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Video Game / Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arland

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And now, the story continues with a princess from a frontier kingdom, Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arland

Atelier Meruru is the third game of the Arland series of Atelier games on the PlayStation 3, released in 2011 in Japan and America in 2012. It is a direct sequel to Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland and Atelier Totori: The Adventurer of Arland before it, and (like many an Atelier game), can be described as one-part JRPG, one-part Time Management Game and three-parts Item Crafting with a dollop of Moe for flavour.

Merurulince Rede Arls (just call her "Meruru") is the Rebellious Princess of Arls, a small kingdom located in the north of the Arland Republic. Bored with palace life, she impulsively decides to become an alchemist under the tutelage of Totooria Helmold, the main character of Atelier Totori. This does not sit well with her father and royal retainer, so they propose a deal: if Meruru can prove that her interest in alchemy is not just a passing fad by improving her skills and using them to develop Arls into a thriving kingdom over three years, then she will be permitted to complete her training.

An Updated Re-release of the game titled Atelier Meruru Plus: The Alchemist of Arland 3 for Play Station Vita released March 20, 2013 in Japan, with Regular and Premium editions available. The regular version was also released internationally on PSN in October 2013. Another rerelease, Atelier Meruru DX, was released on September 20, 2018 in Japan and December 4, 2018 in North America as part of the Atelier Arland Series Deluxe Pack for PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Steam. It is followed by Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland, released in 2019.

The game provides examples of:

  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: A gameplay example, regardless of equipped weapon. Sterk's Gaia Break skill copies a slew of action only found in Super Robot Wars' games, and the camera shows him having cut the enemy sky high, before the moon behind him is slashed in half, exploding in Hot-Blooded glory.
  • The Ace: Rufus is hyper-intelligent and runs most of the kingdom as an administrator. Lias reveals Rufus' combat skills are quite high and he hasn't been able to surpass him yet. He also, somehow, knows how to always appear exactly when needed which is commented on by Meruru several times.
  • Affectionate Parody: To begin, Gust, for some reason, decided that this game should be a series of shout outs to other media in addition to being the most polished game in the franchise. To name a few, Meruru's boss battle theme song sounds like a theme dedicated to a Super Robot Wars' character (there's even a vocal version available if you talk to the right NPC); Totori's ensemble with Chims can rack up as a parody of Sentai genre; Rorona herself is now a battle example of Magical Girl.
  • And the Adventure Continues: At the end of the game, before the credits, Dessier says that he knows this isn't the end, but the beginning, as Arls, now part of the Arland Republic, has a bright future. Meruru expresses a similar sentiment and then you get to see a bit of how her adventures continue, based on which ending you qualified for.
    • The DX version, which was released to promote Atelier Lulua, adds a Sequel Hook CG that literally says this.
  • Anti-Frustration Feature: The menus have more navigations that enable players to check for ongoing requests and where to find certain kinds of materials and enemies, making schedule-balancing much more convenient.
  • Artistic Age: If you play through the full game, you cover a time period of five years, but none of the characters show any signs of aging, which is particularly notable with our heroine, Meruru, who finishes the game with it being her 20th birthday, but doesn't look a day over, well, 15. (Unless, of course, you receive the Witch's Tea Party ending, in which case she finishes the game aged to 14 by a potion!)
  • Badass Cape: Initial players never fail to notice or mention Meruru's rainbow linen side cape. And it shows, because she is possibly the most combat oriented alchemist in the trilogy (by having decent attack power after levelling up a few times)
  • Bishie Sparkle: Some characters will sport this after a fight, but the most notable mention goes to Mimi, for hers is accompanied by offscreen breeze of rose petals. Rufus as well, who's accompanied by blue petals.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: While the overall game is very polished, the text has a noticeably high number of typos and errors throughout in the English version. Some of the item effects in the Plus and DX versions are also incorrect as they still reference percentages from the vanilla game before it was rebalanced for Plus and DX. Aside from that, the writers clearly forgot that several characters in the previous two games had their ages raised in the English versions, leading to references to Rorona being 14 in the original game and Sterk still being in his 30s in this game (he should be over 40 using the ages from the first two Arland localizations.)
  • The Cameo: Since Meruru was originally the last Arland game, it was seen as a celebration and send-off for the mini-series. While a lot of past characters make proper appearances, a few only appear in the background of other scenes just to give them a nod to their role in the sub-series.
    • Marc, Ceci, and Lionela appear in the background of the town shots of the opening movie.
    • Esty's character ending depicts Gerhard in a non-speaking role tending the bar in Arls while she and Filly take a break.
  • Call-Back: Mimi's ending is nigh identical to Cordelia's, right down to the handmade necklace and the recipient crying in gratitude.
  • Childhood Friends: Meruru, Keina, and Lias.
  • Combination Attack: One of this game's ferocious selling points involving combat. After Meruru uses an attack item, her companions can follow-up with attacks, followed by her unleashing the thrown item's hidden power, THEN followed by one played straight combination attack, before channeling the thrown item's REAL hidden power, maxing such items' use up to three.
  • Comes Great Responsibility: Meruru and The Masked G discuss this if you achieve the requirements for the Strongest Princess ending.
  • Cosmic Plaything: Lias, whose bad luck is almost inhuman.
  • Cuteness Proximity: Meruru's reaction to the young Rorona. "I just want to hug her and wash her hair and wear pajamas and cuddle and go to sleep with her!" She gets this way around the Chims and Homs as well.
  • Death Is Cheap: Instead of a straight out game over, this game repeats the previous' defeat penalty by whisking the player back to starting point, passing the same time should the player have walked back themselves. Should that be the case, players often would just do one thing: load the game. A piece of development equipment plays it straighter - with it equipped, getting defeated just puts the player back at the start of the current area, albeit still with everyone at 1 health.
  • Don't Call Me "Sir": Meruru is formally Princess Merurulince, but asks that everyone just call her Meruru and she doesn't anyone to bow to her or anything like that. In her own words, she's never been much of a princess.
  • Downloadable Content: In the vanilla version, Rufus, Hanna and Pamela are paid DLC party members, with a few extra scenes added if you take them to certain map locations. A post-game Bonus Dungeon, Makina Domain, is a free DLC. A set of remixed BGM from nearly every previous game in the franchise) can be downloaded and set to play during certain events in place of the standard OST was also offered as plaid DLC. The Plus and DX versions include this in the base game.
  • Expy: Lias is pretty much a gender-bent version of Mimi.
  • "Freaky Friday" Flip: Rorona gives both Meruru and Keina a "Switching Pie" so they swapped bodies for a time. Meruru took it in stride, Keina... not so much.
  • Hero-Worshipper: Meruru absolutely adores Totori and really looks up to her. This also extends to an obsession with the hero Masked G.
  • Hot Springs Episode: An entire ending route has Meruru stumble upon a hot spring near the volcano and expanding it into a resort that turns into Arls' biggest attraction. One fanservicey scene shows the girls bathing together, while the actual ending of that route instead focuses on the guys taking a dip... much to the dismay of Peter, who took up a job at the hot springs in hope of getting to ogle women (the ladies do have a Skinship Grope, but it's hidden behind a black screen).
  • I'm Taking Her Home with Me!: Hanna asks Meruru if she can take the Homs home with her because they're just so darned cute.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Lias Falken fits this trope for the main reason of shouting out Super Robot Wars' Kyosuke Nanbu, as his weapon of choice is a gauntlet-equipped revolver stake. Keina Swaya uses a basket carrying sleeping drugs and healing potions, though that fits into Improvised Weapon. The basketís impracticality is commented on by Hagel when the player crafts the Almighty Basket for the first time.
  • Item Caddy: You can now have Totori as your partner, along with Rorona who also fills this role, making this game the first to have three consecutive protagonist alchemists in a single adventuring party, all of whom can use brought items.
  • Genki Girl: Meruru, pretty much. Hanna too.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: A number of things given this is the third game in the series but perhaps the biggest is Totori casually explaining the plot of her own gameís True Ending.
  • The Medic: Keina always makes sure to pack lots of medical equipment when heading out, and all of her skills are healing or buffs.
  • Meido: Again, Keina.
  • Modesty Shorts: Meruru wears bloomers under her skirt, thus allowing her to move around freely without having to worry about being exposed. It's taken to the point that all of her costumes (except her Totori costume, which comes with a leotard) include bloomers underneath.
  • The Moving Experience: Totori is called away for a brief visit to Arland. Meruru thinks that she's leaving Arls for good and gets very upset and runs off to sulk by herself. Totori returns after three days, having only supposed to have been gone for one day, but her sister Ceci wouldn't let her leave that soon. Meruru says that she should have told her the truth about the trip, but Totori points out that she never gave her the chance. Rufus points out "How could I tell a princess who refused to show herself?"
  • Multiple Endings: Like the two games before this, what you achieve in game can determine the ending which you'll get, based on a number of factors. There's also a pecking order, where if you meet the requirements of one ending, you'll still get another if you meet the requirements for one with a higher priority. A bit of guide reading is in order. The game does do you one favor though— anytime you secure the requirements for an ending, you get a MeMemo (journal) entry with the phrase "I feel like I've uncovered a whole new future for myself!" Additionally, this phrase is presented in Rainbow Speak to draw your attention.
  • New Game Plus: Items, money and development don't get carried over, but equipped items do. Furthermore, it's only really practical to get most endies for Trophies in New Game Plus. Therefore, you should really just do your best in your first playthrough and make sure to synthesize the best equipment possible, then start a New Game Plus with this equipment equipped to everyone. Also, Gio's later events are only accessible in New Game Plus as he isnít recruitable until the plus playthrough.
  • Non Standard Game Over: If at anytime you allow Meruru's popularity to drop to zero, then Rufus comes to the workshop, chastises her, and then sends her before Dessier, who is so mad at her that he reneges on his promise and ends her alchemy studies immediately, followed by a Game Over without even getting the Bad Ending (and thus no "Castle Life" Trophy.)
  • Older Than They Look:
    • Every adult female in the game. Of particular note is Esty, who is 40 in this game and she looks about 20.
    • Sterk as well. He's a year younger than Esty, but could easily pass for someone in their 20's.
  • Old Maid: In and out of universe, both related to the Potion of Youth plot.
    • In universe, Astridís concern with both herself and Rorona aging relates to not wanting this to happen to either of them for purely selfish reasons. When Esty discovers the Potionís existence she becomes extremely obsessed with getting some for herself to try and save her terrible marriage prospects as sheís already forty by the time this game starts.
    • Out of universe, the devs blatantly admitted that the plotline exists at all because they didnít want to imagine Rorona in her thirties extending all the way into the original version only having endings where Rorona was turned into an eternal 14-year-old so she would still only be depicted as young and cute. Negative fan reaction across the world led to the addition of the "Itís About Time Ending" for Plus and notably the two extra movies add in DX to to explain the storyline of Rorona Plus's Overtime year also make sure to let you know that Rorona is once more an adult.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: You can count the amount of characters who have shortened forms of their real names, with the latest addition of Meruru.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: The Masked G, who is obviously Meruru's Uncle Gio, but she doesn't realize this. If you achieve certain requirements, Meruru will almost realize it at the end of the game. And if you complete the requirements for a certain ending, Sterk will all but let it slip out.
  • Power Trio: Totori tells Meruru that her, Gino, and Mimi were this when they would go out adventuring together.
  • Pretty Princess Powerhouse: She is a lovely girl with Cuteness Proximity and long hair, and she is also an alchemist dedicated to improving her kingdom using her ability to synthesize items. Although she's not the strongest fighter in terms of pure martial ability, she more than makes up for it by crafting items to use in combat which include extremely powerful bombs, magical weapons, and a Fantastic Nuke shaped like a mushroom. The ingredients for these are items are found at the source. Need dragon scales? She goes to kill a dragon personally, no delegating to guards. One of the titles she can earn is "The Strongest Princess". Last but not least, she's the only Atelier protagonist with her own battle theme song!
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Meruru's charm and main point of being. Instead of going by her father's aim of letting the nation get peacefully absorbed into Arland's border, Meruru later wants to use alchemy to bolster Arls condition. Throughout the game, her efforts will be rewarded by the sight of the map becoming crowded with representation of Arls' growth
  • Save Scumming: Oh man. You can save in the alchemy workshop or the World Map, so if something goes wrong or you mess up, it's very easy to just roll things back if you remember to save regularly.
  • Sequel Hook: The DX version adds a scene after the credits, showing a book with a faint silhouette and the words "...and the story continues.", hinting at Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland.
  • Sheltered Aristocrat: Gio shows has shades of this. In one of the more comic scenes, he finds Princess Meruru minding a dry goods shop for a friend. One of the things Meruru is selling is carrots, which he doesn't recognize because he's only ever had them cooked and buttered. He offers 100 cole for one, but Meruru says it's way too much and sells it to him for 10 cole... which is still 3 more cole than it's normally sold for to the player at the shop!
  • Shout-Out:
    • Sterk's Gaia Break cut-in to Super Robot Wars Thrudgelmir cut-in.
    • Meruru's Expository Theme Tune, "Alchemy Girl Meruru", sounds exactly like it belongs in a show like Slayers.
  • So Proud of You: Meruru gets this from her father Dessier if she achieves her goals.
  • Spell My Name with an S: Due to the large carry-over of cast, a number of examples from previous games apply here as well. Two new examples for Meruru, however, are Meruru's father and "the young shop owner" - the former was "Dessie Horstna Arls" (デジエ ホルストナ アールス). As this was a bit feminine for a man, a bit of kana-interpretation alchemy transformed it into Dessier Hahlsner Arls.note  More problematic was the latter, though, as "Fwana/Juana Olsys" (フアナ オルシズ). There've been several ways given of spelling her name and neither really matches the given katakana. NISA ended up saying "pike it" and called her Hanna Olses. An interesting quasi-example is Mimi; in the promotional material for Meruru, she was called "Mimi Houlier von Schwarzlank". This wasn't even consistent with the spelling Gust gave in Japan's version of Atelier Totori. NISA, naturally, opted to keep the spelling consistent between English versions as "Mimi Houllier von Schwarzlang".
  • Tall, Dark, and Handsome: Both Rufus and Lias.
  • The One Guy: Male Hom is the only male presence in a workshop that houses four other girls.
  • Third-Person Person: Little Rorona, though it zigzags a bit. (At least in the English language version anyway, maybe or maybe not in the original Japanese.)
  • Tsundere: Lias, though he isn't nearly as bad as Mimi.
  • Unmanly Secret: Rufus and his love of sweets — pies, etc. Meruru has known about it "forever," but that doesn't stop him from trying to hide it anyway.
  • Updated Re-release: Two of them.
    • Atelier Meruru Plus for PlayStation Vita, which comes with all the DLC included, adds a dressing room for Meruru, Totori, and Rorona, a series of superbosses for Makina Domain, new endgame recipes needed to beat the super bosses, and a new ending. There were also some balance changes throughout the game - enough that players used to vanilla need to make sure they're using updated guides for building ultimate gear.
    • Atelier Meruru DX, for PS4, Nintendo Switch, and Steam, part of the Atelier Arland Deluxe Pack or standalone. The game is virtually identical to Plus but also adds the pre-order costumes from Plus in the base game along with a sprinting function and fast-forward function for combat. Two bonus scenes were added to the event viewer that explain the storyline before and after Rorona Plus/DX's Overtime Mode and a Sequel Hook for Lulua was also added to the ending credits.
  • Visual Initiative Queue: The order in which combatants act is shown on the right side of the screen. Depending on the character's speed and the move they make, they will be moved down a certain amount of spaces. Some skills and items also place "time cards" which cause an effect to happen after a delay.
  • When Trees Attack: The Spirit Guardian of the Forest of Ent.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Keina is incredibly mature and responsible for a fourteen-year-old.

Alternative Title(s): Atelier Meruru