Tales of the Abyss Vol. 1 (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

November 12, 2011 by  

Addictive!  Based on the popular PS2 RPG video game, “Tales of the Abyss” is an action adventure anime series with cool characters, an entertaining storyline and leaves you craving for even more after the first volume.  Definitely recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2008 NAMCO BANDAI Games Inc./Sunrise, Bandai Visual, MBS.   All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Tales of the Abyss Vol. 1


DURATION: (Episodes 1-7) 175 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0, 1:78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, Full English Subtitles/Songs & Signs

COMPANY: Sunrise/Bandai Entertainment

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

RELEASED: October 11, 2011

Directed by Kenji Kodama

Series Composition by Akemi Omode

Music by Motoi Sakuraba

Original Character Design by Yoshihito Hishinuma

Art Director: Shigemi Ikeda

Mechanical  and Monster Design by Junya Ishigaki

Sound Director: Eriko Kimura

Director of Photography: Shigemi Ogawa

Anime Production by Bandai Visual/Namco/Sunrise

Featuring the following voice talent:

Chihiro Suzuki as Luke Fone Fabre

Yukana as Tear Grants

Halko Momoi as Anise Tatlin

Jouji Nakata as Van Grants

Michiko Neya as Natalia L. K. Lanvaldear

Miki Maruyama as Mieu

Sho Hayami as Lorelei

Takehito Koyasu as Jade Curtis

Yasunori Matsumoto as Guy Cecil

Yukana as Yulia Jue


On the planet Audlant, global war is imminent between the Kingdom of Kimlasca and the Malkuth Empire. Their conflict had been prophesied in the Scores, a complete history of this world from its creation to its destruction once written on the mysterious stones. It also predicts the appearance of a new savior-hero, who is a red-haired male child with the name of “the Light of the Sacred Flame.”

Luke fon Fabre, a son of a noble family who has been confined in his father’s palace for years, feels impatient and defiant like any teenage boy. When a beautiful young lady named Tear suddenly intrudes into his training session and attacks General Van, who he respects as a master swordsman, the spoiled kid is spirited away and forced into a series of great adventures through this alternate-reality world of swords and sorcery.

In Japan, one of the longest franchises for fantasy RPG is the “Tales” series from Namco Bandai games

The series began back in 1994 with “Tales of Phantasia” and as of 2011, the series currently on its 13th series with “Tales of Xillia”.  But in 2005, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the series, Namco Bandai celebrated with “Tales of the Abyss”, a video game that was created for the Sony PlayStation 2.

While there has been anime adaptations primarily in OVA format, in 2008, a full 26-episode TV series was created and aired in Japan from Oct. 2008 through March 2009.

And now the anime series will be released in the United States courtesy of Bandai Entertainment.

“Tales of the Abyss” the anime series begins with a prophecy made by a religious figure named Yulia Jue, a Seventh Fonist who is able to read the future.  Yulia has written the future in scores that are documented in Fonstones.  But something happened and the Fonstones were shattered and scattered around the world.

And this has led to infighting and long standing war between the nations of Kimlasca-Landvaldear and Malkuth who have been collecting the Fonstones in order to know about their future and finding out before the other nation does. Fortunately, there has been peace declared in the planet of Auldrant and the nations have ceased any war or battling for quite some time.

The series then focuses around  the character Luke fon Fabre, the youngest son of Duke Fabre of the Kimlasca Kingdom.  His Uncle has the family has literally kept Luke captive within the grounds of their home and has not been able to leave.  All he looks forward to is learning to fight by his Master Van.  But because of the royal duty of his parents, Luke rarely sees his father.  So, his closest relationships are with the servants, Master Van, his good friend and swordsman Guy Cecil (who happens to be afraid of physical contact with women for some reason) and he is engaged to Princess Natalia of Kimlasca-Landvaldear.  A promise that was made between both Luke and Natalia when they were younger.

The problem is that Luke has no such memory of what took place when he was younger.  He was kidnapped by the Malkuth Empire and was found but have lost any memories prior to when he was a teenager.

Another problem that Luke faces is a recurring “hyperresonance” within him that makes him loses control of some unknown power or to give him visions of something he is not sure of yet.  In fact, sometimes he is able to hear voices but has no idea where it’s coming from.  These situations began not long after the kidnapping.

One day, as his Master Van is given orders to look for Fon Master Ion, the leader of the Order of Lorelei who is missing, Master Van promises Luke a good day of training before he leaves.

As the two are sparring, a mysterious woman named Tear Grants comes towards the home of the fon Fabres and she renders everyone to sleep through the use of Fonic Hymns.  Her goal is to kill Master Van and as she begins to fight him, Luke quickly comes between them and blocs her strike.

But somehow Luke’s mysterious power and Tear’s mysterious power somehow combines and both are transported a long way from home to some unknown destination.

Now both Luke and Tear Grants, who is revealed to be a Locrian Sergeant of the Order of Lorelei’s Intelligence Division are in the middle of nowhere and must find a way to get back home.

As the two try to get a ride to the Capital city, they find out that they are headed to the capital of the Malkuth Empire not the capital of Kimlasca-Lanvaldear.  And because Luke is a fon Fabre, his presence in Malkuth can be seen as hostile (and reignite the war).  Fortunately, Tear is nearby to watch over him but she is surprised of how sheltered he had been because being out in the wide open, he has never seen animals, the ocean or villages ever in his life.

But through his adventures with Tear Grants, he begins to meet other people who end up joining him on his mission to return home but also to make sure there is peace in the world.  Joining him are Jade Curtiss, a colonel of the Malkiuth Empire and is known as the feared “Jade the Necromancer”, Fon Master Ion who is trying to keep the piece between the nations, his bodyguard Anise Tatlin, a guardian of the Order of Lorelei (who is 13-years-old and has fallen for Luke), Luke’s good friend Guy Curtiss and a Cheagle named Mieu.

But there is a lot of deceit and corruption going on in the world, for some reason, the God Generals are trying to create trouble and kidnap Fon Master Ion.

Meanwhile, according to a score written by Yulia, a red-head child would be born to save the world.  Because of his hyperresonance, a few who are familiar with Luke’s power feel that Luke may be the red-head child as prophesized to save the world.  But one day, when the group are trying to rescue Fon Master Ion who was captured by the God Generals, Luke encounters Asch the Bloody.  A man who has the same hair and same face as Luke?

How can this be possible?

“Tales of the Abyss” Vol. 1 comes with seven episodes.  Here is spoiler-less summary of each episode:

  • EPISODE 1: World of the Scores – Luke fon Fabre and Tear Grants are transported to an unknown area.  How will they get back home?
  • EPISODE 2: Forest of the Sacred Beast – Accused of stealing food, Luke fon Fabre wants to prove that he is not a bad guy, so he wants to capture the real thieves, the animals known as Cheagles.
  • EPISODE 3: Oracle Knights Assault – Luke and Tear are captured by Colonel Jade and both he and Fon Master Ion request Luke and Tear to help them.
  • EPISODE 4: The Hidden Truth – Scared from the events from the last episode, the group encounter Arietta who wants revenge against Luke and Tear.
  • EPISODE 5: Chosen Hero – Jade deciphers the Fon disc, meanwhile the group is encountered by Dist the Reaper.
  • EPISODE 6: Desert Rain – Fon Master Ion is captured and Luke tries to get him back against Asch the Bloody, but is shocked when he sees Asch’s face.
  • EPISODE 7: Isolation – Luke is having another hyper-resonance situation and hears Asch telling him to go to Zao Ruins.  But why would Asch request Luke to go to that location?


“Tales of the Abyss” is presented in 1:78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 with English subtitles.  For those who are familiar with the video game, the character designs are pretty much spot-on and the mechanical and monster designs are as well.  A good balance of animation and CG, “Tales of the Abyss” is an adventure-based series which brings the characters to various locations and featuring a variety of characters.  So, one of the major plus about the series is the constant moving around and scenery is not re-used over and over again.

Colors are vibrant, art backgrounds are well-painted and rendered.  Character designs are very complimentary to the video game and for the most part, fans of “Tales of the Abyss” will find the overall animation to be quite solid for a TV series.

As for audio, “Tales of Abyss” is only in Japanese, no English dub and comes with English subtitles.

For the most part, I did enjoy the voice acting for the series but when it came to translations, I noticed a few changes to appeal to a Western audience, for example, when Luke tells Guy “Urusai!” (which means “shut-up!”), the English translation given was “Kiss my butt!”.  Also, there were some English subtitles that I wondered if it was translated to sound a bit old English (with Master Van’s character), but I noticed it only happening in episode 1 but not on any other episode after.


“Tales of the Abyss Vol. 1” includes the following special features:

  • Textless Opening “Karma Version 1”
  • Trailers – Bandai Entertainment Trailers

Fun, action-packed and a good balance between humor with a deep storyline that will definitely entice action/adventure anime fans but also a solid series based on the popular RPG video game.

“Tales of the Abyss” has everything that you look for in an adventure series based on the video game.  A lot of action, monsters and the progression of a character through the adventure.

Also, featured are enjoyable characters such as the naive Luke, the mysterious Jade, the friend/enemy Tear, the chirpy Anise, to name a few… This is the kind of video game to anime adaptations that I tend to enjoy the most because it is based on a video game series and draws heavily on it, unlike another popular video game series which has had anime series that typically have no ties to a video game but only in title.

So far, this first volume literally kept me glued to the whole series and just watching episode after episode…I enjoyed it a lot and I can’t wait for volume 2.

As for the DVD, it’s only Japanese dialogue with English subtitles and there is only one special feature.  But for a Bandai Entertainment release, I’m glad that there are seven episodes, rather than just four.  So, I suppose to make up for the fact that there is no English dub or that many special features, we are treated with more episodes.

Overall, “Tales of the Abyss” is an exciting and enjoyable series by far.  Granted, it’s only the first seven episodes but I enjoyed this first volume a lot and look forward to the next volume.

A series that I recommend to fans of the video game and also for those looking for an action/adventure anime series!

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