Tales of the Abyss
Warning: This thread contains spoilers, (to state the obvious) don't read the plot summary if you want to avoid being spoiled.

Background Information

Tales of the Abyss is a action adventure fantasy genre adaptation of the role playing game (RPG) for the Playstation 2 developed by Namco of the same name in the Tales series, with Sunrise being the animation company responsible for this series, notable for animating the Code Geass and Gundam anime series, and are expected to come out with 26 total episodes -- so it should finish up toward the end of March 2009.

ED: Bouken Suisei by Enomoto Kurumi

OP's Note

As I have not played this game before, this will take a slightly different format than other First Impression threads. As such, I'm unable to make any game-to-anime comparisons, thus there will only be a plot summary and an episode impression. If I decide to pick this up, see my overall impression at the very end, expect more posts about it!

Apologies if I state anything inaccurately, as noted above, I have not played the game, so please forgive me for any errors you may see. In regards to sentence structure and grammar, I wouldn't call myself a very competent writer, so my apologies in advance – I'll strive to make it the best to my ability.

Episode 1: Prophet (Score) of the World
Plot Summary:

Yulia Jue prophesies the future for the world of Auldrant known to the people as the "Score". There are six total elements or "fonims": Shadow, Earth, Wind, Water, Fire and Light. Yulia possess a seventh fonim, one that can predict the future. She foretells in the "Score" about a long war between two nations of Kimlasca Lanvaldear and Malkuth, the creation of the Order of Lorelei a religious group bringing peace to the lands of Auldrant, and speaks of a red haired boy of royal blood to be known as the "Light of the Sacred Flame" who will lead Kimlasca to prosperity.

The story then starts in the present time about a swordsman named Luke, the son of Duke Fabre – a wealthy noble, in the nation of Kimlasca Lanvaldear. Luke was kidnapped as a boy seven years ago by the Malkuth, and was later returned only to have all of his memories erased. As such, both his mother and father fearing for his safety decreed that Luke should stay in the Fabre's mansion until he has come of age will he then be free to leave. Luke has a servant by the name of Guy Cecil, who took care of Luke like a younger brother. In addition, Luke has a fiancé by the name of Natalia who's marriage was arranged when both were born.

Later on in the episode, while Luke is dueling with Commander Van Grants, his teacher/mentor and head of the Oracle of Knights of the Order of Lorelei, and Guy looking on from the side, a mysterious woman enters the Fabre's mansion while casting a song spell to knock out the guards and maids. When she approaches Luke, Grant, and Guy they are unable to move until she stops casting. She then attacks Grant calling him a traitor only to be blocked by Luke when a Seventh Fonim spell activates between their weapons and causes them to be teleported far to the outreaches of Kimlasca.

The woman reveals her name to be Tear, calls a truce (sort of), and vows to Luke she will bear responsibility to bring him to the capital city of Kimlasca, where they were moments before the teleportation. Luke's first random encounter, I mean battle, takes place against magical monsters with Tear assisting by casting spells and slicing 'n dicing.

Both manage to find a transporter who can bring them back to the capital, but Tear had to barter a necklace in order to pay for the ride. The following morning, during the long journey back to the capital, they hear an explosions ahead of their transport coach.

Episode Impression
It feels like watching, but not playing, an RPG game. But, like any RPG game I've played before, there's always that moment where you have to learn everything about the world with tutorials and as well as learning the characters of the game. So far, the first episode of the Tales of Abyss is starting out nicely with, I presume, a quarter of the total number of party characters on an adventure to bring peace prosperity to their world. Which pretty much reminds me of Final Fantasy series (the only FF games I've played are FFIV Advance and FFX), but hopefully there won't be too many similarities. The animation quality is superb, and that's all I have to say about that. Look below for the second episode summary plot and impression. I find that Luke is very spoiled, and it shows in this episode, but I'm sure that's going to change now that he's experiencing the real world, far from his family's residence.

Episode 2: Forest of the Sacred Beast
Plot Summary:

The explosion Luke and Tear hear outside of their coach transport is coming from a gigantic floating ship attacking a vehicle racing toward the bridge, known as the Rotelro Bridge, they had just past. The fleeing vehicle consists of bandits known as the Black Wings, and the army (the ship) was in hot pursuit to capture them. However, the fleeing Black Wings get to the bridge and drop several bombs resulting in its destruction. Soon Luke and Tear find out their transporter had lead them out of Kimlasca and instead in the lands of the Malkuth Empire, and their only way back to Kimlasca was the Rotelro Bridge, now destroyed. Luke and Tear stop by a local village, Engeve, and find out how to get on a vessel to cross over to Kimlasca.

Several new characters are introduced including: Jade Curtiss, a Colonel in the Mulkuth Army and commander of the floating ship chasing after the Black Wings bandits; Fon Master Ion, the leader of the Order of Lorelei; Anise Tatlin, Ion's Master Guardian; and Mieu, a Cheagle, a legendary and sacred creature of the Order of Lorelei, wearing a sorcerer's ring allowing him to float and speak with humans and other creatures. With the introduction of Mieu, Tear finds him and the rest of the Cheagles "kawaii" or cute; however Luke finds him to have a highly annoying voice. In addition, we find out that Tear is the younger sister of Van Grants, whom she attacked earlier at the Fabre residence.

The majority of the episode brings Luke, Tear, Ion, and later Jade on a quest to resolve a dispute between the Cheagles and Raigas. Resulting with Jade overpowering the Raigas with an Indignation spell to bring it to unconsciousness. The episode ends in a cliffhanger as Luke and Tear are arrested by Jade and the several soldiers of the Mulkuth Army on the accusation of both being Seventh Fonists.

Episode Impression
The adventure has begun, divided by water and stuck in the nation of Mulkuth. This episode had me laughing a few times with Anise being way too hyperactive and falling face first while running to find Ion, Mieu scorching Luke's face, and a disgruntled Luke finding out that Mieu was not only temporarily disbanded from the Cheagles, but became his servant for a full year. Ion, when he learns of Luke's name, he states that when translated it means "Light of the Sacred Flame". Looks like Luke is destined for greatness, as foretold in Yulia Jue's prophecy. As for Luke and Tear's arrest, I can only predict that Ion will order Jade to release them at once when an occurrence requiring their help arises.

Overall Impressions

Wow, what can I say, the animation quality is fantastic along with exquisitely detailed backgrounds. The random encounter with monsters and the item exchange with the transporter made this anime feel like just like a role playing game, sans the HP or TP bars, damage hits and combos, or the amount of experience gained from each battle. The plot so far reminds me of Final Fantasy X with Yevin being the overall governing body for the land of Spira, just like how the Order of Lorelei is for Auldrant, in a way.

The OP sequence is nicely animated and the ED sequence showing series of textile art depicting all key characters. The OP and ED songs were easy to listen to, but at the moment I'm preferring the OP song but I'll still think about whether I'll be listening to it a couple hundred times with the other songs I've listened to.

Similar to Shakugan no Shana, there's a bit of terminology to learn, but hopefully Tales of the Abyss will define such terminology and answer many questions throughout this season for those who have not played the game (or the novels, for the case of Shakugan no Shana). Regardless of this fact, Tales of the Abyss is one of the few fantasy-genre animes this season, if you're looking for this particular genre, you can't go wrong with this one. As for whether or not if I'll continue this, I'm definitely continuing on with this series.
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Episode 3: Oracle Knights Attack
Plot Summary:

Luke and Tear are chain-cuffed and on board the Tartarus, the floating ship, with Colonel Jade Curtiss accusing them of being the source of a Seventh Fonon hyper-resonance energy signature, initiated from the capital city of Kimlasca where it subsided within Mulkath territory near the Tataroo Valley (where the first random encounter occurs), and illegally crossing the Kimuelasca-Mulkath border. Jade learns of Luke's full name, Luke von Fabre — son of Duke Fabre, marrying into the Kimlascan royal family — and Tear's full name, Tear Grants, and her association with the Oracle Knights, they are freed as prisoners per Ion's request with Jade asking Luke a favor because of his social status.

Jade's orders, from Emperor Peony IX of Mulkuth himself, are to head to Kimlasca to prevent an outbreak of war — a peace mission — hence the reason of Fon Master Ion's being on the Tartarus as he has taken the role as ambassador to deliver a peace treaty from the Mulkuth Empire to Kimlasca. He reveals information about a faction, the Grand Maestro, within Kimlasca that opposes the Fon Master and its leader, Grand Maestro Mohs, are raising tensions for war. Tear objects when hearing of this, stating that Mohs would do anything to follow the Score to bring prosperity, not war. Luke accepts Jade's request, thinking he might as well since they are bringing back to home to Baticul, Kimlasca's capital city.

Suddenly, klaxon alarms sound off, and Jade contacts the bridge to find out a flock of griffins and ligers of unknown size are on an intercept course, and the Tartarus begins to fire its main batteries (canons). The griffins descend and drop off ligers, the creatures from the previous episode, who board the ship and begin their attack. As Luke begins to panic and tries to escape, only to be stopped by a man with a large crescent sword. The man is known as Largo the Black Lion, one of the six God-Generals of the Oracle Knights, who leads the boarding of the Tartarus sent to retrieve Fon Master Ion. We find out Jade's true identity as Jade the Necromancer, with a fearsome reputation known to loot corpses, and both begin to duel resulting with Jade stabbing Largo in the chest.

Meanwhile, during the duel, Anise runs to bring Ion to safety only to be surrounded by soldiers of the Oracle Knights. Ion entrusts Anise with the peace treaty letter, and Anise begins to strangle one of the soldiers, only to be thrown out of a port window, with her screaming she would get her revenge on them.

Jade and Tear head to regain control of the bridge, leaving Luke to stand guard outside its entrance. Another soldier of the Oracle Knights begins to attack Luke, he hesitates but draws his sword just as the soldier runs towards him and the soldier falls to the ground with Luke's bloody sword protruding out. Jade and Tear come outside and see Luke is shocked after killing the soldier. Suddenly, they are attacked once more but by a Fon spell that knocks Luke and Tear unconscious but Jade dodges the attack. Jade meets Legretta, a sharpshooter wielding two pistols, associated with the Oracle Knights, has captured Ion. Soldiers of the Oracle Knights are then ordered to confine Jade, Luke, and Tear to quarters.

Luke wakes up and recalls his memory of killing a soldier, and begins to argue with Jade and Tear stating he doesn't want to kill anymore. Tear agrees with Luke, but explains that during battle, even though life is precious, it's a matter of life or death without any hesitation about the opponent's life. Jade changes the subject and quickly puts together a plan to escape and save Ion from the Oracle Knights. While they discuss this, the Fon Master and Legretta are seen elsewhere with the former casting a spell on a door. They then escape their quarters Jade, being the commander of the Tartarus, initiates a lock down of the entire ship causing the Oracle Knights to loose power and any attempt to control the ship through the bridge. Jade planned this lock down far in advance, knowing there's only one escape route on the ship and the group head towards it.

Outside, Legretta orders the escape hatch opened and sees Luke, Jade, and Tear run out of the hatch. Luke holds Mieu and utilizes his fire-breathing to clear the pathway from the Oracle Knights soldiers, while Jade holds his weapon near Legretta's throat. Suddenly, the tables turn as Arietta, another associated with the Oracle Knights, leaps out of the hatch while riding a liger. This causes Jade to be distracted and his weapon his kicked aside and attacked by Legretta. Once again, the tables turn again when Guy, Luke's servant, comes out of the blue and begins to attack the Oracle Knights.

Jade then orders all the Oracle Knights to go inside the Tartarus and lock them in; then he with Luke, Ion, Tear, and now, Guy begin to retreat to a rendezvous point planned earlier — the one Anise supposedly has headed toward after being thrown out. Later, they take a short break from running, with concern for Master Ion's well-being. With this short reprieve, we learn that Guy had ventured out to find Luke and saved him and others just in the nick of time, and that he's very nervous with females — especially Tear. Just as they begin to head toward the direction of the rendezvous point, they are suddenly ambushed by the Oracle Knights. Jade, Guy, and Tear begin their defense against the Oracle Knights, with Luke hesitating as he decides whether or not to unsheathe his sword. As this happens, an Oracle Knight begins to attack Luke, and both Guy and Tear notice this and run toward him, resulting with Tear blocking and injured by the Knight's attack and Guy finishing off the Knight.

Episode Impressions

With the last episode introducing key party members, this episode introduces a key members of the Oracle Knights. With Guy joining in, that brings a total of six members in Luke's party in his adventure: Tear, Jade, Guy, Ion, Anise, and himself — seven if you count Mieu. I like the pace of the story so far, it's not as hasty like Toradora! or Zero no Tsukaima where each episode breezes through much of the material to finish events taking place in a series of chapters or an entire volume; oh, the advantages of airing two seasons (2x13 episodes) in one season. In the episode preview, it looks like Tear recovers from her injury and we're going to be introduced to a couple of new characters. Luke is also seen joining the fight, not against humans, but monsters. By the way, the OP and ED songs are starting to grow on me now, I'm beginning to like them.

Anise takes a sudden liking to Luke, when she finds out about his social standing, and it appears she wants to climb up the social ladder with a possible future marriage. Yup, another kawaii! statement by Tear regarding Mieu in this episode.

By the way, I initially though Master Ion was a female (it's the pigtails!), but Master Ion is actually a male. I found it odd when I heard him say "boku wa..." when referring to himself in the second episode, thus my confusion until I looked up the Wikipedia article. Boku is usually used by males to refer to themselves; atashi is the female equivalent. My previous post has been updated to reflect the correct gender of Fon Master Ion. Gomenasai!
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OP's Note
I'm changing the format of these episodic postings. Whenever I look at the past few postings a thought comes to mind within the lines of "TL;DR". With the length of those previous posts, it's like I'm writing a book -- there's only so much to document in a 25 minute episode! Therefore, these postings will be MUCH shorter in length and will be more generalized for what happens in the episode. Thus, I won't include EVERYTHING that happens, as I've done before, but only the keypoints of the plot. Everything else is for you to watch and enjoy.

OP note #2: I'm adding in a spoiler toggle. Some of you may just want to see the pictures, but do not want to be tempted by the synopsis of what occurs in this episode. So, there you go! Smile

Episode 4: Hidden Truth

Recap from last time:

Luke and Tear are held prisoners by Colonel Jade Curtiss, also known infamously as Jade the Necromancer. Jade request the help of Luke and Tear to transport Fon Master Ion to the Kimlascan capital to deliver a peace treaty on behalf of the Mulkuth Empire. Three of the Oracle Knights are revealed and attempt to take back Ion, but in the end, is rescued by Jade. Luke and company head toward a rendezvous point only to be ambushed by more Oracle Knights.

Key plot points:
  • Luke and company are inside a house, located somewhere near the Fubras River, with Tear resting. Tear is able to heal her wound with her fonic abilities.
  • They are headed toward Naval Port Kaitzur, near the Mulkuth border.
  • Luke is popular with the ladies: Tear, although Jade was joking about this and calling them "in harmony"; Anise, she confesses in a letter to Jade about her feelings that is read aloud by Master Ion and calls Luke her "prince".
  • Luke learns more about the history of the Score and Fonstone abilities to predict the future. Both Kimlasca and Mulkuth nations are after the Fonstones, which provoked a war several decades ago. In particular, they are after the Seventh Fonstone – one personally hidden by Yulia herself.
  • All six God-Generals of the Oracle Knights are revealed: Legretta the Quick, Arietta the Wild, Largo the Black Lion, Dist the Reaper, Sync the Tempest, and Asch the Bloody
  • Two of the six God-Generals are up to no good and pressure Arietta the Wild to take back revenge.
  • Arietta attacks the only ship at port, Luke and co.'s transport back to Kimlasca. She also kidnaps the sole engineer who can repair the ship.
  • They go to the Choral Castle, which was once Duke Fabre's vacation house, and in particular, where they found Luke 7 years ago when he was kidnapped, to rescue the ship's engineer.
  • When inside the castle, Guy has a memory flashback when Anise accidentally glomps him instead of Luke. Apparently, Luke isn't the only one who has lost memories, except Guy has only lost the memory of how his family died.
  • Luke is kidnapped (again) by a flying liger.
  • Arietta was raised by ligers, this is her revenge on Luke co.'s attack on her mother, the queen liger, the same one they killed in the second episode.
    Note: Ragia and liger can be used interchangeably, my first post about TotA had "ragia". "Ragia" is a Japanese word that literally means "liger" in English. Now you know. Smile
  • Anise is a puppeteer and is able to help in Luke co.'s defense by attacking Arietta, or rather, "Gloomietta".
  • Luke is in some sort of machine where several God-Generals are extracting data from Luke onto fondisks so they can analyze later.
  • The amazing Guy saves the day again by scaring off the God-Generals, and also de-masking one of them and recognizing him, and retrieved one of the few fondisks of Luke's data. Jade will analyze it.
  • Luke & co. save the engineer, the ship's crew is overjoyed, and they get ready to set sail for Kimlasca.

Episode impressions:

Luke tells Mieu to shut up (urusai!) so many times in this episode, so many times it's hilarious. I can only imagine how it would be in the actual game, ah yes, Mieu with his high pitched squeal going off every 5 seconds whenever there's a battle going on. Not only that, Luke also tells Guy to shut up as well regarding his popularity with the ladies of the group.

Alright, so we learn the names of the remaining three God-Generals, which we will no doubt encounter soon before this season is over, and more history about the Score and more about Fonics. Always good to keep those well-informed about what's going on, especially for those who haven't played the game (i.e. me), so pretty much everything is fresh as it unfolds.

In tone with the game, Luke and co. have to save the only engineer that can repair the ship. I find it funny that a ship of that size has only one engineer, isn't there an apprentice engineer who can pretty much do the same job? I hate to wonder what would happen if that engineer became sick or, worse, keels over during a voyage.

For Guy, we find out why he has a phobia against girls, because of this one memory that has been lost. It looks like his mother (or a sister) was thrown out somewhere high. Sad, really, especially since Guy saves the day twice in a row.

With that, the next episode: Chosen Hero. Looks like they make all make it back to Kimlasca, but what's this? Anise finds out about Luke's prior engagement to Natalia (oh dear!), Tear meets with Mohs (oh the suspense!), Jade at a hearing - possibly with the Kimlasca government (war? peace?!), and another showing of Luke's mysterious power. Well, until next week.
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Episode 5: Chosen Hero

OP note: I'm adding in a spoiler toggle. Some of you may just want to see the pictures, but do not want to be tempted by the synopsis of what occurs in this episode. So, there you go! Smile

Recap from last time:

We learn more about the history of the Score, the Seventh Fonstone and its importance, and all six names of the God-Generals of the Oracle Knights. Luke and the rest of the group travel to Duke Fabre's former vacation house, the Choral Castle, where Luke was found seven years after his kidnapping, and while Luke is unable to recall any lost memories, Guy has a flashback of his only forgotten memory regarding the lost of his family. During Luke's short capture by several God-Generals, they download information on to fondisks, with one of them reprimanded by Guy. Luke and company, along with Cmdr. Van Grants, prepare their journey back to the capital of Kimlasca.

Key plot points:
  • While Luke and the rest of the group are en route back to Kimlasca, Jade reviews information on the fondisk captured in the previous episode.
  • Jade reveals information from the fondisk regarding isofon research, and several members of the group tell Luke more about fonon frequencies.
  • We find out that Luke lost many memories seven years ago, thus he had to relearn how to speak and recognizing his own parents. This causes Tear to reconsider how many memories he's forgotten, and as a result, acts more nicely toward him.
  • Dist the Rose (or Dist the Runny [Nose!], as said by Jade; or Dist the Reaper, as said by Anise), one of the six God-Generals of the Oracle Knights attacks their ship with his Fon machine, Kaiser Dist X. After several attacks with almost no direct damage, Van comes out and destroys it.
    OP Note: My previous post for ep. 4 has him listed as "Dist the Reaper", it is his official title and canon in the Tales game; however, Dist prefers the name "Dist the Rose" he announces in this episode.
  • While out on deck, Jade suddenly initiates a hyperresonance by himself resulting in a clean hole in the deck's hull. Van comes out and puts Luke to sleep, when Luke comes about, he explains to Luke the reason why he's been confined to his parent's mansion: he's a weapon because of his power.
  • Luke and the group return back to Kimlasca, they all meet the King of Kimlasca, who happens to be meeting with Grand Maestro Mohs. Despite the guards blocking Luke and the group, Luke barges in and stops Mohs from speaking further to his uncle, the King. They present the peace treaty letter to the King and leave to let the discussions about it to take place.
  • Luke and the group return to the Fabre residence and they meet Princess Natalia, Luke's fiancée. Natalia requests that Luke go meet his mother, as she fell ill shortly after his disappearance. She also requests that Tear go and apologize to Luke's mother for her involvement of Luke's disappearance.
  • Tear meets with Grand Maestro Mohs, he denies accusations about him wanting war between Kimlasca and Mulkuth, and orders Tear to continue her search for the seventh Fonstone.
  • The King of Kimlasca requests Luke and the group's presence, and they are asking Luke to become ambassador for a request for aid from the Mulkuth Empire. Akzeriuth, a mining city in Mulkuth, apparently has poison gas seeping out of the mining grounds and the Mulkuth Empire was unable to evacuate its citizens from the city.
  • At first, Luke rejects becoming an ambassador, replying he has had enough fighting for the time being. The Score of the sixth Fonstone is read by Tear revealing to Luke that he is what the passage was referring to, that he would be a hero. With this, he readily agrees to this assignment. Natalia requests she join too, but her father, the King, denies such her involvement.
  • We learn the truth behind Luke's kidnapping seven years ago, Van was the one who kidnapped him, not the Mulkuth Empire.
  • Van secretly tells Luke the continuation of the sixth Fonstone, if Luke were to evacuate Akzeriuth, war would be eminent. However, Van comes up with a plan: Luke is to initiate a hyperresonance to remove the poison gas and become a hero. In addition, Van tells Luke he should escape with him to Daath so he can be free, telling Luke he wished it when he was younger, but requests this plan not be revealed to the group until the last minute. All the while, Natalia is listening in on their conversation.

Episode thoughts:

I had a feeling that Commander Van Grants was a sketchy character. Leader of the Oracle Knights of the Order of Lorelei, leader of the God-Generals, Luke's teacher, Tear's brother, and now this: he kidnapped Luke seven years ago because of the fact he can create a hyperresonance. I think that Van is manipulating Luke by saying he can be a hero and to be free, to raise his hopes and gain his trust, but it may end up in betrayal. In the scene where Luke initiates a hyperresonance, we see that Van puts his hand over Luke's eyes and later Luke wakes up. At first I thought Van erased his memory, which ties in to his kidnapping revelation later in the episode, but we won't know since Luke blacked out. Also, when Luke finds out Van was the one who kidnapped him, he was obviously shocked, but moments later he blindly trusts Van when he mentions a promise he made with Luke to run away to Daath, which cheers Luke up. There's definitely something going on here.

Anyways, next episode, Desert Rain, the group journey's back to the Mulkuth Empire. Despite her father's denial, it looks like Natalia joins the group with bow and arrows. Looks like that stab through the chest Jade gave him didn't kill him, Largo's back in action. Plus, despite his returning to Kimlasca, looks like Ion joins in this mission too.
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Episode 6: Desert Rain

OP note: I'm adding in a spoiler toggle. Some of you may just want to see the pictures, but do not want to be tempted by the synopsis of what occurs in this episode. So, there you go! Smile

Recap from last time:

We learn even more about the Score, in particular from the sixth fonstone and specifics about fonics. Luke and the group return to Kimlasca for a short while only to find out the King requests Luke to proceed to the Mulkuth Empire to aide a mining city in distress. Van, Luke's teacher and close friend, reveals he was the one who kidnapped him seven years ago, and plans Luke's escape to Daath after dealing with the mining city.

Key plot points:
  • Fon Master Ion is kidnapped, the person responsible with this plan is Asch the Bloody, one of the God-Generals of the Oracle Knights.
  • Luke and the group plan a diversion of sending two ships, with one as a decoy, due to the fact that the Oracle Navy has ships patrolling between the Kimlasca and Mulkuth nations. Van Grants will lead the decoy ship while the rest go on the other. Both ships will head toward their intended destination of the mining city, Akzeriuth, in the Mulkuth Empire.
  • The group find out from Anise that Ion is missing and find out he's been taken by the Oracle Knights. With Oracle soldiers surrounding the city, they have no way of carrying out their plan.
  • The amazing Guy saves the day once more with a plan of going through an underground weapons factory that will lead them outside of Baticul.
  • Princess Natalia joins the group on their quest from within the factory, after much debate, Luke, being the ambassador and the decider, decides Natalia will join them. She is a worthy asset of being the best archer and has extensive knowledge in healing magic.
  • After their journey within the factory, they make it outside. They witness Ion boarding the Tartarus with the kidnappers and head after it. They later find out Ion's being brought to the Zao Ruins.
  • Big spoiler: Spoiler follows, highlight to read: Asch looks exactly like Luke.

Episode thoughts:

Aside from the big spoiler which ranks much higher than Van revealing he kidnapped Luke, the highlight of this episode was, well, the big spoiler. With that said, I'll discuss my thoughts on smaller details. Like, for instance, Tear. Tear is scared of ghosts, even when mentioning it in a dark and spooooky place like an underground factory. There's one scene where, I guess, one could scream "MOÉ!" with her reaction. There are certainly a lot of Tear fanboys out there because of this, for example.

*cough* Anyways, Anise is very clingy to Luke in this episode. Too clingy that even Natalia has had enough of her childish and clingy-to-Luke attitude. I found it hilarious when Anise was arguing with Natalia and she said that Luke prefers them young and can spend more time with younger ones. Although, Natalia joined the group, both Tear and Anise disagreed with her joining. Tear, because she doesn't want a royal princess to become in danger; Anise, for her attraction to Luke, despite Luke's prearranged engagement to Natalia.

Next episode, Isolation, Luke and the group fight their way to rescue Ion within the Zao Ruins and we learn about Tear's history.
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Episode 7: Isolation

OP note: I'm adding in a spoiler toggle. Some of you may just want to see the pictures, but do not want to be tempted by the synopsis of what occurs in this episode. So, there you go! Smile

Recap from last time:

Fon Master Ion is kidnapped, again, by Asch the Bloody, again. Van Grants is on a decoy ship headed toward Azeruith, the mining city in distress in the Mulkuth Empire; while the remainder of the group travel in an underground munitions factory to "escape" from Kimlasca and its guarded presence of Oracle soldiers guarding its exits. Luke discovers via a delusion that Ion is headed toward the Zao Ruins.

Key plot points:
  • Luke and the group are walking in the middle of the desert headed toward the Zao Ruins. He's forcing each member to quickly head there, not to rescue Ion but to meet up with a waiting Van near Akzeriuth.
  • After arriving at the Zao Ruins, they head inside and see Asch and two other God-Generals, Sync and Largo, with Ion removing a seal in front of a doorway.
  • Luke, despite his previous encounter on the Tartanis, has the courage to fight off Largo with Jade and Anise while Tear and Guy take on Sync. Asch eventually clashes individually with Luke until he performs a move Luke identifies as one of Van's moves which cases a portion of the ruins to cave in. The God-Generals flee as a result Spoiler follows, highlight to read: and Synch says at this point that Asch is the remnants of the "sacred flame".
  • The group are now in Chesedonia where they board a ship to Kaitzur. From there, they walk through a pass that will bring them to Akzeriuth.
  • Legretta then ambushes them and asks Tear to leave the group and re-join her. A flashback occurs revealing Legretta's and Tear's relationship as master and student making Tear who she is years later.
  • Legretta argues she and the rest of the God-Generals wish to free the people from the Score, to have freewill. Jade pushes her further, but Ion asks him not to, as there are some people who are better off not knowing the truth (Luke).
  • Being left in the dark about this, Luke has a fit and asks why nobody is telling him what's going on. At this point, everyone continues their trek toward Akzeriuth, but Tear is the only one who responds to him stating he's childish and a puppet on strings who needs Van to do anything. She advises that if he doesn't start thinking for himself, he may regret it later.
  • Luke recognizes that Van is the only person who truly understands him.

Episode thoughts:

OK, I've never been more annoyed at Luke until this episode, the past six episodes were mild and OK for me, but he really cranked out his attitude here. Ugh, he's even worse than Shana, Taiga, and Louise all combined! Even Anise is taking notice and argues with Luke for a bit calling him a fool/idiot, but when asked by Guy if she's still bothered by Luke, she states that it was only mildly annoying since she still likes him (and his money) - the only light note of this episode. I agree with Tear's advice to make up his own decisions and not blindly follow the requests of others, I can only guess that in the next few episodes Luke will be late in realizing this. If Van is the only person that understands Luke, he may be catering to Luke's desires until he betrays Luke at the right moment. By the way, that jump from Zao Ruins to Chesedonia, didn't feel right.

My thoughts for the spoiler: Spoiler follows, highlight to read: I can't say that I didn't see it coming, but it was bound to be revealed at some point. The reason why Asch looks so much like Luke is that Luke's parents may have had two children but abandoned Asch in favor of Luke due to the prophecy's sayings. If the OP sequence is any hint and holds true, looks like there will be a showdown toward the end of the season between the Asch and Luke.

Next episode, Collapse, the group arrive at Akzeriuth and Luke reunites with his precious Van <insert Luke's starry eyes here>. Judging by the preview, looks like things can only get more worse from here and even more annoying Luke (most likely). Oh boy, I hear it gets better after this arc, we'll see.
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Episode 8: Collapse

OP note: I'm adding a spoiler toggle. Some of you may just want to see the pictures, but do not want to be tempted by the synopsis of what occurs in this episode. So, there you go! Smile

Recap from last time:

Luke and the group retrieve Ion from Asch, Legretta, Largo, and Sync; four of the six God-Generals. Luke is excessive whiny at the group citing that Van is waiting for them near Akzeriuth. As the group leaves Luke in the dark regarding the truth about the Score which also includes his being, Tear tells him some advice to make up his own decisions before he does something he will later regret. Luke believes that only Van truly understands him.

Key plot points:
  • The group arrive at Akzeriuth, everyone except for Luke help the survivors. Tear is asked by an Order Knight to investigate what might be the Seventh Fonstone. Luke decides to look for Van who is located somewhere deep inside the mining tunnels.
  • Meanwhile, Tear finishes her investigation and tells a group of Order Knights that it is an imitation Fonstone. At this moment, she is ambushed by more Order Knights, but is saved by Asch.
  • Ion catches up with Luke, and at this moment, Asch via telepathy demands Luke not to go any further or he will later regret his decision. Luke tells Asch to stop, and continues on until he meets with Van.
  • Van notes how convenient it was for Luke to bring Ion with him, and asks Ion to unseal a Daathic seal. They move inside and see a massive Fon pillar possessing Fon passage rings. Van asks Luke to discharge a hyperresonance at a Fon pillar so he can save Akzeriuth and eliminate the miasma (the "gas") surrounding this mining city.
  • Discovering it was a trap set up by Van, the group along with Asch run into the mining tunnels as fast as they can to deal with Van.
  • While Luke is concentrating on discharging his hyperresonance, a flashback occurs when Van says the phrase, "foolish replica Luke", depicting the event after Luke discharged his first hyperresonance. This trigger was set up by Van while Luke fainted revealing what truly happened when he blacked out.
  • The group arrive a moment too late as they witness Luke discharge a hyperresonance causing the tunnel they are in to collapse. Van escapes on a griffin and takes Asch away on another leaving the Luke and the group in peril. Luckily, Guy saves Luke and Tear casts a Fonic hymn to encase them all in a protective shell. Outside of the tunnels, Akzeriuth rips into pieces and explodes. Thousands of lives are lost instantly.
  • On board the Tartanus, the group discover that they are far below the world, or known as the "Outer Lands", they once knew and are situated in a new world known as Quilopth. The Fon machine Luke destroyed was actually a pillar that held Akzeriuth in place, and upon its destruction, it creates a rift that causes the group to come to Quilopth. Hence the reason why miasma seeped into the mining city, because Quilopth is the source of it. Tear, revealing she was born in Quilopth, suggests they set course to Yulia City.
  • Denying he did a mistake, Luke tells the group that he is not a fault, that Van told him to do this. Luke's world comes crashing down when he looses the support and trust his fellow group members once had, even Anise and Guy. All that is left is Mieu who tries to cheer Luke up, but is, as always, told to shut up.
  • Everything is revealed to Luke as he remembers past conversations about Fonics as soon as Asch is seen at Yulia City and reveals all, despite Tear's pleas not to continue. Luke is a replica of Asch, everything physically about Asch is the same for Luke. Thus, the reason why Luke is unable to remember anything seven years prior. Van actually kidnapped Asch and somehow a replica was made to later become Luke. Delirious, Luke begins slashing out at Asch, but is easily defeated, knocked back with Asch's sword end at the ready to strike.

Episode thoughts:

Not surprisingly, Van has been deceiving Luke all this time ever since the start. Nor was the fact that Luke is a replica of Asch, seeing as how they look similar and logically it ties together what was conveyed in previous episodes (i.e. Sync's line of revealing Asch is the remnant of the "sacred flame"). Nor was the fact that in the previous episode, Tear basically foreshadowed Luke's actions in this episode to make his own decisions and not have anyone else do it for him. I don't pity Luke when he was left alone by everyone on board the Tartanus when he wouldn't admit it wasn't his fault. This only prompts for Luke to change for the better and move away from his usual whiny and bossy self. Boy, there's a TON of terminology that you have to learn for this anime. Eight episodes so far and I'm still scratching my head over all these terms, it wasn't so bad in Shakugan no Shana. Sad Ah well, the disadvantage of not playing the game, eh? Wink

Next episode, The Usurped One, looks like we learn the past of either Luke's supposed childhood or Asch's true childhood at the Fabre residence.
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Episode 9: The Usurped One

Recap from last time:

After he did Van's bidding of destroying Akzeriuth and thousands of innocent lives, Luke is at a crossroad after denying to the group he did nothing wrong. For one, everyone in his group abandons him citing he has changed or isn't himself. Second, Luke finds out from Asch that he is a replica (clone) of Asch, thus confirming why Luke isn't able to remember anything prior to seven years when he was "returned" to the Fabre residence.

Key plot points:
  • More explanations about Fonics, Fon slots, and Sephiroths.
  • Asch and Luke are connected to each other because they are perfect isofons. This allows Luke, who is physically absent throughout most of the episode, to see through Asch's eyes what he is conversing with the group.
  • As such, Asch once went by the name "Luke", but since Van made a replica of him, he chose the name Asch because the replica Luke was living his life.
  • Tear disbands from the group because Quilopth is her homeworld, leaving her with Luke.
  • After the remainder of the group return back to their world (Outer Lands), Guy disbands from the group to return to Quilopth with Tear and Luke. He feels responsible for being Luke's guardian during the previous seven years, and once to help him get through this difficult time.
  • Jade is the father of the creation of replicas and perfect isofon research, as such, he has since forbidden such actions.
  • The group learn some of what Van's intentions are regarding the destruction of the Outer Lands from a traitor and the one scientist (pictured, bald guy with glasses) who created Luke the replica. Asch plans to stop Van at any cost.
  • Back in Quilopth, after a forced disconnect from Asch and ending their sync, Luke wakes up. He hears Tear singing hymns and joins her to tell that he will change after realizing his mistakes. His first action is to cut his hair, with this he begins anew.

Episode thoughts:

Natalia sure has been saved a number of times in the past few episodes, this episode increments that number by one more (two, if you count the recollection of Asch saving her during their childhood). Speaking of Asch, Natalia seems to be trying to get a Asch x Natalia relationship now, since Asch is the true Luke. Completely ignoring fake/replica Luke, but I have a feeling it won't advance very far since Asch is ignoring her.

Right, Luke has had very little screen time (rather, voice time) and the majority of his speech is during the last 5 or 6 minutes of the episode (I'm going to change, blah blah, Akzeriuth). At least he's less of his old self and taking a more serious view now, much better than the past eight episodes. He's no longer whiny or demanding, and that's good for my ears (and sanity).

About this whole episode (and the previous episo- heck, the whole anime), it comes off to me as being similar to Bladerunner with the mentioning of replicas. Too bad there isn't a Deckard-like character or any replicas to search and destroy.

Next episode, Atonement's Return, Luke and Tear returns to the Outer Lands and to the group. More Guy woman-phobias antics by Anise (and, passively, Tear), blocking of entrance to (possibly) the Grand Maestro's office, and fighting. Yup, the groups re-banding.
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Episode 10: Atonement's Return

Recap from last time:

After promising to change himself, Luke begins anew and will do what he can to save the cheerleader the world.

Key plot points: (short & sweet version)
  • Tear and Luke find out from Tear's grandfather that the fall of Akzeriuth was foretold in Yulia's Score and was bound to happen, including the inevitable war to follow suit.
  • Tear and Luke "warp" back to the Outer Lands and discover Guy waiting for them and later Jade waiting for Guy to bring bad news.
  • Ion and, now, Natalia have been taken as hostages by Grand Maestro Mohs in the Oracle Headquarters located in Daath, using them and the fall of Akzeriuth as excuses to start a war.
  • The group rescue Ion and Natalia from the Oracle Headquarters and flee. Ion suggests they find sanctuary in the Mulkuth Empire, thanks to Asch leaving the Tartanus in the Daath port.

Episode thoughts:

Right, then. This whole episode, as you may have gathered from the very short summary above, was about rescuing Ion and Natalia. Everyone still seems to mistrust Luke, but as Tear says, it's going to be difficult to regain everyone's trust. At least they were considerate enough to not exclude him from joining in the rescue mission. Looks like Anise has lost all interest in Luke (calling him a spoiled brat), but it can go either way: Tear gets more screen time and the upper hand on Luke or Anise will eventually grow attached to Luke. Anyways, how many times will Ion be kidnapped, man, it's happening every two or so episodes. Then again, he is an important figure in the world, so you can't blame him for being wanted to be kidnapped so often. Tongue

Luke is definitely showing he's changing, by actually saying thank you to both Tear and Guy. Both are shocked (Guy even more so) but appreciate his gesture of thanks. Finally, Luke is able to muster the ability to have his first kill, an Oracle Knight. As they say, it's gotta be the hair...

Next episode, City of Falling Snow, the group travel to the a city where it's snowing (what else!?). Looks like we'll learn the history of Jade's (and others like Dist, etc) childhood before he became a necromancer.
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Episode 11: City of Falling Snow

Recap from last time:

Tear and Luke return to the Outer Lands and the once split group is re-banded as one again as they rescue Ion (again) and Natalia from the Oracle Headquarters located at Daath.

Key plot points:
  • While traveling at sea, the Tartanus is suffering from engine troubles, and the closest city with a port is Keterburg. A city completely covered in snow.
  • Apparently, Keterburg is where Jade grew up as a child. Not only Jade, but also Dist and Emporer Peony, himself, spent their childhood there as well. Jade had good relations with Peony, not so much with Dist, as a child.
  • Jade finds it disgusting that he is one of the two prodigies in Keterburg for research in Fomicry, the other being (runny nose) Dist.
  • Jade was adopted into the famous Curtiss military family at a young age when he demonstrated vast knowledge of Fomicry after attempting to save his teacher, Professor Nebilim. However, he was the one who killed Nebilim after persisting to learn the Seventh Fonims from her resulting in a catastrophic explosion.
  • Nephry Osborne, Viscount of Keterburg, or Jade's sister upon his adoption, tells Luke, in private, about Jade's past. Jade was a little terror, who went around killing harmless creatures, then creating copies of them. Hence, when he became older, he and Dist vowed they would create copies of soldiers who had already died to keep the armies' troop levels indispensable.
  • Jade has since forbidden Fomicry or the act of creating copies because of one flaw: these replicas will not possess the memories of the original.
  • With the Tartanus repaired, they set course for the capital city of the Mulkuth Empire, Grand Chokmah.
  • In Grand Chokmah, sitting on his throne, Emporer Peony is seen grinning rather mischievously...

Episode thoughts:

So, this episode was all about the past of the one who comebacks with witty remarks, Jade Curtiss. Now we know how he got the title "Necromancer", anyone who has seen at least a couple of episodes of Fullmetal Alchemist may what Jade was doing before forbidding his practices to revive the dead.

Anyways, an update on Luke's attitude, the group are taking notice. Although, Anise and Jade are still skeptical, Ion feels that Luke has always been nice - it's just that he didn't have any good way of expressing it correctly, until now.

That last scene with Peony, I'm getting some bad vibes from him because of that shadow over his eyes. Maybe he's a good guy, who knows (unless if you already played ToTA)? We'll see, most likely Sunrise will end this year with a 13th episode cliffhanger leaving us hanging for another seven days to find out the exciting conclusion of said cliffhanger.

My apologies, I didn't insert a few scenes of Mieu being cute. Oh well, might as well watch the episode and find them all to win. Tongue

Next episode, Water Metropolis, the group reaches the heart of the Mulkuth Empire. But, first, some battle with Sync and Largo then Sync possibly taking control of Guy due to a fonic slot spell from an earlier episode. Then, some explosion and splitting of a city (or cities), and finally! They meet Emporer Peony himself, without the dark shadow over his eyes. YOU CAN SEE HIS EYES.
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Yeah, a week late. Here it is.

Episode 12: Water Metropolis

Recap from last time:

We learn of Jade's and Dist's past.

Key plot points:
  • Onboard the Tartanus, the group discover that all ports in Grand Chokmah are under lockdown due to increasing tensions between Kimlasca and Mulkuth. Jade suggests they dock elsewhere and approach through Theor Forest.
  • The guards at the gate can only allow Jade to pass, so Jade assures the group he will get authorization for them to enter. During their wait, Largo attacks Luke only to be saved by Guy. A hiding Sync activates a curse slot previously attached to Guy causing him to be under Sync's control and attack Luke. Natalia manages to attack Sync hiding in a tree due to an earthquake. They are saved when Jade and several guards come rushing toward them.
  • Ion tells the group he is able to remove the curse slot from Guy's arm, but reveals to Luke that Guy became like this because he had an intention to kill Luke. After the curse slot is removed, the group discover Guy was previously from Mulkuth. The reason for his desire to kill Luke is due to the fact that Luke's father ordered the attack on Guy's hometown, the intention was to exact revenge by killing Luke.
  • The group are in audience with Emporer Peony and learns that Kimlasca has issued what is technically a war proclamation accusing Mulkuth responsible for the destruction of Akzeriuth and the deaths of Luke and Natalia.
  • Luke proposes he and the rest of the group go to St. Binah and evacuate the citizens there before its collapse. Peony and his advisers agree to this proposal, since they can not appropriate any of their military due to increasing pressure from advancing Kimlasca military and a possible sign of aggression by moving any military units near St. Binah.
  • Evacuations in St. Binah go smoothly until the ground around them begins to collapse. Luke and the group are on higher ground, but people, mainly military, are trapped in the sunken ground. However, they are all surprised when an airship has appeared over head.

Episode thoughts:

The tension between Mulkuth and Kimlasca is heightening that there will inevitably be an outbreak of war. So, we learn more about Guy's past and the woman in one of the previous episodes who died is someone in his family, my guess is his mother. Although I don't mention it above, the group visit Peony's room full of rappigs - rabbit pigs - which has a moment where Tear calls them all "cute" and attempts to pet one of them only to conform herself quickly. Peony seems alright, he has the same humor as Jade, and even named one of his rappigs after him, who is very popular with the maids. The airship, ah, yes the airship. In most any RPG game there should be some sort of flying thing - living or inanimate.

In any case, the next episode "Outbreak of War" will involve several group members flying in said airship while a battle rages between Kimlasca and Mulkuth military. My guess is that said airship will aid in battle and/or, most likely, get the group to get some of their imprisoned group members.
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Episode 13: Outbreak of War

Recap from last time:

The group visit the capital city of the Mulkuth Empire and hold an audience with His Majesty, Emperor Peony. Luke and company travel to St. Binah to evacuate all citizens, but begins to collapse towards Quilopth.

Key plot points:
  • The airship overhead is an experimental aircraft designed by the Mulkuth and has been specially requested by Peony to aid Luke, Jade and company.
  • As St. Binah falls towards Quilopth, Luke and company manages to rescue all citizens by boarding the airship and return back to the Outer Lands.
  • As they hover overland, the group witnesses a battle between Kimlasca and Mulkuth military. Natalia proposes the group split up and go either the Kimlasca-held Naval Port Kaitzur or the Mulkuth's Grand Chokmah and request a truce in this war. Luke, Natalia, Tear and Guy head toward the Kimlasca side while Jade, Ion, and Anise head toward the Mulkuth side.
  • For either side it does not go well. In the Kimlasca side, Mohs accuses Luke and Natalia as traitors to the state and the entire group to be arrested and brought back to "The City of Light", Baticul. In the Mulkuth side, for Peony to call a truce to this war the Kimlascan military must withdraw first.
  • Upon their return to Baticul, Luke and Natalia are held in Natalia's chamber while Tear and Guy are held in a prison cell; the latter of the two are freed by Asch, the former of the two freed from the latter.
  • We find out that Natalia is not of royal blood, in fact she was raised into the royal family. The Queen's nanny switched the infants with one from her daughter's because the true Natalia was stillborn. Her real name, if this were not to happen, would have been Meryl.
  • With Asch's help once again who keeps Largo and Dist busy, Luke, Natalia, Tear and Guy escape the castle and decide to leave Baticul at once. With the aid of fellow Baticulian citizens, they protect Natalia from the Oracle Knights.

Episode thoughts:

War has broke out, and like the characters in this episode, we all know this is both Van's and Mohs' bidding. For Natalia's sake, I didn't notice it until it was revealed in this episode that, yes, all of those in the royal line always have red and/or black hair. So, here's what I'm thinking: Natalia has blond hair. Guy has blond hair. Guy's from Mulkuth. Natalia was born in Kimlasca. So, Natalia's biological mother may be from Mulkuth? Mohs did reveal in Kaitzur that there was someone who wanted to replace the princess with one of his own blood. So, is Natalia's biological mother an agent for the Mulkuth Empire? I sure wouldn't know, but that's just my thought on this matter.

Next episode, Sealed Past, we learn - from what the preview shows - the past of Natalia and Guy. Huh? Perhaps they're brother and sister? Who knows! Half-way through this series, whoo!

The next two episodes may or may not be written up as usual each week as there is a scheduling confusion. One network will be doing reruns for the next two weeks while the remaining two networks may/will continue to air episodes as normal.
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Apologies for not posting ep. 14, 15, or 16 summaries, however I will be dropping coverage of Tales of the Abyss (but will continue to watch it). Life has taken over and I'm having less time to not only watch (and enjoy) 10 airing anime series but also to do quick summaries of each episode, as seen with the recent Toradora! episode summary. If anything is of interest from an episode of TotA, I'll let you know. Since, it seems, I'm more of a rom-com genre person, Toradora! will continue its coverage.
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More than three weeks ago, Sunrise Animation / Lantis has been sending cease and decease orders to websites requesting the removal of visuals due to violations of copyright of their works. I have not (I don't think I have at least) received any mailings from either entities, but I will be removing all visuals from the Tales of the Abyss threads, which is one of Sunrise's works.

Also, I merged all ToTA threads together into one thread.
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