With the Atelier MegaFeature well under way, it’s probably about time we took a look at some of the wonderful female characters in the series for Waifu Wednesday, isn’t it?
And where better to begin than with Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana’s main female protagonist, Lita Blanchimont? While Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana eschews the series’ traditional focus on a playable female protagonist, Lita nonetheless plays a very important role in the game’s main narrative, and is one of several ways we come to understand some of the broader lore of the Atelier Iris series.
Let’s take a closer look, then. There may be some mild spoilers ahead!
Lita is one of the first characters Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana protagonist Klein meets as he is journeying around the world to learn more about alchemy. They don’t get off to the best start; having been travelling for a while, Klein is out of elemental mana energy and is unable to use any of his unique skills, leaving Lita to assume he is a “weakling”, unable to take care of himself.
From this initial encounter, we get a good picture of what Lita is all about: she’s a capable young woman who has clearly been self-reliant for quite some time, and most certainly doesn’t need anyone to look after her. She takes an interest in Klein, however; alchemists are not at all common in the time in which Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana is set, and thus she finds herself compelled to find out a bit more about him — once he’s proved he’s not as useless as he initially appeared, of course.
Lita, we learn, is a Galgazit, which is essentially a mercenary warrior who protects a region from a mysterious phenomenon known as “Growloons”. At the time Klein meets her, she’s evidently been doing this for quite some time; she’s already got a good relationship with a lot of people around the town of Kavoc, and she’s already very familiar with how her “business” works. Satisfied with how Klein’s skills might be able to help her out with her duties, she encourages him to join her — an offer he gladly accepts, seeing it as an ideal opportunity to continue his journey of learning.
Over the course of the game as a whole, we learn that Lita isn’t quite as indomitable as she initially appears; in fact, a significant event partway through the game makes her one of the most vulnerable party members in some ways. We learn that she is not human at all; she is an artificial life form created by the eponymous Iris, dependent on a stone known as the Ruby Prism for her continued survival — a stone which, wouldn’t you know it, ends up getting nicked by the main villain of the piece.
Thankfully, Klein and the friends he makes over the course of his journey find a way to help keep Lita up and running, and she comes to learn that it’s okay to rely on others; it’s okay to show weakness; and it’s okay to admit when you’re struggling. Sometimes, in fact, it shows greater strength of character to be able to stand up and honestly admit your pain than it does to bury it beneath a facade of defiance and standoffishness.
Despite learning this important lesson, Lita never quite leaves that defiance and standoffishness behind. She never suffers fools gladly, and there are people with whom she has significant personality clashes — most notably the owner of Kavoc’s magic shop, Veola. Over the course of a lengthy side story, Veola and Lita have some issues with one another over their respective affection for Klein; the difference between the pair of them is that Veola, despite being fairly reclusive at the best of times, is more than willing to admit her feelings out loud, while Lita spends pretty much the entire game restraining herself from telling the mostly oblivious Klein how she feels.
Naturally, with the sort of personality Lita has, she won’t admit that this is an actual problem with her; rather, Klein is the “jerk” for refusing to notice the fact that she has feelings for him. Occasionally she comes close to admitting things, but holds back before actually saying anything definitive. When Klein, inevitably, having obviously not had to deal with this sort of interpersonal situation before, doesn’t recognise what she’s trying to say to him, she’s quick to become frustrated and upset, but it likewise tends to pass fairly quickly — especially when some of the other party members give her some light-hearted ribbing for her constantly rebuffed sort-of advances.
It’s at times like this that we see Lita’s vulnerability — and perhaps her true self, cloaked beneath a somewhat abrasive exterior. It’s obvious that despite the fact she often has harsh words for people she doesn’t have the patience to deal with, she has a genuinely caring heart inside her. Despite her aforementioned rivalry with Veola, for example, some later scenes in that side story show that she genuinely cares for the troubled young woman and doesn’t wish to see her do anything she might regret. And if that means sticking around to continually be the butt of her jokes when other people are watching… then, well, so be it.
In this way, despite not technically being “human” in the strictest sense of the term, Lita shows herself to be one of the most human of the cast as a whole. She genuinely cares for others — even those with whom she has clashed in the past — and wants everything to turn out for the best. And she’s more than willing to put in the work to make that happen; having been alone for so long by the time we meet her at the outset of the story, she knows that nothing good comes for free, and that those willing to work hard for their happiness will eventually get what they are due — even if it takes a while.
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