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Hello everyone, Tsuchiya here. This will be the seond issue of the Firefly Alley Citizen's BBS special "We won't be talking about the game, but about the secrets of the secret setting intentions!", and for the second iteration of that, we'll talk "About the Feelings I entrusted to the Life Extending Agent scene". It might get a bit long, so I'd be very glad if you could take a bit of your time to read it.


More often than not, a piece of work will be full of the author's feelings - a message that they wish to convey . And Ar tonelico was no different. The feeling I most wanted to convey with it was that of the love that a character shares with their partner, and the bonds between them. In the game, the word 'partner' is used to describe the person someone trusts most closely, or perhaps simply a person who will grow to fill that role. In order to convey that concept, we devoted most all of our energy to portraying the relationships between the main character and the game's heroines. The game's setup, story, and systems were all structured so as to focus on the main character and the heroines. Today's topic, the Life Extending Agent scene, was created with exactly the same aim in mind.


The Life Extending Agent scene was the first scene made in 2004's Ar tonelico (*1), a game based around the idea of the love and bonds between people, My desire was to create a single scene that could, even at a glance, display the deep bond that two partners shared. I wanted it to be a scene that would portray feelings like those felt when a parent embraces their child: the parent wishing only to protect one who is truly dear to them, and the child allowing themselves to be held, opening themselves in complete trust to their parent.
The Life Extending Agent is administered via an Install Port. But a Reyvateil is reluctant to show this Port to others. This is because it is not merely a Port capable of giving them life, but also one that can cause them pain. Furthermore, if certain Grathnode Crystals are applied, a person can easily cause them harm. To put it simply, a Reyvatil's Install Port is akin to their life itself. It's only natural that a Reyvatil would be unwilling to show that to anyone but a person they could really trust.
Thus the application of a Life Extending Agent is the act of entrusting your very life, on entirely unconditional terms, to one that you truly trust to protect it. It also carries with it the burden of pain. When Aurica first asks Lyner to administer the Agent to her, she stands with her back facing him. But she changes her mind and, telling him that "Actually, this way is better after all...", turns to face him. This is because she decides to trust him to manage both the pain of the installation and her life's flame itself, and by facing him, she is able to entrust everything to him. She chooses this position because she believes that Lyner will support her and protect her if the pain becomes too much to bear, and if she feels as if she might fall under its weight. She trusts Lyner to the point where she can place everything she is in his hands.
You can't really display it with small, pixel-based artwork, but during the Life Extending Agent scene, the Reyvateil is in fact less embracing her partner and more clinging on to him. The situation is such that her fingernails might well pierce Lyner's skin and draw blood. The previously partner-less Aurica entrusts herself to one who will accept even this. Through her tight grip, her partner will share in her pain. Through her fingernails against his skin, he will help her to bear its burden. In order that she might continue to live alongside him, he never refuses to bear that burden. Rather, he only offers her greater sympathy having understood it. Though Life Extending Agents allow a Reyvateil to continue living, their administration is one of the most traumatic experiences she faces in her life, and by sharing in that experience, her partner can help calm her heart. These are the sort of feelings I had in mind with the Life Extending Agent. What I wished to convey through it.


However, once the game was released, it was basically referred to as a dirty scene online. Honestly, I can't deny that while I was writing it I kind of wondered if people wouldn't misinterpret it being as borderline perverted. But simply thinking of another way of doing the scene was never an option for me. To distort a scene that so portrayed the message I wanted to get across would've been paramount to denying the message of the game itself. A scene that wasn't meant to be seen as perverted ended up being seen that way. But does it really matter? That's 100% not the way I meant it. And the voice actors delivered their lines fully understanding their real meaning, so there shouldn't have been any dirty undertones there (but only a few people really knew the intent behind the scene well, and thus the idea for the double entendres slipped in and caused them to deviate a little from the original intent. Of course this is my fault for not having made things clear enough to my staff, but...). So when the release date rolled around, I was full of pride. I would've had to have been the very model of low self-confidence to have hesitated over something like that anyway, right?
In the end, I think how the scene is perceived differs from player to player. And I'm not going to complain over how people want to interpret a scene. Actually, I think if half of the people who play misinterpret it, it's probably me that needs to reconsider how to express his ideas. Still, I do believe that people will get the message I wished to convey. Even if it doesn't reach them now, then I believe that they'll feel it later, when a few years have passed and they think back on Ar tonelico. After all, I created the game with nothing but a strong desire to cram it full of my thoughts and feelings.


I think how people perceive this article will probably differ quite a bit too. And if there's those who don't quite get what I'm trying to convey, then it'll only be a result of me not knowing how to properly convey it. There's just one thing I'd like you all to try doing, though... Think for a moment about how you might feel if you were the one administering the Life Extending Agent in the scene I described above. If there was a girl who was really important to you, and you had to administer the Agent, but doing so would cause them a great deal of pain... How would you approach her? How would you feel doing something like that? It might not be such a bad idea to draw parallels with real life events. Perhaps a time where someone important to you was running a high fever, or when someone was in a critical state in hospital, and you sat at their bedside holding their hand. I can't help but think that the way you'd feel might be the same one you feel at times like those. So if you feel that way, even a little, then I'm really happy. That was the feeling I wished to convey.
If any of you took the time to read all of above, I can only give you my most sincere thanks for having done so!


Well then, I think the next week we'll show a simple report about the [Ar tonelico Enquete: Phase 2] we made the other day. It seems from the trend of the responses that there is quite an interest on Ar tonelico, but also, there might be some responses I didn't read deeply enough. I though that it would be good to return the favor to you all in this simple way, given I took part of your time for the Enquete.


Well then, we'll see you all later!


(*1: As I have been saying in this section, the concept I had for Ar tonelico on the 2000 and the one I have currently are very different. On the 2004 and onwards, to give a new life to Ar tonelico, I took its world again, but completely remade the game and its concepts).

Translated by Izzy