Anyone who has ever worked an office job will have doubtless come into contact with the particular archetype that Marion Quinn from the Atelier Dusk trilogy represents.
Perpetually overworked, constantly struggling for recognition and seemingly always lumbered with frustrating, thankless tasks despite being highly competent and intelligent, the Marions out there are the unsung heroes of the world. They’re the people who get things done without making a big fuss; they’re the people who you want to keep on the right side of, because they also tend to be the people who have the real power in the grand scheme of things.
We get a glimpse of Marion’s life in Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk, followed by an opportunity to actually work alongside her in Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky. So let’s give her a bit of love for today, shall we? Office party!
We first meet Marion fairly early in Atelier Ayesha, when the eponymous heroine visits Riesengang, the home town of her friend Regina. Marion is seen engaging in an argument with local leader Glide about investigating the ruins Riesengang is built atop; Glide doesn’t believe a rather dignified looking young woman like Marion would be able to take care of herself in the potentially perilous ruins, while Marion is resolute in her assertion that she needs to survey the site ahead of sending a more well-equipped team from the government to investigate further.
This argument continues in the background for the vast majority of the game — Ayesha herself manages to sidestep a similar debate by travelling with Regina, who is renowned among the people of Riesengang as being tougher than any man, despite her relatively diminutive stature. As this little side story progresses, though, it becomes increasingly apparent that a lot of the “arguing” is for show; Glide eventually makes it obvious that he welcomes the company of Marion, and is partly being awkward to ensure that she keeps coming to see him. Marion, to her credit, recognises what is going on and, in the name of solidifying relations with the people of the area, keeps coming around to argue her case, ultimately not really caring whether or not she is actually successful.
This kind of sums up Marion; she’s someone who takes great pride in getting her work done and always does her best to achieve what is expected of her — but on occasion even she has to admit that certain ongoing problems are just not worth even attempting to resolve, even if appearances remain important. This is a lesson that the slightly older form of her in Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky has to teach Escha in the early hours of the narrative; Escha, keen to impress her new employer, takes on far too much work and has to be told by Marion that she should really be prioritising her own tasks rather than saying “yes” to every unreasonable request that comes her way. She’ll look better if she takes on less work and accomplishes it successfully than if she takes on too much and isn’t able to do any of it properly.
In Atelier Ayesha, Marion is perpetually accompanied by Linca, a mysterious young woman who seems to only care about her own swordsmanship. Marion takes it upon herself to help Linca with socialising — a lesson which Linca herself seems a little reluctant to learn — and seemingly ends up acting more as a nagging mother than anything else. That said, most of the things we hear about Marion tend to come from Linca’s somewhat skewed view on life; if Ayesha asks Marion about the things Linca has said, we usually discover that Linca has made some sort of ridiculous mistake, typically by taking an offhand statement much too literally.
Marion is obviously a caring person, though. She provides Linca with attractive clothes, keeps her safe and warm indoors and even indulges her over the course of the narrative when she attempts to learn the art of cookery from Ayesha. She doesn’t berate Linca for her mistakes, but instead helps her to understand how she could have done things better — but she also encourages her to challenge herself. During the early hours of Atelier Escha & Logy, we see Linca putting herself into social situations she obviously finds extremely awkward; it’s obvious that she’s doing so because Marion asked her to, and because she believes in Marion’s assertions that challenging herself in this way will be good for her in the long term.
On the other end of the spectrum, Marion knows her own limits when dealing with other people, and makes it abundantly clear what her expectations are. During the opening scenes of Atelier Escha & Logy, we see that she is friendly and welcoming to the young alchemists — but also makes it clear to them that they will be expected to pull their weight, and failure to accomplish the things they have been tasked with will have consequences. At no point in this sequence does she ever become threatening — but you know she’s absolutely serious. This is a woman who takes pride in her work — and who knows that the performance of her underlings reflects directly back onto her.
Throughout both Atelier Ayesha and Atelier Escha & Logy, Marion can be seen as a fairly scathing criticism of modern corporate and bureaucratic culture. She’s someone who just wants to get on with things and get things done, but finds herself constantly surrounded by mountains of paperwork and dragged down by expectations that she does things that don’t really matter in the slightest. In many respects, she’s a perfect model employee — but you also can’t help feeling a bit sad for her, since relatively few people seem to genuinely care about her wellbeing or truly appreciate what she does.
Next time you play the Dusk trilogy, be sure to go out of your way to be nice to Marion; the poor girl deserves it!
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