Ever seen a show you found yourself liking unexpectedly, only to be surprised when it ended so soon? Yeah, that happened to me with Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky.
To be specific: Escha & Logy is based on the game of the same name, which is part of the Atelier line of Role Playing Video Games (noted for all having a female protagonist who practices Alchemy.) Within the line, there’s a recent trilogy, known as the Dusk Trilogy, set in a world affected by a mysterious event known as “The Dusk” which caused it to slowly grow more and more arid. Escha’s game is the second in the trilogy, although you do not need to have seen the previous one (Atelier #14, known as Ayesha) at all to understand this series. (The subtitled version I saw did however, point out which characters had previously appeared in Ayesha.)
The series takes place in Corset, a town in the desert’s frontier, established to attempt to reach the mysterious Floating Ruins. Like other ruins in this world, they were left behind by a civilization with more advanced alchemy- who disappeared mysteriously. Unlike the other ruins, these float in the sky surrounded by winds and debris that makes approach by balloon impossible.
Escha is a young female alchemist who, at the beginning of the series, joins the local Research & Development Branch formally (but had already been helping them for a while.) Her dream since childhood is to be among the first people to reach the Floating Ruins. She gets paired with a newcomer, a young warrior named Logy who transferred from Central City for his own reasons (if you think he has a tragic past, you’d be right- more or less.) At first I feared he and Escha wouldn’t get along, but quite the opposite, they ended up playing the old I-like-him/her-but-cannot-say-it game. Which is usually reserved for younger characters. It was cute though.
Other characters slowly join the cast, most of them bringing quirks of their own which are used effectively. Among them, there’s Willbell, the witch-in-training whose greed often gets the others in trouble; and Lusca, the no-nonsense female warrior with a rather bizarre secret (which is actually not explained in the show- unless they are planning a second season? I hope so.)
The main mystery of the show is, of course, The Floating Ruins. Who’s in there in and why is it isolated? Actually the first question is very clearly hinted at in the credits which shows a girl with iridescent hair standing in the ruins. And once revealed, her secret isn’t that amazing- not if you are used to watching science fiction and fantasy. Still, the show manages to move you with her story.
The series does have a couple of surprises at the end, though. I’m not going to spoil them, other than to say I went “Really? That’s how they are going to end it?” Given how by the numbers the show was, I expected a more typical ending. Since I haven’t seen the games, I have no idea if this is because the story doesn’t end there. (Note: Atelier #16 stars different characters.)
Still, I can say this: for such a short (only 12 episodes) typical fantasy show, I really enjoyed E & L. Maybe because of its slice-of-life approach that focused on each character at least once. It was very funny, too- I particularly liked the episodes with the Cursed Tail and the (obligatory) Hot Springs episode!
Highly recommended for: fans of fantasy, comedy, romance, and the Atelier games.