There are many passions in life a person can possess. One for wealth, money, power, or hot babes. One passion a lot of people have is for the medium of anime. Anime is a really unique medium, being cartoons made in Japan for a much different audience. Couple that with how creative some anime can get with their concepts, and you have a recipe for a very varied medium. It’s not a perfect medium, there’s plenty of generic and trash shows out there that clutter the genre. Still, anime is a very unique thing for one to get invested in.
With anime being a big thing, of course people are going to want to try their hand at making their own anime series. Most times, this leads to failure. Mostly due to the fact that an anime requires a lot of voice talent, good animation, great character designs, etc. Any average Joe can attempt to create an anime or anime-styled show, but without the budget or talent, you get just another failed Flash project.
One such project came from the early-to-mid 2000s, and was known as “TV Tome Adventures”. TTA was a cartoon that utilized edited versions of game sprites from various videogames, mostly from Megaman. It told the story of five friends from all around the globe who spend their time hanging out and playing the MMORPG known as “TOME”.
While enjoying said game, the main character known as “Alpha” ends up being infected by a virus. At the same time, people who hack the game are also searching for the virus’ power. As such, Alpha and his friends must fight back the hackers, attempt to get Alpha back to normal, and deal with various anime-styled shenanigans.
The show itself was created by the Newgrounds user known as “Kirbopher”, who would go on to create the “Super Freakin’ Parody Rangers” series. TTA was his first real attempt at Flash animation, and it has certainly not aged well. The sprite animation and awkward text boxes gives the series a very dated look, which isn’t helped by the bland voice acting in the later seasons.
This comes down to the fact that all the characters in TTA are based off real users from the “TV Tomes” forum. As such, they were brought on to voice the characters that were based on themselves. Unfortunately, most of these people had zero voice acting experience, so their attempts came off as awkward at best.
TTA proved to be a fair popular series on Newgrounds, despite its amateurish quality. It got three seasons and a “movie”, all of which were animated by Kirbopher. After season 3, the series ended. Kirbopher’s plans to continue the series past that point were scrapped and the series ended up being forgotten for a few years.
Come 2011, and the series finally made a return! TV Tome Adventures was re-branded as “Tome: Terrain of Magical Expertise”, and rebooted the continuity of the series. As a reboot, characters were now depicted differently than they had been in TTA. For example, Nailock had become Nylocke, going from a silly anime fan to an equally silly knight.
Even though the show now operated in a new continuity, it was pretty much the same story-wise. Sure, plot elements and characters were swapped around, while new elements were added. At its core though, it had the same plot as the original series. What was interesting about this new show was its animation.
TOME used 2D animation, with Kirbopher even making “battle sprites” for each character. Battles would usually unfold with sprites fighting each other, interspersed with bits of hand-drawn flash animation. The show may come off looking cheap at times due to this mixing of styles, but it works surprisingly well.
What made the show really work was the characters and writing. Despite being a flash cartoon series aimed at younger audiences, some of the characters and plot elements were extremely dark and interesting. Special kudos goes to “Episode 00”, which served as a backstory episode, while also serving as an emotional gut-punch.
Not saying the writing was perfect, especially during the transition from season 1 to season 2. Season 2 tried way too hard to be “edgy”, to the point where it felt like an excuse to get away from the more kid-friendly first season. I get that Kirbopher didn’t want to censor the series anymore, but at the same time it just felt jarring.
This brings us to the last thing I’ll discuss: The characters. TOME set itself apart from most flash cartoon series by having a large voice cast, all of which played various characters over the series’ two season run. It probably also helps that the characters are varied, with each one having a different role in the show.
You have our heroes like the feisty Flamegirl, or stoic Gamecrazed. Kirbopher is also a character in this show, voiced by himself. Our heroes usually go up against various “hackers”, who comprise most of the antagonists on the show. You have a ton, such as the slimy monster Doubling, or the effeminate Ravenfreak. By far, the most popular villain on the show is Rockoon.
Using the avatar of an anthropomorphic raccoon, Rockoon serves as the show’s more recurring villain. He sometimes appears more than most of the series’ regular antagonists. Probably for good reason, as he has some of the best lines and moments in the entire show’s run. Rockoon became a sort of mascot for the series, to the point where he even got his own standalone animated short.
In summation, TOME was a pretty good internet “anime”. Despite not being made in Japan, the creator obviously had a lot of knowledge when it came to the medium. TOME is a very flawed show, but you can tell passion went into it. While the show’s plot is formulaic, its interesting cast of characters and great writing make up for it.
Like I said earlier, the show ran for 2 seasons and had 16 episodes. Best of all, each episode is available for viewing on Youtube FOR FREE! There’s also an upcoming tactical RPG spinoff game that looks pretty cool, even featuring a custom protagonist. At the end of day, TOME managed to do something that most flash-based anime fail at: Being entertaining. Solid voice acting, entertaining writing, and some good animated bits keep this show feeling fresh. It’s far from perfect and fairly typical of the genre it’s inspired by, but it’s still a solid ride from beginning to end.