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!
"Trust me the feeling is mutual, I still don't get why you even joined the knights at all!"
Tales of Vesperia, the game that is, happens to be a very special game to me - sure, its story isn't its highest selling point and the game really drags towards the end, but overall, I had a blast experiencing the world of Terca Lumiries - especially the characters, Vesperia has one of my favourite video game casts ever, particularly Rita Mordio - who I have a great adoration for, being my favourite female character in any form of media to date. However, until necessary, I won't let
how I feel about that particular character have an effect on this review.
Instead, I'd like to bring your attention to another character: Yuri Lowell.
Yuri, in the game, was an extremely interesting and compelling character. He's that rare, cocky, competent "I could kick your ass any day of the week" guy that is so hard to find these days, and whilst I certainly don't agree with some of his actions later in the game, it doesn't change the fact that Yuri was, is, and always will be one of the best characters in the game, as well as many people's favourite character, which is perfectly understandable - he's a total force of nature to be reckoned with in the game, a character that has very well defined the standard for me to consider a character "badass".
With all this in mind, I should have loved the Tales of Vesperia movie, if not loved at least thought it was pretty good, but I didn't and there is a very good reason for that - wait, scratch that, two very good reasons. The first being that, this movie is really pointless. The second is that they completely undermined everything that makes Yuri Lowell the character that he is.
I'll cover the second point later on, but first and foremost, my first point: First Strike is supposed to be a prequel to the game, right? Now, a prequel, in most cases anyway, is supposed to be used to set up events for whatever comes next in the series - First Strike doesn't do that at all. When I went to watch this movie, I thought I would have a better understanding of Yuri's deep-seated hatred for the knights, why it is that he chose to leave them, why Flynn decided to stay and why it is he believes that he could change the knights by using the system, I got none of that whatsoever.
The issue with First Strike is just how irrelevant and pointless it really feels, those of you reading this who've not played the game should know that the events of First Strike are never even remotely alluded to in the game, at all - those of you who have played it should already know that, hence my frustration. If there was even some mention of the events that happened in First Strike at any point in the game, I would have understood why it is that it was made and why the events happened the way they did, but it isn't, and First Strike doesn't just come across as one, but really does feel like a lame cash grab for Namco Bandai to cash in on the success of Vesperia.
However, the thing that frustrated me most about First Strike isn't just that it feels irrelevant, it's the ending. I don't dislike the ending because it was open-ended, I dislike it because the reasoning behind Yuri leaving the knights is incredibly stupid, especially considering that he really doesn't have good reason to do so. Keep in mind, the reason why Yuri left the knights, at least, according to the game, is because he couldn't stand the injustice and corruption that was so rampant throughout the ranks of the knights, hence why he left. The people in Yuri's squadron in the movie are all good people, and practically embody everything that Yuri sees as the ideal knight - it annoys me to no end that Yuri left these people to pursue his vigilantism, it's one of the many things that undermine his character.
If there are any positive things to say about the story in First Strike, it's that the story does at least show how Yuri meets Repede (who, I should add, looks incredibly adorable as a little puppy). It also introduces Hisca and Chastel, two characters who, sadly, are not in the game, which is a crying shame as their inclusion in the game could have made for some incredibly amusing moments as well as what could have been some very interesting moments of characterisation for Flynn and Yuri, as they could have ended up questioning each other about the different paths that they end up choosing and why they chose them - they're definitely the kind of characters that I would have liked to see used again.
Animation wise, First Strike is handled by Production I.G, who also did the anime cut-scenes for the game, which means that the standard that is used in the game itself is used here.
In short, Vesperia looks decent, the anime scenes in the game were never really that spectacular and there really aren't that many differences here - there are some cool uses of CG in the movie, characters look good upon close ups and the action scenes do look good, and also serve as a reminder that Yuri is actually an awesome fighter, even without the usage of Blastia.
Sadly, when the camera pulls away from the characters, the quality seems to drop - there was one moment in particular that the characters just completely lost their faces even though there was dialogue going on, but aside from this, First Strike does what it needs to do in the animation department.
I could tell pretty much straight away that Akira Senju had had some involvement in the music of the movie, I've had enough experience on Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood to know his orchestral style - it does sound good, but it's not really anything mindblowing, it also seems somewhat out of place too. Sadly, there's no inclusion of any of the battle themes from the game, which is a shame because I was always a fan of Vesperia's music, and I think it's a bit of a missed opportunity that they didn't opt to include the music from the game - or at least remix it a bit.
At least Ring a Bell managed to make it into the movie, I don't think I'd be able to forgive the soundtrack were it not for its inclusion.
Voice talent wise, it's pretty solid, well, except for Luci Christian and Jonathon Brooks, who I will cover shortly. Troy Baker and Sam Riegel came back for the movie, and by this point, Baker feels so natural as Yuri that it's pretty much impossible for me to imagine him being voiced by anyone else - it's clear in his performance that this is definitely one of his favourite roles to do, there's a definite passion for the character in every facet of his vocal performance, so I'm glad he came back to voice him. Sam Riegel is also great as Flynn too, he's always been a man who's a bit hit and miss with his performances, and Flynn was always one of the better characters he performed as, similar to Troy Baker, I don't think I'd be able to handle anyone else voicing the character.
Trina Nishimura, Leah Clark and Christopher Sabat all do well as Hisca, Chastel and Niren respectively, their performances definitely don't match the level of Troy Baker's or Sam Riegel's, but they do quite well in the screentime that they're allotted. Estelle's cameo isn't worth mentioning considering she's in for all 20 seconds of the movie, but they changed her voice actress too, she sounds slightly deeper but nothing too inoffensive.
As for Luci Christian and Jonathon Brooks...well, I'll cover Brooks first, his voice is simply too deep for Raven, Joe J. Thomas (which I'm pretty sure is a pseudonym, feel free to prove me wrong) was at least one octave higher than Brooks in the game, and it makes Raven sound at least 10 years older than he actually is (considering one of the gags in the game revolves around how old he feels, I suppose this could be amusing) - he isn't terrible as Raven though, he just feels rather miscast as the character.
Then there's Luci Christian, my word, there's butchery of a role and then there's this. Part of the reason I loved Rita's character is because of Michelle Ruff's performance, and it saddened me to no end that she didn't come back for the movie - for some reason, I (incorrectly) thought that Luci Christian actually sounded kind of similar to Michelle Ruff, I have no idea why, and I figured that she'd make an at least appropriate replacement.
But I was wrong, incredibly wrong.
When I heard her performance as Rita, I knew there and then that my favourite character in the game had just had her voice violently butchered, trodden on and then tossed around in the air for good measure - I never, ever thought I'd be saying this, but First Strike actually made me want Rita to shut up, I love the character to bits but hearing her voice being ruined so cruelly was a pretty heartbreaking thing for me to endure, surely, someone, anyone could have done a better performance than this?
Jonathon Brooks is a miscast as Raven, but I'm slightly willing to forgive that one; Luci Christian has all but violently murdered one of my favourite characters, she sounds at least 20 years older than Rita actually is - how could anyone think that it was a good idea to actually think she was okay for the part? The Rita I heard in First Strike was not the Rita that I loved so much in the game, and I honestly want to think of her as a different character, but I can't, sadly.
The only reason I haven't scored the characters anything less than a 5 is due to Hisca and Chastel, who are the most interesting characters in the film and I do really feel sad that they didn't make it into the game.
Frankly speaking, First Strike managed to totally undermine Yuri's character - and Flynn's for that matter too, but I'll cover him in a bit. Yuri in the game was an interesting, well defined character who had great reasons for hating the knights and the way they do things - I can tell you right now that this most definitely isn't that Yuri Lowell, here, Yuri comes across as bratty, slightly childish and his reasoning for leaving the knights seems less likely that it's because he didn't like the way they did things and more likely that he cannot stand dealing with authority figures - a far cry from the character in the game. I'm aware that this is meant to be a younger Yuri (although, frustratingly, the movie never states explicitly when it's set), but the clear contrast in character makes it incredibly difficult to accept - there isn't even a moment in the movie when Yuri's ideals are even remotely shaped.
Truthfully, there are small flashes of what Yuri eventually becomes, such as when he ends up fighting the monsters that attack the village, or the barfight scene, which is the closest thing that we get to Yuri being himself.
The movie also manages to undermine the Yuri and Flynn relationship too. Far from being childhood friends turned friendly rivals, the movie depicts them as bitterly hostile towards each other, nearly every single encounter ends with them arguing or fighting in some way - it made me seriously wonder how it is they became so buddy buddy in the game. The Yuri and Flynn relationship was always the one relationship in the game that was sadly never explored as much as I would have liked, but, even when they ended up fighting each other in the game from time to time, there was never this much hostility between them - there were always moments that show the underlying friendship between the two of them, fights they ended up getting into were merely due to circumstance rather than because they wanted to. There was respect in the relationship; they cared.
It also frustrates me that the movie never really explains how they patch up their relationship - rather than it happening naturally, it happens for the convenience of the plot, meaning that the development (if you can call it that seeing as it was never really there) comes across as incredibly forced and unnatural, there isn't even a gimmicky montage to show that they're all of a sudden the best of friends, it's something that just happens and no proper explanation is given.
The irrelevance of the plot events and undermining of the characters really hampered my enjoyment of the movie, it has its moments with cool action scenes, but it never feels like it's ever contributing to anything bigger - I managed to get some enjoyment out of simply hearing Troy Baker and Sam Riegel reprising some of their best roles, but it was limited enjoyment considering how badly they managed to butcher Rita.
A prequel is usually supposed to set up the events of anything that follows it, and I really thought that's what First Strike would do, I thought it would go into detail as to why Yuri hates the Knights so much, talk about his relationship with Flynn, and just why it is he decided to be a vigilante rather than follow the system - I thought it would explain why Flynn chose the system rather than break away from it, and also explain why he believes he could change it from the inside, I thought it would actually do things that would set up Vesperia.
But it didn't, and I am left feeling really angry and annoyed at how irrelevant it is to the entire story of Vesperia as a whole.
*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.
I’ll start this one off by saying hello to all newcomers, and welcome back to all you Tales fans out there. Word to the wise: This movie is a prequel to Tales of Vesperia, an Xbox 360 exclusive video game and the tenth mothership title in the Tales series of games. If you have no interest in Tales, this movie won’t do as well for you as it will for a fan. Keep that in mind before continuing.
VISUALS [ 8/10 ]
This is a solid movie, through and through. Visuals are fantastic for the most part, especially for 2009. We
do see some minor issues here, however. Some scenes are poorly transitioned, which will take you out of the experience for a couple seconds.
As with many older shows, First Strike has problems with distance shots. Characters will appear a bit off model, and will not look anywhere near as sharp as the close-ups do. Movement is a little inconsistent too, with some scenes being better animated than others. Not a dealbreaker, but watch with any level of scrutiny and you’ll notice. Long story short, some scenes clearly got more attention than others. Most importantly, this movie does a great job keeping to that Tales feel. Fans will warm up to this movie like a good conversation with an old friend.
SETTING [ 9/10 ]
Pretty great background art, well produced still shots, and generally just a solid setting in general. First Strike only gives you the minimum amount of knowledge you need to know about the world, but it works well. This is one movie that delivers in its world building. Civilians all look different and can be recognised during different scenes as the movie progresses. It feels like the knights have something worth protecting. You don’t understand the importance of that detail unless you’ve watched something that lacks it.
Scenes in the later half of First Strike start to feel a little samey. Not a huge blow, but they could have done even better.
PLOT [ 9/10 ]
Did you ever want to watch a movie that makes you want to immediately go play the game it’s based off of? That is exactly what Tales of Vesperia: The First Strike does. You will want to go play the game if you own it. There’s a strong chance you’ll want to go buy the game if you don’t. Okay, all that aside, what about the movie?
This is a very unique film, and one you should watch for that reason alone. First Strike is a prequel to Tales of Vesperia. For all intensive purposes, you could watch this and then go play the game. You’d have an excellent introduction to the characters, and I wish I’d known about it back then. Entire mediums are crossed in this movie, and it does an excellent job making that transition.
About a year before the events of the game, First Strike follows Yuri Lowell and Flynn Scifo, two newly recruited knights in the Imperial army. They are assigned to a brigade out in the country. You get acquainted with what life is like day by day, and then watch as events rapidly spiral out of control in the same way a tornado or earthquake does. Naturally, the knights move to address the problem. Conflict ensues, in the forms of both action and ideology. Characters question their orders, and the actions of others. The tone is mostly serious, but it was never so overbearing that it started to eat at my overall enjoyment of the film. The plot is very focused around the young knights, but will sometimes jump around to other characters. Made perfect sense to me, but there are scenes that will confuse those who haven’t played the game.
CHARACTERS [ 7/10 ]
The weakest part is the characterization. Don't get me wrong, it's not awful - just very minimal. Not a whole lot of character development throughout this movie at all. Yuri and Flynn are affected by the events of the movie, but only a little bit. Everyone else is pretty much static. Supporting characters are actually done pretty well here, but the main cast gets neglected.
The writers were trying to avoid messing with the narrative that follows, since this is a prequel. The lack of development alone is gonna be enough to drop First Strike to about a seven out of ten if you didn't know some of these characters already.
PACING AND PRODUCTION [ 8/10 ]
This is a very solid movie. Nothing extra attached, just a very well produced Tales prequel. Tales of Vesperia: The First Strike has aged beautifully over the years. Sight or sound, you’ll not find anything that leaves you thinking,’Ehh, they could have done better.’ There is a little bit of CG woven in there, but it's not awful. Chances are if aren't looking for it, you won't even notice. The sound design is fantastic. Coming from someone who rarely notices sound at all in an anime, that means a lot. That said, the score for this movie was super average. I don't remember any of the music at all - probably because I was so engrossed in the visuals.
For the most part, First Strike is almost perfectly paced, but there are occasional moments where a bad transition will take you out of it for a moment. There's an odd issue present here, where scene transitions are sometimes sharp and jarring. Not a deal breaker, just one of those odd quirks that anime sometimes have.
First Strike definitely succeeds as a movie, no worries there. My experiences were overwhelmingly positive. You should have no trouble powering through the whole runtime in one sitting.
STORY [ 10/10 ]
Here we have one of those rare prequels that actually lives up to the source material. This section is spoiler territory, so stay away if you want to watch without spoilers.
Okay, so as stated previously, I’m a pretty big fan of the Tales franchise. Coming from a fan, this movie is like a dream come true. You always think to yourself when you first load up the game, “I wonder what Tales would be like if all of it was animated like this anime opening?” This question was apparently answered in 2009 with the release of this movie.
When playing through Tales of Vesperia you always wondered what Yuri and Flynn’s backstory really was. That question was answered with a level of satisfaction I was not expecting, to the point where I’m still upset that The First Strike wasn’t part of the game itself. This is a must-watch for any Tales fan, assuming you’re willing to watch a let’s play of the game, should you not own an xbox 360. If you would rather pretend that this game/movie doesn’t exist, then you should. Tales of Vesperia is one of the best narratives Tales can offer, and you shouldn’t put yourself through the journey if you aren’t willing to experience it from the back seat.
On to movie itself. First thing’s first, First Strike can’t stand on its own for the previously stated reasons. There’s an incredibly strong chance that you’ll want to continue the story after watching this film. Yuri and Flynn are both excellent characters, and for them alone you’ll want a complete story and not just the first arc.
And what an arc it is. All expectations shattered, seriously. Yuri and Flynn are so fleshed out by the end that you’ll wonder how you ever lived without knowing all this about them. Glimpses into their training, a solid understanding of their daily lives, and interesting characters that don’t even show up in the game all prove beyond a doubt that they knew what ‘prequel’ meant when they made First Strike.
Suddenly, without warning, what looked like a simple anomaly in the aer turned into a terrifying and powerful force that seemed to have a will of its own. Aer is the naturally occurring source of energy and magic in this world, and when it goes awry shit gets real very quickly. Beasts turned hostile and tough choices had to be made. First some pretty impressive magic explosives were used to thin out the monster population. After that attacks started happening frequently, and the true foe reared its ugly head. A grotesque and highly aggressive mass of aer began consuming any and all living creatures in its path. Eventually the hunting dogs owned by the knights are lured into the forest and become part of the creature. An impressively violent action scene follows, and Yuri proves himself as he fights the beast almost single-handedly, and ultimately has to put down the dogs.
Meanwhile, Flynn is sent to the capital city to get reinforcements. Unfortunately, politics get in the way and you get a glimpse at the true enemy, sitting nonchalantly at the head of the Knights. Flynn is ultimately unsuccessful due to political unrest in the capital. Flynn makes it back to town not long after the battle in the forest. Both Yuri and Flynn are feeling terrible after their respective battles and end up fighting each other out of sheer frustration. The plot continues.
Most people who watch this movie are going to be coming from the game. They already know just how fantastic Yuri and Flynn are, regardless of who you side with. Getting to see more from them is more than reason enough to watch, with a few moments involving other characters from the game filling in the gaps. In all honesty, this movie is fanservice in its purest form. This movie could brighten up a funeral if there were Tales of Vesperia fans in there for heaven’s sake, which I really think is the bottom line here. You want to see more of these characters, or you’re interested in the game? Stop reading - go watch the movie. It’s on FUNimation Now.
I will take a moment and voice one complaint that I have. The twins. These two sisters are part of Yuri and Flynn’s squad. They’re endearing in their own right, and most of the time they hit home, don’t get me wrong. In certain scenes, however, these two seem incredibly wimpy in comparison to Yuri and Flynn. Their reactions to major story events struck me as how a civilian, and not a knight, would react. Some of their major lines consist of screaming in terror, crying, or both. These sisters really seem like they’re in over their heads, and perhaps that was the point. Or maybe I’m just a cold-hearted bastard. Either way, onwards to the final score.
OVERALL [ 8/10 ]
Fantastic visuals, with some minor inconsistencies
Strong but limited characterization
Amazing dub, featuring actors from the game
Great pacing for the most part
Has that distinctive Tales feel that fans love
An example of what a great prequel should be like
Relies heavily on its source material - for better or worse
Quite a bit more gory than Tales fans are used to
Never wastes your time with unnecessary scenes
Fans of the game will love this movie, whereas people with no interest in the Tales games will be frequently confused
For alternate recommendations, I point to Tales of Zestiria The X for fans of the Tales franchise. I haven’t seen it myself, but seeing as how good this movie is, I doubt they screwed it up. Other recommendations include Soul Eater for excellent characters and plot, Yona of the Dawn for your action/adventure fix, and the series of six movies known as Break Blade if you want to watch a bunch of awesome anime movies. Good luck with your animes, and if you’re not a Tales fan, this is good place to start!
Note: This review was written on my Review Book on Wattpad. If you are interested, don't be shy to check it out! (Link's in my bio)
Tales of Vesperia is a RPG game that was exclusive for the XBOX 360. It had done so well that it had received a movie adaption, that takes place 10 years after the Great War. Yuri Lowell, hero of Zaphias, along with his loyal friend Flynn, have just become Imperial Knights. Meanwhile, Estellise, Princess of the Capital, along with the Imperial Knights Commander, Alexia Denoia, are currently fighting for the power in the Capital. Now, Yuri and Flynn
begin their first mission, learning the new ways of a knight, as well as what sacrifices it takes to be one.
So I watched this movie maybe a month or two after I finished Tales of Symphonia with my friend, who had just recently gotten Tales of Vesperia for Xbox 360 at the time. She had just finished the game, and I had just read the first few chapters of the manga, since there is no anime for ToV. But anyways, since my friend had the money, and every anime/manga browser is locked at our school, my friend bought the movie off of iTunes for us to watch at an assembly or after school at art club or something. So we finally did watch the movie, I think we watched half-and half maybe, I can't exactly remember, but we both loved the movie (well, maybe she loved it a little more than me since she actually played the game and knew more about that series than me "^^). But anyways, enough of my background on the series, let's start with the review. Hope you all like it!.
WARNING! THIS REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS!
Ok, so the story to the First Strike is really good, and its not any spoiler-filled movie that goes with the game, but there are probably things that would be explained if you played the game as well. There are probably things that I didn't quite get because I haven't played the game yet, which kinda gets me upset. Yes, I still loved the movie, it's just I need to play the game to understand it more. For those who are like me, I think you guys will enjoy it an 8/10, but it might change if I ever get a chance to play the game myself.
So if you don't know from my past review on Tales of Symphonia, I absolutley LOVE the Tales of Series art style, from the art style in general, to character designs themselves. I just love the art of the series as a whole, and I can never rate a Tales of Series art style less than a 10. I mean, I've never reallyseen anything about it that I haven't disliked about it yet (cough cough Tales of Berseria designs cough cough), but for The First Strike, I'm givning it a 10/10.
So just like the art style of the Tales of Series, I love the soundtrack of Tales of Vesperia. Even though I don't have the soundtrack on my iPod music library like I do for Tales of Symphonia, I still really like it, because I'm pretty sure if I ever go back to listen to it again, it'll bring back feelings from the movie. And no, it won't bring as much emotion as it does for Tales of Symphonia, seeing that I wasn't able to connect with the story as much as Tales of Symphonia, but I still love the soundtrack of Vesperia. Anyways, another 10/10 goes to Tales of Vesperia the First Strike.
Ok, so don't kill me because I gave the characters a 9/10. I really liked the cast of characters for ToV, I really did, a lot of them make you smile, or give you a chuckle, but I'm pretty sure I would've loved them more if I played the game. I'm not dissapointed in how the Tales of Series created this cast, I really liked them, it's just I might've liked them even more if I played the game. Like, I still have a giant interest in learning more about them, since they seemed really interesting in the movie, and I'd still need to play the game in order to do so. But, seeing that you don't need the game to enjoy them at least a little, I'd give the characters a 9/10
Okay, so like I said, I loved this movie to the fullest, especially since I haven't played the game at all. To be honest, this movie got me wanting to play the game even more, even though I can't get access to my brothers XBOX. I mean, I have read some of the manga, which I highly recommend to anyone who can't play the game like me. And also, if you're interested in the Tales of Series as a whole, I'd suggest getting the app "Tales of Link," where it's basically a better version of Brave Frontier, and the series features all the characters from the Tales of Series. But yeah, I loved this movie a lot, even though there were probably things I didn't understand, due to the lack of knowledge on the game. But all and all, this is a great movie to check out, especially since its rather short, 2 hours at max, and it's definetley something to start out for the Tales of Series. So basically , I enjoyed this anime whole-heartedly, and it receives a 10/10 for me.
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.
following is just my opinion about this anime: i found it slow paced and simple minded. it has some interesting original elements but the flaws and the plainness waste it all. the art had some nice points (a mix from various shows). the story develops without surprises, the fights have original elements but flawed. the characters are ok, nothing more... like the rest of the anime. maybe for some its worth watching because of some original elements but for me its just feels like one of the many shows that didn't pay enough attention to detail and made of something with good potential (and enough
budget, probably) something just average.
but maybe if you played the game this show is more fun? ... maybe there are some references or so...
i probably wrote this review to warn from viewing as i found it boring but maybe the show is better than how i experienced it
Having reviewed the entire Tales of Symphonia series, I thought it might be a good idea to review the rest of the Tales adaptations I can find. So first on the table is Tales of Vesperia: The First Strike. Standard rules apply with video games adaptations. The adaptation should be able to stand on its own, meaning even if the viewer hasn’t played the games or seen anything related to the series, they should be able to enjoy it just as much as someone who has. With that little parameter out of the way, let’s get cracking.
The Short Version:
(+)Animation is good, really good.
(+)The story stacked up on itself little by little.
(-)Nothing in the sound design stands out.
(-)Most of the characters are there to serve a single purpose and nothing else.
The Story (7/10): The story doesn’t introduce itself right off the bat, rather going through a couple different plot lines that evenly add up to the overarching story of the movie. If you want a very general outline of what the story is about, the characters are there to defend a town from monsters. That’s literally it. They hint towards the end what you’ll do in the game. Within the story itself there’s not a lot I really liked that much, the construction of the entire story and how they handled it was great it’s just that the story didn’t really get me invested. This is probably a lot of background regarding how magic works in this world that goes unexplained. I feel like if they explained it a little better I would’ve been just a bit more into the story. That being said I’m pretty dumb so if you decide to watch this movie you’ll probably pick it up right away and be fine.
The Characters (6/10): The characters in this movie, for the most part, are background props, even some of the ones that get a name are there for one scene at most, but the main troupe of characters have a purpose (duh that’s why they’re the main troupe Richard.) I’ll argue that two of the main characters could’ve disappeared and the story wouldn’t have been impacted that much, but anyway TO THE MAIN CHARACTERS!
Yuri Lowell: Resident protagonist and cynical bastard.
Flynn Scifo: Childhood friend to Yuri and the more military of the two.
Niren Fedrok: Guard Captain and at times the comedy relief character.
Hisca Aiheap: The quieter half of the twins and the one doesn’t get throw around like a rag doll.
Chastel Aiheap: The ‘bigger’ half of the twins and the one that does get thrown around.
The rest of the characters aren’t really worth mentioned because they’re really underdeveloped, but I will say this. Best little dog side character ever.
Art & Sound (8/10) & (5/10): The art is exactly what I expected from a movie adaptation, the characters move fluidly whenever they need to, the 3D manoeuvring is more than satisfactory and the CG doesn’t look that out of place when it’s used apart from one scene where the characters running looked like they were on ice, but as a whole the animation was well solid.
The sound is (for me) the weakest part of this entire movie, the OP & ED weren’t great, the OST didn’t grab me and the side characters voice acting was…. Not great. The main cast and the battle SFX were the best part, but they weren’t good enough to pull up the stack from the rest of the department.
What do you think of this anime?
It managed to kill 2 hours of the day and was pretty to look at.
Would you recommend this anime?
Yeah. If you’ve got some time to waste or want to watch a movie with your friends go ahead, if you’re a fan of the Tales games even more so. However you probably shouldn’t watch it if you’re expecting the next big thing, because this isn’t it.
This show starts out rather heavy, asking what people should protect. Then we are thrown into a large action packed fight and chase that feels really over the top. We aren’t introduced to the characters or understand what the hell they are doing. We just know a fight is going on. Although this show looks rather nice, the storyline doesn’t fit the look of the show and makes things confusing including the fact that this was supposed to have 4 video games before it to help with the story line and sadly, only two were dubbed and brought over. Sadly, I am probably in the
select few who have never played the games at all and am left going ‘what the fuck are they even talking about’ with the small bits of dialogue the writers happened to put into the show.
It should have been a great opening for a great movie, but sadly, It feels like its small pieces of what would have been a good show. Lots of dialogue seems cut and the scenes don’t make a whole lot of sense. I know I may be coming in without watching the anime Tales of Vesperia (or actually in this sense the games) but when I watch something, I don’t want to see a action packed show, then go from that to a traveling opening where the main characters are going somewhere, then cut to them fighting about some mission I have no clue about and being scolded, all the way into the two ‘main characters’ arguing about how the room is a mess. I haven’t even been able to catch the two characters names yet and already I can probably give them nicknames, play-by-the-books and lazy-ass-long haired-guy. Not to mention we also get to strange twins who seem to be friends of the two.
The show feels like a number of clips pushed together into one long movie like they were the cut scenes to the video game without any real continuity at all. Not even an explanation on what they are really doing in the town or where these said monsters came from up. Most of the fights seem like they were thrown into the show just to put more action into it. I kid you not, even reading the plot summary on the Wiki was confusing to the point I struggled to give this show a description.
The animation is actually pretty well done, though the slight CG that they do seems a little off. I mean, it works alright and has the same feeling as the drawn animation but when you get close to it, it feels slightly off. When we get to the magic using though, it looks extremely well done. Characters seem really stiff in action and attitude even when they are supposed to be relaxed characters and not of military or governmental power. The twins also seem to grow in cup size once in a while. Even so, I give props for Production I.G. on getting this well done in the art department at least except for the hiccup when it came to the memories part. When we go into the dubbed version of the show, the animation can get a bit off with the voices. The mouth movements are a bit to realistic to the point that parts seem forced as they try to match them and fail. It may be standard when things like that happen and I give Funimation props for trying as best they can but still.
English voices seem expertly done and feel good with the characters though even with the characters that are supposed to be relaxed, they feel stiff. The script feels like it was cut up into little pieces where a lot of dialogue that is supposed to explain what the hell is happening falls away. Again, lip sinking is not that great though I don’t blame them to badly.
When I first, came across this anime I thought that it was a spin-off of the "Tales of the Abyss" and I was quite interested because I enjoyed the second very much so I thought that I should try and watch this too. Actually some moments were almost the same like magic and that circles or whatever was there :D Well it doesn't matter. The main thing is that I am not a fan of this game and I didn't even played it so the anime was not anything special for me.
Well, I have to admit that the story was good. Like
this Air and Blastia was quite interesting to investigate and watch how they work and etc. I also liked all that 'knights' thing because I'm a huge fan of those since I first watched 'Code Geass'. The story was captivating and exciting but they couldn't show it in the best way. The fightings were boring and slow. There were no action and the character's moves were kinda sluggish. I wanted more action :( And one of the important things that I didn't liked was the soundtrack. The music in the anime didn't create an appropriate atmosphere for the show.
The art was very good. I liked the characters and landscapes. Though inside of the eyes were kinda black as if it was a gothic make-up. That was a little annoying but after 10-20 minutes I've gotten used to it so it doesn't really matter.
They were okay. I loved the main character Yuri, which was very unusual. Because in 'Tales of the Abyss' first 10 episodes the main character was quite an annoying one. Yuri was the opposite. So cuuute
As an advid "Tales of" fan, I was super excited when I found out there was a Tales of Vesperia movie. Since I had never played Tales of Vesperia before, I decided to watch the movie and maybe get some more information about it, since my friend had told me the game and movie was very good. Probably best choice I've made.
Story 9/10 The story, I thought, was very interesting. It seems like the Namco is very god at making magical stories and putting it into their games. Same goes for this movie. Tales of Vesperia~The First Strike~ is a prequel to the Tales of
Vesperia game. The movie is all about Yuri's time as a knight and which led to him eventually leaving, and thus, the start of the game. In this movie, we go along with Yuri and Flynn, too, and see how they were as Knights.
Art 9/10 Vesperia has very well done art, and I simply love watching it. I love at the beginning, where they show all of those magic circles in the air. I think it's done so well and they really did a nice job on the backgrounds for this movie. Character art is very well done, and never slacks. The art is crisp and clear and enjoying to watch. It's good that the art style is good, since you're watching it for almost 2 hours.
Sound 9/10 Battle music and background music were superb. No complaints there! Love "Ring a Bell" by BONNIE PINK at the end!
Character 9/10 I really didn't dislike any of the characters. And that's rare for me. It was great seeing mostly everyone in the game in the movie, like Raven, Rita, Flynn, Repede and of course Yuri! Flynn annoyed me just a bit with his strict additude about everything, but maybe that's just because he was always yelling at Yuri and Yuri has to be my favorite charcter. I could go on and on about Yuri and how much I love him. XD He has a nice, laidback additude about everything. Yuri is awesome, if I do say so myself, and he's not afraid to stand up to people who do the wrong thing. Okay. This is sounding like a fangirl's rant about an anime character, so we'll just move on. XD
Enjoyment/Overall 10/10 I've watched this movie so many times it's not even funny. I love everything about this movie and I could watch it again and again and still not get tired of it. This movie might not be for everyone, but if you're a Tales of fan or just love an awesome anime movie with awesome characters *cough*Yuri*cough* and great storyline, then this is definately for you! :)