This is review number three hundred and seven. This anime is part of the Spring 2014 lineup. The anime I’ll be reviewing is called Atelier Escha and Logy: Tasogare no Sora no Renkinjutsushi or Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky. It’s a twelve episode anime about two alchemists trying to help this small town and its people. They do this while also having some misadventures with the eccentric personalities staying in this town as well. Let’s read on.
This anime follows the misadventures of two alchemists in a remote town. Since they’re the only alchemist in the place, they often take on various requests by people and they also have some random fun with other people. One of them, Escha, has always dreamed of travelling into the floating ruins she gazes upon when she was young. It looks like this is an unreachable dream but Escha has friends ready to help her achieve the impossible.
Taking the Pants Off
I saw this anime a week ago and I only finished it recently because I kind of got side tracked. For some strange reason, I decided to play Mana Khemia for the PSP and just waste an entire week trying to grind my way to finish the game. Mid-play through, I suddenly realized I was supposed to review this show. Here’s the fun thing about this anime: it enticed me to play Mana Khemia. This anime about two alchemists producing stuff out of a boiling cauldron while also gathering ingredients with a colorful cast of characters reminded me of a game I wasn’t able to finish. This is important because I later realized that Atelier Escha and Logy is actually a video game adapted anime and it is the latest installment of the “Atelier” series. Mana Khemia is actually part of that series and an anime was able to give me a wonderful feeling that enticed me to play it. Video game adapted anime are often subpar representations of their original source but I think I finally understood the appeal of this type of anime. If you have a deep relationship with the game then I think it’s not hard to appreciate a show dedicated to it. Whether it’s good or bad, some sort of nostalgic factor plays a big role into watching the anime. I think a video game adapted anime is also doing it right if it is able to remind you of the game you love. This show is just decent at best but I think there is another level to it that makes it pretty special. As an impartial reviewer though, there are still some negatives plaguing the show and it certainly won’t click with people unfamiliar with the game. For those familiar with the Atelier series though, I think this anime will make you smile as it gives a polite nod to the franchise despite the rather mediocre overall presentation of the show.
This anime is about two alchemists in a little town. One is a resident that took a job for the R&D department and the other transferred there from the city central. The show is mostly about the pair helping the town out. Situated in a dessert with its only income being apples, the pair helps the citizens with their problems and hopefully improves the town in the process. They help by using alchemy. In the game, they take requests then gather the ingredients to create the item needed. Once gathered, they’ll go to their boiling cauldron and create the item. The atmosphere of the anime is very laidback. There’s not a lot of action and the episodes mostly focus on certain characters. There’s not a lot of RPG-ing in this anime and the focus is mostly on the colorful cast with their misadventures. Even though characters do explore dungeons and fight monsters, the anime doesn’t feature a lot of it as it just presents the interesting characters in this little apple picking town. I’ll be honest here and admit that majority of the episodes looked dull. There’s not a lot of interesting things happening in the show and the characters doesn’t really do much. There is a lack of conflict in the show and I don’t quite like the fluffiness of the story. Everyone is so happy and giddy that there is really no chance for the show to get serious. If it does, it’s usually followed by the characters cheering each other up. I’m fine with predictable stories but I don’t really care much for dull progressions. There’s a better way to tell this fluffy story instead of this rather dull approach. I think the first three episodes is the real indication of whether this anime will suit you or not. Despite the story establishing the status quo easily, the lack of interesting things to do will certainly not appeal to a lot of people. I must also admit that Escha’s voice is f*cking annoying that I can’t stand it.
In the three episodes though, the RPG elements will become apparent. I didn’t really mind the dull story that much. I’ve seen dull stories before and I can still sit through it. The interesting thing about this show though is the rather familiar RPG elements it possesses. Characters gather ingredients, they forge their own tools, they had a boss fight in a dungeon and scenes are triggered like events in an RPG. The setting looks colorful enough that I want to have a controller and explore the town. There are places like an inn, a merchant shop and an apothecary store. In the first three episodes, I think the appeal of the Atelier series comes through nicely. The dull story might drag the anime down but I think people who have played the game will be drawn in by something else. This lingering feeling that you’ve been here before but the experience is somewhat different might make you stay. I have never played the game but this familiar feeling is also pretty evident. It’s the main reason why I am currently playing Mana Khemia now. I think the feeling is ten times more powerful though for people who actually played the game. The personalities of the characters, the familiar background music and the colorful exchanges will undoubtedly give some form of nostalgia for fans of the game. Sure, the story might not mean much overall but I think the main goal of the anime is to give fans of the game a reason to smile and to entice others to pick up the game. If I have a PS3, I swear to gawd I would be playing it by now. This approach is evident because after the third episode, the other episodes focuses on the rest of the characters being introduced. With that being said though, the show still had three plot points to present.
The anime does have three plot points but they’re not really built up that great. They are often just casually mentioned and developed without ruining the laidback feel of the show. The first plot point is about Escha and her mother. They have this cute little relationship since they are both alchemists. Escha doesn’t know much about her mother though since the woman died fairly young. Throughout the episodes, there are certain things that remind Escha of her mother though. From the things she left behind to the things she could do, Escha always strives to be a great alchemist like her mother but she is also reminded of how loving the woman is. I love this little aspect of the show because you are really given a wonderful picture of Escha’s mother. Much like her daughter, she is also caring, loving and a happy person. She has high ambitions and she has an immense alchemy skill. The first plot point nicely highlights the relationship of the mother and daughter. I am really impressed with this one though because the show barely mentions the mother and I think we only see her face in one random flashback. Despite her lack of presence, the mother-daughter relationship is still warm and wonderful as the show gives us a beautiful tale of a girl who grew up with the love of a really caring mother. This plot point also nicely blends with the laidback approach of the show. With the anime brimming in positivity, this plot point really does shine greatly.
The second plot point is about the ruin in the sky. This was sprinkled in the early episodes but it was only fully established in the later parts of the show. Escha was always interested in travelling to this floating ruin but, with the high wind current and the floating debris surrounding it, no one has really ever tried to go into the ruins. As a child, she always gazes up into it and wonders what is inside the ruin. As the show progresses, various pieces of this plot point is slowly introduced. There is this book that Escha used to read as a child called the adventures of the hummingbird princess. It’s a book often mentioned countless times in the show. It’s relation to the story is still unknown until we are introduced to this girl in a black dress wandering about mysteriously. She keeps telling someone to don’t come near her while she wanders about with an unsettling air to her. The second plot point was nicely established in the run of the show but I still think the entire thing is a bit rushed and unfulfilling. I bet it looked better in the video game but the second plot point was really only resolved in the last three episodes or so. With the show going fluffy for a majority of its run, this plot point was left to just linger and then immediately dismissed. It didn’t have the satisfying payoff it was supposed to give the audience. It felt like a really interesting story for the show that hinted at other great RPG stuff like an epic final boss showdown but it didn’t really come to fruition. While I did enjoy seeing all the characters work together to reach the floating ruin, and I’ll give points for giving us a side story about Logy in the process, I still think the anime could’ve done more. This is what came to mind because the ending just didn’t really sit right with me. See for yourself if the second plot point works for you. For me, it was too serious for the laidback show which ultimately left this plot point crippled and unsatisfying.
The third plot point would be the various one shot episode concerning the different characters of the anime. This show has a large cast and each episode after the third one features a new character and their own personal problem. It could range from a character unable to complete a request or a character asking for help to overcome a personal problem. The problem is often resolved with the help of the other characters and they are resolved in the same episode as well. I think the stand alone episodes give us a better understanding of what the character does in the game. I think each character has a side story in the game and the stand alone episodes give us a glimpse of it. It doesn’t really do much for the show except give us a better understanding of the character. These are often the dull episodes that seem a bit hard to finish. It’s not just predictable, it’s really not interesting overall. It also gives us an incomplete picture of the characters. I understand that this girl is a witch but what’s this about her going to school? The anime doesn’t really expand that far and I guess it’s just added intrigue to actually play the game. Yeah, this was done intentionally because it happens a lot in the show. It would mention that two characters are actually related to each other or one character has a bunch of clones trying to hurt her or how this town has homunculi working for shiny candies but these stories are presented in a casual way. It then stops there and they never mention it again. If you want to know more then you’ll just have to play the game. I’m actually more motivated to buy a PS3 now knowing such an awesome JRPG exists in it.
The characters are really the saving grace of this anime. While they are pretty one dimensional by themselves, their bright interaction does help make the show fun to watch. The main character is Escha and Logy. In the game, you actually have to choose one of them to play. Escha is your typical happy-all-the-time girl who wants to improve her alchemy so she can help more people. She also enjoys gathering stuff for alchemy and the girl never back down despite the hurdle put in front of her. I bet she’s better in the game. With such a vibrant personality, it doesn’t really do much for the laidback show. If there are more dungeon exploring or gathering ingredients from dangerous places then Escha would be an interesting character. In the show, all she does is push herself and others to help those in need. It’s an admirable trait but I think she could do more if the situation is different. The same goes for Logy. He is a bland character because the show mostly favors Escha’s route. Logy is really just there ready to support Escha with whatever she wants to do. He also loves forging stuff as you’ll often see him hammering away at a tempered metal. With the other characters, I do think Logy is decent because he is often the level headed character telling the rest to not be so impulsive or careless. With others, Escha is your vibrant character energizing others and I do think there is some entertainment when you see them interact with the rest of the cast. For me, the only thing I really like is Escha’s tail. It’s an accessory that moves and it does look cute for Escha’s attire. It’s more interesting than Escha and Logy’s personality combined.
There are a lot of side characters. From co-workers of the pair to various eccentric characters hanging out in town, the anime never runs out of interesting characters. In the Colseit Branch, there is Marion Quin. She is like the one that hands out the requests to Escha and Logy. She’s a super strict person who secretly wishes she was younger. I like how she can be serious and bubbly at times. It’s a shame she has little screen time because I do like her character. There are a lot of characters to present though so most of them are lost in the shuffle like the other co-workers like Solle and Colland Grumman. Sole is like a supervisor always asking for reports about certain jobs the pair takes. He also likes sweets and I think he’s the one that contracts the cute homunculi for work. Much like Marion, he is also super serious but he has time to also act adorable from time to time especially when he feels insecure about his sweets not being good enough to beat another person’s dessert. Colland is the head of the Colseit Branch and he is pretty stern. Still, I think he plays his part well about being on top of his co-workers. Another character introduced late in the show is Lucille. She’s a little girl that also wants to become an alchemist and she does her very best to make that happen. Still, her inexperience and over doing things lands her in trouble. She didn’t have much time to really be likeable but I do think her adorable look plays nicely with the rest of the cast.
In town, there are also a lot of characters. There is Linca, a skilled swordsman who also gathers ingredients and does some job for the Colseit branch. There is Nio, who studies apothecary and makes medicine for people. She has this backstory of having a sister and a past that is somewhat dark but the show didn’t really explore it that much. I like her as a character because she does have a lot dimensions to her that I bet looked better in the game. The same goes for Wilbell voll Erslied. She’s a witch who often causes more trouble rather than aiding people. She seems pretty skilled though and she has extensive knowledge about a lot of things. Her annoying attitude is more dominant though as she often find ways to inconvenience people. There is also Katla Larchica who runs a small roadside merchant shop. I think in the game she provides certain ingredients you can’t get by exploring places. She thinks about money a lot often selling anything that might make profit. She is pretty adorable though and I love how she would try to make business with the other characters. There are other characters running shops that also have some screen time in the show. Much like the rest, they don’t really offer much except some helpful dialogue from time to time. There is a guy that runs an inn, a carpenter and two more treasure hunters that I think played bigger roles in the game. I appreciate the anime for introducing everything there is to see in the game but they do look like clutter since the story didn’t really need them. Video game anime is a bit complex to make. I do think that the characters do standout whenever they are together. Most episodes involve some random misadventure and such that involves a lot of characters. While the episodes are often just stupid fun, the characters still make it enjoyable to watch. After all, a hot spring episode can be dull if the characters don’t make it fun in their own terms. This goes as well for random boss fights and an episode where they chase after a tail.
If you saw the anime, I do think that it’s not really that good. It’s just decent and the dull story will eventually ruin the experience. It’s honestly your run of the mill anime. For those who have played the game though, I do think this is one novelty experience that you will appreciate. It nicely captures the good thing about the game and urges you to play it some more. It could’ve gotten a better adaptation, in my honest opinion, but I do think this anime is good enough to nicely represent the great things about the video game. I think the only thing that’s really missing is the turn base combat and a more expansive look at the available monsters in the game. Everything else is nicely presented though. It’s not surprising seeing a JRPG given a laidback treatment. I think the same thing happened for Shining Hearts, a great JRPG for the PSP. The anime version took out the combat and focused on baking bread, a side feature of the game. What the f*ck, right? The reason is really because fans of the game are who the anime is catering to. It’s a complicated thing, making video game adapted anime. Studio Gokumi handled the adaptation. It certainly fits into their style since they do amazing laidback anime. I think their work on Kiniro Mosaic and A-channel speaks for itself. They’re able to make respectable adaptations of their source which is something I do like about this consistent studio. Yoshiaki Iwasaki directed this anime. He has a style that emphasizes characters more than the story and I think he brought the flair for the bright interaction in this anime. His time in Hayate the Combat Butler and Zero no Tsukaima certainly served him well as he was able to give us something good from a rather ordinary anime like this one. I really wanted to enjoy this anime a lot more. If only the story was improved then I think this show could’ve meant a whole lot more. This anime has some wonderful positives but I do think the negatives are glaring flaws that really ruins the fun the show had going.
Sight and Sound
Hidari is a seasoned character designer. Her works have been featured in games, light novels and even anime. Her style is distinct because she has a very soft color palette that gives off a dreamy vibe. This makes her designs look subtle and gentle as she dazzles you with her detail work and amazing compositions. I’ve seen Hidari’s design before in Sasami@Ganbaranai. Once you’ve been awed by her amazing color palette, you’ll soon notice how intricate her designs are. From the way the hair is styled, which is a bit messy but incredibly detailed, to how the character’s outfit looks, you can tell the soft touches and the detail work really gives it an amazing feel. I like her female designs. Nothing really looks flashy but the design is still incredibly sound. We often have young looking girls with bright faces in fun outfits given a soft palette touch. Escha’s design is amazing. Her pink hair has a lot of small details to it which is accentuated by her simple face but nicely accompanies her complex outfit. It has a tail, big sleeves, and a belt around the skirt. She doesn’t just look like a flashy video game character but she also looks like she was made for anime. I think that’s Hidari’s best feature. Her design crosses medium and translates well into everything. I’ve seen mangaka’s have their designs altered because it can’t fit an anime mold but Hidari’s is flexible that it looks good into anything. There isn’t a lot of fan service in her designs though despite being a VG artist. I mention this because flashiness is often accentuated by fan service. Still, that’s just the pervert in me talking. I think the pretty faces coupled by the cute soft touches and the great body build makes her character designs certainly one of my favorites.
The same approach is given to male characters. While some are muscle bound characters, the soft palette still applies and it certainly does add a lot to the laidback feel of the show. It’s a shame the graphics aren’t as crisp as the video game but I do think the anime was able to give justice to Hidari’s design and the video game’s visual content. The animation is where things become a bit iffy though. The quality in this show is pretty subpar. It’s not as flashy as you’d expect a video game anime should be. There are scenes where animation looks good but then there are also some scenes that add to the dullness of the show. Visuals really needed a lot of work. The characters did carry the weight of the dull story but I think the bright appeal of the video game should’ve been captured by the anime as well. Most dialogue heavy scenes doesn’t have movement to them, fight scenes are boring and I think there are only two featured in the show and even the alchemy sequences looks boring. I have seen Studio Gokumi deliver high quality visuals before so I’m quite surprised that they didn’t put effort in this anime. You can tell that the faces distort and most animation looks awkward. I know Studio Gokumi is founded by former Gonzo staffs but that doesn’t mean they should be as bad as the company they left from, gawd damn it. It’s a good thing the appeal of the JRPG is still intact thanks to other factors like the simple background designs and, thanks largely to, the background music during certain scenes.
The anime have a lot of amazing background music to it. They often set the mood for certain scenes but usually they sound like those captivating town music when you play RPG games. They’re wonderful melodies that capture the vibe of a certain place. If you’ve ever played JRPG then I’m sure you know the type of music I’m talking about. It’s a strong positive aspect of the anime that I am truly in love with. This is offset though by Escha’s annoying voice. I honestly don’t like it but hopefully, it’s more tolerable for others. Anyways, the anime’s OP is “Asuiro” by Rie Murakawa. It’s a really beautiful song about following your dreams and overcoming adversities in your life. It talks about facing your problems head on and not faltering towards your uncertain future. The game has a big theme of following your dream, that is somewhat mentioned in the anime, so I think that’s a big part of why the song talks about pursuing your dreams. The song has a simple pace with Rie’s voice standing out in magnificent fashion. The instrumentals are really just support for Rie’s singing which sets the beautiful tone of the song. The verse is also something I like more than the chorus because it had a more steady pace to it. It’s a great song that nicely adds some more nod to the awesomeness of the game. The OP sequence features all the characters and a brief boss fight. You can see the bright interaction coming through in every scene so I do suggest taking a peak at the sequence to see if the anime suits you. The animation quality is slightly higher in the OP sequence and I am not a fan of shows making their OP grand when their regular animation is actually subpar.
The ED song is “Fuyumidori” by Haruka Shimotsuki. It’s a slower pace love song about someone being reminded of a time she was with her loved one. The song is solemn and a bit gloomy as if the lyrics feels depressed but maybe that’s just me reading into it wrong. Anyways, much like the OP song, the singer’s voice is the standout here simply giving the song its gloomy personality. I kind of liked it in a depressing kind of way, that is a bit enchanting, but that’s just me. The ED sequence features the mysterious girl in the floating ruin seeing the sun rise so I do think I am reading into the song wrong. The ED sequence ends with the girl giving light to the land which looks pretty cool.
4/10 “It’s a decent adaptation of a popular game but the lack of a satisfying story doesn’t justify sitting through twelve episodes of a dull show.”
As I said, I think the great things about the RPG game were nicely represented but I do think the hurdles of a video game anime weren’t conquered by the show. It lacked a decent story progression, character development and a satisfying ending that I do think this anime greatly deserved. It does entice me to play the game though so I think that’s a wonderful aspect of this anime. Still, some areas could’ve been improved. If you have played the game then try this anime and see if it can make you smile. If you like laid back shows then you’ll enjoy this anime as well. If you’re a fan of shows with more emphasis on character interaction then I think this anime will suit you. It does have a lot of fun things to offer despite the dullness so I do think some people will really enjoy this one. Don’t expect much though and just enjoy the easy going approach of the anime.