Video Game: Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis aka: Mana Khemia Alchemists Of Alrevis
Don't forget to take your sword to school!
Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis is a Fantasy RPG video game, a subseries of Gust's Atelier Series of games based on the concept of alchemy. In this case, the focus is on Al-Revis, an academy for alchemists. Probably inspired by the popularity of Harry Potter, though it doesn't feature any obvious captain ersatzes.The main character is one Vayne Aurelius, a boy with a Mysterious Past that he himself is unaware of, since he grew up without company except for his Mana, Sulpher, a talking black cat. Vayne is found by one of Al-Revis' professors and is invited to join the school. The game follows his attempts to fit in it (complicated by the fact that his timidness and desire to help others make him a doormat) and the slow discovery of his personal past.Playable characters besides Vayne include:
Anna Lemouri, a young yet disciplined female samurai with an interesting... sense of imagination;
Muppy Oktavia Wonderchak VIII, a tiny, cute alien who floats around in a pot-shaped UFO.
The game covers three years of Academy Terms, split down into weekly events. Naturally, being an RPG, the school's "assignments" often involve a lot of Dungeon Crawling.The direct Sequel, set about 15 years after the end of the game, goes by the name of Mana-Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy.The character sheets can be found here.
Tropes featured in this game (Note- Please post any character-specific tropes on the characters page!)
Amazing Technicolor Battlefield: Any battle when you fill up the burst gauge. Also, final boss battle; doubly so if it uses a skill called "Lightless World," which on the subsequent turn will turn the battlefield glowy molten red.
Arbitrary Headcount Limit: You have eight party members. You have three on vanguard lines, and three in the support lines. These switch in and out at will during battle. What are the other two doing? Sitting out, we guess. Why? Hell if we know, because they regain SP and HP slower than they would if they were in Support.
Archenemy: Spoofed twice; once with Tony and Flay; the other pairs Flay again with Vayne, at the end of Flay's character quests and ending.
Ash Face: A recurring part of Jessica's character arc.
Awesome, but Impractical/Slap-on-the-Wrist Nuke : Summon Meteor and Heaven's Gate. Summon Meteor does exactly as it sounds, but takes 300 sp, where in late/endgame the characters' sp can't reasonably afford casting it. It's slow to take effect, and the wait time after using it is pretty long; not worth the damage it does. Heaven's Gate has a pretty nice animation, an awesome name, and takes out a set percentage of hp. Problem is, by the time you can synthesize things with Heaven's Gate, it's useless on most enemies, who are either resistant/immune/not worth using it on.
Be Careful What You Wish For: Subverted with Theofratus, whose fate is exactly what he was wishing for. Played straight later in the game, though then again, the subconscious wishes from the heart are also a tricky thing...
Never wish to be alone. You might not like how it plays out.
BFS: Flay's mechsword. Anna's katana is longer than she is tall. Also, Vayne can transform himself into a huge sword, or wield one in his Finishing Move. And Renee from the Quirky Miniboss Squad, as well as some generic student enemies.
And when we say Vayne's sword is big, try about 6 or more times his size.
Jess's ending isn't much better. After the credits, we see her taking medicine in a bed (implying her condition has worsened) and Vayne tells her that this one will be the cure.
Bizarrchitecture: Considering the island is created by alchemy, any of the natural landscapes could also apply. And they definitely do apply. Floating midair platforms, endless underground levels, and some seriously big trees are the least of what you see here.
Blessed with Suck: Pity the poor fool who pacts with the Mana of Light. On one hand, yeah! You get combat abilities far surpassing what one could have without a Mana! And you become pretty awesome! On the other, be prepared to be (possibly publically) humiliated (on a huge scale) whenever the Mana is bored and is in need of entertainment (often).
Also Vayne, whose powers bring him nothing but trouble.
Boss Rush: The first half of Heart's Prison has the party take on certain storyline bosses for a second time.
Justified in that the Bosses involved in the rush are memories of when Vayne used his powers (but not all memories of them). In order: the Huffin tree, fighting the Great Beast, and the awakened Mana. However, the first battle makes little sense; the first battle is against Tony and Renee, but in the main storyline, only Roxis was fought during the Huffin event- it might be that if they'd fought a memory of Roxis, the party would've clued in sooner.
Broken Bridge: most of the outdoor locations are in plain sight in the Academy Map. However, players won't be able to visit them until the story requires them to. Notorious are the "sequential" dungeons (Mana Ruins, Dragon's Grave). In these dungeons, the exit to the next area can be in plain sight (the Outskirts-Interior Heights for the former, for example), yet the player isn't allowed to go in any further until the story requires them to. Slightly justified by the academy prohibiting students from going into areas out of their experience.
The Chew Toy: Vayne, somewhat due to his extreme doormat-ness. Also, Roxis, who never seems to be able to catch a break. (partially because of his own Mana, who enjoys watching him suffer). See: Roxis Character Quest 1 and 4 (4 in particular); Pamela Character Quest 4; a scene that activates around mid-game in the workshop involving Jess; discovering him fainted, foaming at the mouth out of fright in Chapter 3 (He seems to have touchier nerves than others, seeing his reactions to Pamela/his Mana/Flay's appearances out of nowhere).
And, to a lesser extent, Nikki, who constantly finds herself being forced to drink Jess's...medicine. She's often found unconscious.
Contrived Coincidence: Theofratus' attempts at healing Jessica (it got alotworse for her) caused him to view himself a failure, seeking a way to end his own (implied to be long) life, leading to Vayne being "born". And then it just so happens that Jess is the first person that Vayne befriends in school.
Combination Attack: The Variable Strike. It doesn't matter which characters are used for the attack as long as the last one in the chain will be Vayne.
Cute Monster Girl: Pamela; also Nikki and the other Beastman girls. And then there are those angel and demon enemies...
Dump Stat: Jess, Pamela, Roxis and Muppy use magic for everything, including standard attacks, which makes their attack stats useless. Once Pamela gets Physical Immunity her defense stat has no point either.
Early-Bird Cameo: the brief montage of the school when Vayne first arrives shows the first four party members that he will befriend, some of the teachers, as well as the Goldfish Poop Gang. Especially notable as this is Pamela's first appearance, before her formal introduction in Chapter 3.
Enemy Mine: If the player really counts the Quirky Miniboss Squad as real "enemies". At the end of Chapter 8, the workshop goes off into the monster-infested depths of an abandoned schoolhouse to find a rare flower that just so happens to be the cure for an ailing friend. In an...egregrious case of Cutscene Incompetence (we just killed the biggest monster there was here!), after killing the chapter boss, the party says that there's too many monsters (onscreen: four red monster symbols signifying normal encounters). Cue Renee and Tony, who, under orders, come to assist them. Not very heroically either; the party's reactions are, amusingly enough: "Not now..." "We don't have time to play with you!"
The scene's also rather amusing because Tony barges in and all but shoos them away even though the party says that the two'll probably need their help. Pride makes himself known: "There's no way in hell I'd fight alongside you!" Of course...
Renee: ...Umm, maybe you shoulda been honest and let them help.
Tony: Don't be stupid! Coming to their rescue to ask for help? That's just uncool.
Fetch Quest: if the side missions don't involve fighting optional bosses, they would fall into this category.
Finishing Move: The aptly named Finishing Bursts. Which range from looking awesomely pretty/shiny, to... somewhat strangely hilarious (Ruler's Prison anyone?), to... kinda bland. (looking at you, Flay)
Also, Anna's Finishing Burst fuses her with her mana, making her older. (Symbolic in that hers is the mana of dreams/illusions.)
Gamebreaker: Amazingly, the Party Switch mechanic will save you a lot from the hard-hitting enemies in the Bonus Dungeon.
See, it's because a character's Guts Ability has a 100% chance of being activated if said character switches into the battle. So, no matter how powerful the enemy's attack is, Guts will keep the switched character from being killed by said attack. And with most enemies in the Bonus Dungeon (specifically the Delinquent-types) having attacks so powerful that they're practically One-Hit Kill, and said Delinquents take areally longtime to beat.
Once Vayne learns Over Realm, you can set up an infinte chain of attacks with it for as long as your SP restoring items can last. On the downside, this tactic will burn "LET'S GET THIS OVER WITH" and "STILL I'LL FINISH THIS" into your mind.
Another example: Roxis, upon joining the workshop, refuses to work with Vayne (or anyone for that matter) because he hates him. This results in Roxis not joining in with Co-op Synthesis. You can get him to cooperate sometime after he joins.
He is also, until you get him to pact with a Mana, incapable of learning certain skills in his Grow Book.
Slightly more subtle is the way that Jess' auto synth card brings the Ether Level as low as possible (not including the "Ether to Zero" cards and the like); seeing as how her synth abilities aren't quite that great... Related is the way that Roxis' auto synth attempts to bring the Ether Level as high as possible; seeing as how he strives to beat Vayne, whose synth abilities are stated by the story to be great...
Some of Pamela's passive skills take advantage of her nature as a ghost. Physical Immunity makes sense for anyone who can walk through walls, and the fact that she's already dead gives her an Auto-Revive.
Also played straight; Some of the character sidequests seem to clash with the main storyline, for being too absurd (like Muppy's, who at one point holds the Principal and Jess hostage and threatens the World, but is Easily Forgiven (!)) or contradicting later events (like Jess's, where the characters find she's dying, but later when confronting Isolde, seem unaware of it.) It's very likely they might not be intended to be completely canonical. Certainly, it is not possible for the Multiple Endings (which conclude the quests) to all occur.
Even Jess has a problem with Muppy's third character quest. "Everyone's okay with this kind of resolution?!"
A straight example would be Pamela's equipment. She states in an optional scene that she can't change her clothes anymore. Well, I suppose she's asking Vayne to make all those frilly outfits so that she can look at them.
Though this could be an aversion as well. Pamela has a documented love for cute things, if the sidequest where she has Vayne make the workshop cute is any indication.
Averted in using the task sheet, as well. Roxis excels in gathering from everywhere but the Old Schoolhouse and the Resource Center (he's afraid of ghosts after an earlier run-in with Pamela); Flay has a hard time doing most anything (he's lazy); and Pamela gathers best at the Old Schoolhouse and the Resource Center (due to being a ghost).
Partly subverted by Flay. When you enter your Senior year, you think he's graduated...but it turns out he's flunked AGAIN. ON PURPOSE!
Guys Smash, Girls Shoot: Averted. Your party's a balanced mix with the only 'smash' character being a girl, and all the generic human enemies are a support magician bloke and a gal with a BFS. It draws attention to this trope's prevelance that the exact opposite is so surprising...
Hammer Space: Jess's bag. She even gets a weapon called the Dimensional Bag. Also Muppy's UFO. With certain attacks, he can even conjure a very large rocket launcher, from the inside. It's also been demonstrated that he can fit at least two of the party members in there, as well as that "thing" he uses in Ruler's Prison, his Finishing Burst.
Funny to note that, Jess even manages to pull Muppy himself out of the bag. Vayne was the only one in the scene who found this weird, aside from a shocked Muppy himself.
Bonus points for one of her specials actually being to pull a hammer out of the bag. The hammer is noticeably much longer than the bag could possibly hold.
Hey, You!: Muppy and Nikki barely refer to each other by their names.
Hopeless Boss Fight: But it doesn't last very long before you get yanked back to the overworld map to see a cutscene unlocking a new ability for use in battle, allowing you to proceed to beat the crap out of the boss.
If I Can't Have You/Taking You with Me: Spoofed in a Character Quest, where an NPC, thinking that Nikki and Vayne are going out, tries to do Nikki in. Of course, they weren't in any sort of danger, comparing the workshop's strengths to the NPCs...
Magic Skirt: I suppose monsters wouldn't care too much about the female school uniform while they're getting the crap beat out of them. Jess has to hold her skirt down during some of the animations for her specials, though.
Inexplicable Treasure Chests: From a mountain range that the school often uses for athletic classes, to the school library, to the very definitely final dungeon the first half of which is a conglomerate of several past dungeons because they're memories- of course, it somehow manages to have the recipes for the best equipment in the game in treasure chests that definitely weren't there before.
Instant Expert: Subverted in Anna's case. She first is implied to be one of these when she joins the academy and immediately performs high-level synthesis on par with the characters from a grade above hers. It's then revealed in a character quest that she actually has no idea what she's doing and was simply copying her classmates, leading to poor grades when studying on her own. She is thus forced to learn the process of alchemy from square one, learning it the hard way just like everyone else.
In-Universe Game Clock: On the upper right of the screen while exploring a dungeon, there's a clock thing, which has a pendulum. Said pendulum goes from one side to the other in roughly... about one and a half seconds? Apparently, each swing of the pendulum is roughly five ingame minutes.
And running from battle, even if you get the first move and don't take many cards to get there (each card is one minute), costs you one hour.
Invisible to Normals: The Mana have this as a trait, which also explains why no one can "accidentally stumble" into the academy (Alchemy is a closely guarded secret from those who may abuse it): the floating school is held up by a Wind Mana.
Item Crafting: It's a spinoff of the Atelier series. It's also based around alchemy. Do the math.
It Has Been an Honor: During the Tournament Arc, Flay had to find a replacement for Vayne temporarily. He manages to recruit the referee. After Vayne returns, the referee responds with this line.
Kick the Dog: Tony and his burning of the Huffin tree on Chapter 2, just so other students (specifically Vayne and co.) wouldn't be able to acquire the ingredient. As a consequence, we're treated to a not-so-subtle foreshadowing to Vayne's power.
Large Ham: English voiced "The Other Vayne" is... quite hammy.
Flay, especially English-voiced, is king of this trope. "STRIKE OF JUSTICE!"
Tony's English-voice is particularly hammy, sometimes to the point of reminding this troper of a stereotypical "gangster."
Fairly typical, but the Emcee for the trivia contest.
Laser-Guided Amnesia: Pamela can't remember her own personal past, but remembers a lot of other things.
Who says she's not lying? Though, it's implied that she's been a ghost so long she's forgotten...
Vayne can't remember anything about his life before meeting Sulpher. Not that there's much to remember.
Law of Chromatic Superiority: Flay is a big believer in this. Red is for heroes, blue and black are for sidekicks! Incidentally, his Defender of Justice mask, which he presumably chose, is blue, while Vayne's is red.
To be fair, Vayne is meant to take over Flay's position as the official Defender of Justice.
Pamela: Phantom Maiden for Mana-Khemia (Ghost Girl for Mana Khemia)
Roxis: Absorbed by the Glasses (My Glasses are Addicted)
Flay: The Ally of Justice Has Arrived (Defender of Justice has Come)
Anna: Gavotte (Overwhelmer)
Muppy: Rectangular Wave of Love (Block Pulse of Love)
Tony/Renee: Ah, Youth Discipline Committee (Ah, Disciplinarian of Youth)
Isolde: A Smile of Ice
Lethal Chef: In the first School Festival, the students at the restaurant booth prefer the Principal's baking over the Vice-Principal's.
Speaking of lethal cooking, Pamela and Jess's potions technically count. Bonus for Jess actually having lunch that is...purple...and moving.
Loads and Loads of Loading: Sadly, the PSP port on UMD is riddled with this but according to RPG Fan's review of the PSN paid download edition, the loading times were reduced, thus making that version tolerable.
Load-Bearing Boss: Final castle falls when you defeat the last boss. Justified, in that it's a castle created by wishes.
Lost Forever: If you give Anna the wrong answers in one of her character events you can say good-bye to getting her ending.
The TrueFinal Boss also summons shadow dopplegangers of other characters after he reachs a certain HP breakpoint to help in the battle. Said doppelgangers have the exact same abilities as your characters, so yes, Pamela is immune to physical attacks.
Moment Killer: Subverted in that nothing romantic actually came out of the moment (Jess just wanted to talk to Vayne alone, although the others thought otherwise), but still attempted by Flay, only to be stopped by Anna.
Monster Allies: Nikki can make use of these if she has "converted" them prior using Heart Cracker/Heartful Action.
A fair amount of Pamela's Cast from Hit Points spells involve summoning her monster friends. "Be nice~!"
Mood Whiplash: The first two thirds of the game are pretty happy. Then comes an end of chapter summary stating "This was the last time I really enjoyed being at school..." Cue the descent into depressing grounds, though it gets better... unless you get the bad ending.
Also, Muppy. What. Master of the moodswing non sequiteur, which is somewhat jarring when you're hearing Wailing of the Rain, a song that's otherwise reserved for serious/sad issues, while a pink blob is lamenting about how he'll never pick up an instrument again after his band broke up just because you decided to visit the music room. Humorous joke character indeed, able to make your head spin.
And then there's Jess' last Character Quest. Plenty of gags there, despite revolving around convincing someone that death is serious business...
Strangely enough, most of said endings are ambiguous enough for all of them to be canonical.
Not Muppy's, having travelled to another planet and all that...
Well since Flay's ending has him conquering the world while you weren't looking, which might imply you weren't THERE at the time..
Here's the breakdown of the endings:
Jess: Vayne is now a doctor, working on a cure to Jess's condition. This ending has the strongest hint that the True Companions stayed in contact with each other even after five years.
Nikki: She and Vayne have married, and they've been very busy. However, because of the size of their family, they have difficulty finding time to be alone together.
Flay: He is now an Evil Overlord with a criminal syndicate, and has apparently conquered the world, waiting for Vayne to put a stop to his plans. The Fall of Alchemy subtly hints that this one might be the canon ending, for some reason.
Roxis: His rivalry with Vayne continues, but this time on a somewhat friendlier level. Oh, and Vayne has been on a really bad losing streak.
Pamela: Like in Jess's ending, Vayne is also a doctor here, but he couldn't remain in one spot because of Pamela, and are instead forced to walk the earth together. The fact that Pamela, who has been haunting the school for generations (She had been around when the principal's grandfather had been a student there), is not in The Fall of Alchemy quite heavily implies that this could be the canon ending.
Anna: Like Roxis, Anna has become something of a sparring partner/rival to Vayne. Unfortunately for Vayne, Anna decided to resort to unsavory methods in order to win. It's Played for Laughs. Really.
Muppy: Vayne helped fix Muppy's spaceship, and Muppy returns the favor by taking Vayne to his home planet. Thinking that the ride was not enough, Muppy decided to offer several government positions to Vayne, until deciding to make Vayne his "Queen".
Bad End: During the last battle, when Vayne is preparing to stay behind and sacrifice himself but pretends that he'll follow everyone else out in just a moment, normally the teammate with the highest affection notices what he's trying to do and snaps him out of it. If Vayne's relationship with his teammates isn't high enough (you didn't finish any of their character quests), everyone reluctantly leaves and only notices too late that Vayne never planned on living.
Mystery Meat: One student claims that the roast served in the cafeteria of Al-Revis is dried Puni.
New Game+: Doing this carries over all grow book bonuses. Your characters therefore, are roughly around the power they would have been about half of the game in at the beginning of the game.
News Travels Fast: A gameplay element. There's an NPC that deals in rumors; you pay him to get a different rumor assigned to you. They have varying effects, ranging from cheaper item prices, to increasing all stats, to increasing item effectiveness. After doing specific things (fight 200 battles, get past part in storyline, get A's in class, and so forth), you unlock different rumors.
Nostalgic Musicbox: Dream of the Black Cat, the music that plays over each chapter's beginning scene/flashback.
Flay's not as idiotic as he looks. Even though he flunked. Twice...Wait, he's a 19 year old sophomore, so that makes that thrice.
And flunks AGAIN so that he doesn't leave you behind during your senior year.
Actually, the localization labeled him as a sophomore because the Japanese school system differs from the American school system. He is a "Second Year," with the high-school system in Japan spanning three years. A second-year high-schooler in Japan is roughly the equivalent of a junior in America, meaning he did flunk twice.
100% Completion: Collecting most, if not all, the weapon/item/armor recipes and then making them is necessary to fully upgrade the characters' abilities.
Not particularly difficult to do that, and that's not even close to one hundred percent completion. However, your reward for a 100% complete encyclopedia- weapons, armor, materials, recipes, monsters, places, etc- is a rumor that increases all stats by 30, which is a fair amount. It's also accessible from the beginning of a New Game+. Now, if 100% grow book chars at the beginning of the game (with those stats their basic attack command can hit anywhere from mid 100s- Pamela, to 400+: Jess. The enemies in early game start with 60-90 hp.) weren't already overkill, 100% grow book chars plus 30 to all stats is.
Only Sane Man: Nikki ends up being this when they discover Muppy, who manages to fool Vayne, Jess, and Flay with a story that only idiots would fall for. What about Anna, Roxis, and Pamela? Well, they kinda... make an attempt at ignoring the entire thing.
Nope, even Roxis fell for it. He thinks Muppy's "disabled", humorously...
He won't risk the possibility, as being in this particular group for so long has desensitized him to the weird... though it sounds more like they're throwing out lame excuses in an attempt to not get involved.
Can't vouch for Anna so much either, depending on how you interpret this:
The Promise: In general, the character quests end in some sort of promise that Vayne is reminded of when he tries to commit his Stupid Sacrifice. Jess, Nikki, and Pamela in particular make Vayne promise them something.
Rare Candy: The "Stat" Fruits, as well as the "Youthful Apple" (HP) and "Eternal Peach" (SP).
Redemption Equals Death: After Theofratus attempted to heal a young Jess' illness, he only caused her life to be cut even shorter. Even though he succeeds in curing the actual illness, the rest of her lifespan is dispelled along with the disease. Feeling guilty for worsening Jess' condition, he created a wish-granting Mana so that the latter can grant his wish for death.
Relationship Values: Visible in each character's status portrait. If a character doesn't particularly like you, it'll be obvious (Like Flay's shadowed face, Jess's hesitant expression, and Roxis flat out angry). On the flip side, if they like you, it'll also be obvious: Jess starts leaning forward happily, Roxis actually smiles, Pamela starts looking a little embarrassed, and Flay laughs. This also determines what ending you get.
Right Behind Me: Used in a throwaway scene involving Pamela and the Principal, where the former reveals that the latter once asked her out on a date, and, much to Principal Bernard's dismay, the Vice-Principal was listening.
Rule of Funny: This game rarely takes itself seriously. It'd take forever and a half and a looot of walls of text to list the funny moments.
There are, however, a few somber, even shocking moments, such as when Isolde kills one of Vayne's friends just to see if he can revive him/her.
Running Gag: A gag also present in the Atelier series, the party members have a habit of yelling/stating/mumbling/declaring Barrel! when you examine one.
Another Running Gag is that, in earlier chapters, Flay always appears literally out of nowhere, for no reason at all. The other characters (especially Vayne) are always taken by surprise. To the point that if he decides to enter normally, they're surprised that he isn't falling from the ceiling or something.
Vayne and Roxis both.
Say My Name: Used hilariously in Muppy's first character quest, where Jess (in tears, even) shouts out his name twice after the latter self-destructed...
Nikki: (To Tony and Renee) Why don't you two practice your couple's comedy show somewhere else?
Tony: Who are you calling a couple?
Shipper on Deck: Flay (and a certain Mana) to Roxis... and Pamela, of all people, although it's only seen once, and just for laughs. And definitely to humiliate the resident Comically Serious even more...
Shoo Out the Clowns: The exact moment the game's mood takes a sudden turn for the serious can be traced back to the scene where the Mook Squad is literally sent back home.
Silent Credits: Not silent, but fits the trope well enough. The bad ending will let you get to the credits and make a postgame save for New Game +, but the music that plays, instead of TOGGLE, is The Illusionary Patty-Ridge (By the Illusion), a sad and melancholy piano song. The credits on this ending are just text scrolling up through a black screen, lacking the illustrations all the other endings will net you.
Timed Mission: A lot of the classroom assignments have time limits.
And sometimes if they don't, then things get turned into a Timed Mission anyway as you attempt to rush to your objective before night falls and the monsters all rocket in power- including the bosses.
Oddly enough, some of them are actually Take Your Time, despite having a notation of being timed. For instance, the limit might be one hour, but you can get lost and as long as you don't outright fail the mission, you'll get an A.
Turns Red: One optional job sideboss plays this trope straight. It's a glass dragon that literally turns red when you hit it with a fire element move... and when you do so, it gets several consecutive turns and severely boosted stats. Use ice on it after that, however...
Two-Teacher School: Subverted. Classes are recycled only through five teachers (six counting the Vice-Principal on one occasion), but the storyline introduces other generic teachers. Double Subversion, seeing as they don't make too much of an impact anyway...
Underground Monkey/Palette Swap: Your characters even get skills that do extra damage against certain types of creatures, usually recolors of each other.
The Unfought: the True Final Boss in the Bad ending, which was just right behind Vayne when you fight the latter. While the Boss does help Vayne in the aforementioned battle, it is never fought directly.
Vancian Magic: Weapons, armor and accessories can be synthesized with common skills, which are usable for as long as that item is equipped.
The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: Heart's Prison. Perhaps the first sections don't look that imposing (well, besides going into battle and seeing meteors swirl around in space/the sky), but once you get deeper into the dungeon, the background speaks for itself.
Weaksauce Weakness: The Bonus Bosses, despite being relatively powerful, have a particular trait that renders them particularly weak to Flay's Demon Striker normal attack, as opposed to most other lategame bosses, who don't have traits, period.
Wham Episode: The end result of Anna's 4th character quest if you tell her the wrong answers. You will feel her hate.
You ALL Look Familiar: Lots of NPCs. Like Kevin in the Resource Center who is obsessed with glasses, Oratorio in the classroom who is the archetypical studious bookworm, to... ambiguously gay Ronnie in the boy's dorms, who all share the same sprite.