game. He probably showed a bit of sass in the game but it's cranked up here. Presea is more impulsive here, shown when she suddenly attacks Regal right after hearing that he has killed Alicia. Game Presea was slower to anger and while held a grudge to Regal, she didn’t start fighting him off the bat until towards the end of the game.
Overall: This anime is a mess. This TOS series has completely screwed up Miyajima's vision of these characters. Play the game instead, it may be a little cheesy but a lot more realistic than this. This is just a cheesy adaptation of a nice game that is not the same as it.