Directed by Tomoki Kobayashi
Featuring Voices by Yuko Goto, Makoto Ishii, Toru Ohkawa
Licensed by Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by Section23 Films
This medieval fantasy action/adventure tale follows newly-resurrected demon lord Arawn and company rebelling against the oppressive Divine Empire. Throw in some swords and some magic, and that’s the basics for the plot. If this sounds like a generic fantasy RPG to you, you’d be right.
Tears to Tiara is an anime adaptation of a Japanese PC and PS3 tactical RPG of the same name. Neither version of the game seems available state side. Though if you’ve played games like Fire Emblem, you’ll feel right at home. This specific set collects the first 13 episodes, half of the 26-episode series. Within this first half, the party continues to build throughout the series, they explore and keep getting stronger and the main characters drudge through a variety of boss fights. Familiar features to any seasoned RPG player.
The series describes itself as a new interpretation of Celtic, Gaelic, British and Roman myths. If so, it’s a very broad interpretation, mixing bits and pieces into a fictionalized imagining. More popular names like Arthur will stand out. Others like Arawn and Pwyll may sound familiar to those with knowledge about mythology of the British Isles beyond Disney’s The Sword in the Stone.
Not that any of that really matters. The series is pretty shallow with the mythology aspect, simply using names and events as inspiration. The characters are stereotypically cliché, from the hotheaded swordsman to the innocent damsel in distress falling instantly for the dark and mysterious main character.
Nor is the plot itself particularly compelling. A ragtag group of renegades going up against the oppressive empire isn’t the most inventive plot, and nothing is really done to capture the audience. The characters and the plot all come up as average.
I would say this is simply for fans of the game to relive the story they’ve grown attached to over the many hours a RPG typically takes, but the game has no US release. Nor is it really impressive enough to draw in fans if the game ever does see a release here.
This set is rated PG. Oddly the original PC game is an erotic RPG. The anime version leaves out those adult aspects and garners the fairly safe rating. Other than a scantily-clad girl or two, there’s not a trace of the series’ adult origin. Maybe a bit less of that would have made the series a little less bland.
The series is in anamorphic 16:9 widescreen. The animation itself is nothing special, nor are the character designs. There is some CGI usage that doesn’t mesh well with the rest of the animation, sticking out like a sore thumb.
Depending on how your DVD player displays them, the subtitles line up right at the bottom of the video, cutting off descenders from the letters that have them (g, j, p, q, y). Those with standard 4:3 televisions can read uninhibited thanks to the letters spilling into the lower letterbox. Those running on actual 16:9 widescreen televisions may see their descenders cut off if the DVD player doesn’t compensate like it should. The one on my hand-me-down LCD TV-DVD combo doesn’t, but my portable DVD player aand my PC do.
There’s only one audio track – Japanese. It’s in 2.0 stereo. There’s nothing wrong with not having an English dub track (unless the subtitles are getting cut off). Saves on production costs and time. Some of the dialog is on the quiet side, mostly when characters are talking in the background. The score is pretty forgettable. Nothing special.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The collection is thirteen episodes split up into two discs. They come in a standard-sized DVD case. The cover looks decent enough. The inside is pretty bare though, only containing the two discs. No insert of booklet with supplement information or even episode titles.
Bonuses are pretty slim pickings too. The first disc includes clean opening and ending animations and the DVD credits. How nice of them to grant us the bonus of knowing who made the DVD. Clean, creditless openings and endings only matter to the subset of anime fans who edit together their own anime music videos.
Along with the second half of the collection, the second disc contains trailers of other series licensed by Sentai Filmworks. Could someone tell me when trailers actually became bonus features? Remember back in the VHS days when you had to sit through trailers every time to get to the movie. The most you could get is fast forward. No one thought of trailers as bonuses when they were mandatory, but now that they’re optional, we should obviously be thankful.
Not to mention that the trailers aren’t really trailers. They’re clean openings. Anime openings aren’t always the best representation of what a show is about.
The series isn’t anything special. The standard retail price is $39.98, which isn’t bad for what you get. However, like everything else in this set, it could be better.
Overall (Not an Average) 5/10
The Series 6/10
The Video 4/10
The Audio 5/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 3.5/10
Overall (Not an Average) 5/10