Yes, yes, yes, I know we technically “did” Pamela already last year, but as you’ll know if you’ve played more than a couple of the Atelier games… one can never really claim to truly know Pamela.
Specifically, knowing just one form of Pamela — her (re)incarnation that appears in the Arland series, in the case of that previous article — doesn’t necessarily mean that you know everything there is to know about Pamela. I mean, she may or may not be the same person at all. Probably not, given that the various Atelier subseries are regarded as unfolding in completely separate continuities. Unless…?
Enough justification. Today we’re looking at Pamela Ibis from Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis. Don’t you dare make her cry.
Like most incarnations of Pamela throughout the rest of the Atelier series, the Pamela we meet in Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis is a ghostly girl who evidently died in the prime of her life — while she was attending the Al-Revis Academy, to be exact.
The circumstances of Pamela’s demise are, as ever, not immediately apparent, and she appears to have no desire whatsoever to either tell her story — if indeed she remembers it at all — or to go looking for answers. She’s a ghost, she’s perfectly happy with that fact, and that is, as they say, that.
Pamela is cagey about exactly how long she’s been lingering around the Al-Revis campus, but we know that she has been there in one form or another — alive or (un)dead — at least since the time the current school’s principal (whom she still refers to as “Bernard”) was a student. Given he appears to be pushing the back end of middle age at the time Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis’ narrative unfolds, we can assume that Pamela has been living her best afterlife for several decades at the very least, possibly even longer.
Despite her many years of “experience”, Pamela is still somewhat childish at heart — or at least she acts that way. She always carries a stuffed toy around with her — in several Atelier games, this is depicted as the specific object that she “haunts” in order to stick around — and can, at times, be incredibly manipulative, appealing to her compatriots’ emotions in order to get them to do things she wants them to do. They always fall for it.
The ongoing narrative of Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis marks a bit of a turning point in Pamela’s afterlife. Previously, we’re led to believe that she was happy haunting the school’s library, making friends with the monsters who called its deepest depths home — indeed, there are plenty of amusing scenes where we see Pamela admonishing monsters for anything from petty crimes to trying to seriously injure students at the academy.
Something about the workshop that protagonist Vayne joins makes her curious, though; she leaves her comfortable home and decides to, in essence, become a student again. She assists Vayne and friends with their tasks around the workshop; much like everyone else, she makes her own distinctive mark on the communal living space they share; and she’ll happily head out into the field with the party when they go searching for ingredients or answers to greater mysteries.
Mechanically, Pamela is actually rather interesting, because her nature as a ghost means that she has her own unique considerations. She can’t be “killed”, for example; in practice, this means that if she’s knocked down to zero hit points in mid-combat, she’ll return a turn or two later almost as good as new. This is a direct mechanical callback to one of the Blades class-specific abilities in Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm, which allowed protagonist Edge to do the same thing.
Likewise, advancing her through Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis’ unusual progression system allows you to unlock the ability for her to become completely incorporeal, meaning she becomes totally immune to physical attacks. This is a mechanical callback to Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana and Atelier Iris 2: The Azoth of Destiny, in which ghost-type enemies could only be damaged by magical attacks. I won’t lie, it feels pretty good to have that particular ability on your side at last.
Pamela’s not invincible, though. She’s a fair bit weaker than a lot of the other characters and is heavily reliant on her active skills to be useful in combat — and many of these drain her HP. These are well worth exploring, though, as many of them depict her calling upon her “friends” from the depths of the library to support her in combat. And she has some very strange friends, shall we say.
Pamela could easily be a tragic character, given her very nature, but with the core narrative of Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis having its own elements of tragedy — particularly in the later chapters — she is kept mostly as a fairly light-hearted character, allowing us to enjoy the inherently silly side of the supernatural. Her rather blunt, self-absorbed nature also makes from some rather entertaining comic misunderstandings at times — with probably the most amusing being the sequence where the other workshop members convince themselves that the studious Roxis is in love with Pamela; things do not end well for the poor boy, shall we say, even though he claims to have had no feelings for her in the first place!
It’s interesting to see the many variations on Pamela the series as a whole plays host to. Mana Khemia Pamela is quite a bit more assertive and manipulative than Atelier Rorona Pamela, for example — and indeed, the Pamela in Atelier Rorona grows and changes over the course of Atelier Totori and Atelier Meruru, too. Mana Khemia Pamela has feet, too, which Arland Pamela does not. Except in Atelier Totori, but those are special circumstances.
Regardless of the exact form she takes, however, she’s always a pleasure to have around — if not entirely convenient when you’re trying to get things done sometimes — and she forms a delightful, important part of Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis’ core playable cast.
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