Tag Archives: themes

Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm – Narrative, Themes and Characterisation

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Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm initially doesn’t appear to have many direct connections to its two predecessors — aside from the presence of the Mana spirits, that is.

There doesn’t seem to be a widely accepted “official word” on exactly why this is, so it’s largely up to interpretation. Some commentators online believe that the game was originally intended to show Iris Blanchimont’s alchemy training, placing the game in between Atelier Iris 2: The Azoth of Destiny and Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana in chronological terms — but either that was never a thing, or it was changed at the last minute. Because, as the game makes clear, the Iris in Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm is not Iris Blanchimont — she’s Iris Fortner.

Ultimately it doesn’t matter all that much; Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm very much has its own story to tell, and has a well-realised narrative setting in which to explore that story. So let’s do just that!

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Waifu Wednesday: Iris Fortner

Fun fact: in contrast to the rest of the Atelier series, Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm is the only game in the Iris trilogy in which the title character is playable.

In Atelier Iris: Eternal ManaIris is a mysterious figure from the past. In Atelier Iris 2: The Azoth of DestinyIris is a mysterious small child who may or may not be the same Iris who was a mysterious figure from the past in Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana. But in Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm, Iris is not only right there from the outset, but she’s actually the one who runs the atelier itself.

Okay, she’s not the lead protagonist in terms of who you control on the game’s field screens, but she is the most important person in the narrative. She’s also thoroughly lovely, so let’s explore her character further!

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Waifu Wednesday: Jessie Rasberry

Final Fantasy VII has always had popular female characters in the form of Tifa, Aerith and Yuffie from the playable cast, as well as Scarlet and Elena from the extended cast of NPCs.

But I remember being intrigued by Jessie back in the original PlayStation release… and it seems I wasn’t alone, as judging by reactions on social media a lot of people are absolutely thrilled with the much more substantial role she has in Final Fantasy VII Remake.

With that in mind, then, let’s take a closer look at this thoroughly charming character that we finally have the chance to get to know a bit better.

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Atelier Iris 2: The Azoth of Destiny – Narrative, Themes and Characterisation

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Although technically a “sequel” to Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana — it was even known as Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana 2 in Japan — Atelier Iris 2: The Azoth of Destiny unfolds quite differently from its predecessor.

It’s set long before the events of Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana, for starters, so the world in which the action unfolds is very different. There’s a stark divide between the peaceful land of Eden, where alchemy is widespread and Mana spirits walk (or walk-equivalent) the streets alongside humans, and the “surface world” of Belkhyde, which left the practice of alchemy behind long ago.

Before we delve into all that, though, there’s an important question to address: what the fuck is an “azoth”, anyway?

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SeaBed: What You Leave Behind

I reviewed this visual novel over at Nintendo Life — please go support my work over there, then join me back here to delve into the narrative in more detail!


SeaBed from Paleontology Soft is a kinetic novel that first released in 2015. It was localised for PC two years later, much to the delight of Western yuri fans, and in early 2020, it got released on Nintendo Switch, too.

It is, not to put too fine a point on it, an absolutely masterful work of fiction. It’s peaceful and calming yet melancholy, and the evocative, descriptive writing gives the whole experience a pleasantly mature feeling that is a far cry from noisy, chaotic anime hijinks. Not that there’s anything wrong with noisy, chaotic anime hijinks, mind, but sometimes you just want a bit of quiet contemplation to mull over.

So let’s mull it over together, because there’s a lot to talk about. There are likely to be some spoilers ahead, but I’ll try and keep major ones to a minimum, because you should experience this for yourself!

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Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana – Narrative, Themes and Characterisation

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Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana is something of an outlier in the Atelier series as a whole, as we’ve already talked about.

Rather than adopting the established structure of “struggling alchemist works in a workshop to craft items, also there are adventures” it inverts this format to “struggling adventurer explores to discover mysteries of alchemy, also there is crafting”.

This change of structural focus gives the narrative scope to be a much more epic affair than many of the other games in the series — but at the same time it doesn’t abandon one of the series’ core principles. Let’s take a closer look.

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Waifu Wednesday: Veola

One of my favourite characters in Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana is Veola, the seemingly rather standoffish owner of the magic shop in Kavoc.

Veola’s sidequest is technically optional, but like most of the “shopkeeper quests” throughout Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana, it’s hard not to get swept along in the soap opera of her life — and how she relates to the other people around her, including protagonist Klein, his party members, bartender Norman and numerous others.

So let’s take a closer look at this rather closed-off young woman and figure her out a bit. Some spoilers ahead!

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LAMUNATION!: Keeping It In The Family

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Well, it’s been quite a journey so far, hasn’t it? Between Lamune’s dramatic reversal of fortunes and Iris and Rayla’s somewhat open, fluid views on sexuality, one certainly cannot call White Powder’s visual novel LAMUNATION! “boring”.

You haven’t seen anything yet, though, because we’re about to explore probably the strangest and most chaotic narrative path of all: that of protagonist Luna’s sister Corona.

We’ve got incest. We’ve got magic. We’ve got musings on the nature of visual novels as a medium. Grab a cold Red Bull, strap yourself in and hold on tight, ’cause we’re going in.

Some NSFW stuff ahead!

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LAMUNATION!: Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves

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Central to LAMUNATION!, whichever narrative route you choose to explore, is the setting of the Cherry Crown Diner.

A diner inspired by 1950s Americana, the Cherry Crown serves as something of a social hub for the main cast — and, in pretty much all of the paths through the game, ends up becoming a successful landmark and tourist attraction in the unusual corporate-run city of Saint Aria.

There are a lot of interesting things about the Cherry Crown Diner — not least of which are the charismatic, chaotic twin sisters Iris and Rayla, who run it in their parents’ seemingly perpetual absence. That seems like as good a place as any to continue our exploration of this delightfully delirious visual novel!

Some NSFW stuff ahead!

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LAMUNATION!: Welcome to Youkoso Saint Aria

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LAMUNATION! is an absolute fever dream of a visual novel. It’s one of the most gleefully, joyfully chaotic narrative experiences I’ve ever sat through.

One thing I found particularly interesting about it was the fact that depending on the order in which you explore the three main narrative routes, you either start with material that is relatively easy to digest… or just throw yourself right in to the insanity.

The choices I made, as it happens, resulted in a gradual escalation of chaos — so that’s how we’ll take a look at things over the course of the next few articles.

Some NSFW content ahead.

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