In the summer of 2012, I happened to be browsing for cool J-pop music and ran into Starry Heavens by Day After Tomorrow – Tale of Symphonia’s game opening. After brief research over the game, I noticed that this game had an animation for it as well. This made me curious. I watched all of the episodes on YouTube until I reached the unfinished United World Arc. When the last two episodes were later released, I couldn’t help but smile and share this to a couple others.
The two worlds of Sylvarant and Tethe’alla share a mana link between each other, which is unknowing to the population of the world. When one world gets mana poured into it, the other is drained. To restore her world with beauty and life, Colette Brunel, the chosen, who has the job of reawakening seals to become an Angel, must set out on a journey of World Restoration. Along with the protagonist Lloyd Irving, their intelligent friend Genis Sage and his older sister/their teacher Raine Sage, Colette and Co. begin to realize that their world is actually more twisted than it seems. Interesting characters who also tag along include a clumsy ninja, a lifeless girl with crazy strength, a former baron and now fighter, a mercenary who stays quite and a bumbling ladies-man – all of which who have their own tragic and memorable back stories.
The story itself is best told through the view point of Lloyd Irving, whom struggles with school but makes up for in sword skills. Why this person? Not only is Lloyd the main protagonist, but he is also unintelligent, meaning that when the plot needs to be explained, the series just uses Lloyd to vent out the news to the viewer. When Lloyd figures something out or learns something new, so do you. I find this concept of two worlds, one of which is always in decline, to be exciting. It adds for two distinctive ways to see the world. Is it loving and beautiful, or is it actually cruel and dry? This theme can be applied to parts of the our world today, which makes it more relatable and powerful. All in all, it is a fairly solid idea that can lead to many open opposing stories and character view points.
The only thing that drags down the plot is the fact that it’s an animation based on a game, which means that there are many terms that are randomly thrown in there because they were in the game. Because the series fails to link some of these devices, there can be many WTF moments at times.
I can recall the main casts’ names and their stories – even a couple years later. Namco Tales Studio did a phenomenal job on the character designs and motives. What was nice was that I couldn’t brand characters by a stereotype, as they were all really intricately done. Sheena Fujibayashi, for instance, was the clumsy ninja whom I mentioned earlier. While she appeared as an assassin out to get the Chosen who also had love quarrels, she bore a really strong and sorrowful weight from her village.
Zelos Wilder was by far the most unpredictable character out there. Not only is he half comical and half murderous, he also works for several opposing forces in the Symphonia world. Whenever he betrayed a group I got really mad and started to hate him, but then he always came back and I admired him once again.
All of the older characters, Yuan, Kratos and a few of the generals also had intriguing pasts. One of my favorite parts of this anime was seeing the past of the main antagonist, _______, for he ended up being much more than the rumored hero of the Kharlan War. Long live the Four Seraphim!
One downside to this selection was actually the main character Lloyd. I found him to be caring yet annoying at the same time. He was that only exception to the sterotype list, and that is that he is the hero. He wants everyone to live in peace and harmony and blah blah blah – it gets annoying really fast! If you can get past some of Irving’s dramatically heart-filled speeches, then you will find this cast to be one of the best you’ve ever seen.
I’ll immediately start with the show’s second opening, “Canary in the Sky” by Nana Mizuki. Holy Hima it is amazing! Its effective use of a violin and a guitar take my breath away. The song fits and represents the Symphonia series perfectly. Whether this anime is interesting to you or not, go ahead and give it a listen – you will not be disappointed. As for the rest of the OST, the only stand out moment was at the end of OVA nine. TO THIS DATE, I have only encountered few plot turners who threw me for a loop like this one. The song “Ta ga tame no sekai” sung by Shikata Akiko is one of my top few favorite ending themes, as it transcends the series to a whole new level of epic. Her voice is haunting and calming at the same time and when she is accompanied by the upbeat drums and a full on choir who sing with her, I could just die right then and there. I also love the series’s last ending 🙂 . So tropical!
The animation was done by Ufotable, who is good at what they do and this is no exception. Action scenes and attacks were splendidly animated and the way the technology appears in the series is just cool. You can really tell the difference in quality when you compare the first arc done in 2007 compared to the last episode in 2012. One thing I did notice is that on occasion, the faces would look funny, as in the eyes just didn’t line up correctly. On that note – where are their noses!? In some scenes they have no nose, which is very distracting. However, I think the game is like that too at times
I distinctly remember sleeping through the first four episodes of the series. The Sylvarant Arc was so slow I almost dropped the series as a whole. It was only because of its music and characters, however, that led me onward. When you watch it, just know that it gets a hell of a lot better when you hit the second arc, Tethe’alla. For the rest of the series, I was thoroughly enjoyed. All of Symphonia’s epic chorus songs make me wanna wave around a sword, too!
I always doubt this series when I compare it to others. But then I realize – this show was actually really good! It has enough plot twists to keep one interested and it provides excellent sad stories to pass the time (if you can say that sad stories are “excellent” :P). The relationships the characters share are priceless and respectful to witness as well. I did love this series, a lot. If I’ve inspired you at all to go for this series, do keep in mind that it is based off of a game, so some of its conclusions will seem a little far-fetched.
This show is not available for purchase in the states, but the sorrow of Mithos, the goodness of Lloyd and the faith of Colette rest in a seed of remembrance at the bottom of my heart.
Thanks for reading!
– Takuto, your host