I’m not really a fan of the Atelier Series simply because I haven’t played the game, but I was sucker punched by Mel Kishida’s cover art which led me into buy it XD.
Udon Entertainment has just published an english version of the “Atelier Series Official Chronicle” from Gust (yep, that’s the same people responsible for Ar Tonelico). You might be wondering why I’m making a big deal out of this, but being able to read the interview sections from the Planning department, Sound department, Voice talents, and Mel Kishida was the biggest treat for non-jap speaking, kanji illiterate, me. Spanning for 272 pages, this artbook is a treat for both those familiar and new to the Atelier series.
I never knew that there was an Atelier series for the PS1, so I was surprised with this. I even used to think that Atelier Iris was the very first title in the Atelier saga. Drawing is really. The way the illustration in Atelier Marie was drawn and colored really looks like it was from the 90s when digital wasn’t in yet and the best way to color were through copic markers and other traditional mediums. This title was released for the first Playstation around 1997 and soon had a PC version in 2000.
And a somewhat direct sequel in the Salburg continuity arrives, this time it’s the story of Elie who was saved by the previous game’s heroine when she was young. I kind of totally get it now why people are kind of excited once the sequel was released. It’s like having to play Crisis Core or Dirge of Cerberus a year after FF7 was released. In my opinion, this format of building hype was one of the key success ingredients as to how the Atelier series started to gain fans.
The first Playstation 2 Atelier game, and here comes Lilie. This time the game takes place before the first two games, creating and expanding the Salburg line than before. Good job planning department that took some balls, especially since there has only been two games out and the usual trend is “don’t use continuities” and there weren’t much games out there that tried to come out with a prequel. Well there’s an idea, keep making a prequel instead of sequel XD
Sadly, the Atelier series had to depart from the Salburg universe and create a new one, thus the Gramnad line was born with Atelier Julie as the heroine. Gramnad is not a entirely new universe, it is a region located near Salburg, so basically it happens within the same planet. It’s not just the setting that has been changed, notice that even the art style has been updated as well.
Much like how Atelier Elie had connections to Atelier Marie, Atelier Violet of the Gramnad continent was taught by Eisel Weiman from the Salburg continent. Its really fun how one game is intertwined with the other. It just builds this bigger universe wherein fans can speculate and even create fan fictions of their own of the universe.
The new series, Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana, was created in the hopes of grabbing the attention of gamers who are now more or less addicted to the adventure intensive atmosphere found in most of the RPGs at that time (2004). So Gust had to adjust and created a game that focused a little less on the alchemy portion (it wasn’t as focused in alchemy as the other previous games I heard) that suited the taste of the gamers at that time. One thing to note also is that the protagonist is now a pair instead of just one girl.
This was the game I thought that was the first of the Atelier series, Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana 2. Jun Futaba again was the illustrator for this sequel (and the Gramnad series), much like how the previous Salburg games were drawn by Isaemon Yamagata. Is it safe to say that the two characters are related by blood and are also related to Lita Blanchimont of the first Iris game as well? XD
Then all of a sudden, a new game that had little relation to the first two Iris series was made with a scantily clad heroine at that. I’m thinking Jun Futaba didn’t feel drawing this project at all as the character designs looked kind of vanilla. I mean the characters actually looked like other characters from other games lol XD
Another HUGE departure from the usual was the Mana Khemia series that took place in the Al-Revis Academy. Kazuyuki Yoshizumi was able to update the aging art style in the Iris series and quite frankly I am confused because I totally adore his use of colors, but question the volume of hair with most of the characters. Seems to me that these alchemists haven’t invented hair conditioners in their day.
I adore the character designs of both lead characters in this second installment of the Mana Kehmia series. The voluminous hair has been toned down to significant degrees here btw ^^
The latest line of Ateliers take place in Arland, and our heroine now is Rorona. Mel Kishida, the illustrator for this series (along with Totori and Meruru). The art totally takes on a different approach in both character design and the background. I guess this was a really refreshing decision because this wass the first Atelier game to hit the PS3 and Mel Kishida draws cute girls XD
Take note that after Rorona, there were two other titles that came out that wasn’t from the Arland line, but from Gramnad (violet and judie are the heroines once again). Kinda fascinating how the developers refused to give up on the Gramnad story XD.
We have a section dedicated to how recurring characters like Hagel or Pamela have developed over the years.
And some discussions about the changes in the game system over the course of time. Kind of funny how everything kinda went back to how it was similar to Atelier Marie XD. Homu is the best assistant there is in my opinion XD FYI I haven’t played the game hahaha, but I really like reading up on the changes done with the system as time passed by.
As much as a I like seeing pictures and illustrations, I enjoyed reading the interviews from the different people behind the game. It was really enlightening and fascinating how these people started out, what they went through with the development of the game and why certain decisions were made.
Bought this for 2,200, which isn’t a bad deal considering that there would be other factors involved such as shipping and handling and customs. Last time, I bought something from Amazon, it almost cost me the same as buying another copy of the book.
For other reviews and peeks of artbooks, check out the following