Clockwise, from top to bottom: Aoto, Saki, and Finnel.
The third game in the JRPG series by Gust is called Ar tonelico III: Sekai Shuuen no Hikigane wa Shoujo no Uta ga Hiku (The Song of the Girl that Pulls the Trigger of the End of the World) in Japan. Nippon Ichi released this game under the name of Ar tonelico Qoga: Knell of Ar Ciel in North America on March 15, 2011, with Qoga meaning End in Hymmnos.This time around, the protagonist is a young steeplejack named Aoto, while the setting is the region of the third tower of Ar tonelico, Sol Cluster, where Reyvateils hold high importance over the second-class humans and control their population, destroying entire human cities when they become too large in a genocidal process called Cleansing, while the survivors are turned into vegetables through a brainwashing process called Purification.The story starts with Aoto lazying around during his work hours, when a rumble outside his house makes him notice that an old man and a woman are being attacked by Clustanian troops. After helping the woman to fend the Clustanians off, the woman transformed into other girl: Saki, while the old man died from the wounds he sustained, telling Aoto to take care of Saki and giving him a mysterious pendant that looked identical to one Aoto had, telling him to give it to his son. During their run to the air bus station to escape from the village now they were being chased by the Clustanians, they met with a friend of Aoto's, Tatsumi, who helped them escape, not before Saki made her own clothes magically disappear and used some sort of weird power to turn the soldiers and robots into giant pieces of cake. While this leaves them astonished at first, they take advantage of it as a chance to escape from the village. Once they stop to rest outside the village, Saki, now with her clothes again, awakens without any memories of what happened in the village or who the old man that died protecting her was, making Tatsumi suggest taking her to a Reyvateil-specialized doctor that lives in the neighboring city of Eternus Shaft.However, this only marks the beginning of a long journey where they befriend other characters: Hikari Gojo, the good-natured doctor Tatsumi mentioned; and Finnel, a clumsy Reyvateil waitress that lives and works at the Eternus Shaft. Both of them seem to be keeping some secrets of their own, which Aoto and the others will discover as they fight to find the truth behind Saki's memory loss, the fact she and Finnel have multiple personalities that change their appearances entirely, why Clustania is so keen in capturing her, and the connection she and Finnel have with some incidents that happened in Sol Cluster's past; while protecting them both from Clustania and the human-ruled nation of Archia, the second of which seems to have ulterior motives. This will also take him to discover why the Third Tower was created originally and what were its functions, getting into an adventure that will decide not only Sol Cluster's fate, but also that of the entirety of Ar Ciel.The game later on got small sequels in the form of Drama CDs, each one giving an ampler outlook on the endings of each individual heroine, while also pulling out a final sequel for the entire series in the form of two light novel tomes in which the casts of the three games join to accomplish a single goal.Being as this is the page for the third installment, more general series tropes go on the Ar tonelico page.
This game contains examples of:
A-Cup Angst: Finnel is very vocal about it. She even says she doesn't want to wear a certain item because she doesn't have the bust for it. Aoto immediately offers to make her some pads. Cocona gets defensive about her size at times as well.
All Men Are Perverts: You have the option of invoking this when programming Hyumas. After purging to the final level, the player can ask the girl to stip again. Depending on the girl being programmed, she may not object to the idea...
Aoto:"You know, since we've gone this far, let's go all the way..."
Saki's 3rd Cosmosphere level.
A God Am I: "Behold my refined body! The divine apperance of the new age's ruler!" Ayatane after he switches from his Teru Tribe form to his Antibody form.
All Women Are Doms All Men Are Subs: Inverted. Finnel secretly likes Aoto calling her 'servant' because she's a sub. He doesn't figure this out until she spells it out in her fifth cosmosphere level.
Bandage Babe: Filament symbolizing the 'broken messiah' aspect of the Planet's Will.
Beyond the Impossible: When the Rinkernator is open, Reyvateils can't use Song Magic because the systems that make it possible are disabled. Cocona can cast anyways because she is connected to Infel Phira (back at the Second Tower) instead of the Third Tower whose Rinkernator was open at the time. There's a cutscene showing the energy transfer through space.
Beam Spam: Tyria loves this as it manifests in all her spells.
The Big Guy: The military instructor Mute, as seen here. Her other form, not so much.
Bilingual Bonus: The story EXEC_FLIP_FUSIONSPHERE/. tells in its Hymmnos lyrics is arguably more interesting than the song's context in the game.
It's at the same time the most beautiful and the most depressing thing you'll hear. Song here, Lyrics here.
Bittersweet Ending: The normal and bad endings. Get the bad ending? Finnel and Saki both die and all life will be killed by the Antibodies. Get the normal ending? The heroine you didn't choose dies. Not only that but with the state the planet is in, the Will of Ar Ciel itself, Ciela, will die in a year. Without Ciela, the other Wills would die too, and without the Wills, the Planet is dead. So either way, everyone will die.
Bodyguard Crush: Inverted at first as Saki and Finnel show signs of affection to Aoto before the player chooses a specific girl's ending route, thus choosing Aoto's specific romantic interest.
Also plays a huge role in Tyria's Binary Field, where you essentially get to play through a Visual Novel with yourself taking on the role of the Bodyguard. Exactly how crushy it gets depends on your choices, but for the Best Ending... it'll need to get VERY crushy.
Body Horror: Rev. Gengai gets turned into the Reyvaroid, a grotseque human-Antibody hybrid. Fortunately, he returns to normal after the heroes defeat the monstrosity.
Cast from Hit Points: EXEC_FLIP songs draw power from the singer's own life energy, potentially killing her. Saki and Finnel both have one, which are heard as part of the plot, aside of Saki's constant use of her Miracle power, which is a form of EXEC_FLIP as well. As for if they are killed from singing them, that depends on which ending route you're in.
Cat Girl: Filament has cat ears under her nun habit.
Clothing Damage: Exaggerated to the point that you can't do a powerful special attack (especially when purging) unless one of you has been stripped down, even to the point of bearing your underwear!
Literal in Filament's case. The more that she is purged, the more tattered her clothes get.
Cloudcuckoolander: Tyria; somehow every other thought ends with 'fried bread' or some other random topic.
Combat Stilettos: Every female in the game wears something with high heels but this trope is concerned with Coccona and Richa who are the only ones to melee fight in them.
Declaration of Protection: Aoto says this often to Saki and Finnel. Deconstructed as the strain of protecting someone from two superpowers with only a drill and a handful of friends is so great it drives him to a breakdown.
The Dulcinea Effect: Aoto to Saki in the first 5 minutes of the game. Not so much because of Saki herself (at first), but because it was a dying man's final wish and his keepsake piqued Aoto's curiosity further.
Distressed Damsel: Phase I is more or less keeping Saki away from Clustanian forces and rescuing her when it happens. Lampshaded in a Phase 2 talk topic: "I'm sorry I got abducted multiple times."
Fanservice: Undoubtedly the most blatant in the series which is saying a lot considering the last two involved a Modesty Towel costume. Also, there's a trophy that's literally titled "What's wrong with being a pervert!?"
Changed in the English version to "Return to Innocence"
Fantastic Racism: Reyvateils of Clustania "cleanse" human communities (read: destroy) and "purify" individuals (read: brainwash) It turns out that most of them are fairly nice, if snobby, and the ones causing problems at the start Heel-Face Turn. The true villain is one more human who sees Reyvateils as disposable dolls.
Foreshadowing: When you Dive into Saki, you'll see her Hymn Code is written: SAKIA_FEHU_TILIA_HARVESTASYA. Guess what it means?
Gameplay and Story Segregation: You can encounter Soma within Finnel's "second" Cosmosphere before discovering that Finnel is Soma during the course of the game. You can also fuse Finnel and Yurisica together in her real second Cosmosphere level and have Finnel fight as her after Yurisica helps you escape from Eternus Gallery (possibly before, as well), but Tatsumi doesn't bring up the fact that the girl that helped them escape from the prison was a Persona of Finnel.
The player can also "learn" (if you didn't notice Saki's Hymn Code) Sakia is the true persona instead of Saki from the Cosmosphere before it is revealed in the plot. Aoto seems surprised by the information he already knew.
Getting Crap Past the Radar: If the "purge" feature, in which Reyvateils literally strip to make themselves more powerful, is any indication, then either the radar no longer exists or the developers stopped caring about it or the radar wasn't there. Some countries are lax on the topic of nudity, which would explain why this game got an M rating in the United States and an equivalent of a T rating everywhere else.
Girly Bruiser: Clustanian reyvateils in general, considering they are front line soliders here.
Mute acts like a House Wife in Phase 4 and goes onto put Raphael into a paralyzing bear hug
Sakia, the sword bearing and armor wielding guardian, has a very cutesy soulspace. When asked about it, she blushes and refuses to comment.
Aoto's weapon is a combination of sword, giant drill and a giant scissor with beams around it. Tyria Lampshades that Aoto's weapon is illogical.
Tatsumi's weapon is called a V-Board; a surfboard with a motor and a beam edge around it. One image synthesis deconstructs the idea: his new V-Board is reinforced with rare metal because the old one broke. These are not supposed to be weapons.
Hikari Gojo is the biggest offender. Officially it's a doctor bag, well not just a doctor bag. It's a doctor bag that can: Shoot laser beams, transform into a shield, bazooka, stun enemies with electric, a beam saber installed inside it, DRAGOON beam cannon pods, and a Wave Motion Gun. A doctor bag has never been this Badass before.
Cocona's weapon is a V-Board too, since she is Tatsumi but she's a bigger offender because her V-Board can seperate into two beam tonfas. The tonfas can generate a beam wave and beam twister, and by the way it can also float too considering it's originally was supposed to be a V-Board. When she uses her EX-Move she takes her original weapon: her beam sword generating hair clips. Yes, you read it right Beam Hair Clips! Only in Ar Tonelico...
Aoto: Hey, there are treasure chests in the Tower right?
Tyria: Well, no one would bother to come if there were no treasures.
Aoto: Actually, I think the fact that there are treasure chests inside the Tower is surprising in the first place. Who the hell put such a thing inside the tower anyway?
Tyria: Why, of course it was me. They were created at the same time as this Tower's creation.
Innocent Innuendo: A series tradition: when a young couple uses phrases like 'dive virginity' and 'consensual' and 'you didn't even sweet talk me' it's easy to get the wrong idea.
Intertwined Fingers: Finnel and Akane do this in the ending, complete with both of them blushing.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Momoko often brutally bullies Finnel, which immediately pisses off Aoto, until you learn the truth. Momoko was merely complying to Finnel's wish to keep being tortured; in fact she genuinely cares about Finnel to the point that she willingly performs a Heroic Sacrifice to save Finnel's mind from collapsing. Even Aoto cries for her.
Also in Finnel's Level 9 Cosmosphere, old habits are hard to break as evident when Momoko is reborn, picks on Finnel and (optionally) later tells you Finnel's "weak points". She has the best intentions in mind...
Jiggle Physics: They made an extra video explaining the physics of the different character models.
Lampshade Hanging: Aoto asked Finnel why Clustenia has Dive Shops because... you know, they have no humans in their town, right? So why bother having dive machines? Even better, why install one in every house? Finnel only says that it's one of Clustenia's seven mysteries, leaving Aoto to wonder about the other six.
Synthesis discussions as the character's regularly point out the improbability of wearing dresses as armor, discuss why you'd ever want to build a flame thrower or use a V-Board as a weapon and so on.
Large Ham: Mute is often shouting and running and calling herself a super hero. Aoto, too, whenever the protection of Reyvateils is concerned or his passion for drills comes up.
Luminescent Blush: All the girls do this when Purging. This is hilarious in the case of Tyria, since when she's fully purged she's wearing the exact same outfit she always wears when traveling with the party, having dressed up for the battle.
Mad Bomber: Yurisica, who always seems to be enjoying herself way too much when she sets off explosives. Aoto points this out: she's a reyvateil. She's has magic. She doesn't need bombs in the first place.
The Man Behind the Man: In Clustania, the reason for Harvestasha's genocidal hatred of humans, as well as her love of turning them into vegetables via "purification" is her being reprogrammed by an Ayatane 700 years ago. Another Ayatane controls the movements of the Great Fang Militia by giving them choice information as Luphan... meaning the Ayatane family basically controlled every event outside of Archia for centuries.
Mercy Kill: According to the "Feelings Contained" within the song XaaaCi, the Will of Ar Ciel intends to do this on a planet-wide scale, feeling guilty for what her beloved "children" have done to the world.
Ms. Fanservice: Sarapatra wears a suggestive dress and often flirts with Aoto.
Paper-Thin Disguise: Saki's Nyamo cat mask. Only the Idiot Hero thinks it'll work and even then his friends think he's just playing along to make Saki feel better.
Precision F-Strike: Akane. In her Japanese voice, her dialogue is flat, even during some of the late-game portions which has everyone else go everywhere. However, when during two points in the game when she is betrayed by her superiors, her voice raises an octave and her portrait has the appropriate response. Remember that this is coming from a Reyvateil who's supposed to have no emotions.
Pregnant Badass: Zoi, Ar Ru's Song Magic, is a literal one, her evolution through each Purge it's just a ever increasing Gestation Period, and attacking with her babies.
Shout-Out: Harvestasya has a ton of OS-related references, it seems. The title of her "chmod b111000000/n" song is a slight tweak to a Unix command, and there are two "editions" of her named for different Windows OSes (XP and Vista).
In fact, the song servers could be considered shout outs to PC technology in general.
XP is the nice Havestasya and Vista is the mean one. On purpose? No idea. Hilarious? You bet.
"I've never seen a superhero in shorts, a tank top and a straw hat" - Cocona while synthesizing, as the topic was about what makes a superhero (they were talking about costumes). Aoto replies saying he'd kind of like to see that. Sounds like a reference to Luffy of One Piece!
Simple Yet Awesome: This is Coccona's preference; she doesn't like her weapons having extra dodads and her supermoves are all based on a simple premise like 'turning' or 'go fast in one direction'.
Sweet Polly Oliver: Tatsumi, who turns out to be Cocona Bartel. Justified since she was trying to hide the fact she was a Reyvateil. Given that all Reyvateils are female, pretending to be a boy was the best way to achieve that goal.
Take That: When doing an Item Synthesizing a Rehearshal Frill with Tatsumi.
Tatsumi: ...Somehow it looks like Goth Loli (Gothic Lolita) clothes.
Aoto: What is that? Some kind of Gokiburi (Cockroach)?
Tatsumi: Aoto, with that statement you have made an innumerable amount of enemies.
Teen Genius: Sasha again, only this time she can create her own personal Hymnnos and a satellite. Even Tyria commented that given another 3 years she may surpass her creator.
Third-Person Person: Saki switches back and forth, sometimes in the same sentence. Cocona continues her trend of third-person reference from AT2, although she uses it less frequently in this game. The trope itself is parodied inside Tyria's cosmosphere.
Timed Mission: Defeating a boss called M.Y.U. in a certain time frame determines whether you can go on to get one of the true endings or not. Also, if you don't defeat the final boss quickly enough, a giant sword appears and kills you.
Trademark Favorite Food: Tyria has a liking toward Agepan (Fried Bread in the English version); sadly it doesn't exist anymore (or so they say, even thought you can buy one from the game's special merchant) so we never get to see her eating one.
Finnel is Type B as she has a tendency to drop the hurt on Aoto when offended, sometimes even calling him stupid beforehand but is nice to everyone else. Her character profile describes her as a 'typical tsundere'.
Parodied with the DLC Personality Patch for Harvestasha; installing it will turn her into a typical Type A, even breaking out the infamous "It's not like I ________ or anything." line. Coccona calls her a 'lunatic girl' and the 'booest boo I ever met'.
Unusual Ears: Saki's hair accessories act like this, to the point where they "prick up" when she's surprised.
Vapor Wear: Richa. Fitting, considering her desires (or so you can infer). Krusche even calls her "that sexy military chick", so the viewer can relate to seeing it as abnormal.
Variable Mix: Your Reyvateil's song has different musical effects added in depending on which Hymma you have equipped.
Virtual Paper Doll: While the clothes each persona is wearing can't be changed, gradually removing them is a central feature of battle.
Winged Humanoid: Harvestasya, and Ar Ru. Except they're not really wings; they're something else gameplay-related.
Widget Series: If the first two games didn't convince you, this one will go out of its way to leave you completely bewildered.
1) You have to have your Reyvateils take their clothes off so they can become more powerful.
2) Your best friend since childhood? He's a chick. From the second game, as a matter of fact.
4) One of your Revyateil companions turns people into cakes and we haven't gotten into the battles yet. This game is so Japanese it's funny, similar to how Disgaea is.
Word Salad Title: "Ar tonelico Qoga: Knell of Ar Ciel" is 7 words long and two actual words in it, one of which is somewhat obscure. The rest of it is so obtuse that Nippon Ichi Software America released a press release explaining what the title means.
Zettai Ryouiki: A number of characters have this in some form or another. Akane's is apparently a uniform.