Tales of Symphonia Orchestrates Racial Harmony By Overcoming Great Tragedy| OWLS “Colors”

Chances are that if you were linked here from another blogger pal, then you might be new. To those first-timers, “Hi, I’m Takuto, welcome to my anime cafe!” As part of the OWLS blog tour’s  fourth monthly topic, “Colors,” I decided hit up a show that originates from a GameCube JRPG–the one and only Tales of Symphonia which was, fun fact, the SECOND anime I had ever watched!! You know what that means—aww yeah, old-school Takuto wrote a dope review about it (here) years ago that is littered with grammatical errors but full of heart. It currently has zero comments and likes, so go mess that up for me, will ya? Be gentle 🙂

We are all part of one race, the human race. “Colors” refers to people of color in anime. For this month’s topic, we will be discussing how people of color or
characters of different “races” (could be a literal alien race) are represented in anime. Some topics we are considering is the dangers of stereotyping, bi-racial
characters, and the importance of racial inclusion.

I had the recent pleasure of finally finishing the Tales of Symphonia PS3 game recently, so I’m excited let the experience come full circle by revisiting one of the titles that got me into anime. Thanks Lyn for the prompt!

Image result


A brief discussion on the various races and factions that appear in the 2007-2012 11-episode OVA series “Tales of Symphonia: The Animation,” based off the GameCube game by the same name, created by Bandai-Namco, produced by Ufotable, directed by Haruo Sotozaki (“Tales of Zestiria”). SPOILER WARNING

When One World Flourishes, the Other Withers

Enter Sylvarant, a fantasy world of monsters yet very little magic. Why? The mana that flows through the realm has been draining out for a long time now, and it seems that the land will only grow drier (literally) with each passing day. Little to the peoples’ knowledge, a second world exists out there, one that mirrors their own home, and the reason it prospers and thrives is because the mana flow resembles that of an hourglass, Tethe’alla, this second world, residing on the bottom.

This is where the Chosen one comes to save the day! “Chosen” by the heavens, Colette Brunel of Sylvarant sets out on her quest of World Regeneration to flip the hourglass back in their favor. But her clumsiness and well-being worry her friends Lloyd Irving and Genis Sage, so the two, along with Genis’s older sister (and their village’s teacher) Raine and a mysterious mercenary named Kratos, embark on a journey, encountering new friends and more foes with their own philosophies, that will forever shake the foundations of their precious world that they’ve studied for so long.

Image result for tales of symphonia anime screencaps

Just when our gang finally learns to love the world for what it is,  things take one tragic turn after another, forcing our heroes to question the reason they fight, and whether their quest is one of nobility or selfishness. Remember, when one world flourishes, the other withers—people are bound to make great sacrifices.

Symphonia remains one of the top, if not THE #1 game in the incredible Tales franchise. Rife with gorgeous visuals, dramatic Celtic-inspired music, and heartbreaking characters, the animation holds on its own by establishing a fantasy adventure world (or two) where there’s always something to be lost for one of its characters. As the series progresses, we viewers, too, begin to question if a happy ending even exists for this broken cast of many ages and races. Symphonia tackles the harsh realities of acceptance and racism through its memorable characters.

Related image

Oppressed, Punished, and Exiled

In this vast fantasy world, several races and factions exist, most of which frequently bump heads with one another. Aside from the dwarves, who lead quieter pastimes as master craftsman, there are exist elves. They live reclusive lives hidden in villages like Heimdall among the trees, and choose to isolate themselves from society because breeding half-elves (the result of human x elf mating) is frowned upon. Largely stemming from human jealousy, for elves have much longer lifespans and can use magic but humans have neither, and disgust for human blood in an elf body, both humans and elves decided to hate half-elves all around, which leads us to Symphonia‘s most tragic bunch.

Related image

Half-elves cower at the tip of every whip cracked and at the shackles of every chain latched. Disdain from both humans and elves has caused these poor people to be punished for their mixed blood, and, if they are lucky, exiled from the land. Some literally fled to a floating isle called Exire to avoid their tragic fate. Those who could not escape detainment were hunted down, beaten, and even tortured. The main reason for their abuse, aside from their physical make-up, derives from the legend of the the great Kharlan War. In it, humans and elves fought over the two countries, Sylvarant and Tethe’alla, which left half-elves, magic users with longevity in human bodies, to be caught in the crossfire.

If We Could Just Include Instead of Exclude . . . 

Lloyd Irving, the main character, was raised by a dwarven father, meaning that he has seen the abuse from a more objective standpoint than that of a human, elf, or half-elf. Out of rage for their treatment, the Desians, a treacherous organization of half-elves, had swept through Sylvarant, enslaving humans and sacrificing them to create enhancing magic crystals called Exspheres. What they are doing is wrong, and Lloyd knows it, clutching his own mother’s Exsphere from when she was still among the living.

Image result

With a burning desire to end all enslavement and restore the two worlds to one so that all can live in harmony together, Lloyd uses his own experience with the people he holds dear to guide his quest. When it is revealed early on that his best friend Genis and sister Raine are, in fact, half-elves, Lloyd doesn’t grief or retaliate harshly. There’s even a scene where Genis mourns because he knows that when Lloyd and all of his friends eventually pass away, he will be left behind alive but lonely. Instead, Lloyd sympathizes and smiles that he is still able to enjoy their company in the present, looking beyond racial treatment and into the value of their personality.

Genis himself undergoes his own journey when he meets the great Mithos, suppposed Hero of the Kharlan War. In actuality, he manifests as a young half-elf boy just like Genis who only wished for a world where he and his sister Martel could live in peace. Unlike Lloyd’s determination to seek symphonic harmony with all races, however, Mithos sought to convert everyone into one homogeneous kind, believing that if race didn’t exist, then neither would racism. The boy is right and his ideals are true, but his brutal nature and execution of his plans are naive and cruel. The heart was in the right place, but the mind wasn’t, and that’s why Mithos continues to suffer until his own sister rejects him.

Image result for tales of symphonia anime mithos

We need more people like Lloyd and Genis—people who have had experiences with trauma on both sides, yet still manage to see the good in others regardless of their race or status. But there’s only one way to handle this matter carefully. Rather than force people to accept the beautiful array of colored people on this planet, shoving our own ideals down their ignorant throats, we need to integrate warm, positive spirits into communities that suffer from racial exclusion—we must value the characters, not appearances, of all different peoples in order to end this childish thinking.

Dividing the world into two so that people can exist on separate planes was not the answer. Same goes for establishing one master race. The weight of Lloyd’s unwavering acceptance and determination to create a world for everyone is the greatest joy that can come from the series. It’s the hope that some day we can all overcome our own tragedies to play in one harmonic symphony together that makes “Tales of Symphonia” ring true to so many hearts. Life in this kind of new world begins not by looking at what which makes us different, but celebrating what we share in common, and that is beautiful. 

Image result for tales of symphonia anime lloyd and genis

“Dwarven Vow #1: Let’s all work together for the sake of a peaceful world.” – Lloyd Irving


Tales of Symphonia is a really neat show full of heartwarming themes and deep characters, so do check it out if this kind of fantasy is your thing! For those who have seen it, what do you think of the game or its anime adaptation? What about how it’s emotional bits are portrayed? I preferred the anime’s flow in this department, but hey, let me know your thoughts!

This concludes my April 22nd entry in the OWLS “Colors” blog tour. Please check out Stephanie Clarke’s (Anime Girls NYC) post over the darker colored villains from the currently popular Twin Star Exorcists! And now the magic will trickle down to Eren (sakuradaisuki) as she walks us through “Colors” in the dear-to-heart Sailor Moon on Monday, April 24th! Thank you so much for reading, and until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host

Image result

30-Day Song Challenge Day 7: Songs That Hold A Lot Of Meaning To You

Konbanwa! I’ll try to keep today’s post as short as possible so you have time to listen rather than read my rambling >.<

Like I’ve mentioned before, most of the songs I decide to listen to hold some sort of meaning. There are those songs whose meaning shines above the others’, however, so today, I’ve managed to single out a few that I would like to share with you all. Enjoy ~

Tales of Symphonia Japanese Game Opening: “Starry Heavens” by day after tomorrow

Yeah, I know it’s from a game, but this came second in terms of my anime discovery, first being that Negima!? OVA. I did a little research and found out it was a fantasy game, but it had an animation – and someone posted it on YouTube, too, so that’s like hittin’ two Desians with one swing, right? I watched up until the first episode of the United World Arc, after which I waited like a middle school boy expecting a love letter for those last two OVA episodes to be released about a year later. This song is not only catchy, but also holds memory as my first technical “anime song.” Kinda cool if ya ask me!

A Certain Scientific Railgun Opening: “only my railgun” by fripSide

So, I’M OBSESSED WITH RAILGUN AND THE FRANCHISE I JUST CAN’T STOP LOVING ITTTTT!!! It was also one of the first anime I had ever seen, and by golly has it remained high in my ratings. I think I love this show so much because it does a fantastic job at balancing the scary epic scientific side with nice character development, but the show never forgets to have some fun 😀 *sets quarter on thumb and flicks* “Only my RAILGUN can shoot it. imasugu . . . !”

Yep, I’m just that awesome.

Steins;Gate Opening: “Hacking to the Gate” by Kanako Itou

Did I sound like I was belittling this song yesterday? Aww, Robotics;Notes, honey, go back and play with your wittle robot toys, because SHIT GETS TRULY SCIENTIFIC IN THIS SONG. Where would we be without this time-travelling masterpiece? I wouldn’t have my future with anime, that’s for sure. Looking back, Steins;Gate is probably the show that pushed me down the anime path. Without it, I would have run into Railgun at all! Being the first 10/10 I have ever given, it was the most incredible ride I’ve ever had with an anime, that’s for sure. Heck yes, I’ve been impressed with an assortment of fantastic shows, but very few hold a candle to Steins;Gate‘s wit, charm, and superior writing. How I wish I could experience the feels all over again . . .

So there we have it! Three songs that resonate from the beginnings of my anime journey, and of course they hold a ton of meaning to me. I’m actually curious: Do your first shows tend to have songs with the most meaning, or is that just me? Comment below; I’m interested, as another song that holds much meaning is my first anime’s opening, “1000% Sparking” from Negima!?, but I thought I’d avoid writing about the first, ya know? This get sad this next day, so until tomorrow, this has been

– Takuto, your host

Cafe Talk #2: When Anime Became Commonplace?

Mina-san, konnichiwa ~

I’m back the second “Cafe Talk,” and today I’m here to ramble on about how I got into anime. It’s quite the embarrassing story, but I figured I let someone know. Lord, this one’s for the history books, gosh. The rest of the chat is my journey through the beginnings of anime. I hope you enjoy!

O.K. So I had known about Sailor Moon, Yu-Gi-Oh, and Pokemon when I was a young child but I never really knew that they were “anime.” In fact, I didn’t know what “anime” was. The closest things that hooked me on the Japanese culture were Ghibli films Kiki’s Delivery Service and Castle in the Sky.

How I became fully inducted into the anime life was . . . don’t laugh . . . I didn’t know what hentai was. I WAS A KID, OK! CUT ME SOME SLACK I’M NOT A PERVERT I SWEAR!!! Anyway, after searching it in Google I found a small clip of guess what? The Negima!? Spring OVA, you know, the one where they go to Ayaka’s private resort island and party hard!? It’s not a full-on hentai  by any means (not that I’d know what that’s like or anything :P), but it was far “bustier” than any cartoon or animation I had ever seen.

Yeah, that’s the one.

I watched it in three parts, and fell in love with the animation style, the art, the comedy OMG, the voices (in English – go Greg Ayres!), the boobs plot – everything! I then went on to research the main series, watch it all and if you want to know my weaboo thoughts on my first anime series, click here to read my first ever review!!

Back to the topic, for those who’ve seen Negima!?, you’ll know that besides comedy, magical fanservice and a poor shota boy-genius, there’s actually a lot of great animated action sequences to accompany the main story (that’s studio Shaft for ya’ll) – and that is what hooked me most, the gripping action.

Back on YouTube, I saw “Top 10 OPs” and “Best Fight Scenes,” and while those all amazed me (and weirded me out at the same time), what I ended up sliding the cursor over was “Japanese Tales Of Symphonia Opening.” *click*

God what I’d give to own it now on DVD . . .

I was blown away.

What I came across was an enchanting ballad where fights in glorious animation were commonplace – the Tales of Series, and specifically my favorite Tales of Symphonia. I had hit the entertainment goldmine for a youth in desperate search of heartbreaking and relatable characters, incredible stories, and all of it brought to life not as a game, however, but as video entertainment – anime.

From there, anime only continues to secretly provide me with an escape from everything in the real world, not that anything was particularly bad, but ya know, boring as all hell.

Shows like No.6 and Ef – A Tale of Memories and Melodies invoked  periods of pure sadness yet true joy at the same time through memorable romantic ties and gut wrenching tragedies.

Head-scratchers like Steins;Gate opened up my brain to its full capacity with a beautiful story revealing the cruelties of time, showing me that there’s a deeper meaning behind very tiny details (SYMBOLISM) such as blue butterflies, microwaves and lab member pins . . .

This is it right here. I’ll never look at normal things ever again. Thanks anime.

Crossover shows like A Certain Scientific Railgun/Magical Index forced me to realize that no matter your level or rank, you can still impact lives and make true friends, all while being a badass at the same time!

Even Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club inspired me to go out for my first sport ever – swimming – and I’ll never forget the fun times that they had and all the amazing memories that I would make myself!

A hundred or so anime passed. This leads me to my “common era.” I participate in simulcasts, check the anime news, indulge myself in the industry – it’s great and all, but can I just return to the old days? Even for just a sec?

Probably not. So that’s why I started reviewing.

Maybe, just maybe, I can find that thrill of untapped territory once again if I explore some of the aspects that made me love anime so much! Then, perhaps, I could uncover the sweet, sweet bliss like I did back then. Don’t get me wrong, there have been TONS of great shows that I’ve watched after that, some I’d even call masterpieces, but each anime feels different, and that feeling can be a double-edged sword. Did I get really into the show and “feel it,” or did it just have good concepts?

I’m Takuto, and while I operate this cafe and meet all of you wonderful people, I have a deeper quest, and that is to find that “feeling” I felt during those days. It’s indescribable, almost lustful at times, but I’ll find it for sure!

Chasing after the feels.

Do you understand that feel that I’m talking about, or do I just sound like a crazy guy – well, that one’s probably a guarantee, but regardless LOL, do I make sense? Did you know anime when you first saw it, or was it just a good ol’ childhood show? What was your first non-childhood anime? Also, I put pictures for the first time! Comment below because man, I’m getting tongue-tied! Haha thanks so much for reading and until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host