The term ‘anime’ covers all sorts of sins. Just thinking about the word might bring to mind the humanity-ending crisis and depressive episodes of Neon Genesis Evangelion, or something entirely at the opposite end of the entertainment spectrum like Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? Tales of Arise feels like it’s drawing from just about every point of the expansive anime visage.
Bandai Namco’s latest anime-aesthetic adventure starts out in the ‘serious’ section of the anime universe. Tales of Arise is a story about an enslaved race of people, who slowly learn to pick up arms and fight back against the oppressors who’ve held a vice-like grip around their throats for over three centuries. The Dahnans have been made to suffer unimaginable horrors under the rule of the Renans, who hail from a technologically-advanced world and will stop at nothing to drain this planet’s resources and its people for all they’re worth, and the action-RPG isn’t shying away from studying the exploitation and loss of self that takes hold under slavery.
As the 17th entry in the Tales franchise, Bandai Namco’s series has seen more releases in less time than Square Enix’s Final Fantasy saga. Still, Tales has never quite risen to such highs worldwide, occupying a more cult-like following compared to the blockbuster successes of the aforementioned series. Despite the rampant release schedule though, Tales of Arise is the first new entry since 2016’s Berseria, and is generally viewed as a soft reboot for the series at large, attempting to find footing with a bigger audience than ever before, especially in the west.