Tears to Tiara – Collection 1 (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)
November 28, 2009 by Dennis Amith
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. Definitely a solid full-length series debut for anime production company WHITE FOX.
Image courtesy of © AQUAPLUS/T3WORKS. All Rights Reserved.
DVD TITLE: Tears to Tiara – Collection 1
DURATION: Episodes 1-13 (325 Minutes)
DVD INFORMATION: 16:9 Anamorphic Widescreen, Japanese 2.0, English subtitles
COMPANY: Showgate/Sentai Filmworks
RATED: TV PG V
Release Date: November 24, 2009
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 as Arthur
Toru Ohkawa as Arawn
Yuko Goto as Riannon
Kaori Nakazuna as Llyr
Mai Nakahara as Morgan
Rie Tanaka as Octavia
Yousuke Akimoto as Ogam
Ai Shimizu as Ermin
Ami Koshimizu as Limwris
Kana Ueda as Rathty
Kenji Hamada as Gaius
Kiyomi Asai as Epona
Miyuki Sawashiro as Lydia
In a strange dark age, the Divine Empire’s path of conquest seems unstoppable, endlessly devouring its weaker neighbors in a brutal cycle of subjugation and pillage. But when a savage priest makes a critical mistake while attempting to resurrect a Demon Lord, the scales of fate begin to tip in the other direction! Choosing to side instead with the priest’s intended sacrifice, the Gaelic Priestess Riannon, the resurrected Lord Arawn joins with Riannon and her brother Arthur, as together they begin to assemble the force that will bring the Divine Empire to its knees! Wizards, archers, sword masters and even pixies take arms as the ancient Celtic, Gaelic, British and Roman myths of Albion receive a spectacular new animated interpretation in Tears to Tiara, Collection 1!
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”).
The first 13 episodes 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 at the village while everyone is gone. 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 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 13 episodes on two DVD’s. Here is a spoiler-less summary of each episode:
- 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.
VIDEO & AUDIO:
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 16×9 Anamorphic Widescreen. I did notice some compression artifacting during some scenes while watching the series on a Blu-ray player (via a 52″) and thus the video was upconverted. I watched more episodes on a normal DVD player, on a 28″ screen to see if they were noticeable and I didn’t catch any compression artifacting watching it on a smaller screen.
As for audio, the series is in Japanese 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.
Subtitles are featured in English.
“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 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 DVD is pretty much barebones in terms of special features and its important to note that this series does not contain any English dubs. It’s straight Japanese with optional English subtitles.
Overall, I have enjoyed “Tears to Tiara” thus far. It’s actually a pretty fun, adventure-based anime series. But as these 13 episodes are character building episodes, I look forward to seeing how the 13 episodes will be as the Empire begins to hunt down the Gael tribe and their friends. And the series has done a good job in making the viewer accept the characters on the Gael side of the series, so it will be interesting as well to find out if the series does get any darker or tragic with each episode, especially as it nears its final episode.
If anything, Japanese RPG video game fans can 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”, definitely give “Tears to Tiara” a chance!
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