Tales of Eternia
I almost need a new category for this sort of thing, it's a character based fantasy piece. The sort of thing where the characters are perhaps more important than story, meaning or originality. It also has the `the animation' tag which means it's probably derived from a computer game.
In any case we enter a rather mass-produced fantasy world for our story. Mass produced in that it feels pretty familiar, and lacks the depth of something like Lodoss, but enough to make a solid background. There is however on very different thing about this world, that being it actually contains two `lands' on the top and `bottom' of the sky. So from one land you can vaguely see the other. What's more our hero's have discovered evidence that suggests a skyfall, or meeting of the two lands, is imminent. As you can imagine this is a bad thing, since the meeting is probably better termed a `collision'. Things get even worse when, after informing the king of their land, war is declared between the two lands.
And thus our hero's must travel the breadth of the land to find the knowledge and power that can avert this oncoming catastrophe. Unfortunately, for reasons that are currently unclear, it also seems that they've attracted the attention of powerful figures who scry on them. And given that these guys are into cryptic comments and evil looking masks it looks like trouble might be on the way. Not that our hero's seem to have trouble finding, or even creating, trouble in each episode.
The whole production really does scream out `manufactured'. It's knows that a fantasy world is a cool setting for a story, but it doesn't want to get serious and geeky like a hard-core RPG'ish fantasy series. As a result it's all a bit light and bright, but that's also quite enjoyable too. It's also clear that they've inherited these characters from the game, probably with clearly defined powers but limited personalities, and filled in the blanks. But, once again, they're quite entertaining so it's not too much of a problem.
The characters include a young, somewhat relaxed, male swordsman as probably the toughest character in the group. Balancing him is an aggressive, and fairly dominant, female martial artist (who's actually quite good fun). The other two are a bit stranger. One of them is a young girl who comes from the other land. She's got the full cute young girl thing going, pink hair, giggly voice and cute mascot. The final member is a young male scholar/mage type, who's fairly interesting. The warriors have lots of named attacks, and the scholar seems to have some magic. In addition the group have three potent elemental spirits. The young girl has a water elemental who's a naked babe with a trident (she's also transparent water, you ecchi). The other two, summoned by the mage, include a fire `djinni' who likes burning things and a `playful child' air spirit.
In other words they contain powers inherited from the game, and personalities built to match. They're all fairly archetypal and perhaps overly familiar. On the positive side the character writing, and dialog, is not bad. It's both entertaining and has a sense of depth and subtlety that actually succeeds in making you want to know more about these people. You want to learn their history and watch how they will change, which is a very good sign and adds to the fun of the series immensely. And, like all fantasy series, discovering how the world works, and the promise of a slowly building but epic plot, promises some interesting discoveries in the future.
There's also a quite a few other `important' characters and a whole heap of `anonymous' background characters. We're in super-powered territory so it's fairly clear which characters are `special' and which are unimportant normals. It's also worth mentioning that quite a few, in fact all, of the people worth remembering are attractive females. By and large they also do well out of the fairly decent writing this show seems to have.
The production itself is actually rather nice. Clearly modern, and showing evidence of computer assistance, it's actually rather pleasant to watch. The characters have rather definite outfits, to match their powers, but they do look quite novel and animate well. Likewise, while the backgrounds are somewhat general and undetailed, the character art and animation is attractive and well done. There's a good sense of emotion and presence coming from some of the characters, which is after all important for this sort of thing. The action, which isn't as common as you might think, is also done well with a couple of very nice sequences in addition to the required named/repeated attack sequences. The magic, sadly, doesn't seem to have much depth. The voices are excellent and the music is enjoyable but not particularly memorable.