My Thoughts on Atelier Escha & Logy’s Anime Announcement

Yesterday there was an announcement of Atelier Escha & Logy being animated. Because Gust was acquired by Tecmo Koei back in 2011, I am not definite on who exactly brought about the anime idea. Since it is Atelier Escha & Logy we are talking about, the decision making must have been very recent and post-acquisition. The Atelier games spawn a long history of games, but only the Arland and Dusk series are mentioned more recently.

My thoughts are also assuming this would be a traditional 12 – 13 episode series because there is no initial indication that it is an original animation video (OVA). Let’s start off with the positives and potential.

1) Escha was picked because it is the most recent Atelier to this date.

As far as keeping current and possibly looking forward into the future, the logic behind Atelier Escha makes sense if you are concentrating on the here and now. It can assist with promoting the game itself and the English release of Atelier Escha around the same time if it is all Spring 2014. The company is pulling all the moves to promote this game, whether it is an upcoming English release, bolstering sales of its current game, or simply looking forward into the future.

2) This would mark the first Atelier game having an anime adaptation.

Let’s face it, to several extents fans demanded an anime in some shape or form considering how the game’s openings are animated quite nicely with a good background music score. It’s pretty exciting for an anime to even be announced, as there are too many logical and negative reasons to justify why there wouldn’t be one.

3) The story in Escha & Logy is feasible.

Unlike the other Dusk and Arland Atelier games, this is the only game that features two protagonists. The game’s base design mixes traditional RPG elements with alchemy elements by contrasting two protagonists with intertwining paths. As far as story goes, the way the two protagonists interact with one another will be unique only to this game. Not only that, but the full party is together due to the six party member system, allowing more reasonable group interaction. The idea of animating this game looks reasonable in terms of what you can do with it.

Naturally, there were several questionable aspects of the announcement. While there are some personal doubts that I have that are more extreme, several doubts are within reason. Below are some thoughts that come immediately to mind.

1) Why not Atelier Totori?

If the anime announcement was to celebrate the 20th anniversary, wouldn’t you want to pick the top game of the most recent Arland trilogy? If a poll was made of which Atelier game fans would desire animated the most, it would have to be the Arland series. Atelier Totori’s popularity and sales are quite noticeable. More people would recognize it more quickly. Attempting to bolster Atelier Escha is useless if you alienate fans that would have preferred an Arland character. I seriously believe a poll regarding desirability of Atelier being animated would lead to Totori or at least an Arland girl, not Escha (or Logy).

2) Why Atelier Escha?

Atelier Escha reflects the here and now, but it doesn’t reflect past history very well since it is highly influenced by Tecmo Koei with the implementation of the Dynasty Warrior game engine and being more of a hybrid of Ayesha and Rorona. It’s not the top selling of Atelier game, it’s not a beginning of a series (trilogy or not), nor is it the end. If anything, my impression from this anime announcement reflects the acquisition and the current state of the company right now rather than to celebrate its past 20 year history!

3) Japanese RPGs do not translate well into anime.

This is more like a common trend because of adaptation decay. The decay simply hurts more on an RPG. Anime episode speed goes way faster than the slower longer nature of an RPG.

3) Atelier Escha is a direct sequel to Atelier Ayesha.

Seriously? The first Atelier anime will actually be about the story that starts in the middle? How will the series even establish the foundation of what happened in the previous game? Thankfully it functions reasonably as a standalone, but the choice is still weird even if it is the most recent Atelier game.

4) Is Atelier Escha as a product actually struggling?

A motive for making an anime is to promote the product. It’s fairly obvious the idea of an anime did not spawn from good sales or else the Arland series would have been animated already. This promotional move I believe generates just as much doubt as interest, particularly due to the product choice. Atelier Escha isn’t fleshed out enough to have its own fanbase. Recent events surrounding it made the game more victimized by company decisions rather than reflecting on a game that is desired by fans to be animated.

Due to my continual pessimism about what motives the company may have to go as far as announcing an anime of Atelier Escha of all the Atelier games, I can’t help but just wonder what on earth they are thinking. My skepticism far outweighs my optimism, and I can’t seem to find anything to be particularly excited about with the announcement. From a business standpoint, the decision itself makes sense when you think about it, but the projected reality from a fan’s perspective is likely not as good as it could have been.

1) Making an anime is expensive.

Atelier games are niche, no matter how you look at it. The company does not have the budget power that a bigger more well known company would possess. Why would you blow so much budget to run the anime based on a game that hasn’t even been out for more than four months when you already have a full honest fanbase with the previous trilogy of the same series? I’m honestly hoping this would be an OVA, where the budget and quality per episode is higher.

1a) The Atelier Ayesha debacle.

The Arland series benefits from remakes and plus games for the vita. Atelier Escha gets an anime. Atelier Ayesha gets thrown under the bus, probably considered a product failure. I’m seriously wondering if the lack of marketing we have seen with the English releases of the Atelier games lately, the vita games being download only, along with Atelier Ayesha not having Japanese audio all to save on costs was to fund this Atelier Escha anime.  If this is true I truly think the company is shooting themselves in the foot with a machine gun loaded with spiky fruit.

Usually a game getting animated would be caused from the popularity of it. Atelier Escha did not topple records and actually had stiff competition on its release. The cause of the anime is definitely not from strong sales or popularity. It has to be stemmed from being the current game and attempting to bolster the company’s next plans, such as the next game, or helping out the most current game.

2) The choice is way too reactive and recent.

Atelier Escha as a game itself was a reactive creation, pulling back from the original plan of Atelier Ayesha and the Dusk series being of a different darker nature and forcing elements from the Arland games immediately. Atelier Escha’s English release forced a promise to retain dual audio due to the outrage on the company’s actions for Atelier Ayesha. I personally feel like Atelier Escha getting an anime is actually to follow suit with other RPG games having an anime. Hyperdimension Neptunia would be the most visible recent animation, and it’s not the only game to have an anime this year alone. This behavior screams “follow the current trend of what others are doing” instead of “sweet, an Atelier anime adaptation, can’t wait!” I mean, the first impression from an Atelier anime announcement would indeed be an Arland game! It’s like the company is trying to use the Arland game’s previous popularity to bolster interest in taking a look at the Dusk series. That’s almost like admitting their lower sales or popularity lately!

3) This is to further promote Atelier Escha & Logy

I seriously feels more like a marketing move than a genuine anime adaptation with recent events. My mind is already blind-sighted at the possibility of the anime actually being worth the watch. The announcement was intended to celebrate the Atelier series, and yet Atelier Escha feels more like the odd one out because of fan reception to the current company direction.

4) That still brings back to the same question: why not the Arland series?

If anything, the Atelier Rorona remake was announced and projected for a November 21 release. This makes it even more recent than Atelier Escha! The only counter argument is that Atelier Escha transitions better to whatever the company has next in store for releases in 2014, whereas focusing on the Arland series right now would be looking backwards.

If there was supposed to be an Arland anime adaptation, the best timing theoretically would have been 2012 to promote the beginning of the vita releases of the games after celebrating the trilogy’s success. The argument against animating the Arland series makes some logical sense, such as the issue of making sense out of the interaction between different party members who have little to no correlation with one another. However, the positive reception from the Rorona remake and vita plus games do seem far more noticeable and reflect better on the trend that Atelier games work quite nicely on handheld. If there is any forward looking moves, it would be the ports and remakes, not the Dusk series. I can only think that the Arland series also isn’t chosen to be animated since the initial game production release had nothing to do with Tecmo Koei being prior to the acquisition, whereas Atelier Escha had full Tecmo Koei influence. Thus, a decision to animate the Atelier series would naturally only happen with a pure post-acquisition game: Atelier Escha being the only one.

In the end I am not all that excited for the news. I understand that Atelier Escha & Logy is by no means a bad game, but I highly question the company’s motives in announcing this. To me it feels like an attempt at a recovery from a blunder. From a business standpoint, I would go as far as saying they’re just wasting their time. This decision can only be good if the anime is genuinely good and generates new customers. Anything less is not worth the resources at all.

I can’t tell if this was a Gust action, since the announcement is timed to celebrate its 20th anniversary, or if the anime was only made possible by Tecmo Koei acquiring them since the Atelier games were comparatively small on budget. The announcement of an anime supposedly looks good on paper but the reality really feels much more like a desperate struggle than an awesome anime to look forward to next year. There appears to be more skepticism than hype. We shall see. What are your thoughts?

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2 thoughts on “My Thoughts on Atelier Escha & Logy’s Anime Announcement

  1. While I am skeptical of Tecmo-Koei, I have seven points of contention against being cynical towards it:

    1. I agree with the sentiment that Escha to Logy’s anime adaptation is a marketing move. But let’s take it further: Let’s agree most anime adaptations are advertisements (if anyone disagrees, go watch Shingeki). This is not a T-K problem; this is embraced by everyone in the anime industry. That’s why I find it silly for people to be “cynical” about an actual fact. Unless it’s original, the anime is meant to advertise. You can’t pin the blame on T-K for that.

    2. Most people forget how badly Ar tonelico sold. If we look at Ar tonelico’s OVA, it failed at doing its job: advertisement. It also gives input why GUST has stepped away from the anime world for a while; it’s afraid of doing a massive blunder. There is a growing trend of video game to anime shows right now, but it’s been slow. They just don’t advertise. Valkryia Chronicles anime sure didn’t rescue the franchise from going into PSP-only territory. And I doubt Neptunia, for all its success in the anime adaptation, would budge the sales of a horrible video game series.

    3. If the anime adaptation of a video game do sell like in the case of Persona 4, it’s because the fans are buying buttloads of DVDs and BDs for it. While it is unlikely Escha to Logy will garner as much sales as Persona 4, the Atelier fandom is decently-sized and has been there since Marie.

    4. When we ask, “Why not Arland?”, we then ask “Why not Mana Khemia? Why not the Iris series? Why not…” Again, I pinpoint to the Ar tonelico OVA.

    5. It’s misleading to bunch Western and Japanese fans into one giant category. Japanese Atelier fans are alright with T-K’s move. They’re more pissed about Kishida Mel’s new style than any executive decisions. For one, they didn’t have to play Ayesha in English. The only thing I can think of pissing them off is the crossovers to that shitty Samurai Warriors game but that’s it.

    6. Atelier Escha to Logy is not a reaction to Ayesha’s “dark and edgy” elements. If that’s the case, GUST would make the game more kawaii instead of adding bishies and using the Mana Khemia battle system. If anything, Logix’s side is just as dumb kawaii as Escha’s.

    7. On the idea of “niche”, “low budget”, and whatever: GUST and Tecmo-Koei has nothing to do with the anime adaptation as far as animating goes. They are the producers, not the animation company. They may have a vision, but it’s all up to Studio Gokumi to work on it. I’ve been tsundere with Studio Gokumi, but they can work when they want to. Kiniro Mosaic has some nice animated scenes (despite being dull 4koma trash).

    There is more to say about this subject, but I feel that we Western Atelier fans are too harsh on T-K. Products are supposed to sell, not “whatever people want”. The Escha to Logy anime adaptation makes little sense to me too, but I find that there are many reasons why they didn’t adapt Ayesha (A-list seiyuu) and Escha is a new focus to get the “serious RPG gamers”. If GUST/T-K want to refocus their attention onto a new demographic, they might as well publish the game that best resembles their new focus.

    And it is selfish of us to disagree on that.

  2. Valid pointers. I was indeed exhibiting too much cynicism since I was only thinking of negatives. If anything, as you pointed out, any “natural moves” the company would make well, they’ve been making them. Like if there was certain demand of something, they implemented it eventually in some way shape or form.

    1) The embrace itself for an anime adaptation was predictable enough with current trends that are going on. It’s both interesting since T-K likely made the opportunity possible (otherwise Gust could have less likelyhood of animating anything at all given the next points you made). At the same time I still feel they’re being very “follow oriented” instead of “breaking to new heights” (despite an atelier anime otherwise unheard of, the fact it exists is quite impressive in it of itself).

    2) I completely forgot about Ar Tonelico’s sale reality. The fact that I actively sought the game and couldn’t recall anything of it brings an old memory as to why some OVA moves didn’t exactly do anything. With this past history, again this makes me feel like if it were Gust alone, an Atelier anime likely wouldn’t come to fruition. Anyhow I still find the move awkward, since as you’ve just pointed out, video games going to anime have hardly seemed to effectively bolster anything.

    3) Personally I would hope that the adaptation can flow like the reality that Persona 4 did. That’s the only way I see the move to adapt end up being plausible. I can’t even think of a “successful” scenario that’s realistic other than that. The reality of the two series are somewhat comparable, but they’re quite different in many ways, so I can’t get myself to be all that positive despite the possibility.

    4) Right, I thought of the MK and Iris series as I wrote, but I thought it was best that I didn’t delve into series I personally did not venture. Also, while the history dates back pretty far, a lot of recent focus is well, on more recent games. Though for that same reason, the fact that Escha orders actually provide Mana Khemia 2 would imply factoring it a possibility.

    5) I didn’t intend to mislead, though I myself can get confused on the realities of different demographics. I didn’t realize this better until I actually went back to Asia, where the approach is drastically different. For that same reason I should have factored in the anime also being to a Japanese audience which would make any NA (or even EU) decisions a complete non-factor.

    6) Er I meant to say Escha is a reaction to adjust back to some older mechanics that existed in say Arland (choosing traits), or stepping away from forward progress such as the back attacks. If anything, to me it felt like a reaction to go with the old tried and true, more than a Dusk alchemy tune up. Although there are certainly some new systems and mechanics, it felt more like a mix of already existing systems, as opposed to taking Ayesha’s system and fleshing out to the next level. It did do that to a certain degree, but even the alchemy system itself got reverted to something previous. On a random note, I do remember Gust’s Escha gameplay previews and half the commentary was kawaii while the other half of the commentary was kakoii. So I guess the focus was for serious RPG gamers since the combat potency of the characters does reach new heights because of the support system being merged into a party super meter bar.

    7) Right, the adaptation itself isn’t factored from the producers, though they do factor whether the existence of the production even happens. Most of the issues that spawn for adaptations is mostly RPG to anime decay making the task at hand already begin with a disadvantage.

    Products are indeed supposed to sell, but in this case I just felt some moves were somewhat counterintuitive, even though the basic idea was fine. But yes, clearly there is refocused attention, so the move is respectable at the attempt. Let’s just hope the adaptation is at least reasonable or good.

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