Review: Tears to Tiara (Collection 1 – Episodes 1-13)

5 years ago on the PC yet another eroge (erotic game) TRPG was released to the masses named Tears to Tiara. Cue to 2010 and after having the game released as a non-eroge version as well as a Playstation3 port with added content, naturally an anime series was next as other eroge (Fate/Stay, Tsukihime, etc.) have accomplished. Eroge can at times be known to have incredibly indepth stories, which work well as anime adaptations and it’s no surprise to see more of them ported across to anime series depending on the success of the actual game itself.

The story for Tears to Tiara is surprisingly basic however and at times very cheesy yet it works to effect nicely. Bluntly, maiden (Riannon) who is a descendent of an important king is taken from a tribe by an empire to be sacrificed to revive a ‘Demon King’ (Arwan) who died one thousand years prior. Tribe Hero (Arthur, who is the maidens brother) goes to stop the ritual from taking place and fails, yet the Demon King ultimately helps them. Riannon is thankful, marries Arwan making him tribe leader. Crusade to eliminate the Empire starts here. For some reason an old wizard (Ogam) is part of the tribe and is an old friend of Arwan, ignoring the fact that would make the wizard over a thousand years old however such tropes are these days to be expected. A harem-esque approach is also very evident throughout the first half of the series, with Arwan having two wives, an elf he’s also engaged to as well as various house elves working for him by the end of it all.

Initially the series is a little bit of a train wreck with very lackluster approaches to the story and character interaction, yet as the series winds up to the end of the first half characters end up relating rather strongly to eachother, with the story taking a sharp turn in the right direction. The Gael Tribe’s journey to establish themselves to (assumingly) take on the Empire, all in the while repelling small invasion forces and plots working against them is an amazingly good watch as it picks up steam sharply after a few episodes in. The fact that the band of heroes wind up meeting many others who are as old as Arwan and Ogam in the end starts to play in its favour, given the more Western mythology approach Tears to Tiara has taken. If you know a fair bit about the myths behind the series it adds a strong degree of understanding to the entire show, however having no knowledge (like myself) doesn’t detract from anything major. However, it does cater to people who are interested in such a theme and if you’re more inclined to something with a stronger Eastern approach in terms of your adventure style anime series you’ll wind up feeling letdown and bored by the strong approach is has towards the Western side of mythology. Tears to Tiara knows exactly what it is, yet in the end it plays to that to wonderful strengths and hits its target market right on the hammer.

Even though it has all this, there’s no crazily apparent theme apart from ‘Let’s defend against the Empire’ or ‘Death to the Empire!’ throughout, with strong roots in teamwork, loyalty, friendship and overcoming hardships or ‘manning the hell up’ served with a slight dash of harem. In a nutshell, a typical medieval style anime series, yet this isn’t necessarily bad given it’s basic style of approach, if anything it creates an environment where the series can be easily understood and comprehended.

Where Tears to Tiara really shines is the animation and battle sequences, showing very fine detail placed into it with increased frame rates, realistic battle stances and reactions as well as colourful backdrops and solid, albeit basic character design. Ultimately it keeps the collection entertaining from start to finish as the action was strong, yet not overused. Character development becomes a stronger focus later on as well and even with the frequent rate of character introduction, people and backstories become easier to remember and aid to the storytelling instead of hindering it like other series have done in the past.

Audibly, the musical score isn’t too crucial yet still plays its part and isn’t out of place, situations calling for the right style of music, often cheery and almost retro in its approach. The voice acting (Japanese) is also very strong, again along with the design adding to the validity of the characters emotions and core focus. Intro and ending music like most series of its genre is very happy and over the top, becoming quite frustrating on the ears after hearing it thirteen times, completing the dream of a typical anime series with a Western approach.

In the grand scheme of things, Tears to Tiara is just that, another anime series with a Western approach in terms of its story background and themes. At the start it really appears to not escape from that yet as the series reaches the halfway point it branches off and creates a rare and unique gem in the black hole of various anime series out there. If you’re looking for something that is easy to get into or perhaps starting off in the world of Western mythology anime, Tears to Tiara is a brilliant starting point and this first collection will leave you wanting to find out the conclusion. However, if Western mythology isn’t quite your thing, although you’ll still find solid character work and development, it’s all concepts that can be easily found in other series more suited to your tastes so err on the side of caution.