Tales of Eternia: The Animation
Celestia and Inferia, two worlds that face each other (so that each world seems to be the sky of the other) are under the threat of imminent collision, a cataclysm known as the Grand Fall. Much to the chagrin of the protagonist of this tale, the leaders of Inferia decide to wage war upon Celestia. The heroes try to find another way to avert disaster. In the meantime, their adventures strand them on a tropical paradise, but in even the most beautiful places, deadly secrets lurk not far away.
So laidback swordsman Rid, his childhood acquaintance Farah, the bookish mage Keel, and the mysterious, but cute Celestian girl Melody must find a way to continue their quest while getting probably the best suntans of their lives.
First off, I should state that I originally saw this off a Hong Kong DVD, which is quite the mixed blessing. While I appreciated the clarity of the animation and the voice tracks, the subtitles were obviously not written by a native speaker of English. For example, Celestia and Inferia were translated as Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia (!) and, worse off, the names of Efreet and Sylph were corrupted into Evelyn Smith. (Not to mention all the character names, which were largely disregarded by those present at this viewing.)
But bad subtitling couldn't hide the quality of this series, and we can trust a professional release to do this far better justice. Though the characters in Tales of Eternia are fairly archetypal, they remain interesting and charming throughout the production, with nice character design, good interaction between the leads, and a lot of cute girls. (Look in particular for Hayashibara Megumi in a non-squeaky role as Maronne, and Horie Yui as the klutzy, cute, wannabe minstrel Corrina.) The acting is, while not spectacular, quite competent, which is a good thing because there isn't a whole lot of action to be had in this series.
Wait a second. A fantasy adventure without a whole lot of action? Well, there are a few action scenes (at least once an episode), which are for the most part capably handled (with named attack moves, and "Crystal Spirits" which facilitate elemental magic spells - and even tips on which spells to use!), but since for the most part the cast is marooned on a tropical island, there isn't a whole lot of exploring or monster mmashing to do. High-powered moves take a back seat to character interaction, and while the development of the plot seems only the enhance the archetypal nature of the characters, it's still done effectively and a nice change of pace from series like Bastard.
Of course, a lot of people might not exactly care about the whole adventuring bit, as the concept of a gaggle of cute girls on a tropical island means lots of scenes where the girls are less than fully clothed. There's even a full-body shower scene in one episode (which is a bit of a surprise for a TV series). Nothing actually out of line, but plenty of swimsuits and bath scenes nonetheless. (And naturally, constant competition for who gets to call the male lead her boyfriend.)
Of course, when you get to the actual plot (which does eventually kick in), it's occasionally (and thankfully) clever and innovative, and it's helped immensely by the glossy, colorful, and generally pretty animation, which only rarely goes into the territory of stock or degraded footage. Even the seemingly filler episodes advance the story in subtle ways, and while we could've done without a couple of the cliches in here, it's forgivable. And while the background music isn't buy-this-soundtrack-now good, the opening and ending tracks are very nicely done.
Being as short as it is, Tales of Eternia is unlikely to be a magnum opus of fantasy anime. But it's pretty, cute, and has a good sense of humor, which is definitely enough for the dedicated fantasy anime viewer. Enjoy!
A solid series that is consistently entertaining, gently funny, and very cute. Those who aren't big fans of fantasy with lots of pretty anime girls may remove one star. — Carlos/Giancarla Ross
Recommended Audience: Some violence, and some characters/redshirts do die, but it's bloodless and off-screen. There is one scene of full dorsal nudity, and plenty of fan service, though it's more restrained than, say, Idol Project. Nothing truly offensive for teens or over, though.
Version(s) Viewed: Asian DVD
Review Status: Partial (9/13)
Tales of Eternia: The Animation © 2001 Xebec / Namco
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