Reviewby Luke Carroll,
Tears to Tiara
Part 1 (Eps 1-13)
Set in a world based on British, Celtic and Roman mythology during the Dark Ages, Tears to Tiara tells the story of Riannon, a young Gael priestess kidnapped by an evil priest for the Divine Empire and chosen as a sacrifice to the demon lord Arawn, whose resurrection will grant the Empire terrifying powers and bring about the apocalypse
Lord Arawn however, has his own plans for the corrupt and tyrannical Divine Empire...
Presented in a collector's slipcase, Tears to Tiara is a return to the sword ans sorcery tale of old, rebellious good versus accepted evil in a classic narrative style. 26 episodes in total, unfolding an alchemical fantasy epic.
Tomoki Kobayashi has directed episodes of Galaxy Angel A and Sola, with Tears to Riara being the first complete series he has handled as director.
Based on a tactical RPG for the PS3 —which in turn was a remake of an ero RPG for the PC— Tears to Tiara is a series that feels like it could have been so much more had it not been tied to its video game roots. During the bout of these 13 episodes, we are shown an anime that manages to not only gather and flesh out a seemingly ever-growing list of characters, but does so with a story that amazingly avoids being too confusing. Unfortunately though, with every turn the series makes for the good, the next appearance of cute stereotypical girl wanting to serve Lord Arawn brings the series back for a reality check.
The story behind Tears to Tiara takes place in a fictional world akin to our own medieval times, only with added fantasy elements such as elves and magic included in the mix. In this world there is folklore about a Demon King who possesses apocalyptic powers. When an imperial priest resurrects this Demon King with a sacrifice, things go quite pear shaped when the Demon King turns out nothing like his name precedes. After a number of bouts and comical incidences the Demon King, Lord Arawn winds up becoming the chieftain of the Gaels, a warrior clan who are now on the run from the ruling Divine Empire for rebelling against them. This sets the story up as Lord Arawn comes to grips with his sudden position and responsibility as leader and protector of the Gaels clan, as well as the following and growth of Aurthur, the clan's 'first warrior'.
Of course there are plenty of tidbits that happen along the way. Constant flashbacks give us small hints to Lord Arawn's past, whilst many small character arcs help flesh out the supporting cast as best it can. All of this occurs whilst Lord Arawn seemingly gathers more and more female follower that you swear the series could just turn into a harem and you would be none the wiser. Even most of the stereotypes for the girls are present in some form or another.
Tears of Tiara also continues its good run with some wonderful visual details that really help it stand out to most other titles. The characters are dressed (for the most part) in vibrant practical clothing, and the background art tries to stand out much more than what we're used to. This also stands true for the action scenes, which are once again a step above the norm. Although there isn't actually much in the way of any sort fan-service material (a bit of a surprise actually) the costumes of some cast members do certainly act as a reminder of this series' origins.
When Tears to Tiara first hit the anime market in the US, it did so surprisingly without a dub. As a result though, the series had one of the quickest turnarounds from Japanese TV to US DVD's ever. Thankfully however an English dub was eventually created for the series, which Siren Visual has graciously included in this release. Whilst the Japanese voices don't bring a lot to the forefront, the English cast has embraced the shows time period, giving many of their characters Celtic like accents. For the most part this works surprisingly well (Chris Ayres does a great job as Aurthur), though there are some hiccups along the way, such as Greg Ayres's performance for Rathy, which sounds exactly like Negi Springfield. Never mind the fact Rathy is also meant to be female (although it's never explained so far). The opening and closing themes are also a pleasure to listen to, complimenting and rounding out the enthusiastic background music wonderfully. It is also worth noting however that there is unfortunately a lack of a second subtitle track to allow translations of the themes songs without the need to turn the Japanese track on and off. It's a small oversight that I hope Siren will aim to correct in future releases.
On the extras side of things, we are limited to a very select amount of items contained on the third disc. Included is the TV sized version of the opening theme (with a different selection of clips), and four trailers for Siren Visual releases. Although I'm hoping the closing will be on the next collection, this is certainly a new bare minimum bar no extras at all.
At the end of these 13 episodes, the course Tears of Tiara is taking has been set. Most, if not all the cast has been assembled and everything is finally in place to move forward. It is hard to deny Tears to Tiara is a surprisingly decent series, however it certainly begs to question just how much better it could have been if the story and cast was allowed to flourish outside it's video games bounds just a little more. It may not be the best title available, but it is certainly worth checking out, you may be pleasantly surprised.
Overall (dub) : B+
Overall (sub) : B-
Story : B+
Animation : B
Art : B+
Music : B+
+ Suprisingly good animation and story, enthusiatic music
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