American anime distributors are notorious for lame and occasionally misleading advertising tag lines, but this time Section 23 has a beauty on the back cover: Before you resurrect a Demon Lord. . . Make sure he's going to be on your side Truer words have rarely been spoken. . .
Sentai Filmworks and Section 23 have taken a lot of flak from some corners of fandom for not bothering anymore with English dubs on their new releases, but that practice does seem to have enabled the Companies Formerly Known as ADV to achieve a remarkable feat of timeliness here, as the first half of this 26-episode series is coming out on American DVD less than two months after the series finished airing on Japanese TV. This is one of the quickest turnarounds ever, and we can only hope that it is a sign of things to come. Fortunately the series they have chosen to do it with, while not a top-tier title, is at least good enough to be worth the effort.
That Tears is based on a tactical RPG for the PS3, which was itself a more family-friendly revamping of an earlier PC-based ero RPG, should be no surprise to anyone familiar with past anime adaptations of either game type, as many structural details allude to both origins. Arawn gradually being surrounded by a near-literal harem of beauties all fiercely loyal to him (at least two are technically his wives!) harkens back to the series' ero game days, while the varied skill sets and improbably lavish costuming practically scream a roster of RPG archetypes; present so far are a healer (Riannon), an archer (Morgan), a barbarian-type (Arthur), melee soldier-types (Octavia and the antagonist Lidia), a heavy blade type (the antagonist Gaius), a wizard-type (Ogam), and some elves who mix melee and magic components. Most of the first ten or so episodes even have a gather the party feel to them that is the foundation of game-based series. In fact, in many senses this first half has a similar feel to the first half of Utawarerumono, another fantasy series with similar origins.
Tears shares structural similarities to other series in the game-based fantasy subgenre, too. It dishes up an expected mix of battle sequences, magic, and occasional humor flavored with suggestions of hidden plot agendas and occasional flashbacks, while encounters with old adversaries help provide some character depth. It also has an obligatory collection of stock personality types: a hotheaded character (Arthur); a character who's almost impossibly kind-hearted (Riannon); an uncouth, hard-drinking female wild child (Morgan and really, this is a vastly overused clich across all anime genres right now); a character with encyclopedic knowledge (Ogam); a shy and seemingly hopeless beauty who shows surprising competence in certain areas (Llyr); a cold, businesslike beauty (Octavia); and of course the expected cute complements (the other elves). In fact, one could make a checklist of common components in series like this and check off nearly all of them here.
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