Ar tonelico 3 addendum: of TiliaAugust 20, 2010
Now, one more post to set the record straight.
My first playthrough of the game was with Saki, who I expected to like better than Finnel. In the end, I found that neither of them had grown significantly or exhibited any captivating or admirable traits. The word that H and I kept coming back to was “childish”. In a story like this, I want to meet characters I can look up to, or at least sympathize with.
Tilia redeems the game. Her “Normal End” hugely short-circuits the storyline of the game in a bittersweet way. Her “True End” had me feeling way more invested in the main storyline, once I was able to see the two main heroines just as well-developed NPCs. Even the unsatisfying combat was saved by her superior battle song choices.
Most of all, Tilia’s Binary Field storyline (the visual-novel segments of the game) had me as engrossed as any Cosmosphere or Binary Field sequence in the whole series. It recalls a crucial time in the history of Ar Ciel, injecting humanity into what was just some background lore about the origin of the towers and the reyvateils. Not only that, but through the magic of the Binary Field conceit, it puts you right into that 700-years-past story. I loved the blending of mythos and personal relationships, the deliberate thrice-over revisiting of the same few days, and, well, the pleasure of listening to Sakamoto Maaya talk a whole lot.
Even the lackluster character art in the game was replaced in my mind by this true-to-form portrait in the official design works book. It was presumably colored by Nagi himself, which makes all the difference. I did the best I could to reproduce it here via photograph and heavy iPhoto adjustments. [Edit: I found a proper reproduction of the original art!]
So, thankfully, I think I will be able to maintain fondness for the entirety of the Ar tonelico trilogy after all.