“It’ll all work out… somehow!” is a phrase that can be applied to a wide variety of RPG protagonists from over the years, but Elmerulia “Lulua” Frixell from Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland makes a distinctive effort to make it her catchphrase.
Well, technically speaking the catchphrase is 何とかなるなる (nantoka naru naru), which is a little catchier, but I’m sure everyone reading this is familiar with the challenges of localisation. And, as it happens, in this case, “it’ll all work out somehow” is a pretty accurate translation anyway.
Regardless of whether or not “it” worked out (somehow), Lulua is a delightful character to have around. So ahead of our first steps into the fourth adventure of the Atelier Arland trilogy (yes, I know) I thought it’d be nice to celebrate her a bit. So let’s do just that!
First up: Lulua is Rorona’s daughter. This has been common knowledge since Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland was first announced, but somehow the exact circumstances of this familial bond never became widely known. As such, I’m not going to lift the veil of mystery on this particular topic (right now, anyway — when we come to discuss the narrative of the game it will likely be another matter) — but it is at least worth noting that Lulua enjoys a close relationship with her mother, even if, at the outset of the game, she doesn’t get the opportunity to spend time with her as often as she might like.
It may also be pertinent to note that Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland begins exactly twenty years after the beginning of Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland, which puts the Rorona of this game at 35 years of age. Lulua’s exact age is kept a little vague throughout the game, since her quest isn’t time-limited and thus can go on for as many years as you like, but going by series convention we can safely assume that she’s about 15 or 16 at the start of the story — those important years just on the cusp of adulthood where you’re just starting to define who you are and carve out a path for your future.
As we join Lulua for the first time in her game, she seems fairly confident and secure in who she is. In many ways, she’s a distinct contrast to her mother, who was extremely nervous and lacking in self-esteem at the same age. We can assume that this disparity is due to the vast difference in their upbringing; Rorona spent many of her formative years under the tutelage of the talented but borderline-abusive alchemist Astrid rather than her perpetually absent parents, while Lulua grew up with her mother and her friends in the charming little village of Arklys.
Rorona’s adolescence was defined by her being forced to fight for her right to live in the rapidly modernising city of Arland, while Lulua has clearly grown up surrounded by people who love her in a community that, for the most part, remains fairly traditional; Arklys does have an industrial area, but we never actually see it. Unlike the mishmash of traditional and modern that is Arland, Arklys has seemingly grown in such a way that the modern side of things is kept separate and out of the way, so as not to pollute the joys of life in a very traditional, rural village.
Lulua clearly learned from an early age to care for and be considerate to others. Many of her interactions with the people around Arklys demonstrate that she has spent her life cultivating close, loving, trusting relationships with everyone she meets, whether it’s gluttonous onee-san Lisa who runs the Golden Axe Tavern, the overly formal Refle who runs the local jewellery store, or her longstanding friend Eva. At least two of the aforementioned are openly and unshamedly in love (like, love love) with Lulua; indeed, Eva says it outright to her face on multiple occasions throughout the game’s narrative, and these clearly aren’t the first times this has ever happened. Lulua has seemingly mastered letting her down gently, however.
The reason for this is that — for the duration of Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland, anyway — Lulua is devoted to her work. She studies alchemy under Piana (the girl that Totori rescued from the Frontier Village in her own game, now all grown up) and hopes that one day she will surpass her mother’s achievements. As the game progresses, she gets several sources of additional motivation to succeed in her field — but we’ll talk more about that another time when we examine the narrative in detail.
For now, it should suffice to say that Lulua is an excellent addition to the Atelier series’ lineup of wonderful protagonists. She’s a distinctive, energetic and eminently loveable character, and while she’s clearly drawn a few influences from her scatterbrained mother over the years, she most certainly isn’t a Rorona clone. They do have one important thing in common, though: the drive to succeed, and to do their best for the people who are important to them.
Lulua is a great protagonist with whom to say a final (probably) farewell to the Arland series. Over the course of her adventure, she gets the opportunity to learn from all of her three predecessors, and carve out her own distinctive story in the process. And during uncertain times, when we never quite know what chaos the world is going to throw us from day, to day, one phrase can bring us a surprising amount of strength and comfort.
何とかなるなる。It’ll all work out… somehow.
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