Tales of Symphonia Text Review and Story Breakdown: Part 5

Originally a script for a video review, so some parts may stick out and, without visual aids, I recommend having played the game already! Note: this is for the original Tales of Symphonia, so if anything changed in the re-release, I haven’t touched on it here.

Quick links to other entries:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

23) Dual Duel Duet

In Meltokio we meet Sheena’s fellow ninja Kuchinawa and some scientists who agree to prepare a boat. The party stays a night at Zelos’ place, where Sheena gets flustered and embarrassed over Lloyd finding out that she likes flowers. Gotta give her that soft side. The next morning, Colette’s shoulder is stiff


but the boat’s ready. They head to the docks where Colette sees the bridge for the first time

Note: Colette couldn’t see anything without her soul.

and calls it gross-looking and Zelos tells her that’s not an appropriate thing to say, even though he didn’t care the last time he saw it. Everyone also laughs at Lloyd for being uglier than The Great Zelos Wilder—I can’t make that up—and then they’re off.

His face loses out to mine, though.

You be the judge!

The boat can be shrunken and transported in a capsule like in Dragonball, which amazes Lloyd. …wait. If shrinking things into capsules is new technology to him, then Noishe can’t be—no. No, I’m done with that part. Not thinking about it anymore.

Before our next destination, the most interesting skit in the game pops up. I remembered it not showing until Flanoir, and even the official manga places it there, but if it can show up here too, let’s go. The Two Chosen skit! The only skit to make it into the sadly-rushed manga.

Doesn’t it bother you, Colette?
You know… being the Chosen. It’s your own life. Don’t you wish you could live it the way you want to?
I’m living freely. Everyone is searching for a way so I don’t have to sacrifice myself.
…But… what if there isn’t any way?
…We’ll worry about that when the time comes. Even if I lose my body, my heart will still be free. So I want the world to become a happy place, just like my heart desires.
You’re amazing, Colette. I could never be like that.
…No. I just talk like that. If it really came down to it, I’m sure I couldn’t do it. Hehehe, I’m a pretty pathetic Chosen.
…No, you really are amazing. Compared to you, I…

Alright, so Colette claims she couldn’t really give up her life. Let’s say she’s telling the truth. First of all, she already gave up her life once—but sure, things could have changed. Maybe she wants to cling to her life now that she’s escaped death before, or maybe meeting new faces and seeing a new world has expanded her horizons,

“The world ends with you. If you want to enjoy life, expand your world. You gotta push your horizons out as far as they’ll go.”

or maybe she really hated her experience without a soul. Some people hate sensory deprivation chambers. Whatever it is, I’m okay with the idea that she doesn’t believe anymore that her sacrifice was necessary, but if she’s telling the truth now, this is the first time she’s told the truth without being prompted, without someone having to spot the light shining through the holes of her lies.

Remember, this girl has lied to everyone from the beginning, telling them to stop worrying about her and not even use the unicorn horn to help her when she knew she was going to die. She’s never been honest before, but she’s finally opened herself up—to Zelos. Why him? Why not her lifelong friends? Let’s seriously think about this. I know Zelos can get every lady in the world to donate items to him in worship just by firing off one-liners, but I don’t think his powers extend to pulling the truth out of Colette like Wonder Woman’s lasso.

I’ll come back to her in a second, but let’s check out Zelos’ response: she’s amazing and he could never be like that. This is a guy who’s been calling himself The Great Zelos Wilder, a guy who’s always playing to his own ego. When he wins battles, he says things like:

I’m just too pretty. Seriously!


Man, I rule! I’m sooooo cool!

But he’s not open with his feelings either—at least not to anyone but Colette. He has a complex: the whole world drops down at his feet because he’s the Chosen One, but he’s always reassuring himself he’s great. Toward Genis and Lloyd, he’s condescending. He messes with Raine and gives her nicknames she doesn’t like and plays a general thorn in Sheena’s side. We haven’t known him very long, granted, but at no point so far has Zelos ever been serious except around Colette. He wasn’t too worried about the bridge made of dead people when he first heard about it, but after Colette said it looked gross, then he showed moral concern. It’s like he saw himself in her comment and didn’t like it.

And now he’s admitting that he’s not great. He probably wants to be, so he assures himself he is—either that or he just likes taking on different personalities to spice up everyone’s lives a little, but I doubt it.

Back to Colette, I think the reason she’s willing to tell him the truth is that she sees herself in him and can place trust in him. The two Chosen have a lot in common under the surface–whether that’s intentional or not.

[clips of battle victory quotes play:]

Pretty good, right?

That was pretty good, wasn’t it?

Their interplay interests me because I don’t have all the answers. They both play hard-to-read roles, deflecting attention from their feelings by being offbeat and silly, and every time I come back to Tales of Symphonia, I’ll find a line or two I didn’t notice before that makes me rethink what part of them is the facade and what part is real.

For example, what if Colette isn’t telling the truth? What if she’s lying again, like always, and she could give up her life a second time? …well, we can toss that on the pile of things I’ll definitely cover later.

24) Random Adventures with Echoes of Rinse and Repeat

Kratos is in the next town and Lloyd attacks him immediately, but gets shut down with one swing.

Don’t insult me!

Lloyd, your ineptitude does all the talking for him. Kratos tells Colette to remove her Key Crest if she wants to continue living, but she says no because then she’d lose her soul again and that wouldn’t count as living.

…well, actually she’s never taking the necklace off because Lloyd gave it to her. I’m sure she values her friends, but one reply seems better than the other here.

As thanks for saving Raine and Genis, like the party wouldn’t have done that anyway without a reward, they’re told about Altessa, a dwarf who can cure Presea. They head through a haunted forest, but on the way out, Colette’s Super Hearing picks up the sound of approaching knights. The convict from before shows up, claiming to not want to fight—but Genis and Lloyd are like screw you dude guy and the party knocks him out. He’s too heavy for The Great Zelos Wilder to carry, but Colette can handle it.

So if she still has Super Hearing and Super Strength, then the only part of the angel transformation they reversed was the I’m-going-to-die part. Maybe everyone should go through the transformation!

Because of the knights, a change of plans leads to Sheena’s ninja village. Before entering, The Great Zelos Wilder keeps bringing the comic relief by telling Colette, Genis, and Lloyd how the houses are made of gold and males are called samurai and ladies are geisha and girls are mikos… But Sheena just gets ticked off about it, probably because she has no sense of fun or playfulness.

And everyone lives in “Shintor shrines.”
“Shintor shrines” must be made out of ginger, right?
No, no, the buildings are made out of gold and silver.
…That stupid Chosen!

Then you get into the town and realize she couldn’t have turned out any other way since Mizuho is really plain and drab for a hidden ninja village. The chief wants to know why Lloyd’s here, so cue his music.

For the first time, the story tries to legitimize him as the main hero for a reason other than being the guy who never leaves the player’s control. The first story arc’s focus through Sylvarant was dominated by Colette

insert ironically funny picture of Colette with a whip here

and it even seemed like Lloyd’s sub-arc was completed when he killed his mother’s murderer, so now we have to turn it around somehow.

I want a world where everyone can have a normal life.

Good luck with that one, duder.

I’m tired of people having to become sacrifices.

Good luck with that one too.

I’m tired of discrimination.

And that.

I’m tired of people becoming victims.

And especially that.

You’re fighting human nature itself, buddy. You’re gonna need the power of millennia or something. I mean, spoiler alert: Tales of Phantasia happens thousands of years later and all this stuff is still going on. But the chief’s impressed with him and guarantees help from his spy network to find the Rheairds.


Oh yeah, and this guy is Regal.

He doesn’t do much in the story. I feel like they added him to balance the gender ratio, but it’s not like Presea does much either—and I like Presea—so they could have left them both out.

Good that they’re here for gameplay, though.

We’re meant to care about Presea being emotionless, but Colette went through an even more severe version and the party already dealt with that. If you want to repeat a similar situation, the second time should be the escalated one that’s a bigger deal than the first.

Now, yes, Presea’s found to be living with a dead body and hasn’t noticed he’s dead, which is pretty extreme, but it’s still tough to be too invested when we already know the cure to her problem. The party leaves to go get a crest, with Colette tripping on the way out of her house,

FORESHADOWING (no, not just a random klutz reminder this time)

and finds Altessa and his servant girl Tabatha. He doesn’t want anything to do with Presea, but Tabatha suggests they search for inhibitor ore anyway, so it’s off to a mine.

Zelos is excited to explore, but not Sheena—she has no sense of fun and no sense of adventure, so she’s annoyed and ranting at him again like usual for not even doing anything wrong.

Wow! So this is that sealed mine! It sure looks like it might house a ghost or two, don’t you think? Hmm?
Argh! Will you just be quiet for a little while?!

I know a lot of guys like Sheena, but honestly, she’d be the henpecking girl who shouts them down for being “immature,” which is really code for “something I don’t like.” I mean, no wonder she couldn’t make any friends before joining the party. Anyway, the group finds the ore and Lloyd makes a temporary Key Crest until Altessa can make a better one.

On the way out, a shady dealer drops the bombshell—or at least it’s supposed to be a bombshell—that Regal is a murderer. Regal declines to explain why because apparently that would be an excuse, but Lloyd and Genis are like eh, we’ve killed countless people too, and Colette’s like the Goddess also bears the burden of your sins, and Regal’s still like no, I can’t tell you… maybe one day… I apologize…

I assumed the slow and melodramatic build here was leading up to something substantial later, but no, not at all. We’ll get there, but again, like with Presea coming after Colette, the revelation of Regal’s past doesn’t have the impact it should since everyone else is just as bad. Raine blew up ranches and gave her justification when Genis protested. There aren’t many aspects of the story in Tales of the Abyss that I’d say were better handled than Tales of Symphonia, but one of the few is that when Luke kills somebody for the first time, it feels like a big deal because it’s also the first time the audience sees anyone kill a human.

25) Choking

Back in town, the party encounters Papal Knights and wipes the floor with them like always, but then Presea randomly knocks Colette out so Rodyle can capture her. Who is Rodyle, by the way? One of the Desian Grand Cardinals. He says so himself. Nobody blames Presea or even mentions anything at all to the effect of her being a traitor, so I think we’re assuming she was under mind control. Even that theory isn’t brought up, actually, but it’s the best I’ve got.

The Key Crest saves her and everyone takes time to help her bury her father, even though Colette could be getting killed or tortured. No rush, guys. In all seriousness, Kratos does arrive to say Rodyle is acting on his own and will have to abandon her because she can’t benefit his plans, but this explanation probably should have come before burying Presea’s father. In any case, Colette should be in the eastern skies—and Kratos says Miuzho’s found those Rheairds by now.

I wonder how he knows what a secret village of ninja spies is up to. Maybe they’re not so great at secrecy. They have located the Rheairds, though, but first Sheena needs to form a pact with the Summon Spirit Volt to power them. She breaks down and runs away after hearing that because last time she tried to form a pact with Volt, it backfired and landed the Chief in a coma and wiped out a quarter of her town’s population.

You know, three people!

But seriously, Lloyd pep talks her out of depression and it’s off to the Temple of Lightning. Zelos comments on the trust Lloyd has in her and says he wouldn’t have the same trust in him. Lloyd shows no hesitation in saying she’s their partner and of course he trusts her. Awwwww. And then he says Zelos is also their partner and he’d trust him too.

Like Undine, Volt has a pact with Mithos. However it was that Mithos traveled both worlds, Volt doesn’t want no stinking pact this time and blasts everyone with lightning. Sheena freaks out about getting friends murdered again—she’s kind of the opposite of Colette, talking big and carrying herself very seriously but then choking when anything goes wrong. Volt is about to kill her with a free shot, but Corrine takes the blast for her and his death gives her the courage to make the pact happen for real. This scene would have worked better, I think, if we knew more about Corrine. Like… anything.

Anyway, because both Volt and Undine have made new pacts and they’re opposite elements, a link between worlds has been severed. Undine believes that if all the Summon Spirits are awakened, the worlds will separate, and Lloyd realizes that might be a way to save them, setting up what I’ll call the second story arc.

But first we need our heroine back. The Rheairds are in the Renegades’ Tethe’alla base and Zelos is hyped about getting them, but Genis, Presea, and Regal shout him down about acting happy when Sheena’s depressed. Out of earshot, he counters that if they keep walking around eggshells with her, she’ll be more depressed. And this is why Zelos wins. Only he and Colette understand Sheena’s feelings, even though she looks down on both of them. Well, Lloyd understands too, but that’s more because he’s the same character as her.

Just look at how they glance off to the side the same way in their status menus! OTP material, clearly!

Several puzzles later, they find the Rheairds guarded by Yuan and Botta.

Yuan: So you’ve come, like moths to the flame!
Do you ever say anything original?
You gotta admit… that line is seriously clichéd.

Beat me to it. I can appreciate a self-aware story. After the party scores a shocking victory!!! in four-on-two combat,

admittedly this is one of the toughest battles in the game

Yuan realizes that Lloyd’s Exsphere is evolving

even if Lloyd’s not in your battle party

and our heroes steal the ships and fly off. Kratos’ lead works out and they find a floating island where Colette’s trapped in a magic barrier. I’d draw a parallel to when she saved the others from the same thing last time around, but that might be giving the writing too much credit. Either way, won’t she be happy to see us—

…No, Lloyd, stay away! It’s a trap!

—so much for that. An illusion of Rodyle cackles and says they can have her back because:

Rodyle: A sinful Chosen like that is completely useless for my Mana Cannon. She can’t even save the world. She can’t merge with Martel. She even puts her friends in danger. What a pathetic Chosen.

Uh… she’s saved her friends more often than not.

[replay clips: Colette breaks the barrier trap from Yuan and Pronyma, sends assassin Sheena down a trapdoor, blocks fireballs from Kvar’s mages alongside Kratos, chases off Kvar with a chakram toss, meatshields Lloyd from Kvar’s dying blow, cuts Chocolat’s mom free before she’s hanged, calms down the rampaging Clara in monster form, meatshields the party from Clara in another scene]

More importantly, though, that “sinful” line. The first time I heard it, I thought “Oh, his scheme involved powering a cannon with magical girl purity energy, but she didn’t work out because she’s not pure because she’s a diehard liar!”

…would have been an interesting twist.

Presea tells him to stop blaming Colette for things she didn’t do, then Regal steps up to try and make himself valuable.

It is enough that I alone bear the weight of sin. You and I are the epitome of sin! I’ll drag you down to hell with me!

Hey Lloyd? Zelos? Now would be a good time for your lines about originality.

Meanwhile, dragons approach and Colette still wants everyone to ditch her.

Everyone, please, run! Don’t try to fight them! Run!

But on a floating platform in the sky, you can’t run from dragons. You can only kill them, and the party does! …but then the magic circle under Colette starts expanding.

What is this ominous light that threatens to engulf us?

What is this pseudo-poetry that threatens to engulf the story? We were doing fine without a drama queen. Probably at least a couple dozen line deliveries in the game needed to be done over, but this one sticks out as the worst. For that line, there aren’t enough takes in the world.

But the answer, Regal, is that the circle around Colette is leeching her mana to create a larger field that traps everyone instead of only her. Lloyd tells her to get out, like she wouldn’t have thought of that, but she explains that she’s chained to it and can’t move. Are they magic chains? Because she can punch knights in plate mail, so if they’re normal chains, her super s—well, if they were normal chains, Lloyd would see them. So let’s say they’re invisible energy. The magic field is too powerful for anyone to move in it except for Presea, who channels her willpower and anger about being used to get Colette in this situation in the first place. She smashes through the barrier… and we’re out.

I never thought about it until now—and I mean now as in the text version I’m putting up in a blog, not the original script for a video series—but it seems a little overkill to trap Colette with a magic field and chain her to it and put a barrier around her. Then again, if Presea can move inside the magic field, then maybe Colette could have too since they have similar strength, so the magic chains were an extra layer to stop her. If that’s true, then the barrier around her wasn’t to keep her in, but to keep others out and away from breaking the magic chains before the magic field had time to activate.

Or maybe that’s too much credit. I don’t know!

4 thoughts on “Tales of Symphonia Text Review and Story Breakdown: Part 5

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