Here’s everything Tales of the Abyss does correctly – and how future anime adaptations of video games could stand to learn from its example.
A lot of anime adaptations for video games tend to not meet fans’ expectations. Whether it’s due to poor animation quality, terrible pacing or just not being faithful to the source material, a lot of factors can make or break an anime adaptation. Even the most popular mainstream video games are not guaranteed to get a high-quality anime.
Tales of the Abyss: The Animation is one of the few examples of a popular game that gets its anime adaptation right. Here are all the areas where it succeeds, and how future anime adaptations of video games can learn from it.
What Is Tales of the Abyss About?
Tales of the Abyss is a fantasy action RPG originally released in 2005 for the PlayStation 2 and is the eighth mainline entry of the Tales Series. It follows the adventures of a sheltered aristocrat named Luke who lost his memories after a kidnapping incident seven years ago. His world turns upside down after an encounter with a mysterious young woman named Tear; together with a few more allies, they embark on a journey to save the world.
As with most games in the Tales of… Series, the story sounds simple enough with a by-the-numbers plot and characters who seem to fit snugly into archetypes commonly found in most JRPGs. But things aren’t as simple as they appear, and the characters themselves are not as one-dimensional as they initially seem. Sunrise adapted the game into an anime in 2008, and the game itself would go on to become one of the franchise’s most popular entries.
Tales of the Abyss’ Quality Pacing and New Content Adds to the Game’s Lore
Most anime these days — whether they’re adapted from video games or manga — get a single season consisting of about 12-13 episodes. Tales of the Abyss: The Animation got 26 and used the extended runtime allotted to it very wisely. The show’s pacing never feels too slow or too fast, while the episode count is just enough to present all the necessary information, story and lore without any characters feeling like they weren’t getting enough screen time. The story arcs are spaced out well enough that the series manages to reach a rather satisfying conclusion.
The anime also added some original content that introduced new backstories and perspectives to certain key characters. These scenes and episodes served to add more depth to the game’s story while still remaining true to the source material’s existing lore. As a comparison, almost all the new content featured in Tales of Zestiria the X felt unnecessary and often contradicted the game’s existing lore — such as resident princess knight Alisha being stated as the heir to the royal family, even though she’s explicitly stated as being last in line for the throne in the game.
Tales of the Abyss’ Anime Is a Faithful Adaptation Overall
Tales of the Abyss: The Animation is able to say everything it needs to without ever feeling like any necessary information was missed. As with the game, the characters go through a substantial amount of growth and feel like completely well-rounded people by the time their journey ends. No one character feels like they’re getting more spotlight than the rest and, more importantly, none of them ever act out of character.
The lone detail Tales of the Abyss: The Animation doesn’t score an A in is its animation, which is average at best. That said, it does its job and the characters aren’t off-model nearly as often as the likes of Ace Attorney: the Animation. At the end of the day, what really matters is that it successfully tells its story in an engaging manner without falling short of its source material’s writing.
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