Under interrogation by Jade onboard the Tartarus, Luke finally reveals that he’s the son of Duke Fabre of the Kimlasca Kingdom. Tear tries to explain that what happened was an accident, and Jade believes her after Ion vouches for her. Ion then suggests getting Luke and Tear’s help, so Jade reveals that they’re headed towards Kimlasca under orders from the Malkuth Emperor Peony The IX to stop a war. Relations are very bad right now between the two nations, so Peony has decided to send a letter proposing a peace treaty and has asked Ion to help because of his neutrality. The reason Ion is thought to be missing right now is because he escaped from Order of Lorelei rival faction leader Mohs. Ion claims that Mohs wants war, but Tear refuses to believe this. Regardless, their mission right now requires them to enter Kimlasca to deliver the letter, and Jade wants Luke’s help in getting them in. Luke demands the respect of head-bowing from Jade though, and Jade turns out not to mind doing so for something like this. Afterward, Jade lets Luke and Tear walk freely inside the ship, but he later finds them again and brings up how Luke was kidnapped in the past because Jade doesn’t think that the Malkuth military would have done something like this. Their conversation is interrupted by the sound of alarms indicating an enemy attack.
A force of ligers commanded by Largo the Black Lion – one of the Oracle Knights’ Six God-Generals – is here, and they quickly make their way into the ship. They manage to capture Luke, and Jade at first isn’t able to do anything because Luke’s life is threatened. Largo is familiar with Jade and refers to him as a necromancer, so he tries to use an item to seal off Jade’s Fonic Artes abilities. Jade surprises him by summoning his spear, and while Tear uses her Fonic Hymns to incapacitate Largo, Jade stabs him. With Largo out of the way, Jade, Tear, and Luke proceed toward the ship’s bridge and leave Ion to Anise. The latter two get captured, so Ion entrusts the letter to Anise, and Anise gets thrown out of the ship. Luke meanwhile is shocked at all the death and bloodshed, and when he gets attacked, he kills an enemy soldier while attempting to defend himself. Unfortunately, he, Tear, and Jade then get captured by Oracle Knights Legretta and Asch. Luke regains consciousness sometime later and immediately remembers how he killed someone. He’s against more fighting and killing, but Jades feel that it can’t be helped because doing nothing in this situation means that war will begin and even more people will die. Tear explains that she doesn’t kill because she likes to but because there is only life or death on the battlefield.
With Luke willing to fight again, Jade breaks them out of their prison and uses a special command to initiate an emergency shutdown of the ship. They arrive at one of the exits of the ship right as Legretta – who Tear recognizes – is returning with Ion, so they ambush her and seemingly capture her. This is short-lived though because the young Oracle Knight Arietta bursts onto the scene with her Liger, and that catches Jade and company off-guard long enough for Legretta to regain control. The tables turn once again when Guy suddenly appears, and Jade uses the opportunity to take Arietta as a hostage. Since he has the upper hand, Jade forces all of the enemy back onto the ship and then escapes with Luke, Tear, Ion, Mieu, and Guy. They get a decent distance away before having to stop because Ion needs to catch his breath, and Guy finally introduces himself to the group. Everyone welcomes him, and Guy’s fine with all of them except for Tear because of his fear of women. The group then gets attacked by another squad of Oracle Knights, and Luke can only watch as the others dispatch their enemy. He’s still traumatized by the killing, and when one of the Oracle Knights charges at him, Luke is frozen in fear. To Luke’s surprise and shock, Tear leaps in and takes the hit for him.
After much delay, I finally got caught up on the first few episodes of Tales of the Abyss, and it turned out to be better than I thought it’d be. Granted, this is a Sunrise production, so it’s probably not really surprising that I liked it – it has high production values, is pretty fast-paced, and has an interesting and fairly likable set of characters. I’m enjoying Koyasu Takehito as Jade and Yukana as Tear (she reminds me of C.C. in the mysterious heroine sort of way), and even Luke isn’t so bad despite his more pompous and whiny moments. The only eyebrow-raising thing I have to note is that they’re using splashes of neon red to represent blood, and that seems really out-of-place and censored.
I’ve had no experience with the game, so everything story-wise is all relatively new to me, but so far it all feels very RPG-ish. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I can recognize all the classic RPG standards of gathering a group and getting captured & locked up (see: Houdini’s Postulate) and stuff. I can’t blame the anime production on that since this is indeed based off a PS2 RPG, but what Sunrise might want to work on is some better scene transitions because sometimes characters leave only to return moments later with no explanation of what happened. The best examples of this are when Jade has work to do, but he rejoins the group moments later to ask Luke about the kidnapping, and when Jade and Tear leave Luke behind to go to the bridge only to return moments later after Luke kills a soldier. In the latter example, it wasn’t long enough for them to have accomplished something, but it was long enough so that they were probably too far away to hear what was going on outside, and I just found the timing really odd. In any case, the story hasn’t really shined on its own yet, but I’ve heard good things from people who’ve played the game and have generally liked what I’ve seen so far, so I’m looking forward to what happens next and will probably continue blogging this.