Tales of the Abyss

TV (26 eps)
2008 - 2009
Fall 2008
3.798 out of 5 from 6,723 votes
Rank #2,353

Auldrant is a world governed by The Score, an ancient prophecy divined by Yulia, which foretells the fate of all things. Thus, the Order of Lorelei is founded with the sole purpose of determining and upholding The Score. However, there always will be those who struggle against fate. Luke is a spoiled young noble of Kimlasca who yearns to be outside of the walls of his mansion. He spends his days spurning the advances of his fiancée Natalia and training with Guy, his friend and bodyguard, and his teacher Van, Commander of the Knights of Lorelei. During an attack on the mansion, he ends up in Malkuth, enemy territory. When he tries to return home, he soon finds himself embroiled in a worldwide conflict between those who would uphold fate and those who would defy it.

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Reviews

mahius
8

Tales of the Abyss is a 26 episode fantasy adventure anime, with plenty of action, some comedy and even a dash of romance. The plot and setting are in the style of a JRPG, no doubt because this is based upon a game of the same name released in the PS2 era. As such, expect a very complete and progressive story. I’ve never played any of the Tales games, I don’t have the time for lengthy RPGs these days, but the plot of this anime is very promising and stands out a lot. Being based on a game, it has many advantages and despite having never played the games, this seems to be a decent adaptation from the view of an outsider. There have been a few anime made from the Tales games and this one seems to be the most complete. A small note, this review has taken much longer to write/release since I have been terribly ill over the past week and a half. Not only was I unable to write, but I was also unable to watch the anime. Apologies for those who care and for the rest… just the insight that there’s a real person behind this wall of text. Animation A good 2008 anime should at least live up to the standards here. I watched this in full 1080p and I didn’t regret it, the quality was beautiful for a 2008 anime, very few complaints I have about that. The animation was fluid and had no issues running. I can’t find issue with the style here, particularly because this is a video-game adaptation. From what little I’ve seen of the game itself, the animation style is very faithful, no differences so fans of the game shouldn’t be upset, unless I’ve overlooked anything. The style is regular anime style, but the game was released back in 2006 and looked fairly decent for a game of its time. There are no oddities to complain about with this anime, no weird pervy shit or odd character designs… except for Luke’s strange gut-bearing shirt he always wears. It kinda had me creeped out how his abs were showing most of the time, but it’s a nice change from the typical whoring of female characters, not to say that this is man-service in any way. Plus that design was kept from the game and I’m sure there must have been some fooling around in the game itself, if the later Tales games are anything to go by. I do take issue with some of the characters looking a bit androgynous, I initially though Ion was a girl and there’s even a bit where the protagonists are shocked to find that Mieu is male. Sound Long before I watched this anime or even heard of it, I heard the intro song and loved it. So much, that I got the full soundtrack. A long time later, I’m getting slightly nostalgic hearing the soundtrack in its original form, however strange that may seem. The high production value (relative to others) of the game and this anime carries over here in the sound department, in fact the anime and the game even share the same music. Though there are slight changes here and there, plus the intro and outro, which I don’t think a game has. Beautiful music, it felt like an epic fantasy flick as it should do, which shows off how good the sound design is. This anime is available in just Japanese. While the original game was available in English too, reading around it seems that people were happy with the sub-only version of this anime, both due to Tear’s English VA being kinda naff and a few over-used English VAs in the game, even though an English dub didn’t have to necessarily use the same voices as the game did. The one thing I do find annoying is that this anime tends to use a lot of Westernised names, which are typically pronounced terribly by the Japanese voice actors. Even after several episodes, I was still cringing every time I heard ‘Ruke’ instead of ‘Luke’ (not being racist but many Japanese folks can’t pronounce L). Due to the heavy usage of Westernised words and names, an English dub wouldn’t have been all that bad. Right now, I’m just trying to get this review written, so I’m putting off this section if I can’t make it. Characters The main protagonist here is Luke Fon Fabre, the spoilt son of a noble, Duke Fabre who is the brother of the King of the nation of Kimlasca. Just starting his time of adulthood, Luke behaves very childish and rash for someone of his nobility. He lets his emotions get the better of him and while he loves to train in swordarts, he is actually a coward when it comes to real fights. A lot of this may have to do with the fact that he was kidnapped 9 years ago, an event which traumatised him so much, that upon his safe return to his parents, he had no memory of his life and reverted to an infant-like state mentally. Ever since, he’s been cooped up in the Fabre manor, due to his parents worry that something might happen to him if he were to get out into the wide world. He’s slow to react and living a privileged life has left him lacking in certain social skills and finesse. He seems to be have some sort of special latent power and ever since his kidnapping is affected by sudden bouts of paralysis where voices pass through his head. Another major character in this story is Van Grants, one of the Six God-Generals. He is a warrior from the land of Hod, lost in the previous war. He is effective in sword-fighting and is Luke’s bodyguard and sensei… he is the one who taught Luke how to fight. He also happens to be the one who saved Luke and brought him back from his kidnapping all those years ago, thus Luke has grown quite attached and dependent upon him. He has his own plans in mind, especially when his backstory is brought into consideration. The most important of the various female protagonists in this anime is Tear Grants, Van’s younger sister of an age similar to Luke. She antagonises her older brother and she is introduced attacking her brother. That’s not to say she doesn’t care for him. She is a fairly sensible and skilled fighter, while she can use weapons, she specialises in support magic, the sort that heals and projects shields. She also seems to have some sort of power too, she seems to sing one particular fonic hymn. She is sensible and very careful around others, she is quite kind and doesn’t harbour many negative feelings. Speaking of which… she sometimes blushes around Luke and the other characters suspect something between them… Guy Cecil is Luke’s best friend since Childhood. Being slightly older, he helped Luke get back on his feet after his kidnapping and looks out for him like a true bro. He seems to have no family and is looked after by the Fabre family, where he is essentially a servant to them. A servant skilled in sword-fighting and one with an interesting backstory. He seems to be close to Van, who has also taught him how to swordfight. Most interesting of all, this guy has Gynophobia. Usually this is weird when done in anime, but it’s depicted very sensibly here. Guy has no trouble talking to women and such, it’s just that he doesn’t like it when one gets very close to him. Dare I say it seems very mild and realistic? Princess Natalia is the one and only daughter of King Ingobert of Kimlasca. She is the same age as Luke and seems to be promised to him in marriage. She has short blonde hair, unlike the men of the Kimlascan lineage (including her cousin Luke and by coincidence his mother) who have always had red-hair. She is much loved by the subjects of the kingdom and has taken an active role in the politic and ruling of the country, despite the fact that her father is alive and well. I guess it shows how much trust the King has in his daughter, especially as his wife, the Queen, has long since passed away. She loves Luke, which may have something to do with the fact that they were engaged to each other. Together, she and Guy are good friends to Luke, who looked after him and helped him recover from his kidnapping trauma long ago. In combat, she is a skilled bow user, even shooting multiple arrows at once. Colonel Jade Curtiss is a military man from the nation of Malkuth and the man in command of the large and extravagant Malkuth military ship called the Tartarus. He is a smart man, of course wearing glasses and generally being the voice of reason in the group. As far as combat abilities go, he is an elemental mage and a powerful one at that. Both he and his sister were childhood friends of the Malkuth Emperor Peony, whom Jade now serves under. Jade was also once best buds with the now-villain Dist the Reaper. Jade gained the nickname of Jade the Necromancer from his military career and his prior experimentation. Being the brains of the group, he is a strongly protagonist but he has his past to consider too. Fon Master Ion is the current Fon Master, the head of the Order of Lorelei which is the religious order in Auldrant. As the Fon Master, he is very power in the use of Fon magic, particularly the seventh Fonon and he is the only one who can read the prophetic Fon-crystals. Ion is a very short and androgynous boy. He is very calm and collected and never seems to display much emotion besides smiling and being content. Probably goes with being religious. He is always accompanied by his attendant. Arietta used to have this position until 2 years ago when something happened and Anise became his attendant instead. He uses healing and support magic like Tear in combat. Anise is small girl who always carries a stiched plushy as a backpack. This plushy is magic and can transform into a big puppet monster to defend her in combat. Anise is the typical annoying little girl character, except she isn’t as annoying as some characters in other anime. She does often pull harsh remarks. She’s often on the lookout for a rich guy to marry, since she comes from a poor family. Her parents are so gullible and easily lose their money. She’s a bit superficial in this regard. She’s very protective of Fon Master Ion and becomes attached to Luke early on since he is the rich son of a Duke. This does make for an awkward harem situation as she argues with Natalia over Luke. Her love of money makes her a funny character. She especially doesn’t get along with Arietta considering how the both of them are the same to Ion. Finally there’s the trope little cute mascot character. In this anime the role is taken by a furry creature called a Cheagle. Its name is Mieu and after it is banished from its home for putting the cheagle village in peril, it decides to stay with Luke and follow him as it regards Luke to be its master. It wears a little ring which allows it to float and to speak to humans. The gender of this creature comes into question right at the start, the party are in disbelief that it’s a boy, despite its ‘cute’ feminine behaviour (and female voice actor). I find that aspect a bit off-putting. They didn’t have to make a fuss over its gender. And I think that’s it for the main party, but there are so many secondary and side-characters who are important. The villain is Mohs, a priest from the order of Lorelei who opposes Ion and wishes to incite war between Kimlasca and Malkuth. Under his command are the God-Generals, a team of strong villains which include Jade’s childhood friend Dist, Arietta, the Black Lion Largo who seems to know Natalia despite the fact she doesn’t know him, the masked man Sync and the gunslinger Legretta. Another group is led by the mysterious man Asch, who Luke has some sort of connection with. Asch leads a group of criminals and has his own objectives, he seems to know a lot about Luke and is somehow ahead of him one step. He seems to despise Luke a lot, often insulting him casually. The Malkuth Emperor Peony is a young chilled out man, who is good friends with Jade. He rules his country well and loves to spend time with his pet pigs, whom he has named after his friends. Story There’s a lot of Fon/Fom nonsense in this anime. What does it all mean? A small explanation about the setting of this anime. The planet in this anime, Auldrant, has magical power via particles called Fonons which which vibrate at specific Fonic frequencies. These particles orginate from the planets core and are spread around the world via a (fictional) natural phenomenon known as the Planet Storm. There are several different kinds of Fonic magic and machines in this world even utilise this force to work, they are known as fon-machines. A lot of the lore, religion and science in this anime is based around this Fonon/Fomic malarkey. There are Foncrystals, ancient shards of a score which prophesises the entire history of the planet, including wars and the events of this anime. Very few can read these Foncrystals, one who can is known as the Fonmaster of the religious order of Lorelei. Lorelei sounds to be some sort of god or spirit associated with the seventh Fonon. Not having played the game, from a few reviews of the game I’ve seen the story in this anime follows in the same suite. However, being limited to 26 episodes means that certain extended story elements from the game would inevitably be left out, nothing we can do about that and it’s easily forgiven. The plot of this anime starts with Luke having a sudden confrontation with Tear at the start, where the two are somehow teleported away to some faraway place with no explanation as to how or why this happened. And the party slowly builds up as they encounter various characters on their journey, which starts as simply getting back home to Kimlasca, but soon blooms into something far greater. The plot here is deep, each of the characters in the main party has something to reveal or develop and there are so many sudden shocks, twists and turns. The fast pace does seem a bit too fast at times, one episode they are in this place and another they’ve been to a few more places. Later on there’s a bit where I’m sure there should have been some filler as quite a fair bit of time passes and there is supposed to be a different atmosphere during that period, but they quickly move on with the story. There is very little bullshittery, plotholes and conveniences are few and far between. They really aren’t afraid to make things happen in this narrative and I guess we owe that to this being an adaptation of a video game where a plot was lovingly crafted and had time to mature over a long period of time. That’s one great thing about the narrative of this anime, it moves fast and there’s always an objective or something going on. There’s so many big themes here, like religion, prophecy, science and war. I don’t have the time or space to write much about it, but it’s an indication of how interesting this anime is. A small thing to note, after 15 or so episodes, the anime stopped showing previews of the next episode. Perhaps due to spoilers? I guess the previews were spoilery the way they were done here. They could have been designed much better. Though on closer looks, it seems like they just incorporated the preview into the credit sequence by that point. The romance is done rather well here. I.e. it takes a back seat for the most part. Tear often blushes around Luke and there are a fee jokes made about how close the two are together. There’s a single weird harem-like instance where Natalia and Anise argue over Luke. Natalia’s attachment to Luke is questionable given the fact that they are cousins. Usually I’d rant about how wrong this is, but considering there’s other reasons for doing so, such as maintaining the Kimlascan royal bloodline, the fact that this sort of thing happened with real life royalty in the medieval times and finally there’s somethings that suggests certain things aren’t what they seem, it’s fine. They aren't shoving the romance in, it's just as plausible that there are no such relationships. Conclusion In the end I did enjoy this anime. Despite the fact that earlier parts I was so bored I decided to fiddle instead of watch. The plot and characters are the most important thing in an anime like this and yet it also manages to have good animation and sound. The plot is brimming and moves fast, it’s obvious they compressed a large scale JRPG into the space of a 26 episode anime. The story and world is rich too, I once wondered where all the JRPG-like fantasy anime were and here I’ve found one that fits the bill to a T. There was no bullshit and not much that annoyed me. Family-friendliness Rating: 2/5 Strong themes and complex plot (lower is better) Overall Rating: 8/10 (higher is better)

Amidori
8

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.

fononhaze
9.5

Now how to begin? Tales of the Abyss has been one of my favorite Tales of RPGs to date. It's good to see the anime of the game and now I will give my opinions on what I think of it: To start the review, here is the introduction video. This one is from the game since i cannot find any that relate to the anime. Story: To start off, the setting takes place on a fictional planet named Auldrant which is composed of six different elements called "Fonons". Respectively, these fonons are fire, water, wind, earth, light, and darkness. Eventually, a seventh fonon which represents sound was discovered and has the capability of reading the future. Yulia Jue used the seventh fonon to create the "Score" which foretells the planet's future and fate. On Auldrant exist two powerful kingdoms named Kimlasca-Lanvaldear and Malkuth. The two kingdoms have been on arms since the discovery of the seventh fonon and engage each other in many countless wars, some of which are predicted by the Score. Now the main story, Luke fon Fabre has been confined in his manor for seven years since his kidnapping by Malkuth. Luke has experienced mysterious headaches since then. During his training session with Van Grants, a young girl named Tear Grants attempts to assassinate Van but is stoped by Luke. A "Hyperresonance" occures between the two and are warped away from the manor. Both Luke and Tear have to work together to make it back to Kimlasca, unaware that they will be involved in a worldwide struggle to free Auldrant from the Score and save it from destruction. Overall, the story is nice and it's good to see that the producers haven't sacrificed the original story from the game. The only grudge I have on it though is that the story in the anime is rushed and unlike the game, it doesn't give you time to understand, especially if you are watching the anime without having played the game. Animation: The animation runs very smoothly and there seems to be no obvious flaws (well at least for me anyway). Not much to say for this section. Sound: Now don't get me wrong, the sound in the anime is good. The only exception is the music. Despite how good and perfectly orchestrated the themes are, it's a shame that they haven't reused the more memorable game themes such as "The Arrow was Shot!" and "Awkward Justice". The only memorable soundtracks reused were the opening theme "Karma" by BUMP OF CHICKEN and Tear's Grand Fonic Hymn. The sound effects are well done and there are no random sounds that seem out-of-place. The voice acting itself is very well done considering that the anime hasn't been dubbed yet. The voices never sound bad and are perfectly in sync with the lip animations. My favorite has to be Jade's voice. Characters: Well to avoid spoilers, I will mostly talk about the main protagonists. It's good to see that the characters' personalities haven't been altered from the game. Luke still complains, Tear is still is the bossy type, and Jade continues with his hilarious sarcastic comments. Otherwise, I liked the characters' personalities and development and the other characters will not dissapoint as well (except for one but I will not spoil the character). As for the character designs, they are very well done. It seems like the designs are slightly different from the game but still look good nonetheless. Overall: Tales of the Abyss is a very good anime rendered from the original video game. I highly recommend this anime to those who have nastalgia playing the game as it will bring back memories. To those who haven't played the game, not so much.

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