When it first landed on my doorstep I must admit I didn't really think much of Tears to Tiara. Like so many other anime titles this one originated as a PC ero-game and featured a rather rudimentary fantasy theme. At first the show at first felt a tad on the dry, unoriginal side, but it slowly got better as the episodes went on. Ultimately the first half proved to be a success and I actually left the thirteenth episode looking forward to the next collection. To say I was pleasantly surprised would be an understatement. After all this was a very unassuming show at the outset. But what about it stood out in a way that defied expectations?
Well, for starters the series relies heavily on the mysterious history of the world and some of its characters. In Tears to Tiara the world has gone through different ages where elves, dragons, and dwarves have all risen to prominence. There's truly not much in terms of exploration of those time periods, and instead we're given snippets of flashbacks and clues regarding how they went. Now it's humanity's turn at this age thing and this time has become known as the Age of Iron.
The show begins by introducing us to Riannon, who is daughter to the chieftain of the Gaelic people. She's sought after due to her elven blood and brought to a spot for a ritual that reawakens the Demon King Arawn. Naturally her brother, Arthur, would have none of that so he heads off with some of his clansmen to rescue her. Things don't turn out quite as expected, and it would seem that Arawn isn't that bad of a guy. He saves Riannon's life and in the process becomes the leader of the Gael. This is a hard pill to swallow for Arthur, but he eventually recognizes Arawn's power and pledges his loyalty.
From this point the show moves forward by indoctrinating us with bits and pieces of Arawn's past and the importance of his role in things. The real story that's at work here though is the conflict that escalates between the Gael clan under the leadership of Arawn and the Holy Empire under the command of General Gaius. The two forces collide in a big way and towards the end of the first installment there was the making of war. That's basically where this volume picks up after a couple of episodes.
Before we get to the larger conflict here there's the matter of funding to take care of and luckily Arawn has a stash from the last time he was alive that should help the Gael. There's also a matter involving Arthur and Arawn that speaks to mysteries of the past and shift the balance of power for the future. It's an interesting predicament that lands the Gael in some hot water when Gaius catches wind of what's transpiring in the enemy's camp. That's when an epic three-episode battle gets underway. The show really hits up the dramatic moments here and the entire story arc leaves you wondering just how it's going to turn out.
As the battle winds down Tears to Tiara kicks it into gear and rocket-propels its pace to the finale. I don't want to give much away, but I will say that the playing field changes completely. References to Angels and Lucifer are tossed around and if you thought Gaius was a threat before, then you haven't seen anything yet. The show keeps up this strong pace right to the finish and really ties up loose ends neatly.
The first half of Tears to Tiara contained a lot of set up and left a lot of questions. Thankfully the second half capitalized on that and really focused on the story. The conflict between the Gael and Holy Empire and the arc that comes about in the second half of this installment really made the trip through the first thirteen episodes worth while.
If you're looking for a fantasy anime that plays some things a little differently then Tears to Tiara is certainly one to consider. It starts out moderately slow and leaves you with questions, but it picks up around the halfway point and really breaks loose towards the latter part. As I stated before I was very surprised by this show, and I'm pleased to say that the second installment was everything I'd hoped it would be. This one comes strongly recommended.
Tears to Tiara comes with a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation. The show looks pretty good with solid colors, fine black levels, and an overall clean image that offers a lot of detail. The transfer here does contain faint amounts of grain and there's a little artifacting at points, but these elements are very minor. From start to finish this is a solid looking program that has many outstanding moments. In particular the design of the show is very attractive with some smooth animation and detailed artwork.
The audio presentation for Tears to Tiara is unfortunately not quite up to snuff. The show comes with Japanese 2.0 stereo as its only source of output, though thankfully there are English subtitles that tag along with it. As far as the quality is concerned the experience was relatively flat with not much in the way of "pop" from the track. There is some action, but it's pretty short overall and this turns out to be a dialogue driven affair. It's rather minimalist, but it does get the job done.
Some clean animations and trailers are here, but that's pretty much it.
Tears to Tiara started out a little on the weak side and got more interesting as the first installment went on. Thankfully that trend continues and it just gets better and better all the way to the final 26th episode. If you saw the first half and were on the fence about how the second would play out, then quell your fears. This batch of thirteen episodes is even better than the first and the show turned out to be nicely dramatic with many climaxes in the story. Tears to Tiara is strongly recommended from start to finish.
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