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Tales of the Abyss Vol. 4 (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

April 12, 2012 by  



The conclusion of “Tales of the Abyss”.  Will Luke & comrades be able to stop Van and his generals in time to save the world?  Find out in the final six episodes of “Tales of the Abyss” vol. 4!

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

TITLE: Tales of the Abyss Vol. 4

ANIME RELEASE: 2008

DURATION: (Episodes 21-26) 150 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: February 7, 2012

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

For now, Luke and his comrades have saved the world. However, Van Grants and his six God-Generals are far from being dead yet. Poisonous Miasma has started spreading all over the planet. Humanity is on the verge of being obliterated again. The only hope is Luke’s hyper-resonance, but it’s hardly powerful enough to save the world!

It’s the final battle between Van and his generals.  Can Luke along with his comrades save the world before Van destroys it?

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 third volume of the anime series has been released in the United States courtesy of Bandai Entertainment in Feb. 2012 featuring episodes 15-20.

A SUMMARY OF WHAT “TALES OF THE ABYSS” IS ALL ABOUT:

“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 prophesied 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?

WHAT HAPPENED IN “TALES OF THE ABYSS”:

The adventures continue with Luke and friends arriving to the land of Akzeriuth. Because Van has pretty much built Luke’s ego up to thinking that he will be the hero that will rescue everyone on Akzeriuth, while everyone is out helping the survivors who are suffering from the miasma (a poisonous pink cloud), Luke wanders away in a bit of anger that his friends are not listening to him and rather tend to the injured.

While roaming alone, Luke sees Van and Van lies to Luke that in order to protect Akzeriuth, he just needs to destroy the Sephiroth with his hyper-resonance.

Meanwhile, Asch arrives and tries to prevent Luke from destroying the Sephiroth but Luke doesn’t want to listen and thinks that what his Master Van is telling him is the truth and that he will save the land of Akzeriuth. But when Luke destroys the resonance, Van reveals that Luke is nothing but a replica and Luke and Ion both collapse.

Asch, Tear and friends manage to arrive just in time to protect Luke and Ion but unfortunately, Akzeriuth is destroyed in the process and thousands are killed.

When Luke awakens, he is not sure what happens but he can tell by everyone’s face that they are upset with him. Luke learns that because he destroyed the Sephiroth, he was the person responsible for destroying Akzeriuth.

Also revealed is that humans live in an area called the outlands and their lands are being held up in the air by Sephiroths because the original land was consumed by the poisonous Miasma. And that the intent by Van is to take revenge on the destruction of homeland by destroying humanity on the outlands by destroying each Sephiroth.

Also revealed is why Luke and Asch have this special connection and that Asch is the original Luke Fon Fabre and Luke is nothing but a replica.

And now with his friends upset, a distraught Luke realizes that he has been a person who never lived his own life but was constantly listening to others of how he should live his life. And now, knowing the truth that he is only a replica, he wants to make things right once again and create his own destiny by starting anew.

And nowit is a race against time as Van is trying to destroy  the world. Obsessed of his homeland being destroyed and that everyone is trying to follow the words of the Fonstones, Van wants to to create a new world where Fonstones do not exist but also for all humanity to die and start over.

Luke and friends must stop Van, but Van sends out his six generals to confront the team.   So, far Luke and comrades have defeated two.

With four more generals trying to stop them, will Luke and team get to Van before the world is destroyed?

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“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.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Tales of the Abyss Vol. 4” includes the following special features:

  • Textless Ending “Bouken Suisei” Version 2 & 3
  • Trailers – Bandai Entertainment Trailers

The end of “Tales of the Abyss” is here as it is the final battle between Luke and his comrades vs. Van and his generals.  Who will live and who will die?  And will the world be saved or will it be destroyed?

As one would expect from an anime series such as “Tales of the Abyss”, most battles will end with the heroes saving the world.  But the question is how they are able to attain that and was it worthwhile?  So far, the good news is that “Tales of the Abyss” has managed to be a very entertaining series that make you care for the characters and for some, may even lead them to purchasing the various video games based on these characters.  But as for the final stretch of episodes, unfortunately “Tales of the Abyss” has run out of steam, or possibly time.

One of the most entertaining aspects of the series was the battles.  They were not too long, nor were they too short, this time around, they are too short.  The battle between Luke and his comrades vs. the generals hardly takes longer than a minute or two.  And this is shocking considering in past episodes, they have went longer.

With only 26 episodes, you can tell the writers needed to focus on resolving the Luke/Asch arc and the group saving the world, and these last six episodes do that well, the problem was incorporating the final battles between the team vs. the generals and there was no doubt that the writer had to choose….important story or battle and he went with the former.  While the shortened, quick battle does work, nevertheless you do feel that they were too short.

But the payoff of this series was seeing how things conclude and realizing Tear’s true feelings that she has been harboring inside.  That was rather touching, especially to see how the Luke/Asch storyline concluded.

As for the DVD, there are six episodes and they are all presented in Japanese only with English subtitles. There is only one special feature and while I wish there were more, but it all comes down to the anime series and its storyline. And as a big fan of the “Tales” video games, “Tales of the Abyss”, the anime series has been entertaining since the first episode and I can’t wait to see how this series ends.

Overall, “Tales of the Abyss” was an exciting and enjoyable series! I wish it could have ran a little longer, so the Akemi Omode could have tied things over a bit better for the conclusion but I suppose if you want immersion, that is where the video game comes in and those who love the characters can play the Nintendo 3DS game.

Still, the series was entertaining from beginning to end and if you are a “Tales of” fan, “Tales of the Abyss”, the anime series is worth watching.






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