In 2005, the Japanese PC tactical RPG video game "Tears to Tiara" was developed by Leaf and then released on the Sony PlayStation 3 console in 2008. It was not long after an anime adaptation of the video game would be shown on Animax Asia and then released by Sentai Filmworks.
"Tears to Tiara" is produced by White Fox, known for their work on Katanagatari and also their in-between animation work for series such as "Pokemon: Diamond & Pearl" and "Mobile Suit Gundam 00'. The anime series is directed by Tomoyuki Kobayashi ("Ichigo 100%", "Rozen Maiden", "Utawarerumono") and a screenplay by Touko Machida ("Lucky Star", "Wolf's Rain", "Samurai Champloo"). Music is by Takayuki Hattori ("Battle Athletes" "Slayers" films, "GTO", "Sister Princess") and character designs by Masahiko Nakata ("Utawarerumono, "Love Hina, "Sou Nanda").
Originally released earlier in the year on DVD from Sentai Filmworks with a Japanese soundtrack, the Blu-ray release has now been released and features a brand new English dub.
At first, I wondered how the animation and art for "Tears to Tiara" would be, mainly for the fact that they have not done a major series before but only supplying in-between animation for major anime series. But overall, animation and art production by WHITE FOX was actually quite solid. One thing that helps with this series is that the tribe is constantly on the move, so there are a lot of scenes that are new for each episode. Character designer Masahiko Nakata has had experience working on adventure-based series such as "Utawarerumono" but has experience working on anime series such as "Comic Party", "Love Hina", "Soul Nanda" and many other titles.
So, for the most part, I think that the fact that the series has experienced people working on this series and that WHITE FOX is trying to promote their name as a major anime production company, it works in the favor for "Tears to Tiara" as the company doesn't have a their artists working on too many titles all at once. Overall, the animation and art backgrounds are well done and is featured in 1080p High Definition 16×9 Anamorphic Widescreen.
On the original DVD, I did notice some compression artifacting during some scenes and it appears that on Blu-ray, the series looks much better than its DVD counterpart. I do wonder if the episodes were split up into three or four discs, would the picture quality be any better? I did notice some areas where I saw a little artifacting but I was look for haloing and edge enhancement jaggies and I didn't see them. But overall, picture quality was very good and much better than the DVD.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
As for audio, the series is presented in English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. Dialogue is clear and understandable and found it much better to have my receiver set on stereo on all channels. Voice acting is well done and a good number of talent with Makoto Ishii, Toru Ohkawa (known for the voice of Roy Mustang from "Fullmetal Alchemist" and Rufus Shinra of "Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children) and Yuki Goto (voice of Mikiru Asahina of "Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya") providing the voices of the main characters. There is more use of surround channels for the second half of the series. I didn't notice any LFE but for the most part, dialogue is crisp and clear.
As mentioned, the Blu-ray release features a new English dub soundtrack. And this is where I have a problem with this Blu-ray release. I am a believer that if you are used to doing British or Scottish accents or born speaking that way, that's great! But if you are not a native speaker of the language and you don't speak in an accent at all, then don't do it. Otherwise, forcing yourself to speak with an accent is not going to turn out well.
Earlier I mentioned, The story of "Tears to Tiara" is loosely based on the storyline of the Dark Age of Brittania, when the Gaels, Britons, Celts and Scots took on the Roman Empire. And I figured the ADR made the decision to have the voice talent speak in a British and Scottish accent. And unfortunately, I felt that the voice talent were not ready for this because some talked as if they went from speaking with an accent to vocals without one. It didn't work at all.
And as for Arthur...the Scottish accent was not too my liking. Some other accents for other characters didn't work, it wasn't working and unfortunately, I couldn't listen to the English dub track anymore. But with that being said, the English voice talent, these are veterans to anime series but when it comes to accents, no veteran is going to get the accent right if they are not used to talking that way for long periods of time and they get a hang of it. Many actors and actresses for major films are able to immerse themselves in the culture and eventually feel comfortable to speak that way but I'm guessing with schedules, nailing down accents were probably difficult to accomplish in a short amount of time.
Subtitles are featured in English.
"Tears to Tiara" features the clean opening and closing animation and Sentai Filmworks trailers.
For the first half of "Tears to Tiara", the anime series has been quite enjoyable. It does remind me a lot of "Watarerumono" and also a little bit from the OVA series "Bastard". But one thing the series has done well during the first half is establishing storylines for the supporting characters.
Although the first episode featured a good amount of blood and violence, the other character driven episodes are more lighthearted, fun and humorous. I did enjoy the series and felt the first half was more lighthearted and fun, while the second half of the series became much more serious and in some ways, a different anime series because things become more glum and serious.
I haven't played the previous video games, so I can't comment on how close the anime series is to the video games but I have read that the anime series utilizes the voice actors for the Playstation 3 video game and the adaptation is quite close to the PlayStation 3 video game. As mentioned earlier, the artwork and animation is quite solid and the anime production studio WHITE FOX did a wonderful job for their first major anime series.
The Blu-ray version of "Tears to Tiara" definitely is an improvement over its DVD counterpart. It still is pretty much barebones in terms of special features but this time, the Blu-ray does feature both lossless soundtracks in English and Japanese. While I enjoyed the Japanese voice acting tremendously, I can't say the same about the English dub. Not because it was bad but you can tell the actors felt uncomfortable with their accents. It's not projected well in the anime series and at times, I felt the talent were going in and out of their accent back to their natural way of speaking. So, as much as I'm happy to know that the Blu-ray does come with an English dub, it's unfortunate that the poor accents for some of the characters didn't go so well with the series.
Overall, I did enjoy "Tears to Tiara". It's actually a pretty fun, adventure-based anime series in the first half and becomes another kind of beast with it becoming more serious and gloomy for the second half of the series and part of me wanted to see some of that fun, humorous style that I watched in the first 13 episodes.
If anything, Japanese RPG video game fans will more than likely appreciate the series because you can tell there will be many characters but how the writing definitely spends time with certain characters and getting them involved in the series, especially during battle.
But if you are looking for an adventure anime series and also enjoyed series such as "Utawarerumono" and "Bastard", definitely give "Tears to Tiara" a try !