JRPGs typically have very grand stories that translate well in adaptations such as anime and manga, and the Tales series is no exception. Ever since Tales of Phantasia came out in 1995, the worlds that Namco (now Bandai Namco) created have captivated audiences from around the world. So it stands to reason that there are several anime series that use the same stories, settings, and characters as the games. Here are all of the Tales games that have received animated adaptations:
Tales of Phantasia
A 4-part OVA for Tales of Phantasia ran from 2004 to 2006. Though the show closely followed the game’s plot, it mostly focused on Dhaos, the Tree of Life, and the Elves. Therefore, those who have only experienced Phantasia through the OVA did not get the entire story. Despite the multiple cuts to the story in order to create a more cohesive show for anime-only fans, there are several scenes and dialogue lines that are exclusive to the OVA.
Tales of Eternia
Saying that the Tales of Eternia anime was an adaptation of the game is like saying the Ghost Stories dub is a faithful localization of the original. It ran for 13 episodes in 2001. Though Tales of Eternia had the same name, setting, and four main characters, it mostly focused on an original story. Fans of the characters may enjoy it, but for those who have never played Eternia before, it is definitely not a substitute for the game.
Tales of Symphonia
Tales of Symphonia, like Phantasia, had OVA adaptations rather than an anime series. There are eleven episodes in total, providing a much more complete re-telling of the story than what Phantasia had. There are some elements that are different, such as Marble not being in the OVA. However, the main plot remains the same. Both fans of the game and those new to the series can enjoy the Tales of Symphonia anime, and still be able to discuss it afterwards.
Tales of the Abyss
Unsurprisingly, Tales of the Abyss (one of the most popular Tales games in multiple regions and the game for the 10th anniversary) also had an animated adaptation. It was a weekly series and not an OVA like Symphonia. But it also covered more or less the entire plot of the game. It did have to cut out or combine various sub-plots and skits, and the Japanese dub had to recast several characters. However, the Tales of the Abyss anime provides non-Tales fans a complete overview of the story, and is enjoyable for those who played the game as well. The whole series is actually available for free on the official Tales YouTube channel.
Tales of Vesperia
Similar to the anime for Tales of Eternia, the animated adaptation of Tales of Vesperia did not cover the events of the game. Instead, it served as a prequel. Tales of Vesperia: The First Strike is the first (and only, so far) theatrical film for the Tales series. Though it covers Yuri’s time with the Knights, as well as Flynn’s childhood, one should consider it non-canonical. There are several changes to the characterization, such as Flynn’s strangely skewed moral code. However, it does have Repede as a puppy, which more than makes up for it.
Tales of Zestiria
Gee, Tales of Zestiria! How come Bandai Namco let you have two anime adaptations? Don’t get me wrong – Tales of Zestiria has a story with lots of potential. But it is very interesting how it is the only one to get two separate adaptations. The first one was a TV special that came out before the game: Tales of Zestiria: Dawn of the Shepherd. This details the start of Sorey and Mikleo’s journey, ending with them actually leaving Elysia.
The second one was Tales of Zestiria the X. As a ufotable production (like Dawn of the Shepherd), Tales of Zestiria the X is beautiful to watch and covers the entire game, albeit with some changes. Alisha has way more screentime than in the original, which is great for Alisha fans. There are also two episodes showing Velvet’s jailbreak from Tales of Berseria, which aired shortly before Berseria’s release date. So technically speaking, one can consider Tales of Zestiria the X to be an animated adaptation of Tales of Berseria as well.
Tales of Crestoria
The ill-fated Tales of Crestoria received several concept movies that are available on Crunchyroll. They are on the Tales YouTube channel as well. There are four episodes in the Tales of Crestoria -The Wake of Sin- ONA, and it covers Chapter One of the game. There are several differences, but most of them are fairly minor. In terms of the animation style, Crestoria differs from all of its predecessors in that it uses 3D animation rather than 2D.
Tales of Luminaria
The equally ill-fated Tales of Luminaria had two episodes in the Tales of Luminaria: The Fateful Crossroad OVA. It follows the events of the Third Lunne Battle, and features characters like Leo, Celia, and Lisette. You can watch it on Crunchyroll as well.
As more Tales games appear in the future, more anime adaptations may show up as well. Bandai Namco might even adapt older titles, such as Xillia, for special anniversaries. Until then, these are all of the shows that both Tales novices and diehard fans can watch until Bandai Namco releases more.