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Tales of Phantasia OVA Review

Genres: Adventure Fantasy Action All
Series' Year of Release: 2004
Number of Episodes: 4
Review Date: 13-7-2006
Review Language: Fansub
Review DVD Region:
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Review By: Bradley Beeck

If I was reviewing Tales of Phantasia after seeing the series once I would have slammed it for having plot holes the size of the eye of god. Fortunately for Tales of Phantasia Iíve watched the show twice before writing this review and my opinion of the OVA series has improved significantly. Tales of Phantasia is a 4 episode OVA series based on a series of games. If you havenít played the games (like me) youíll find Tales of Phantasiaís plot hard to follow as a lot of things are not properly explained due to the time limit of 4 episodes. If you have played the games perhaps you will be able to understand things from the get go. Itís a shame this series was limited to 4 episodes because I feel as though Tales of Phantasia could have been a great anime fantasy series if it had had the screen time to properly explain and detail itís world.

Tales of Phantasia is a story about Cless, Klarth, Chester, Mint (Clessís girlfriend) and Arche as they try to defeat the demon king Dhaos who is unsealed in the opening sequence of the first episode. This party of adventures must travel through time as they attempt to defeat Dhaos. Through the 4 episodes of this OAV series Cless and friends battle Dhaos a total of 3 times although itís not until the last episode that we get a full/decent battle (obviously).

The first episode opens with the characters already in combat with an evil knight (by the name of Mars Ė no explanation is given as to who exactly he is) with flash backs to traumatic events just past (we also never get the full story of what happened here either). Starting a show with an action scene can work really well but when you have no idea who the characters are, theyíre making references to things you donít know about, and thereís no character development soon after the battle youíre left struggling to keep up with whatís going on in Tales of Phantasia or even care about the characters. A second viewing of the series proved to be more enjoyable because I had a better understanding of what was going on. That said the opening battle sequence and subsequent battle against Dhaosí army is quite cool.

The lack of character exposition in the first two episodes hurts Tales of Phantasia, if you have played the games you will probably be able to connect with the characters straight away but that doesnít apply to me. The constant jumping between each different time epoch, with the first jump even leaving out the meeting of Cless and Mint with Klarth and Arche, makes the plot move along fast. Too fast. Itís never revealed as to what makes Dhaos so evil (he actually spends most of the show saying ever one else is evil) or as to why he wants to wipe out humans. Something approaching a reason is given in the last episode but it still made me wonder what the hell it was all about. I found episode three to be the best episode out of the 4 in the series because it has the character development that should have happened in the earlier episodes.

The music from Tales of Phantasia is the highlight of the show though thatís not really saying all that much. Whereís the plot and character development may be poor the music is quite good. Itís mostly your standard orchestrated affair in sounds, but there are some nice choral/sung pieces such as Mizukagami Ymir. The opening song - Yume no Hate - starts really nicely with drums and flutes but that second half really lets it down. The singing in the second half I thought was badly done. Priere (ED) is significantly better than Yume no Hate, it has a much more soulful/relaxed sound. Priere is my favourite track from the OST. Also worth mentioning are Hisou na Ketsui and Shizen no Naka no Tabi Theme both of which are prelude to battle songs and have really nice openings. The battle scene music is probably the weakest point of the soundtrack but Iím rarely a fan of battle scene music (I donít think orchestrated music works with it that well Ė it just sounds bad most of the time). There are also lighter tracks like Klarth, Iwaku which are played during the shows few comical moments. The music in Tales of Phantasia works really well during the shows emotional/prelude to battle moments.

The animation in Tales of Phantasia is decent to good with the landscapes being pretty nicely drawn. The spell effects have a suitably cool factor and the spell circles look nice. The character artworks are good with Klarth looking the best of the bunch. The OPís animation consists of the characters in made up scenes (as in not in the show itself) while their out adventuring or getting ready to head out. The ED animation consists of panning through a static image of a tree with the Tales of Phantasia characters appearing in front of it. The pan ends on a shot of some earth look-a-like planet in the sky. Cheap yes, but for some reason it seems to work well with Priere (ED).

Tales of Phantasia is an average show let down by poor character exposition and a lack of plot explanation. You're left wondering what could have been if only the show was longer. The most notable things about Tales of Phantasia are the nice landscape drawings and good music, which is something Iím always appreciative of. However for those of you who've played the Tales of Phantasia games perhaps you'll have a better understanding of the plot, and be able to enjoy the show more. As for everyone else: Tales of Phantasia is not a bad show, but itís not a good show either and because there are many better fantasy shows out there I canít really recommend Tales of Phantasia.