Magical Mondays: Dawn of the New World and A Different Brand of Magic

I wanted my first Magical Mondays to be some closer look at a magical system that I’ve come to know well over the years. I wanted my first one of these posts to be about… well, magic. And this is still about magic, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not the flashy kind of magic—not the kind of magic where I can set fire to a pile of hay with a flick of my hand, or the kind of magic where I would be able to manipulate your thoughts in a certain way. This is the kind of magic that wriggles into your head and sits there, making you wonder if this magic is actually plausible or if it was just terrible writing or bad translation on the source’s part. For those that have played Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World, you probably have a pretty good idea of what I’m talking about, but for those who are unfamiliar, allow the main antagonist, Richter Abend, tell you what I mean.

Yes. This stupid sentence—“courage is the magic that turns dreams into reality”—is what has been bothering me. In general, it’s obvious that this is meant as a platitude in the same vein as “you can do anything you put your mind to”. Many games have the same sort of one-liner that gives you the theme or driving force of the game and its characters. Yet the difference between those games and New World is while in other games this theme may be stated once or implied, in Dawn of the New World this sentence is repeated over and over and over again, so much so that the sentence has become a meme in the Tales of community. With so much repetition, the sentence becomes more than a theme; it’s so prevalent that it’s as if the writers want their audience to take it literally. So fine, let’s see how courage is utilized as a magical device within the game, or if it’s even used at all.

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