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Tears to Tiara: The Complete Collection (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

October 16, 2010 by  



An entertaining and fun adventure anime series based on the popular PC/PlayStation 3 RPG video game!  Featuring many fun characters, an entertaining plot and also cool artwork and character designs.  Only problem are the accents of a few main characters in the English dub soundtrack that unfortunately doesn’t work.

Image courtesy of © AQUAPLUS/T3WORKS © 2010 Sentai Filmworks. All Rights Reserved.

BLU-RAY TITLE: Tears to Tiara: The Complete Collection

DURATION: 26 Episodes (650 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (16×9), English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, English Subtitles

COMPANY: Showgate/Sentai Filmworks

RATED: TV PG V

Release Date: October 19, 2010

Directed by Tomoki Kobayashi

Series Composition by Touko Machida

Music by Takayuki Hattori

Character Design by Masahiko nakata

Art Director: Izumi Hoki

Chief Animation Director: Masahiko Nakata

Sound Director: Susumu Aketagawa

Animation Producer: Gaku Iwasa

Anime Production: Oriental Light and Magic, White Fox

Featuring the following voice talent:

Makoto Ishii/Chris Ayres as Arthur

Toru Ohkawa/Illich Guardiola as Arawn

Yuko Goto/Hannah Alcorn as Riannon

Kaori Nakazuna/Brittney Karbowski as Llyr

Mai Nakahara/Tiffany Grant as Morgan

Rie Tanaka/Monica Rial as Octavia

Yousuke Akimoto/John Swasey as Ogam

Ai Shimizu/Hilary Haag as Ermin

Ami Koshimizu/Luci Christian as Limwris

Kana Ueda/Greg Ayres as Rathty

Kenji Hamada/Brett Weaver as Gaius

Kiyomi Asai/Cynthia Martinez as Epona

Miyuki Sawashiro/Shannon Emerick as Lydia

In a strange dark age, across the land that will someday become Europe, the Divine Empire has been on the march, ruthlessly devouring its weaker neighbors for generations. But when a savage priest attempts to resurrect the long-buried Demon King Arawn by sacrificing Riannon, the young high priestess of the Gael Clan, the Empire sows the seeds of its own destruction!

Deciding to side with the beautiful girl instead, the revived Demon Lord joins forces with her potentially legendary brother Arthur and begins to assemble a mighty force that may just bring the Divine Empire its knees! Humans, elves, and even dragons take up arms!

In 2005, the Japanese PC tactical RPG video game “Tears to Tiara” was developed by Leaf and then released on the Sony PlayStation 3 console in 2008. It was not long after an anime adaptation of the video game would be shown on Animax Asia and then released by Sentai Filmworks.

“Tears to Tiara” is produced by White Fox, known for their work on Katanagatari and also their in-between animation work for series such as “Pokemon: Diamond & Pearl” and “Mobile Suit Gundam 00”. The anime series is directed by Tomoyuki Kobayashi (“Ichigo 100%”, “Rozen Maiden”, “Utawarerumono”) and a screenplay by Touko Machida (“Lucky Star”, “Wolf’s Rain”, “Samurai Champloo”). Music is by Takayuki Hattori (“Battle Athletes” “Slayers” films, “GTO”, “Sister Princess”) and character designs by Masahiko Nakata (“Utawarerumono, “Love Hina, “Sou Nanda”).

Originally released earlier in the year on DVD from Sentai Filmworks with a Japanese soundtrack, the Blu-ray release has now been released and features a brand new English dub.

The first half of “Tears to Tiara” focuses on the Gael tribe. While all the men are out hunting and the women gathering mushrooms, Priest Drwc and his soldiers has set their path in kidnapping the Gael tribe’s priestess Riannon. The only sole person staying at the village while everyone is gone.

As the kidnappers make their move, Riannon is told that she is the key to awaken the demon lord known as Arawn and knowing this, she is prepared to take her life. But when the soldiers present two children from the village that they caught, in order to help two children who were caught by the soldiers, she gives herself up for the children’s safety.

Immediately after the men return to the village and are told by the two children of what happened to Riannon, the village’s First Warrior/Riannon’s brother Arthur, the Sage Ogam and the soldiers from the village go to save her. But they quickly learn that Riannon has given her life to serving Arawn. But Arawn is not exactly the demon lord that one was expecting. He’s actually a powerful man who has been asleep for over a thousand years but he never called himself a demon lord, it was just a title given to him by man.

With the corrupt Divine Empire creating fear wherever they go, the Gael tribe asks Arawn to be their chief of the tribe and help take down the Empire which he agrees to. The first half features the adventures of the tribe as they encounter new friends and new foes as they march to fight the Divine Empire.  The second half focuses on the fight against the Divine Empire.

The story of “Tears to Tiara” is loosely based on the storyline of the Dark Age of Brittania, when the Gaels, Britons, Celts and Scots took on the Roman Empire.

The main characters of “Tears to Tiara” are:

  • Arawn – The demon king that was sealed for over a thousand years but becomes the chieftain of the Gael tribe.
  • Arthur – The First Warrior of the Gael tribe and often at odds with Arawn but very protective of his sister Riannon and the tribe.
  • Riannon – The princess of the tribe and sister of Arthur. Has pledged her dedication to Arawn.
  • Sage Ogam – A powerful wizard who has knowledge of Arawn and the past.
  • Morgan – A Gael archer/warrior who sometimes acts on impulse and gets her in trouble with Arthur.

“Tears to Tiara” features a total of 26 episodes on two Blu-ray discs. Here is a spoiler-less summary of each episode:

DISC 1:

  • EPISODE 1 – Arthur and the soldiers go to rescue Riannon.
  • EPISODE 2 – The revival of the demon lord Arawn.
  • EPISODE 3 – The introduction of the female warrior, Morgan who tries to kill Arawn. The Gael tribe tries to steal ships from the Empire.
  • EPISODE 4 – Arawn opens the gates of Avalon to the tribe.
  • EPISODE 5 – Gaius goes after the Gael tribe. Meanwhile, Morgan challenges Arthur for the position of First Warrior.
  • EPISODE 6 – The introduction of Llyr and the empire’s knight Octavius.
  • EPISODE 7 – The group goes to investigate the Colosseum in Londinium.
  • EPISODE 8 – The Senate’s security force, the Rublum go after the Gael tribe.
  • EPISODE 9 – The introduction of Lidia and Octavia is punished.
  • EPISODE 10 – Empire Knight Octavia is being treated by the Gael tribe.
  • EPISODE 11 – The Rubrum have discovers the whereabouts of the Gael tribe.
  • EPISODE 12 – Riannon is kidnapped by Gaius.
  • EPISODE 13 – Gaius and the Imperial forces make their way towards the castle in Avalon.

DISC 2:

  • EPISODE 14 – For the long travel, the Gael Tribe needs funds to continue, so Arawn takes them to where hidden treasure is located.  Meanwhile, Arthur discovers something about Arawn.
  • EPISODE 15 – Arthur remembers something about Arawn and now he wants to kill him.
  • EPISODE 16 – After the last episode, Arthur is now feeling guilty of what he has done.  Gaius attacks Avalon.
  • EPISODE 17 – Arthur heads to the forest of the Brigantes Tribe to meet with the chief.  Meanwhile, Rhiannon does all she can to help the injured Arawn.
  • EPISODE 18 – With things looking grave, Arthur and the Brigantes Tribe come to the rescue.   Meanwhile, a mysterious man and white appears.
  • EPISODE 19 – The Empire is in chaos and the Gael Tribe mus now face a new enemy.
  • EPISODE 20 – In the heavens, the 12 angels gather to see a new angel being created and that new angel is Arawn.
  • EPISODE 21 – Arawn has become the new 12th angel to replay Myrddyn but now wants to leave heaven.
  • EPISODE 22 – Arawn and Ogam head to the Palladium with the tribe and their allies.
  • EPISODE 23 – Arthur and Arawn reunite and prepare for their battle in the Tower.
  • EPISODE 24 – Fighting their last battle, Arawn and Ogam make their way to the source of the Gravitas.  The others continue their fight.
  • EPISODE 25 – The real murderer of Arthur’s father is revealed.
  • EPISODE 26 – The final battle vs. Merkadis.

VIDEO :

At first, I wondered how the animation and art for “Tears to Tiara” would be, mainly for the fact that they have not done a major series before but only supplying in-between animation for major anime series.  But overall, animation and art production by WHITE FOX was actually quite solid.  One thing that helps with this series is that the tribe is constantly on the move, so there are a lot of scenes that are new for each episode.  Character designer Masahiko Nakata has had experience working on adventure-based series such as “Utawarerumono” but has experience working on anime series such as “Comic Party”, “Love Hina”, “Soul Nanda” and many other titles.

So, for the most part, I think that the fact that the series has experienced people working on this series and that WHITE FOX is trying to promote their name as a major anime production company, it works in the favor for “Tears to Tiara” as the company doesn’t have a their artists working on too many titles all at once.  Overall, the animation and art backgrounds are well done and is featured in 1080p High Definition 16×9 Anamorphic Widescreen.

On the original DVD, I did notice some compression artifacting during some scenes and it appears that on Blu-ray, the series looks much better than its DVD counterpart.  I do wonder if the episodes were split up into three or four discs, would the picture quality be any better?  I did notice some areas where I saw a little artifacting but I was look for haloing and edge enhancement jaggies and I didn’t see them.  But overall, picture quality was very good and much better than the DVD.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for audio, the series is presented in English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0.  Dialogue is clear and understandable and found it much better to have my receiver set on stereo on all channels.  Voice acting is well done and a good number of talent with Makoto Ishii, Toru Ohkawa (known for the voice of Roy Mustang from “Fullmetal Alchemist” and Rufus Shinra of “Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children) and Yuki Goto (voice of Mikiru Asahina of “Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya”)  providing the voices of the main characters.  There is more use of surround channels for the second half of the series.  I didn’t notice any LFE but for the most part, dialogue is crisp and clear.

As mentioned, the Blu-ray release features a new English dub soundtrack.  And this is where I have a problem with this Blu-ray release.  I am a believer that if you are used to doing British or Scottish accents or born speaking that way, that’s great!  But if you are not a native speaker of the language and you don’t speak in an accent at all, then don’t do it.  Otherwise, forcing yourself to speak with an accent is not going to turn out well.

Earlier I mentioned, The story of “Tears to Tiara” is loosely based on the storyline of the Dark Age of Brittania, when the Gaels, Britons, Celts and Scots took on the Roman Empire.  And I figured the ADR made the decision to have the voice talent speak in a British and Scottish accent.  And unfortunately, I felt that the voice talent were not ready for this because some talked as if they went from speaking with an accent to vocals without one.  It didn’t work at all.

And as for Arthur…the Scottish accent was not too my liking.  Some other accents for other characters didn’t work, it wasn’t working and unfortunately, I couldn’t listen to the English dub track anymore.  But with that being said, the English voice talent, these are veterans to anime series but when it comes to accents, no veteran is going to get the accent right if they are not used to talking that way for long periods of time and they get a hang of it.  Many actors and actresses for major films are able to immerse themselves in the culture and eventually feel comfortable to speak that way but I’m guessing with schedules, nailing down accents were probably difficult to accomplish in a short amount of time.

Subtitles are featured in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Tears to Tiara” features the clean opening and closing animation and Sentai Filmworks trailers.

For the first half of “Tears to Tiara”, the anime series has been quite enjoyable.  It does remind me a lot of “Watarerumono” and also a little bit from the OVA series “Bastard”.  But one thing the series has done well during the first half is establishing storylines for the supporting characters.

Although the first episode featured a good amount of blood and violence, the other character driven episodes are more lighthearted, fun and humorous.  I did enjoy the series and felt the first half was more lighthearted and fun, while the second half of the series became much more serious and in some ways, a different anime series because things become more glum and serious.

I haven’t played the previous video games, so I can’t comment on how close the anime series is to the video games but I have read that the anime series utilizes the voice actors for the Playstation 3 video game and the adaptation is quite close to the PlayStation 3 video game.  As mentioned earlier, the artwork and animation is quite solid and the anime production studio WHITE FOX did a wonderful job for their first major anime series.

The Blu-ray version of “Tears to Tiara” definitely is an improvement over its DVD counterpart.  It still is pretty much barebones in terms of special features but this time, the Blu-ray does feature both lossless soundtracks in English and Japanese.  While I enjoyed the Japanese voice acting tremendously, I can’t say the same about the English dub.  Not because it was bad but you can tell the actors felt uncomfortable with their accents.  It’s not projected well in the anime series and at times, I felt the talent were going in and out of their accent back to their natural way of speaking.  So, as much as I’m happy to know that the Blu-ray does come with an English dub, it’s unfortunate that the poor accents for some of the characters didn’t go so well with the series.

Overall, I did enjoy “Tears to Tiara”.  It’s actually a pretty fun, adventure-based anime series in the first half and becomes another kind of beast with it becoming more serious and gloomy for the second half of the series and part of me wanted to see some of that fun, humorous style that I watched in the first 13 episodes.

If anything, Japanese RPG video game fans will more than likely appreciate the series because you can tell there will be many characters but how the writing definitely spends time with certain characters and getting them involved in the series, especially during battle.

But if you are looking for an adventure anime series and also enjoyed series such as “Utawarerumono” and “Bastard”, definitely give “Tears to Tiara” a try !

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