Tales of Phantasia

Also Known As: ToP, ToP OVA
Genre: Action/Drama
Format: 4 OVA
Allegiance: NAMCO/Frontier Works/Geneon
Director: Tominaga Takuo
Vintage: 2004-2006
Intelligence Agency Report by: Kuzu Ryu Sen
In the year 4304, an event occurred near the small town of Totus that would shape the future of the world of Aselia. Encouraged by his worldly ambitions, the knight Mars ordered the Euclidean military to seize Cless Alvein and Mint Adnade so that their pendants may be retrieved to break the seal on Daos, the great Demon Lord. However, rather than serving Mars’ whim, the Demon Lord uses his reawakening to facilitate the continuation of his own plans, and neither Mars, nor Cless, Mint, Chester Barklight, or Tornix D. Morrison are able to stop him. In desperation, Tornix sends Cless and Mint to the year 4204, and instructs them to find Klarth F. Lester and Arche Klaine, thus beginning the adventures of the “Heroes of Time.”

Field Agent Report by: Kuzu Ryu Sen
Overall 7.25

Video game-to-animation conversions usually don’t turn out very well, as the producers of the anime cannot fit thirty or forty hours of game plot into, at most, ten to thirteen hours of screen time. The Tales of Phantasia adaptation is certainly no exception. However, knowing that they were likely dealing with a niche market, the production staff decided to emphasize only certain plot points, assuming that the viewer was already well versed with the story from having played the game.

Naturally, as a consequence of this action, the sequence of events featured within the Tales of Phantasia OVA will be very difficult to understand for someone who is not experienced with the game. The show jumps from major event to major event, giving no real heed to plot progression, flow, or character development. Key character-interaction moments from the game are included, but one has to play the game in order to understand the context under which the characters are interacting in such a manner. Enough is given, however, for even a rookie to the Tales series to understand the basic character archetypes presented, as well as the motivations behind some of the main characters.

The purpose of the OVA – a purpose it accomplishes very well – is to arouse emotion in the viewer: perhaps via feelings of nostalgia or via the logic that a presentation of a plot event that was originally moving in 32-bit graphics but is now even more potent as a fully animated and voice acted scene. What plot events the show does choose to highlight, it does fantastically, and Arche’s and Klarth’s spells have never looked better. The action choreography is well done, and the art and visual effects – particularly during the Ary scene – are exquisite.

Nevertheless, the bottom line is quite simple: if one has played Tales of Phantasia, one should watch this show. Otherwise, venture at your own risk. Unlike Here is Greenwood, there was no possible way to make this show episodic in nature, so rather than attempting to please everyone and thereby pleasing no one, the production staff specifically targeted its veteran gamer market. Therefore, perhaps the best solution is, quite simply, to become part of that gamer market.