I tend to play the Tales games more for their gameplay than their story, and I personally felt Abyss had the best of the series from what I've experienced.
Whats wrong with you fools? Rita FTW. Mainly because she has been known to hurt Karol.That is exactly what's wrong with her. The violent girl archetype pisses me off. Violence for the sake of violence is really fucking annoying to me. You COULD make a case for Revan's abuse (because he's kind of a perv, and even then it's not so acceptable), but Karol? The only thing he's guilty of is being a bit over-enthusiastic. That really doesn't merit a karate chop to the face. With Yuri, the setup for his violence is understood, dealt with maturely (though dropped halfway through), and had an impact on his relationship with everyone else. With Rita? "Oh, she gets a free pass because it's KAROL." Seriously, wat.
As for the Graces characters, I dunno, Asbel's whole "I'm leaving for ten years and never coming back" thing annoyed me. I know he wanted to be a man but it reeked of immaturity, and his solutions for every problem in the game was really immature, shonen-esque stuff. Cheria was annoying purely because of her waifu-ness, Sophie's boring, Hubert's a douche, and Pascal's the generic Genki Girl. I felt the most connection with Malik and his consistent trolling (he reminds me of Calvin's dad from Calvin & Hobbes).
I hate those too. But I will say Rita was more than that, I didn't like her FOR the abuse, but I admire her smarts.
But on the other hand, I hated how difficult she was to get alone with. She'd annoy me if she was real.
Asbel did grow through a lot of hell, and when he DID decide to leave, he was a young kid. I did admire him trying to change around a tragic point in his life. From there out though, I do admire that he wasn't really the....um, coolest
protagonist the series has seen, I foudn him good-hearted but terribly simple-minded (now whether that's endearing or stupid is up to you... in the end, the most I liked from him was solely within the realm of skits and win quotes).
Cheria was awful. She's the best friend I'd want just from sheer girly-ness, but she's useless to the plot otherwise. Asbel! Asssbell!! All of her stupid ribbon accessories deal with dating a guy or getting noticed.
Sophie I do actually find endearing.
Malik was great.
And Hubert...despite having probably the biggest issues to deal with in his childhood is a lot like Rita: Incredibly frustrating to get along with. I like his win quotes, but that stick is so far up his butt he's constantly sour from it.
Pascal was great, she helps divert the mediocrity from the rest of the crew who can be kind of dull.
Ironically, despite how dull the cast was this time around, the victory quites were probably the best from the series.