Continuing Atelier’s proud tradition of having a number of characters with delightfully flamboyant, somewhat Germanic names, I give to you Mimi Houllier von Schwarzlang.
First introduced in Atelier Totori and subsequently explored further in Atelier Meruru, Mimi is a delightful character to be around. She’s also a great example of how the Arland trilogy as a whole makes good use of established character tropes as a basis, and develops those characters over time in various ways.
Let’s take a closer look at this little firecracker, then.
Our first encounter with Mimi comes upon Totori’s arrival at the Arland Adventurer’s Guild, where she intends to get an adventuring license in order to truly get the search for her missing mother underway. As Totori walks in the door, Mimi is engaged in a fierce argument with Cordelia, and it seems neither is particularly keen to back down. In fact, sensing an opportunity to really get one up on her rival, Cordelia immediately awards an adventurer’s license to Totori right in front of a steaming Mimi, who is left frustrated and empty-handed. (Cordelia apparently later relents off-screen, as Mimi becomes an adventurer in her own right.)
Mimi is, it seems, immediately taken with Totori. Shortly after returning to her home village from her excursion to Arland, Totori is surprised to find Mimi hanging around. Mimi is seemingly looking for her — though she’d never admit that — and the pair end up going on adventures together, developing quite a close friendship in the process.
By the time Atelier Meruru rolls around and a satisfied, exhausted Totori has settled down in Arls, it seems Mimi is well and truly carrying a raging, flaming torch for the gentle young alchemist, taking every opportunity to try and visit her, talk to her and spend time with her. Meruru, being a thoroughly modern young woman, is well aware of what is obviously going on here, even if Mimi won’t admit it, and often finds herself passing messages on to Totori even if she told Mimi she wouldn’t mention anything to her.
Mimi’s personality can be broadly categorised as tsundere, and she has a fair amount in common with Cordelia, which perhaps explains why they clash so violently upon their first meeting in Atelier Totori. They’re both from highly privileged backgrounds, they’re both attractive young women, and they both have strong feelings about what they want to achieve with their lives.
The difference between Mimi and Cordelia is that Mimi actively wants to promote the name of her family by becoming a famous adventurer, while Cordelia pretty much wants to abandon her life of plenty and live life as a “normal” person; since Cordelia’s parents bought their nobility rather than having it awarded to them or inheriting it as a birthright, she never felt like she was a “real” aristocrat, and as such it’s not at all a surprise to see her working a fairly mundane job in Atelier Totori — even if, as the head of the Adventurer’s Guild, she has plenty of responsibility.
Mimi, meanwhile, is very much aware of her aristocratic status and likes to flaunt it at every opportunity — at least in Atelier Totori, anyway. She believes that being a von Schwarzlang should confer immediate and unquestioning respect, though over time she does learn to let this attitude soften somewhat — at least partly due to Totori, who she sees treating everyone with kindness and good cheer, regardless of their status or lot in life.
The Mimi of Atelier Meruru has calmed down a bit on the arrogance (and smiles a lot more!), though she still maintains that she wants to do what she does as a means of spreading the good name of her family. It’s extremely clear that meeting Totori has brought great meaning to her life, however; it’s not unreasonable to assume that Totori is, in fact, her first ever true friend, and thus it’s not altogether surprising that her feelings very obviously run much deeper than simple friendly affection.
The alchemical accident that leaves Rorona as a small child in Atelier Meruru gives the writers plenty of opportunity to play around with these characters as Rorona experiments with re-learning all her alchemy skills — usually through her favourite hobby of pie-making. In one memorable scene, the pie Mimi eats forces her to tell the truth, which causes her to blurt out all manner of obvious-to-everyone-else truths about her feelings towards Totori; in another, Totori and Mimi outright swap personalities for a few minutes, which makes for an extremely entertaining exchange.
Between the two games, Mimi undergoes probably the most significant changes in her overall design out of the entire extended cast. While her Atelier Meruru look is clearly inspired by her initial appearance in Atelier Totori, she seems to “mature” the most out of all the cast members. In Atelier Totori, she looked like she was playing the part of noble adventurer but not quite pulling it off; in Atelier Meruru, meanwhile, she has blossomed into a delicate, beautiful young woman who moves with agility and grace, whether she’s hanging around town or fighting for her life alongside her allies.
That maturity, agility and grace, of course, makes it all the more appealing when she completely loses composure — usually while she’s talking about or to Totori — and reverts back to that same silly little tsundere girl she was all those years ago. Simply delightful.
Here’s hoping we get another chance to enjoy her company in the upcoming Atelier Lulua, when the Arland trilogy finally becomes a quadrilogy… or tetralogy, if you prefer. (I do, a bit, having stumbled across this word today.)
Anyway. Yes. Mimi is great, and the Atelier Arland series is fabulous. Read all about it right here… and revel, once again, in the joy that is Gust Beautiful Girls.
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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