Fans of the Legend of Mana action role-playing game are excited that an anime adaptation by Yokohama Animation Laboratory and Graphinica titled Legend of Mana: The Teardrop Crystal is coming soon. It goes without saying that as fans of anime you most likely also have an interest in gaming. If so, Legend of Mana is worth checking out. An oldie but a goodie, Legend of Mana was developed and published by Square (now Square Enix) for PlayStation in 1999.
It is the 4th game in the Mana series, following 1995’s Trials of Mana. The game is set in a magical fantasy world where an unnamed hero (the player) has to restore the land of Fa’Diel by completing a series of interrelated quests in order to restore the Tree of Mana.
Nine Centuries prior to the events in the game a catastrophe occurred when the Mana Tree, giver of mana and life for the world, was almost entirely burned down. A war between faeries, humans, and other races erupted as they fought over the last remaining mana in Fa’Diel. The war ended with the Mana Tree falling into a regenerative sleep and the lands of the world were stored in ancient artifacts.
A trailer to promote the anime has also been released:
The Player makes it his or her self-imposed mission to restore the world and mana to their former glory. Fa’Diel’s lands are populated with a large number of different creatures: humans, faeries, demons, the jewel-hearted Jumi race, plant-like Sproutlings and Flowerings, miner bears called Dudbears, and Shadowy beings of the Underworld known as Shadoles.
Fa’Diel is also the home of a host of anthropomorphic animals and objects. Gamers who played other Mana titles will recognize Rabites, Chobin Hoods, and Goblins (hopefully, not like the ones from the Goblin Slayer anime!).
Legend of Mana has its own unique style of gameplay while incorporating some action role-playing elements from the prior games in the series. A player is able to shape the world’s structure with the ‘Land Make System’, which generates regions and quests in a non-linear gameplay system instead of a strong main plotline as seen in most RPGs.
The game was directed by series creator Koichi Ishii, designed by Akihiko Matsu, and produced by veteran Square director and producer Akitoshi Kawazu. The game spectacularly sold 400,000 copies in its first week of release and 700,000 by the end of 1999.
Gamers lauded the game’s vibrant and colorful hand-drawn graphics and the whimsical fantasy-esque soundtrack by Yoko Shimomura, but were critical of the lack of a clear main storyline, which in their opinion made the game feel ‘disjointed’.
Due to high demand, the game was re-released as part of both PlayStation’s and Square Enix’s best-sellers lines. A remastered version of the game was released for Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4 on June 24, 2021. On December 7, 2021, it came out for Android and iOS.
Fans of the game are hoping the anime adaptation will follow the original storyline closely, but also wonder which possible story arcs will be chosen. The Player controls a silent hero avatar that is either male or female. The hero is unnamed and no information is given about their past, history or personality, which is meant to reflect the player. Who will the hero of the anime be and what will their personality be like?
Today, a key visual drawn by Taro Ikegami, who is the character designer of the work, was released in order to hype up the imminent release of the anime.
Regardless of which story arc the anime’s hero ends up living his or her end will most likely be similar to the game’s final arc titled: ‘Legend of Mana’. The story arc revolves around the Mana Tree, which makes a reappearance. The Player investigates the tree, discovers that it is rotten, and that the Mana Goddess has become corrupted.
In an epic battle, the Player must fight against the Mana Goddess. Upon winning a Sproutling emerges from the center of the Mana Tree’s rotten trunk and it calls upon the other Sproutlings to join in and together they restore the Mana Tree.
Yoko Shimomura will return to do the music for the anime. In 2002, Yoko said that she considered the soundtrack to Legend of Mana to be a representation of herself. She prefers “passionate music that comes from the heart” and went on to say she has to “feel the emotions in the extreme before I am able to write a piece”.