Sunday, 28 September 2008

The Ar Tonelico Whistleblower

Okay! Despite a small setback in the health department, have managed to get this all together to my satisfaction, so without further ado, I present (on average; my working file isn't an exact copy of what I have here, I don't think) 8,650 words or so of experimental fiction:

A few notes on this: for one, it's written as a blog (most recent post first; I can't make Blogger reverse the order), so start with the oldest post and read backwards. ;P They're organised into categories on the right-hand side; my intent was to have people start with Mir's posts, then the logs, then Chess' posts, but it's not strictly necessary. As long as you read back from the beginning, you'll get the idea, since his posts are last anyway.

And my miniature soundtrack for the project (i.e. what I was listening to at the time as inspiration):

Voltaire - Almost Human
Just for the story in general.

Voltaire - Feathery Wings
The scene between Mir and Raud.

Jewel - I'm Sensitive
Savage Garden - Gunning Down Romance
Mir learns about warfare in the Silver Horn.

Aaaand... that's about it. And no, I'm not sure why my YouTube is auto-stuck in Japanese. :D

update on the virus

I think I've finally identified what the pain in my stomach can be most easily compared to.

If I had an install port on my abdomen, and you inserted a Grathnode crystal into it, it would probably feel, in the first five minutes, like I felt for several hours. Now it just sort of hurts in a grumbly way, like I'm still being poisoned, but my body's readjusting.

All the fail of being a Reyvateil, with none of the fun. :/ At least I feel well enough today to write; should be fully recovered soon, and should have a fanfic for you before too long. Thanks to everyone who well-wished!

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Can we make a lolcat apply to the theme of this blog?

I think we can.

At least if I'm too sick to contribute anything more intellectual, anyway.

You've all heard the news about the news about the AT2 preorders, I suppose, so no need to be too irrelevant there, other to put in my "yay, I came, I preordered for two, we shall hopefully be among the lucky 2000 to get our goodies, I collapse under a blanket nao". least, I really hope we're still in the first 2000, one day after the preorder call goes out. If not, AT is really getting more popular than I thought...

I was working on a fanfic project, and honestly, it's about 75%-80% done; I'm expecting to finish up really soon. I've just been set back by this awful whatever-it-is, since it's sort of hard to write while huddling under the covers and whimpering. But expect to hear more on that front soon. :) (The fic, not the whimpering. I ideally want to have no more cause to write about that.)

Thursday, 25 September 2008

you're tuned to KMIR, your number one station for songs about viruses!

I hadn't heard this particular Weird Al song before (warning: lyrics are occasionally family-unfriendly), but for some reason I just literally could not stop laughing the whole way through. I don't usually outright burst into laughter at songs, even if they're funny ones; I just grin to myself. And I usually am not that amused simply by the fact that thing A is touted as being able to do non-sequitur B; it's easy humour, anyone can do it, and it's usually not all that clever (and it isn't clever here). But this just got to me.

Actually, I think it's the idea of this being Mir's ultimate plan that makes it specifically funny to me. =P

I think for Phoenix Wright fans, the best lol comes at the "it'll change your name to..." bit. Wait for it. :)

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

On trust, obligation and the meaning of being chosen

A friend sent me this thoughtful essay, and asked if I would post it here because I actually have an AT-related blog, and I was happy to oblige. See my comments after the essay itself.


When Lyner brings back the Hymn Crystal Purger, Leard tells him to give it to "the Reyvateil he trusts the most". And of course, because it's a dating sim, the player has to choose which girl he wants to get on the good side of. Dating sims inherently set out to pit the girls in competition with each other and make you choose.

But the choice of who should extract shouldn't be based on who the player likes best, or even whom Lyner seems to have the most reason to trust. We're talking about the fate of the world, which is a bit more important than a love triangle; the more important consideration is doing what has to be done. On the practical side, a certain amount of trust between partners has got to be necessary for a Reyvateil to successfully extract, yes. But I trusted both Aurica and Misha. And casting a spell to save the world shouldn't be a matter of a popularity contest, or whom I liked better; there are various factors regarding who would be better at it-- who's "levelled up" more in their skills, or who is most compatible with the spell.

Furthermore, though, who says that getting to extract the crystal is a treat that would really earn the girl's favour? Shouldn't we ask who is willing to volunteer to do such a thing, and who wants to defer? I chose not the one I liked best, but the one I thought would benefit more from being chosen. To Aurica, it meant the world: all her life she'd been told she was inferior, and finally someone said to her, "This is the most important job in the world, and I choose you." Finally someone thought she was capable of handling something important-- and not just any average task, but something on which everyone's lives depended. Such a choice could absolutely change her life, could be the fulfillment of all of her hopes and dreams. So I chose Aurica.

I'd like to play through it again choosing Misha, to see what it's like and to see more of her backstory-- yet I think I'm going to have trouble bringing myself to do that to Misha. Surely the last thing she wants is to have the higher-ups in Platina ordering her to go sing for them. She spent her whole life being told, "Misha, you have to do this; Misha, you have to sing that. Misha, our fate rests on you; Misha, you have an obligation"; and she's sick to death of it. After Lyner came along and cared about what she wanted to do with her life, wanted to take her places and give her presents, after she came to see him as someone who could understand her hopes and fears and treat her like a person with the choice to follow her own volition, the last thing she probably wants is to hear about her obligations to save everyone with her endless singing from him, too!

It seems that being chosen to extract the Hymn Crystal Purger would be a terrible burden for Misha, and a dream come true for Aurica. I don't think it's fair to choose any other way. Yet it's not necessarily reflective of my personal choices or my trust in the girls. I don't want the game to record that I've favoured Aurica over Misha by choosing her, or that I trust Misha any less. I want Misha to be happy, not to feel let down by Lyner's ignoring her yet again. I want Lyner to go and have a talk with her and tell her that he cares about her feelings, and that that's why he's not choosing her.

It's one of the few situations in Ar Tonelico with the potential to make everyone happy; but the choice is framed in such a way that it spoils the potential that could have been. Dating sims seem hell-bent on making some of the girls miserable, which is a shame. There is so often a better way.


As for my thoughts... I personally think it's very true, and I think that Lyner never asks these things, never gives anyone a choice but just rolls along with what he's going to do anyway, is the cause of a lot of the plot's problems. Lyner never asks "well, what would you like?" He waits for everyone else to ask or else he steamrollers over them. And it really feels like he almost never talks to anyone about the kind of things he really should be talking to them about, like "Aurica, how do you feel about the fact that I dive into Misha?" or "Misha, I don't want to burden you with this responsibility, and it would make Aurica so happy. I think this is best for everyone, and it's not that I don't trust you, so ignore what my dad says. I'm choosing for my own reasons."

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Well, now I know what Misha might look like if she were in this world...

...seriously, just... awwwwwwwww.

Good cosplay of my favourite characters is something that'll always win me over; good cosplay staged in appropriate settings, even moreso. (The Crescent Chronicle picture is particularly aww-worthy, in my book.) I kind of wish she'd saved the images at higher quality, because the pixellisation kind of spoils them; but other than that, hats off to Sei Kein Zala for some truly impressive work that also simultaneously reveals the secret of how Misha gets those drums to stay up in her hair.

Now if only we can get some Mirs and Ayatanes out there; I trust that you'll all keep me updated on this matter. ;) I'd sort of like to try Ayatane myself, but that armour is ridiculous, and would take more skill than I have to make and more money than I should spend to commission, most likely. Still, it'd be so much fun to run around as him. I would shout "Q" at things a lot. XD

Monday, 22 September 2008

overwriting rogue programming: harder than you'd think

My friends send me awesome things in the mail. That, I think, is all that needs to be said.

(I'm still tickled by the idea of Harmonious as a hotfix, too. :)

Posted with permission.

And now, the weather.

I could sum up my thoughts on the ambient temperature outside today rather quickly, but that would make for a pretty boring blog entry. So, because I'm still in a silly-doodles mood, how about we ask Mir for her thoughts?

I kind of want to draw a bunch of these and make a little barometer for the side of the blog. On the other hand, there's something a little cruel about using a Reyvateil to measure the air temperature...

Sunday, 21 September 2008


Normally I don't set out to draw without some concrete plan in mind, but I was having an overflow of fannishness and nowhere for it to go, and I wanted to practice drawing eyes (which, seriously, are one of my biggest obstacles when it comes to art), so I doodled some random Mir and Ayatane stuff.

The poses are referenced in places, but I still kind of like how these came out. Even if I don't know why Ayatane is suddenly shorter than Mir. Seriously, no one in AT is shorter than Mir, except maybe child!Misha.

Disclaimer: I do not actually think Ayatane is a twerp. For some reason it just popped into my head as an appropriately... motherly-affectionate-but-also-kind-of-prickly-person sort of line. Or something. It's 4am, I don't have to make sense. =P

Saturday, 20 September 2008

An analysis of 染~SEN~此ノ花咲ク耶 (Colors ~ Will this Flower Bloom?)

This post does reveal a spoiler or two, so just to be on the safe side, I'm going to black out the text. (Blogger really needs to implement the ability to collapse and expand posts.) If you want to read the full text without having to highlight it, go to the comments for this post, then click the "Show Original Post" link at the top.

Thanks ever so much to Lazy/hYEmmAr for the translation here!

Anyway, this is Mir's image song from AT2. I was really struck by the uniqueness of this song, and thought I'd take it apart as a way of getting to textwaffle more about Mir and analysing her character some, as well as the sheer brilliance of the way the series uses music to develop character. The song is up for grabs here (thanks, Dustiferous!), if you want to listen along.

染~SEN~此ノ花咲ク耶 (Colors ~ Will this Flower Bloom?)
by Mitose Noriko

こころに舞い落つ 真白きひとひら
Kokoro ni maiotsu masshiroki hitohira
The pure white flower petals soaring and falling in my heart
いづれの色にや染まらん 此の花
Idzure no iro ni ya somaran kono hana
This flower, it is still not stained by another color

天地ニ満テ 御神楽ニ舞エ
Amatsuchi ni mite mikagura ni mae
Filling the heaven and earth, dancing the melodies of Gods
謳ノ葉捧ゲ 此ノ花咲ク耶
Uta no ha sasage kono hana sakuya
Sacrificing the petals of songs, will this flower bloom?

先刻見た小鳥の 羽は翡翠の色
Sakki mita kotori no hane wa hisui no iro
The little birds I saw in the past, their wings had the color of jade green
昨日見た泉の 水は水晶の色
Kinou mita izumi no mizu wa suishou no iro
The fountains I saw yesterday, their streams had the color of crystal blue

ciel ar celle, weak ar quive
The sky is just too high, the moon is just too pure
lusye ar clare
The light is just too clear for me
mea re zeeth ween shellan
I am being chained in the world's cage
mea na knawa fandel
I still hold so many questions without an answer

水面に落ちた雫 一粒揺れて
Minamo ni ochita shizuku hitotsubu yurete
A drop of water falls onto the surface of the lake
Namima ni egakidasu hikari
It causes a wave that sketches the light

fwilla selena yasra sarla
A drop of water plays a gentle song
yehar werllra ween syec mea
And releases me from the deep abyss

色彩のない世界に 訪なうしるべに
Iro no nai sekai ni otonau shirube ni
As we gather together in the colorless world
ひとつひとつ触れて 色づきはじめる
Hitotsu hitotsu furete irodzuki hajimeru
We begin to touch our hearts and colors begin to form

celetille burle, bautifal grrena
The vivid color of blue, the beautiful color of green
clyncye rudje, clalliss mea
The pure color of crimson, the colors that I paint on everything

rivire, plina, fayra, clalliss sphilar
The little streams, the grasses and trees, the blazing flame, the dyed hearts
celetille clalliss cest innna mea
The true colors of my deepest feelings

想いの欠片と 虚ろな時間の
Omoi no kakera to utsurona jikan no
The fragments of thoughts fall into time's endless hollow
記憶の淵沈み 水の底の
Kioku no fuchi shizumi mizu no soko no
The abyss of memories sink into water's bottomless hole

zadius, guatrz, ruinie
Hatred, anger, destruction
jenhah, gyas, faf, morto
Calamity, dispute, fear, death

穢れと闇 奈落の底深く
Kegare to yami naraku no soko fukaku
The tainted darkness, the depths of hell
異界の門 魍魎等澱り
Ikai no kado myouryoudomo tamari
The gate of underworld, demons and spirits roam
滅びの謳 劫火燃ゆる黄泉路
Horobi no uta gouka moyuru yomiji
The ruined song, the pathway to hell burns with flame of destruction
嘆きの渦 癒されぬ御魂に
Nageki no uzu iyasarenu mitama ni
The swirl of grief, helpless souls

gott! getrra dsier gyusya mea
Begone! The "me" who is stained with lust
gott! denera heighte mea
Begone! The "me" who is wounded with malice

消えない傷と この悲しみと
Kienai kizu to kono kanashimi to
Neverending pain, neverending sadness
消えない過去と 過ちと
Kienai kako to ayamichi to
Neverending past, neverending faults
消せない棘も 刃も
Kesenai toge mo yaiba mo
Neverending thorns, neverending blades
消せない 罪も
Kesenai tsumi mo
Neverending sins

Subete no karuma wo yakitsukuse
Everything, devote your karma for a miracle

この胸の深くに 幾重に包んだ
Kono mune no fukaku ni ikue ni tsutsunda
Entangled deep inside my heart
どんな色にもまだ 染まらぬこころよ
Donna iro ni mo mada somaranu kokoroyo
Oh, it is still a pure heart unstained by any color

小鳥はただ謳う 世界を想って
Kotori wa tada utau sekai wo omotte
The little birds just keep singing their song of the world
小鳥は涙する 愛しき生命に
Kotori wa namidasuru itooshiki inochi ni
The little birds cry for their beloved life

Ma num wa nnoini li fhyu
In my unconsciousness, I begin to touch the wind
firle en vit li frawr
I begin to feel the flowers
art mea noes li fluy
I begin to see the fountains
mea knawa li ciel
I begin to know the world
walasye, near, enesse, mea paul li ciel
People, their lives, their thoughts, I begin to understand everything

生まれたばかりの花よ 真白き無垢の花
Umaretabakari no hanayo masshiroki muku no ka
Oh, the flower that has just been given birth, the flower with a color of pure white
祈りの謳を捧げん 此の花咲く耶
Inori no uta wo sasagen kono hana sakuya
I devote my song of prayers, will this flower bloom?

Vinan wis pitod re beja
Sharing the color of white together
willie en pitod re heighte
The feeling of being wounded so easily
echrra en pitod clalliss, ar vianchiel
The colors that resonance together, they are just too pure
den vinan fusya omnis, dius en fusya maxim
Nonetheless, I still embrace all those precious colors

Fou yea ra chanti ee, tasyue hymmnos mea
I shall gladly sacrifice my song of blessing
Presia chanti ee, tes titilia manaf, hyear!
Oh, for the sake of an innocent little life!

So the main thing that I thought was really interesting about this song is that it vacillates fairly wildly between dark and light imagery; it's full of both soaring poetry and hellish visions. One moment she's singing about little birds and flowers in her heart, the next she's talking about death and demons and burning. I think it befits Mir, because she's a very conflicted person; someone who's always been inclined to struggle towards the light, but is weighed down by so much anger and pain. But it's interesting because I don't see a lot of this in modern music at all.

The music of Western culture today, from my observations, is very single-themed; each song, and from a lot of performers each album, will have a very specific mood to it, whether uplifting or sorrowed, gentle or harsh, playful or serious. This almost schizophrenic-seeming shift, within the same song, between beautiful imagery and despairing cruelty is almost unheard of. (It's quite melodically jarring, as well, feeling like it's composed of parts of several different songs.)

If you track the lyrics carefully, the shifts aren't actually as strange as they first appear; within the happier lyrics at first there is trepidation, a trembling sort of hope (summed up by the title, "Will This Flower Bloom?"), and then we see that trepidation give way to despair. In the midst of her darkest lyrics, Mir admonishes herself, trying to banish the worst part of herself, the part that would torture her with such images; after that, she gathers herself again and picks up for the happiest part of the song ("Everything, devote your karma for a miracle" really sounds like a rallying cry here), where she describes how even if she feels the colours of life are "too pure", she's still going to embrace them. It's a story of hope and love, followed by a plunge into darkness, followed by pulling herself out of that darkness and facing the light once more. If you look at it on that level, it's basically the story of Mir's life, as portrayed in AT1.

And this is why, I think, it differs from most music that I'm used to: it covers a long span of time. A lot of modern music is about the moment, describing the singer's feelings of now or a rather specific situation. This song is, rather, a series of snapshots of Mir's fluctuating emotions, taking what she feels at various times and piecing them together in a way that says, "this is what goes on inside me, generally speaking. This is what my head is like". It's almost like a representation of her Cosmosphere; or, at least, I'd be very surprised if her Cosmosphere isn't like this, full of alternating hopes and hells. (Don't spoil me, please!) As such, it does what AT1 was always very good at doing: it paints a well-rounded picture of a person that shows that conflicting darkness and light, hope and fear, joy and pain, exist within everyone. Putting it all together in a song may make Mir look a bit erratic, and certainly she's not the most stable person in the world, but I don't think it's a song of insanity, just a song giving us a very good impression of a person who has a lot of conflicting emotions.

Now, a bit about the imagery. In Mir's songs, she seems to use bird imagery pretty much exclusively to refer to herself. Pretty much any time she's talking about a little bird, she's using a metaphor for her own actions and feelings. It makes sense; she feels fragile, and hopeful, and she loves to sing; she was the "songbird" of humans in the past, who caged her and exploited her for her hymns.

I'm still working out what the white and red flowers, and the staining of things crimson, mean; she's used the crimson in other songs, and I think it has a deep metaphorical meaning for her. It seems to be that white flowers represent innocent feelings, easily wounded (or stained) feelings; in Mir's metaphor-set, her collection of mental allegories, a white flower is a delicate thing that can easily be dyed red.

What the red means, though, is harder to discern. She seems to use it, in this and other songs, to refer to her feelings, to things being painted red by her self-expression. She also seems to generally use it in what seems like quite a positive context; she's never talking about ugly things when she talks about painting things red, she's talking about love and the pure, beautiful colours in her deepest self, so it's unlikely that red represents blood, or rage, or anything like that. On the other hand, she also speaks of the white flowers that are "pure", have not yet been "stained", have not yet been "wounded", which does suggest that red has some negative aspects.

Perhaps red represents Mir's inner nature in all its beauty and ugliness; the love that she wants to pour out, but also her fears that her true self is a tainted thing, that it isn't good enough, that it will stain and ruin everything if she expresses it because, due to all her fears and resentments, being close to her is likely to cause people pain. White is the innocence of new feelings, new connections, that haven't yet been damaged by her conflicted nature, even if she dreams of pouring out what's really inside and letting the true colours of her soul live.

And some non-spoilery thoughts: I'm darn well blown away by just how successful this series is at portraying subtle elements of characterisation in song. The hymns and the main plotline are almost two halves of a puzzle; to truly understand the characters, you have to look at both, and I think that's really clever, especially for a series that is very much about the idea of people's deepest selves being expressed in song.

I've also become aware of something while looking at songs in AT, something that applies to life as well as fiction: namely, that you can learn a whole lot about someone by understanding the metaphors they use. It's not just in AT that people have collections of mental imagery and associations that come through in their speech; while most people's metaphors aren't as obvious and poetic as the ones in fiction, I think we all have our own symbolic languages, our own sets of associations, that come into play in our communications, and if you can get inside someone's default set of metaphors and see why they're using them, you can come to understand them a lot better.

Anyway, that's enough from me for this time. See you next time I attempt to wordily deconstruct something AT-related, or just the next time I find something amusing. ;)

Friday, 19 September 2008

Ar Tonelico: Bad Retro Comics Edition

So I was reading through these deconstructions of really bad comics, and I came across this. Takes a while to get where it's going, but basically, a super-powerful machine is created and spontaneously begins thinking for itself, then starts singing about how beautiful the world is and how it plans to destroy all of humanity. I was amused.

I don't think Mir ever tried to kill anyone by wrapping them in giant twisty stalks of bamboo, though.

Also, Mister Blue Hair Light Detectin' Man, who has vaguely Ayatane-like tattoos on his face in this and only this panel for some reason (actually, I suspect someone drew on the comic), really should have tried harder to find the answer to the question of why "the monster threatened and then spouted music and poetry". Perhaps if he hadn't gone, "well, gee willikers, I dunno, but probably because it was an evil monster?", this story, like Ar Tonelico, would have had a better ending.

And no, I'm not sure what the "hash" bit was all about. The computer had an encrypted identification key?

Thursday, 18 September 2008

150-word flash fiction

I've been turning out these little drabbles (well, drabbles-and-a-half) lately, just trying to capture in words some concepts that have been flitting through my head regarding AT. They're not my best work ever, and I'm not sure why I'm a little off my game, but regardless, I thought I'd share.


Diary of a Reluctant Conscript (original character POV, Reyvateil War)

She said he would have betrayed me; even though it was awful at first, I believe her, because she looks like one who would know. No, it's nothing I can explain, not really - just that there's no malice in her eyes, only that same haunted rawness that, every time I look at my reflection these days, I see staring back at me.

Is that enough to justify killing a man, killing the one who'd meant more than anything to you? It doesn't seem like it, some days, but what can I do? If we falter now, they'll round us up and exterminate us, like vermin, like non-people. That alone should be enough to quell my doubts. Our races are at war, and Mir did not begin it, not truly.

If any god out there can hear me, don’t let me fail. Let us have victory, so we can know peace.


Heart of Your Sun (Mir POV, near-endgame)

I've been hearing that song so long I'm starting to think it's serenading me.

So this is what it's like to finally crack under the strain. To see the chinks of light coming through into a mind split open; to gaze for a blinding second upon the chaos that churns, out there in the real beyond your house of cards, and think it's the light of God. To stare into the heart of the sun as you're flung spinning helplessly towards it and think it's the most beautiful thing you could ever imagine.

Or maybe, just maybe, it is true what they say, and death is the ultimate bliss.

No, I cannot cave; my duty is to more than myself, after all. I will stare into the heart of your sun. And perhaps, in my blindness, I'll love the lie I see shadowed there before I tear it all apart.


(Yep, I totally went with Thunder's idea that the Reyvateils and their partners turned on each other. It made sense; after all, their two races were in conflict.)

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

the tower has recovered from a serious error. view logs?

A friend and I had been speculating on the reasons for Shurelia's sudden personality switch halfway through Ar Tonelico. Our best guess: the Tower of Ar Tonelico was not shut down correctly and Shurelia lost some vital data, as illustrated by this cute pic I just got in the mail.

Personally, I want this to be my Windows shutdown-fail screen. Perhaps I can at least hack the text into the BIOS?

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Ar Tonelico: the bad ending

I decided to watch the bad ending on YouTube today (tonight? This morning? The way my sleep schedule is, I'm not even sure what time of day this counts as. ;), because I didn't think I'd want to play through it and because I was curious, in that "I need to stop imagining what it's like and have closure on it" sort of way.

So. A few thoughts below; highlight to read the blacked-out areas, because, obviously, there are spoilers in here. They will show if you choose "show original post" from the separate comments window, so be warned! For those who haven't seen the ending, I do consider it worth watching.

Hearing all the music from the final areas again just stirred up my heart, in an anxious sort of way. I've always been very fond of the music that plays when you're in the heart of the Tower (in the red-circuitry-lined areas, and when you confront Tastiella at this point), and hearing it in this context just made it all the more affecting. I've realised through this that I really like Mir's battle themes, too, in a sense; I find them fitting for the gravity of the moment. I never saw them as Evil Boss Songs, but rather as demonstrating the vastness and horror of the conflict with, and within, Mir. It's just a bad situation all around.

Unfortunately, I couldn't help cracking up at Tastiella's "Dodge this!" in English, thanks to the obvious parallel (and the fact that it really sounds like they're trying to evoke that scene). I did, generally speaking, like Tastiella's English voice, though; it fits her. She sounds both appropriately confident and appropriately aged. I like her whole role in this part, actually; she delivers some wonderfully scathing lines in the vein of "If that's your way of solving your problems, you should have no difficulty, right?" This general theme continues throughout this path; the subtle, and not so subtle, digs at Lyner for choosing violence over thoughtful action.

This makes slightly less sense when it's Mir doing the moralising, sadly. I simply adore her speech with Lyner at the beginning of her final-form battle, but Lyner's kind of got a point; at this point in the game she doesn't have any right to talk to him about peace:

Mir: What good is a sword...?
What good comes from a sword stroke, from a song note...?

Lyner: We can create a world without fear! A world... of peace!

Mir: And you think swords and magic can do that...
Peace won by the sword will fall by the sword.

Lyner: Don't talk to me about peace!

That said, "Peace won by the sword will fall by the sword" is probably going to be one of my favourite quotes for a very long time, in part because I believe in the idea behind it (and often want to share that with people), and I've never before come across such a succinct way of saying it.

But the issue here is that Mir isn't following her own advice at all and hasn't been for a very long time; her moralising here feels fourth-wall-y. I could understand if she'd given up conflict and gone to hide out in a bunker, and Lyner and the others came to flush her out and kill her, but right now she really can't say that without being a little hypocritical. Though I suppose it could be argued that she's having a moment of clarity, wherein she's tired of all this and is realising, as Lyner confronts her hatred with hatred, that everything she's done up to this point has been counterproductive to her goals; and moreover, that now she's been put up against the wall and she doesn't know what else to do but fight, that now that she's finally had a chance to see what she's become, it's at a time when she doesn't have a hope of reasoning with him, when anything she could say would be too little, too late. She's been hoist by her own petard, and that realisation must be fairly sickening. I wish they'd made that a little clearer if that was what they were going for, but I do kind of like that interpretation, if only because I think it's the only way to make sense out of Mir's double standard.

The whole thing ends on a suitably ambiguous note; we've saved the world, and everyone's happy that we've saved the world, but at the same time things feel flat. Lyner's big line here sums it up very well: "When I think about it like that, it feels like nothing's changed. This world hasn't changed..." Yet it's not forced on the player that everything is doom and gloom; yes, we have saved the world, for now. It's just obvious that that there are ambiguities remaining, that there will be questions that Lyner and the others will have to ask themselves after this, that the issue of whether it was right to banish violence with violence lies unresolved.

And I think that's a nice touch; I honestly wish the standard endings of more games would be this way, that everyone wasn't always just "yay, we killed the Big Bad!" but that there was a poignant moment, after it all, of, ", we killed someone. Was that really the right thing to do?" I'd like some acknowledgement, in more games, of the idea that a lot of people are going to go home from this pretty shellshocked, questioning their values, questioning what they've done and whether that makes them good people.

Ar Tonelico manages to convey this idea pretty well, I think, in its bad ending. And for that, I have quite a lot of respect for it.

EXEC_RE=VOLITION/.: a hymn for Mir

With many, many thanks to aquagon for the translation of this into Hymmnos; I'm overjoyed that I was able to have this rendered in the language, since my own abilities with it are sub-par to say the least. I tweaked it just slightly, just because some of the Hymmnos has slightly different connotations from my original draft, and I wanted to keep the meaning even if it it doesn't translate word for word.

A fan hymn for Mir, covering the AT3 redemption scenario I've been discussing here previously.


Was apea erra hyma rre ciel sonwe sos mea
I will be eternally immersed in happiness to hear the world sing for me

en firle rre ciel harmon rol nnoi...
and to feel the world come together as one...

Mea en yora wis faura, ciel wis pono
We are baby birds, and the world is an egg

yetere faura na pecee faura pono, faura zodal beng quon
If the baby bird does not break its egg, it will die before it is born

so pecee, diasee, pecee beng rre zodal ciel enclone yora
So hatch, children of God, before you are wrapped up by the dying world

celetille dyya messe anw talam
The new day brings the colour of dawn

Sev rre yorr walaka tes dor, firle anw ture dor
When you walk on the earth, feel you're bound to the earth

yehah grlanza cyui zash
To dance with joy causes you pain

Rrha apea ra stel yor vl viega uje mahin
In this lasting trance, immersed in happiness, I will snatch you from the cruel hands of the blades

yanje, iem en yanhe, rre yorr goa walaka anw lir
For eternity, from now and forever, you will only walk towards the light

Manafeeze wis yanje gyen anw akata
To be alive is to be eternally weaving a story

Rrha apea ra gyen akata yor, rre sorr akata yanwe anw ciel, so rre yorr drone
In this lasting trance, immersed in happiness, I will craft you a story that will turn this world into greatness, so take it in


Cexm! pat yor vl yor hyzik en sacra, so chsee yor
Come! I will liberate you from your body and blood so that you may be transformed

(Cexm! pat yor vl yor cyuie hopb, so chsee yor)
(Come! I will liberate you from your sorrowed heart so that you may be transformed)

fandel hynne oz hymme fau
The endless voices of the singing birds

fandel quive hynne oz grlanza qraffa
The endless soft voices of the dancing leaves

Hyma! ciel spiritum waath vl omnis
Listen! As the spirit of the world revives from everywhere

(Hyma! ciel spiritum waath tes yor innna
(Listen! As the spirit of the world revives within your heart)

parge yor chs oz lurrea en gyuss anw wol lusye
Let go of your fear of change and embrace the rushing light

gral yor nyasri slepir tes dor
All your sorrows have been put to sleep inside the earth

so, dor tie yor nyasry, so yor revm famfa
So let the earth restrain your sorrows so that your dreams may fly

gott! Rrha guwo gaya gott denera, gatyuny, gauzewiga vl ciel!
Be gone! In this resentment I will never feel again, I will drive away the evil ones, the curses and the despair from this world!

gott! Rrha guwo gaya gott werllra, polon, orviclle vl ciel!
Be gone! In this resentment I will never feel again, I will drive away the tears, the loneliness and the obstacles from this world!

yanje na firle lurrea!
I won't feel pain anymore!

beng iem, zauve oz yora wis na vit
Before now, even the most clever of you were blind

iem vit sorr lir wis gyen tes lyuma
Now see the light that's been crafted in the stars

hymme eazas mea! parge yor zeeth
Sing together with me! Cast away your chains

celetille dyya messe anw talam
The new day brings the colour of dawn

viss anw wart wis fountaina tes lyuma
Read the words that are hiding in the stars

rre yorr gran anw dand, en parge vonn wis fountaine cest vl yor eux
Open the curtain; banish the darkness that hides the truth from your eyes

hymme eazas mea! hymme yora briyante
Sing together with me! Sing with voices of joy

fama tes yanje fwal, rre yor vit talam
Flying on eternity's wings, you can surely see the colour of dawn

Anything in parentheses = sung by a choir. The rest are Mir's lines.

And yes, I took the opportunity to shamelessly have her sing paraphrased quotes from Utena in Hymmnos, because I could. :) I thought it was fitting since Mir likes her bird metaphors so much, and this song, and her goal, is all about transformation.

The title is also a pun, again with some Utena undertones, though that wasn't the main reason for using it, just a little incidental connection to the lyrics. It almost seems to read "revolution", meaning a complete upheaval or transformation of the world, but it's actually "re-volition", meaning "again, use your volition (will)". The first use of will to effect mass change by the Reyvateils was when Mir led them in a war against the humans, so the title implies that this song is Mir's new volition, or new act of will; an act in the vein of her old one, a "retry", yet vastly improved. I may also write a hymn for Mir's Reyvateil war, and if I do, I'll probably base it on this one somewhat so as to emphasise that this song is a reprise from back then.

There's also another thread of referencing going on here. Suffice to say, I'm doing something here with "snatching up", "body and blood", transformation, and the idea of voices raised in joy. Yes, I am going there. We're talking about someone who is in some way taking up the mantle of the Trio of Elemia: the dream of transforming the world into a paradise. I think I can get away with the imagery.

It doesn't flow very well as a song in English because I was trying to fit it to Hymmnos vocabulary as best I could. I'll possibly write a more polished set of English lyrics later that will act as a more liberal translation.

And no, I have no idea how you shout "cexm". I'll leave working that one out to the Reyvateils among you. :D

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Quick post: Cross Edge and avatars

For those following the news on Cross Edge, the crossover RPG including characters from Ar Tonelico, Thunder's given us an update on the latest announced costumes for the Reyvateil characters.

Spoilers, obviously, exist over there for the costumes, but I thought it was at least my duty to inform from whence I got the new Ayatane avatar. Apologies if seeing the new art is slightly spoilery for anyone here, but I just had to grab that as an icon; the humanity and genuineness on his face, particularly as as contrasted with his previous artwork, just caught my attention. Besides, I've been needing a matching avatar for this blog for a while now... although it suddenly occurs to me that the layout itself doesn't really match with Ar Tonelico's Sci-Fi Future stylings very well. (What I really want is to rip that circuit-board pattern from the Cross Edge site, which you may be able to tell I used a bit of in my icon. Something about the way it's animated in the Flash really appeals to me somehow. Energy flowing; data transferring. It'd be a good fit for this blog, even if it won't be animated. Now I just need to be quick enough on the Print Screen draw...)

Also, apparently Bourd is playable. I'm sure you all know what I'm thinking right now: "why Bourd and why not Mir?" That's no fair exchange. Blah.

I had a dream last night that I was trying to get to a railway station called Ar Tonelico. Instead I ended up on a train to a station with a really similar name that I had mistaken for Ar Tonelico, and got really lost. The question I really want to ask my subconscious is, how many names could be that similar to Ar Tonelico?

Oh, and randomly, guys: what's the difference between following a blog and adding it to your blogroll? I mean, I can see from here when everyone's updated, so is there a need to actually follow people? Does it do anything useful?

Friday, 12 September 2008

EXEC_HARMONIOUS/. is cool. (The hymn, not the blog. XD)

I'd been speculating about what EXEC_HARMONIOUS/., as song magic, actually did, and I found out that my rather wild speculation (as deduced from the lyrics and from what Misha used it for) was actually correct; it's basically used to open up another person's mind to the emotions contained within the song, to encourage them to be receptive to and believe what the song says. (Which does make sense given its use in game, but I'd been going off the theory that the designers were having Misha sing it because it would remind Mir of her previous emotions, without really taking into account what the song originally did; i.e. that its power for Mir was solely in being a memory-trigger because of the lyrics, not that it was literally intended as a magical trigger anyway. I'm quite gratified that they actually didn't handwave away the song's original effect when Misha had to sing it for Mir; that was the song's original effect, to bring people back to themselves. That's tighter plotting than I'd expected.)

Anyway, that's been added to my list of Things Mir Does That Are Awesome, because, seriously? You're this artificial intelligence created basically as a song-generating powerhouse, and the first thing you ever think to do with all that power is to create a song inspiring people to throw away their painful illusions and be filled with hope and joy? It's such a simple idea in some senses, yet so stunningly wise; she could have been sidetracked by a thousand lesser ideas about what would be interesting or necessary or even "cool", could have been caught up in so many of society's little (and grand) illusions about What We Really Need, illusions like wars and guns and nations that fight the surface level of the problem while perpetuating its deeper layers. She could have been swallowed up by negative emotions, by pain, by sorrow, by fear, and crafted something that she thought would temporarily alleviate that.

There were so many options, the vast majority of them petty and flawed, and I'm suspecting she didn't exactly have many sources of positive inspiration. But she was astute enough - possibly, actually, because she was an AI, and her emotions developed gradually rather than bombarding her all at once - to see straight to the core of all of her, and everyone else's, problems.

And if that's not "cool", then I don't know what is.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

AT3 Mir design: what would work?

So obviously I've been spending a lot of time contemplating the whole idea of Speculative AT3 Mir As Ultimate Force For Good. And even if it does end up happening in AT3, I can't wait for that. I'm having enough trouble waiting for AT2 as it is. ;) So I'd like to try and design an image of what such a future Mir might look like, as well as maybe some hymns, if I can get enough of a handle on Hymmnos to not have to be running to the people on the forums all the time. ;)

The problem is, I'm really bad at costume design. =P I had some vague thoughts at first that something like SERAPH or KASHA might work for the image I had in mind, but since I'm specifically going for an image of Mir-as-redemptive-force, I think KASHA is too dark and gothic, and SERAPH... well, it's already been done. I want this costume to be unique.

Also, I'm not sure that armour, per se, is the way to go on this one. The point of future!redemptive!Mir is that she's someone who recognises that the only way to bring about goodness is to act with goodness; that there are no such things as holy wars, that there's no such concept as "fighting for what is right", that kindness is won into the world through kind acts and goodness through good acts and love through loving acts. So instead of a bulky, defensive costume, perhaps something much less harsh-looking is in order, something that symbolises her openness. Maybe elaborate robes, to emphasise a holy bearing and at the same time a reluctance to engage in physical combat?

But as I said, I'm really bad with this sort of thing. So if Mir came back in AT3 as Epic Force For Good, what kind of costume do you think would work? If I get some good ideas, I might try drawing it, or getting a commission someplace (the latter possibly because I can't do really epic, dramatic backgrounds or anything, and to get this done in full anime style looking really uber would... well, it would be uber).

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Be the change you wish to see in the world.


After some discussion with Thunder in comments to previous entries, I've come to a few conclusions about what I think Mir's story is about - or, at the very least, what it's about for me. I may write about it a little more here in the future, but for now at least, I wanted to add, at least, a coda to my earlier FST. Because I think this song describes Mir as she was throughout most of her life, and, in a different way, perhaps, as she became at the end of the game.

Throughout that time, she had a single goal in mind: she wanted to save the world. She wanted to create a paradise. That goal never changed. But she lost faith in the fact that humans could bring this paradise about, and sought to bring it about herself. She didn't know what she was doing; didn't stop to think through the fact that conflict and suffering cannot be healed by conflict and suffering, that her ultimate good could never be brought about through cruelty. But I have revised my opinion that she ever lost sight of her initial dream, as expressed in EXEC_HARMONIOUS/. She held the dream close to her heart all along. It was only her decisions about how to make that dream come about that changed.

I'm hoping we'll see Mir finally, truly bring that dream to full fruition some day, for the good of all in her world. In the meantime, here's the song, and here are the lyrics. (And who would Mir be sending love to at the end of the game? Perhaps, to the world. Perhaps this is the faltering expression of her hopes and doubts that she can truly transform things. Or perhaps she has someone specific in mind. Who knows....)

Also, somewhat tangentially, here's a sweet little post-game fanfic that made me go all fuzzy. Simple, perhaps obvious, but I couldn't help the twinges in my heart at some of the descriptions all the same.

And now to bed.

Ayatane's Alphabet

As requested, the first letter of Ayatane's alphabet.

Somehow this image didn't come out as well as I expected it to, even though I got the lines really clean for once. Oh well...

Maybe he's born with it....

...maybe it's Maybelline. (Mildly un-work-safe, due to Mir wearing her usual costume of nothing, though I tried to strategically place her hair.)

Outtake of what I think happens when Ayatane gets his uber Childerich-esque makeup. Evidently, the cameras stop rolling and Mir pops on stage to lovingly apply some warpaint.

I totally plan to draw Ayatane's First Letter, but in the meantime, this image wouldn't get out of my head, so here you go. =P

(Also, Ayatane? Totally stole Lulu fron FFX's lipstick. Just sayin'.)

Sunday, 7 September 2008

power/paradox. - A Mir FST (Ar Tonelico)

Lately I've been listening to a handful of songs that I found strongly correlated, for me, with the story of Mir from Ar Tonelico. At first I thought of just posting up the few songs that made the most impact on me and noting that I associated them with Mir, but I did a little cursory hunting to see if I could find any more relevant songs, and soon found that I had enough for a whole fan soundtrack.

If you want the EP version of this, consider the most relevant songs to be:

Virus and Down With Me - Thunderstone
Control - Poe
Light As Air - Deas Vail

Cover image | .zip of all songs

Vast amounts of explanatory text/song analysis stuff follows. Bear with it and be thankful I didn't make this even more elaborate. :D

1. Virus - Thunderstone
The introduction to the story. There's a virus in the Tower, and everyone is afraid for their lives. Probably works best from Shurelia's point of view, given later lyrics.

All systems down, something's wrong
Unplugged and freezed to the bone
Feels like I'm locked out, helpless within
I can feel uncertainty's rising

We trust too much and we are too blue-eyed
We get careless and we will fail
And we will wake up when it's too late
Tower of power is crashing down
My life will be erased, no files will be found

2. Map of the Problematique - Muse
Mir being lonely and lost, basically.

Will flash before my eyes
So scattered and lost
I want to touch the other side
And no one
Thinks they are to blame
Why can't we see
When we bleed we bleed the same?

Loneliness, be over
When will this loneliness be over?

3. Wanted - Vanessa Carlton
Mir trying to convince herself, and the world, that she is wanted.

I have wandered far and wide
for something real, something to die for
but I have found you and you do not see
all that is me all that is true and

I am more than you will see,
I am more than you will need,
I am more than you will see,
more than wanted

More than you'll love, more than you'll hate,
more than you'll hold, more than wanted
more than you'll crave, more than you'll cherish,
more than you'll have, more than wanted

4. Down With Me - Thunderstone
Mir loses faith in her hymn. Two songs by the same artist, yes, but they both fit so well. You can't tell me this doesn't sound like a song about EXEC_HARMONIOUS/.

Long time ago
Someone sang a song about living in a world
Where there are no wars, no hate
Just harmony and love

Long time ago
Someone told a story about a dream
Where people could live in peace
No matter who they are

For thousands of years
I have seen how man's been creating his own hell
Been wondering about the human race
And the ways they brought themselves down

I've never shed a tear
For the one that slowly killed himself
And never looked ahead
I will come when the time is right
Just to take another one

Down with me
There's no light
And no one will ever be free
I'll break every dream you've ever had
And make your life so, so sad
Make your life so sad

5. R-Evolve - 30 Seconds to Mars
Mir decides to do something about her pain. Destruction, death and chaos follow.

A revolution has begun today for me inside
The ultimate defense is to pretend
Revolve around yourself just like an ordinary man
The only other option to forget

Does it feel like we’ve never been alive?
Does it seem like it's only just begun?

To find yourself just look inside the wreckage of your past
To lose it all you have to do is lie
The policy is set and we are never turning back
It’s time for execution; time to execute
Time for execution; time to execute!

6. Tomorrow - SR71
When you're as powerful as Mir is, it's easy to be afraid of your own hatred even as you embrace it.

Is it any wonder why I'm scared
If I was a little younger would I care
Feeling like the walls are growing stronger
I don't know if this cage can hold me any longer

You never dreamed you'd have to live your life so guarded
'Cause they'll find a way to make you feel discarded

I'm not afraid of tomorrow
I'm only scared of myself
Feels like my insides are on fire
And I'm looking through the eyes of someone else

7. Sin - Nine Inch Nails
Pretty much speaks for itself.

You give me the reason
You give me control
I gave you my purity
My purity you stole
Did you think I wouldn't recognize this compromise
Am I just too stupid to realize
Stale incense, old sweat and lies lies lies

You give me the anger
You give me the nerve
Carry out my sentence
While I get what I deserve
I'm just an effigy to be disgraced
To be defaced
Your need for me has been replaced
And if I can't have everything, well then just give me a taste

8. Control - Poe
Basically the ur-Mir song. Everything in this is so very her, even (especially) the spoken words at the end. The actual lyrics of the song perfectly illustrate what led her up to this point, and the words at the end describe how she felt when she was young, when people told her she was powerful and special but at the same time took her power away from her and used her.

Don't you mess with a little girl's dream
'Cause she's liable to grow up mean

Surprised you to find that I'm laughing?
You thought that you'd find me in tears
You thought I'd be crawling the walls
Like a tiny mosquito and trembling in fear

Well, you may be king for the moment
But I am a queen, understand
And I've got your pawns and your bishops and castles
All inside the palm of my hand

While you were looking the other way
While you had your eyes closed
While you were licking your lips
'Cause I was miserable
While you were selling your soul
While you were tearing a hole in me

I was taking control

Now I have taken control
Now I have taken control...


"This cannot be all that there is to life, because in our confrontation
with an enormous and cold universe, there is something comical to the idea
that we can really enforce our will on humanity. Power... corrupts!

It's your world. Do with it what you want!
No. That's not the way to do it.
Power... That's not the way to do it.
No. It's your world.
No. It's your world.
No. It's your world.

Control it! Control it!"

"This is scaring me..."

9. Still Alive - Portal (Bad Ending)
Mir being mocking and ironic, if you choose the bad ending. If you take it all as sarcasm on her part, it works.

I'm not even angry
I'm being so sincere right now
Even though you broke my heart and killed me
And tore me to pieces
And threw every piece into a fire
And as they burned it hurt because
I was so happy for you

Now these points of data make a beautiful line
And we're out of beta, we're releasing on time
So I'm glad I got burned, think of all the things we learned
For the people who are still alive

10. Light As Air - Deas Vail (Good Ending)
Mir from Lyner's perspective, as we offer her freedom and comfort in spite of everything.

Broken and blinded, there is a plan, so take my hand
You'll understand this in the end

You can't believe in everything you're told
Sometimes it's nobody that wins
But you fall down for your heart
And fight it out until the bitter end

The time is over for silent years of stored up fears
That are holding you down
A taken lover that you'll begin to find again
It's a hole inside your heart

You're coming around now
You want to get older
But don't forget how to stay alive...

And that's it.