“The scent of the air in your nose is proof that you live.”
There’s just something unique about the Adventurers’ stories that makes them more investing than the military drama. While Ana-Maria’s first episode did revolve around military drama as she is the late Emperor’s daughter and the only one that can overthrow August’s reign, her story is more about freedom from said drama. Of the ten episodes I’ve played so far, hers is the second best with her arch-nemesis August still being first in my rankings.
Why is this episode so good? I think it’s more of the events that happen that makes you wonder what will happen to Ana-Maria. It’s like an adventure—the same as the ones she romanticized in books. Her story also reminds me of Luke’s in a way, but the circumstances behind their confinement is different and how they obtain the freedom they long for is also different.
Her episode is very fast paced. You see her eating dinner in one scene and then afterwards, arson happens and now Ana-Maria is stuck in a sewer passage with Charles then they leave and explore the outside world, taking in the scenery and enjoying their newfound freedom. See? It’s fast-paced! It was like a whirlwind of an experience.
Ana-Maria is such an adorable character. Her positivity makes me smile. I love the trait of her loving to read, yet does not understand the context of the stuff she reads at times like her misunderstanding with the Miasuian proverb and her assumptions of self-destruct mechanisms.
Underneath all that cheeriness resides a big mystery about her like with Edouard. Why was she confined to her mansion all her life? Why did her father order this? Why is August so desperate to have her killed? There could be more to Ana-Maria than meets the eye. Maybe she has a unique lineage from her mother’s side? Maybe Ana-Maria’s trials and tribulations are tests for her to become the rightful Empress of the Empire? Her story can go in many different ways and I anticipate the route which it takes. There’s also some callbacks to Miasui in the form of the book she reads, a book about Miasuian proverbs. The previous Adventurers’ episode had a Miasuian prince exiled from his homeland because of her nation. Their meeting is going to be very awkward once they learn of each other’s identities.
Ana-Maria is also the franchise’s traditional terrible chef as she created the Tales version of Mystery Food X and it even gets obtained as a legit recipe. Why do you do this, game?
The second most important character in this episode is Charles. Charles is what happens if you mix Decus, Misella and Laphicet together and then amplify the simp factor by 10. That is Charles, the yandere simp shota and Ana-Maria’s #1 hypeman. If Ana-Maria’s shrouded in mystery, Charles is just one big mystery in itself. The story already had the two know each other as Charles is Ana-Maria’s valet. Who adopted Charles is a mystery. How he came to Ana-Maria’s life is also a mystery. The opening has some hints to his identity as well as the red circles on his irises. Charles feels robotic overall. Maybe he is an android of sorts, similar to Sophie?
Right now, my opinion of Charles is in the negative because of his attitude towards others. I mean, look at him threatening to kill any guy Ana-Maria were to dance with if she attended a dance party. He also wanted to give pond water to the doctor. He reminds me a lot of Misella and she is one of my least favorite Tales characters, hence my disdain. Will Charles grow as a character? Maybe I need to play his story to find out. Other than being Ana-Maria’s valet and the only last connection she has to her home, Charles’s only role is to be support both in story and in gameplay.
Speaking of gameplay, the Iai (that’s with a capital I and not a lowercase l) stance is kind of hard to maneuver in. She has to pause before striking which can be disadvantageous if used incorrectly. I think you can spin around once she’s in the stance, but that happened to me only once, so it’s not entirely confirming this can happen; it’s also hard to do when there are so many enemies coming at you. I do like how Ana-Maria’s power comes from her Reactor ring, which gives a nod to her origins and lineage.
Charles as a companion character is probably the best of the ones utilized in the party so far. Charles uses a staff that has like 4-5 crystals floating around him. They release laser beams and incinerate enemies. Charles is very handy to have around for he was mainly the one in charge of defeating the enemies while I look around finding crystals and secret mission portals. Never had an AI-controlled party member be this useful in this game.
I also do like how the scenery changes in this episode unlike Edouard’s. I like the balance between the sewer passage in Chapter 3 and the grassy pathway in Chapter 4.
Overall, the aftermath of this episode got me wanting more. What are Ana-Maria and Charles going to do now that they’re free? With their next objective is to find old ruins to explore, the final member of the Adventurers’ squad will come along for the ride. How will they meet and how will they become companions? When will the five meet up? I want to know and I will keep playing to find out.