We’ll be discussing the titular protagonists of the Atelier Arland trilogy in detail throughout the main Cover Game feature, so I wanted to give a bit of love to some of the secondary characters.
And what better place to begin than with the rather grandiosely named Cordelia von Feuerbach: lover of frilly yet practical dresses, loyal friend and renowned shortarse?
Cordelia appears in both Atelier Rorona and Atelier Totori, and is a popular character for her distinct personality, her fits of tsundere rage and her rather touching relationship with her childhood friend Rorona. Across the two games, it’s a pleasure to see her grow… well, if not “up” then certainly more mature.
We’re first introduced to Cordelia in the early hours of Atelier Rorona, where she is revealed to be a close childhood friend of the titular protagonist. (Also, the Atelier wiki notes that “it is hinted in both Atelier Rorona and Atelier Totori that she may have feelings for Rorona”, which is quite possibly the understatement of the century.)
They might seem like an odd pairing, what with Cordelia’s status as a young noblewoman and Rorona effectively being a member of the “working class” — one deep in debt, at that. But Rorona and Cordelia in many ways depict the turning point that Arland finds itself facing as we join the story: many people (including Cordelia) feel that the traditional system of nobility is somewhat outdated and that their home country is in need of “progress” — people should be working together to make things better rather than some lording it over others.
Cordelia perhaps feels even more strongly about this due to the fact that she knows her status isn’t even hereditary or traditional — it was purchased. She doesn’t feel pride in either her status or riches, and in fact if you follow her narrative thread throughout Atelier Rorona, you’ll discover that in many ways she’s actually quite keen to distance herself from these things; the people who she feels close to (primarily Rorona) are the most important aspects of her life.
This doesn’t mean she doesn’t enjoy a few luxuries now and then, however; another part of her storyline in Rorona is her enjoyment of jewelry. When Rorona messes up a synthesis and accidentally produces a pretty gem made of an unknown substance, she is immediately captivated by it and comes to treasure it as a symbol of their relationship despite its apparent worthlessness from a practical sense; unsurprisingly, when the pair run into tensions later in Cordelia’s narrative, the gem breaks in an unapologetically symbolic manner.
One thing Cordelia doesn’t enjoy is her height. Standing just four foot six when we first meet her, she doesn’t grow an inch in the six (eight if you’re going by Japanese canon) years that elapse between the beginnings of Atelier Rorona and Atelier Totori — and she’s extremely sensitive about it.
Most people know not to press this issue, though Rorona’s mentor (and creditor) Astrid deliberately taunts Cordelia by producing a homunculus precisely an inch and a half taller than her. This is Astrid through and through, however; she’s a bit of a dick to pretty much everyone around her, but it’s the sort of light-heartedly offensive ribbing you might share with your friends, calling them things never meant to be heard by polite company when you’re in the privacy of your own homes. If you’re not being mocked by Astrid, she probably genuinely doesn’t like you. But I digress.
In her ending and the post-game “Overtime” sequence in Atelier Rorona Plus and DX, we see Cordelia starting to formulate a plan for her future. Specifically, she seems keen to take some responsibility for the town she has come to care about, and part of this involves taking charge of the growing trend for “adventurers”. In Atelier Rorona’s Overtime, we see her growing increasingly frustrated at the rambunctious behaviour of these self-professed wandering do-gooders, and by the time Atelier Totori is rolling, we see her seemingly in charge of the new Adventurer’s Guild set up in Arland’s now-vacant royal palace.
Her development — and the development of Arland — doesn’t end there, however. Over the course of Atelier Totori, she comes to realise that an issue like the adventurer “problem” isn’t something that can necessarily be solved with bureaucracy. In fact, the limited-time nature of the “adventurer licenses” she presumably helped to devise ends up creating a lot of work for her, and thus an ongoing background narrative thread in Atelier Totori is how Cordelia manages to transition the business of the Adventurer’s Guild from one drowning in paperwork to one that can function efficiently and effectively.
Throughout Atelier Totori, Cordelia is represented as a responsible and relatively sensible young woman for the most part, though she has most certainly kept the fiery temper and somewhat immature streak she had throughout Atelier Rorona. Indeed, our first encounter with her in Atelier Totori is witnessing her arguing with party member-to-be Mimi Houllier von Schwarzlang who, unlike Cordelia, is more than happy to throw around her status to try and get what she wants. Cordelia, naturally, is having none of this, and refuses to give Mimi an adventurer’s license before immediately awarding one to Totori, just to spite the furious young aristocrat.
Cordelia remains a popular character for many reasons: her distinctive design, her fiery personality and her spirited performance in both the original Japanese language track by prolific seiyuu Eri Kitamura, and by her dub artist Wendee Lee. She is, for me, a highlight of the first two Atelier Arland games — though at the time of writing we’re yet to see if she’s set to make a return in the upcoming fourth Arland game Atelier Lulua. Here’s hoping!
Thanks for reading; I hope you enjoyed this article. I’ve been writing about games in one form or another since the days of the old Atari computers, with work published in Page 6/New Atari User, PC Zone, the UK Official Nintendo Magazine, GamePro, IGN, USgamer, Glixel and more over the years, and I love what I do.
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