part 4: Jade Curtiss
spoilers abound. you have been warned.
This article is strictly on the anime, as I have not played the video game.
Jade Balfour, aka Jade Curtiss
Jade Curtiss is a protagonist in Tales of the Abyss, but for several episodes after he makes his initial appearance, you can’t help but question whether or not he’s good or bad. His loyalties become apparent relatively quickly, though, and you realize his personality is just very stoic and cold. He also has a very dry, sarcastic humor, which lends well to the comic relief, but can teeter on the point of being cruelly intended. He always appears to be relatively cheerful, which tends to hide his true feelings or thoughts.
Jade is colonel for the Malkuth empire, the other of two warring continents that make up the earth (Auldrant), and the enemy nation of the main protagonists Luke and Tear. It’s partly for that reason Jade seems like a bad guy at first, capturing them after a fonic resonance send the pair flying into enemy territory. It turns out, though, that Jade is on a mission to get a message of peace from King Peony (Malkuth) to Luke’s father, the King of the other continent, Kimlasca.
Jade Balfour, age 9
Before he was Jade Curtiss, he was known as Dr. Jade Balfour, and also as “Jade the Necromancer.” Jade Balfour grew up in a pretty, snow covered port town called Ketersburg in the Malkuth empire. He and his little sister, Nephry, were good friends with two of Jade’s classmates, Saphir (Dist the Reaper) and Peony (the future emperor). Jade had an extraordinary command of the fonic arts at a young age and even created formicry, the art of replicating phonons from one object or person and creating a complete replica, at the age of 9 to replace his sister’s broken doll. The event scared her more than soothed her, and she refers to Jade in the present as having been “a devil” as i child. He had no sympathy for other creatures, and frequently practiced powerful fonic arts on innocent monsters.
The three boys had a teacher, professor Nibilim, whom Jade admired very much and helped him see the errors of his ways. She was a healer who had control of the seventh fonon, a very rare ability. One day, Jade attempted to control the seventh fonon, creating an explosion that killed their professor. Saphir was also present during the incident, and the two of them decided to study fomicry and use it to create a copy of their teacher. Eventually, they were able to successfully replicate her, but because they couldn’t replicate memories and personality, they unintentionally created a monster that Jade ended up having to seal away.
Recognized for his achievements, Jade was adopted into the House Curtiss, a prominent military family, and eventually rose to colonel of the Malkuth empire. He continued his fomicry research, picking up bodies off of battlefields, earning himself the nickname of “Jade the Necromancer.”
Eventually the formicry research was taking an enormous toll on Jade’s health, and Emperor Peony convinced him to put an end to it. Jade abandoned his research and put a ban on its continued practice on living organisms. Dist, feeling that Jade had abandoned their favorite teacher, continued the research as one of the 6 god generals under Van, the main antagonist of the series. Sadly, Jade kills Dist in a very heart wrenching moment, bidding his friend Saphir goodbye.
Through much of the series, Jade basically plays the ‘all-knowing’ character, as well as somewhat of a father figure to an all teenage (and early 20s) cast of companions. Jade’s 35 and tells them that he’s going to make them all crazy by the time he’s 40. Jade is also extremely good at figuring people out and deducing their secrets. His observational skills and knowledge make him the funnel that draws out the pasts and problems that each person in the party is hiding about themselves. He’s also extremely powerful, but doesn’t demonstrate much through most of the anime after having a seal placed on him by the enemy early on. By the end of the anime, he’s able to slowly crack away at the seal to the point where it hardly effects him. I think that’s pretty convenient for the story line; after all, you can’t have Jade simply destroy every bad guy along the way, right?
Jade’s cold, solid exterior starts to deteriorate as the anime winds down. As Luke says his goodbyes, Jade refers to him as a friend, to which Luke is taken aback. Jade apologizes for being so cold, which is what he assumed made Luke not think that they were friends. Then, on their final night before the ending battle, Jade tells Anise that he’s planning on resuming formicry research after life returns to normal again. But this time, he’s going to expand his research into developing a way for replicas to have a purpose in life.
And now on another note, Jade does not actually need glasses, which is not revealed in the anime but the game. His fonic power originates from his eyes, making them appear red. He uses glasses to help control his power, even though he’s pretty good at it on his own. Also something I found pretty funny; when he’s getting ready to use his fonic arts in the final battle, he spins his glasses in the air with a single finger. That’s talent.