Tears to Tiara
A priestess of the Gael clan named Rhiannon is kidnapped and intended as a sacrifice to resurrect the dark lord Arawn; sealed beneath a temple long ago. Things go wrong, and instead Arawn saves Riannon, becoming the leader of the Gael clan. Arawn doesn't seem the dark lord the legends claim. His intent is to lead them to fight the Empire. Not only for the Gael clan, but for the fate of the world. The ones worshiped as the white spirits may be the biggest threat, and the one known as the dark lord may be mankind's only hope.
Tears to Tiara starts with the resurrection of Arawn: the demon lord who will destroy the world. By the end of this ceremony, Riannon declares that she will be the wife of the dark lord who saved her. I liked this because it's like turning those traditional demon god taking pure the virtuous girl as his bride completely around. This spurt of interesting twist was short lived as the others started to arrive... First a girl defeated in a fight declares she will "live in Arawn's service", then with an elf girl who declares she will marry him due to her clan traditions. There's no basis for the relationships, so that's pretty shallow. What's strange is that this anime looks like it's going into dumb harem anime territory, then simply drops the topic. It's like the anime felt obligated to follow the same formula as the game it is based off of, but is smart enough not to follow that script too far. Unfortunately in other ways it does follow the game too closely and that comes back to bite this anime in the ass a few times.
At the beginning, Arawn leads the Gael clan against the might of an empire, known as... "The Empire". The formula of "generals" trying to defeat the rebels and failing in succession is a tired concept, but Tears to Tiara doesn't quite go far enough in that way to bore a person to death. The first adversary is Octavia: the chivalrous, proper, blond haired blue eyed swordstress that isn't exactly new to anime, but apparently this kind of character must be popular with more than just me since they keep reinventing them. So anyway Deedlit, er, I mean Sharon... er I mean Octavia has a change of heart after her defeat. Another general is lined up, but the anime instead shifts into the bigger more ominous threat.
At this point Tears to Tiara hadn't gotten much mileage out of the setup, so it decides to become more epic... by inventing epic stuff. It becomes a steady stream of needing mystical item X (never mentioned before) to defeat next evil Y (coming out of nowhere). It's not all bad though. The show does manage to capture some of that epic feel towards the end. At episode 20 onwards, some compelling fantasy starts to shine through, but highlights how much of this show could have been cut out.
The animation is fair, but improves towards the end. I have mixed feelings about the dub. Most of the cast has an Irish accent. Foreboding thoughts of dubbing disaster aside, I decided to stick it out. Overall I think it's a net positive. Hannah Alcorn (Riannon) in particular really makes it work for her character. Others fair okay or poorly, but I'd say give the dub a chance. At least it's something different.
Overall I think Tears to Tiara misses the mark of being a fantasy epic due to lack of focus and killing time. It also has a large cast, most of which just fill space. The central character Arawn turns out to be pretty cool as his back story is revealed, so there at least is a decent core to this anime. Overall not a bad title, but some patience is required for it to develop, but even then is only fair.
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