Sunday, January 5, 2014

Anime Review: Tales of Vesperia ~The First Strike~

It's a new year, which means the Earth has made another circuit around the sun, yay. And this year has been productive for Crescent Reviews. As of writing this post I have 3,581 views and have about 9 comments (half of which are my own). This is a lot more productive than last year where I only had 196 views and about... zero comments. To those how actually read my blog regularly thank you, and please leave more comments so that I know that you are there. And to those who don't read my blog, well you aren't here for me to talk to so never mind. Anyway, the first review of 2014 is an interesting one. It is an anime review of a movie based on a game... Yeah, those tend not to turn out good. Oh well, this time I'm reviewing Tales of Vesperia ~The First Strike~.

Meet Yuri. Yuri is awesome.
Aer. By using this mystical substance, the people of this world have crafted magical artes, useful tools, and powerful barriers by converting Aer into cores that power their devices known as Blastias. While Aer is all around us, and is used to aid in our everyday life, it can also be dangerous and a powerful weapon. When Aer is out of control, monsters appear, and when monsters appear the innocent suffer. When a small squad of Knights, tasked with defending a small town on the outskirts of the Empire, begin to notice an increasing number of monsters in the nearby forest and the trees are turning an unseasonal red, they take it upon themselves to discover the root of the cause. However, when loyalties are conflicted, two knights, Yuri Lowell, a brash reckless lone wolf, and Flynn Scifo, a virtuous son of a knight, must ask themselves what the duty of a knight is: To obey the orders given, or to protect the innocent.

"I'm down on the ground ready to kiss my... what was the last part?"
To put it bluntly, this movie is great. I wasn't expecting much from a video game movie tie-in, the last one I saw of that was Dragon's Age: Dawn of the Seeker which sucked, in fact the only reason why I wanted to see this was because Tales of Vesperia is my favorite of the Tales games I've played thus far. And that is really only because of one character: Yuri Lowell. He is one of the BEST protagonists I have ever seen, he is brash and reckless sure, but he is also snarky as hell, ready to insult or poke fun of anything he can find and always has the best lines in the game. Such as "Yuri HELP ME!" "Nah, that would take effort, just play nice kids." or when reading his wanted poster "Hey, it's up to 10,000. Nice." So, watching this movie at least promised me one thing, I would experience more Yuri, and I wasn't disappointed. Yuri's voice actor from the game, Troy Baker, returns to reprise his role (along with Flynn's voice actor, Sam Riegel) and does a marvelous job recapturing that lovable rogue persona that made Yuri such a joy to play as. This coupled with the fact that thanks to the amazing animation of the movie, we get to see Yuri in all of his mischievous glory. However, the rest of the movie (in other words every scene that does not have Yuri in it) is also fantastic. Rest of the cast is equally fantastic, with great characterization and personality among all of the knights. The story and action isn't half-bad as well. The action is well paced with great scenes throughout the movie, and the story, while more or less standard, is well put together and well thought out. The story not only presents a believable crisis that the Knights have to go through, but also has that crisis set Yuri and Flynn's conflict front and center, as this story is really about them and their differing ideas of what the right course of action is.

I really have very little in terms of complaints for this movie. There are cameos from various characters from the game, such as Raven, Rita, and Estelle, who don't contribute that much to the plot, but none of the cameo distract from the story and none of which creates a contradiction with the game (since First Strike is a prequel and Yuri doesn't met any of these people until the game starts). Also, the plot is pretty basic and nothing that happens really is all that surprising, but even with that, as I said, the story is simple but works effectively especially since the crisis isn't the focal point of the story, but rather the personal conflict between Yuri and Flynn. So really, I have no complaints about the movie, I'm serious.

Tales of Vesperia ~The First Strike~ is THE BEST video game movie I have ever seen. True, that isn't saying much given the state of that particular category, but even holding the movie on it's own without it's connection to Tales of Vesperia, ~The First Strike~ is fantastic. The story is rather stock and goes through all of the paces of this type of plot, but it holds up to scrutiny, keeps the tension by having likable characters without the obvious plot armor, and it keeps the focus on Yuri and Flynn's relationship. The characters are likable, the animation is top-notch, the action is great, the comedy is gold, and you don't even need to know anything about the game in order to enjoy it. In fact, the only reason why I didn't give this movie a "Must Watch" is because it is kind of hard to recommended to someone who doesn't care about video games to watch a movie that is based ON a video game. But otherwise this movie is Highly Recommended.

Until Next time.

-Crescent, "Shiny! Shiny Shiny Shiny SHINY!"

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