Ten years after the Great War against the demon-beasts, the empire rules over the world and prosperity relies on the massive use of aer.
Yuri Lowell and Flynn Scifo are two young men who have just enrolled the ranks of the prestigious Imperial Knights. One day, they are sent to the town of Ceazontania, where abnormal aer activity has reportedly caused the proliferation of horribly mutated beasts, with serious threat for the whole region.
Meanwhile, the Knights Supreme Commander Alexei Denoia and the naive Princess Estellise are involved in a behind-the-curtains struggle for power in the capital. The situation in Ceazontania deteriorates as the garrison of Imperial Knights finds that they cannot expect any immediate support from the capital.
Then, Niren Fedrok, commander of the Imperial Knights in Ceazontania, takes an unexpected decision that is going to change Yuri and Flynn's destiny forever.
What are the secrets behind the extraordinary events that are happening around Yuri and Flynn? Will they be able to defend the innocent people of Ceazontania and stay true to their beliefs?
In recent years video games, be they console or PC based, have moved to the forefront of popular entertainment. One of the upshots of this trend has been the a marked increase in the number of adaptations and spinoffs that can be found in manga and anime (and that's without including the doujin market). The major problem though, is that studios, production companies and storytellers are doing nothing more than recycling an existing concept, and while the adaptation may actually be pretty decent in some cases (Tears to Tiara for example), more often than not one is served a big plate of mediocrity (I'm looking
at you Ragnarok et al).
However, while outright adaptations are rife, prequels and sequels to games are actually quite rare, and it's here where Tales of Vesperia ~The First Strike~ separates itself from the horde.
The story takes place a few years prior to the game and follows two of it's main characters, Yuri and Flynn, during their early careers as knights of the empire in the town of Shizontania. Unfortunately the town isn't as safe as it used to be, and their captain, Niren Fedrock, suspects greater forces are at work.
One of the criticisms that people may throw at this movie is the fact that it is very open ended, however given that this is nothing more than a prequel to the game, the reason for this is understandable. The story itself is pretty straightforward, with a remarkable lack of convolution that can sometimes appear in game adaptations and spinoffs. The main advantage of this is the fact that it is easier to tie the events in the movie to those in the game, however the downside is that the plot lacks a degree of depth that simply can't be hidden, which is often the reason why such terrible plot convolutions occur in thefirst place.
Thankfully first time director Kamei Kanta and writer Yoshida Reiko have kept things simple and direct, and because of this Tales of Vesperia actually manages to become interesting to a degree, enough to at least enjoy the movie and maybe consider buying the game (more on this in a bit). The one thing that most surprised me though, is how very different the feel and tone is from the game, and while both have lighter and darker moments throughout their respective stories, there is a certain brevity inherent in the movie that the game lacks, partly due to the RPG nature of the latter, and partly because of the need to wrap the story up within 110 minutes.
Many people will be familiar with the work of Production I.G. and it's nice to see that they've maintained their standards in terms of art and animation.
Maintained though, not bettered.
Overall the show is well put together, with some nicely detailed backgrounds and atmospheric settings thrown into the mix. The characters are modelled along the lines used for the original game for the most part, with the two leads and sundry other characters who appear in both looking pretty much the same. It should be noted though, that there are a number of characters who only appear in the movie (for example, the twin female knights Shastele and Hisuka Aiheap), a fact which may confuse some fans of the game. Be that as it may, in terms of design the movie is pretty solid, however that is as far as it goes because of the design limitations placed upon it by the source material.
One thing I should point is that this movie is far more graphic in its depiction of violence than the game, and doesn't shy away from some of the more greusome occurences which have only really been shown in a very sanitised manner within the Tales series thus far.
As for the animation, while the majority of the film runs very well there are some scenes where things just feel off kilter. This unfortuantely occurs in several scenes which involve CG animation of some sort, and while the problem isn't large enough to warrant major criticism, it is noticeable so it bears mentioning.
The sound quality is very good throughout the movie, especially when it comes to choreography. The music is, for the most part, absent from proceedings, however this serves to enhance its effect when it is used. The choice of tracks is also well thought out, and while there is a degree of genericism about those used for dramatic or action scenes, overall the quality of the pieces adds to the scenes.
One point I should mention about the music is the surprising, and pleasing, choice of theme song. Like the original game, the Tales of Vesperia movie has "Ring a Bell" by Bonnie Pink as the title track, a fact which may please fans of the game.
In terms of acting, this film has a big plus in that the characters of Yuri, Flynn, Estellise, Rita and Raven are played by the actors and actressses who took on the roles for the game. This factor adds to the sense of continuity that is needed in any direct prequel or sequel, especially as the seiyuu in the other, movie specific roles are equally as comfortable with their lines as their more experienced colleagues. That doesn't mean there's hamming it up, but for those most part the acting is pretty natural and flowing.
The biggest problem with Tales of Vesperia is the characters. Because this is both a movie and a prequel to a larger story, there is little in the way of major development. That said, the two lead characters do grow to a degree, and anyone who has played the game will no doubt find the additional information about them pleasing. However, those who have had neither the opportunity or inclination to play the game will probably find there is a distinct lack in this department.
That's not to say that the characters are bad though. As a stand alone movie they work fairly well, however the open ended nature of the tale leaves one feeling that more could have been done with the time. In essence, the fact that this is a prequel, something which in terms of plot content is an advantage, becomes a flaw when considering the the characters as they an "unfinished" quality about them comethe end of the film.
Be that as it may, I found that I actually enjoyed the movie, however I should point out that I have completed the game, so for me the additional story was a bonus. Unfortunately, it's all too possible that many viewers will find this less of an enjoyable experience, mainly because the story is open ended. If one were to be very harsh, then it's possible to consider the movie as nothing more than a glorified advert for the game. This seems an unfair criticism to me as while there is a clear message to play the game should one wish to complete the tale, the story is original enough to warrant a degree of separation.
The major plus point though, is the fact that the effort has been made to enhance the game's storyline instead of regurgitating it. That said, making a prequel or sequel doesn't always work in terms of content (Advent Children - looks awesome, and that's pretty much it), so it's nice to see that the main aspects of the tale have only lightly been covered, and that the focus is more about showing where the lead characters came from.
On the whole, Tales of Vesperia ~The First Strike~ is one of those movies that you can't fully appreciate unless you know the full story, and that's its biggest flaw. People don't really want to be burdened with having to complete a game that they may not even be interested in just to find out what happens next, which plays a major part in whether one can enjoy this movie or not. The more rlaxed viewer may not be overly concerned with the lack of a true ending, and the movie does have a good degree of entertainment value in its own right, but in all honesty, this is one for fans of the game and the Tales franchise.
Whatever the opinion though, this movie deserves some credit for being not only a prequel, but an original tale, as it could very well have been just another adaptation.
What amazing luck. I happen to complete the game the same week the movie comes out. This caught me completely by surprise, but I was extremely excited. When I initially started the game, I thought it was a bit corny and maybe even childish, but a few hours in and there was incredible character development and storyline threads stretching across, to the point where I even cared for the villains. Truly an exceptional experience from the game.
If you are a fan of the game, then there's no doubt you will love this movie. I went in with no expectations, except knowing that
it's a prequel. That being said, I was very impressed by not only the quality of the movie, but the pacing, character development, seamless crossover between the prequel and the original game, while introducing new characters without harming the original.
The story was simple. But very effective. I really enjoyed the Yuri/Flynn bond throughout the game, and it was great seeing the roots of it in this movie, while also getting some more backstory on Flynn's past. This movie had be laughing at loud at some parts, and crying at others. It was a rollercoaster of emotions, but it was a complete package.
I didn't feel cheated or upset by the way things were done, in fact, I think many other game to anime adaptions should look at this movie as a role model. Simply perfect.
I really enjoyed it, and I'm certain so will you, perhaps even if you have not played the game. Definitely check this out!
*Review is biased since I played the game*
As a Tales of fan, I knew exactly what to expect watching this movie, and I got what I was expecting. Since Tales of Vesperia is one of favorite games, I was quite excited, and my expectations were ultimately met, with only a bit of expected disappointment. Fans of TOV will be happy to learn more of the back story of Yuri, Flynn, and Repede, while newcomers will be amazed by the greatness of the Tales of series.
To be fair, The story was cliche, with some points that adds more flair, however, the art, animation, and music were
absolutely fantastic, which completely masked this factor.
The story revolves around Yuri Lowell, a few years before the events of TOV, his best friend Flynn Scifo, and his platoon. The world, Terca Lumireis has a substance called aer, which a tool called blastia can harness. However, recently, the aer has been becoming dense, causing monsters and strange beings to begin attacking the already weakening barrier blastia that defends a town. To solve the problem, Yuri and his imperial knights platoon try find the cause of increasing aer density, and solve it.
The story is carried out by the simple, "there is a major problem, and we fix it format," and is forgettable with a few exceptions, but the other features of the movie makes you completely forget it. The fight scenes are done incredibly well (but also realistically), and the music is majestic, and fits the world and movie quite well. And of course, the movie carries the badass and arrogant Yuri Lowell and the righteous and heroic Flynn from the game, adding lots of spice to the movie.
*Spoilers, Gamer's Rant*
Although The First Strike was done incredibly well, from someone who had high hopes from the game, I was disappointed. You will not be seeing any azure edges (I like to think of them as demon fangs), tiger blades, first aids, or any artes for that matter. One main feature from the game is nearly completely removed, and the movie is primarily based on melee combat without magic or artes, making the fight scenes not as dynamic as the could be. I guess this is because the producers wanted the movie to be more true to the world since blastia were said to be rare, but come on. Basically the only named arte I got to see was force field. Another disappointment was that some characters from TOV were added just to make the fans happy, and were more of breif cameos than anything else. Estelle, Raven, and Rita all appeared and their roles were nearly insignificant (except for Rita, and not by much). Although I am happy that I got to see Repede's history with Yuri.
All in all, Tales of Vesperia: The First Strike, is a great movie, with amazing battle scenes, art, and music. Although the plot is a bit cliche, you will forgive that factor, as the good points will be overwhelming. And honestly, I recommend that you should watch this before playing the game, as it guarantees that you will not be disappointed.
After fully completing the game and becoming a big fan, this movie comes out. And I have to say I was suprised and happy at the same time. At first I didn't know what to expect from this movie, but after I was done watching it I was very impressed. I was wondering how well they would do connecting the movie with the game. And they did a pretty good job. They also did a good job letting some of the characters from the game, have some scenes through out the movie.
If you played the game and enjoyed it I think you should defiently give
this movie a try.