Ryza is a young woman on an island from which no one is allowed to leave and to which no one is allowed to come. Except when they are: merchants, at least, travel between the island and other places (either a mainland or another island?). There are all sorts of other taboos that are enforced (don’t cross the highway, don’t go into certain woods, etc.) because of *puts on his Fiddler on the Roof voice* TRADITION! So we are reminded many a time. Ryza, however, as one of the most blithely nearsighted nonconformists to ever grace the shonen screen, won’t give such oldfangled notions the time of day. She ropes her two friends Lent and Tao into going on an adventure with her, which basically means going where they’re not supposed to. Surprise, surprise, they (and a new friend they meet) nearly get clobbered by a handful of pixies, but are saved at the last minute by an alchemist and his Wolverine-clawed bodyguard. The kids get… no punishment besides a scolding? And then Ryza begs the alchemist to train her. Initially reluctant, the alchemist determines that she might have the requisite aptitude and gives her a couple of tests. Naturally, she passes (shonen’s gotta shonen) and now we’re finally all set for our new adventure to continue in episode two!
I’m honestly a bit ambivalent about this one, though leaning more towards the positive side. Apparently, this anime is basically the plot (and cutscenes) from a video game of the same name (minus “The Animation,” natch). So if you’re a fan of the game, this will probably be a fun and nostalgic romp. I’m not familiar with the source material, and while the storyline was fine, I thought it was executed with pretty middle-of-the-road quality. There’s nothing either surprising or awful here; it’s a standard kind of story, but at 48 minutes of runtime, it felt kind of stretched—and yet at the same time, certain plot points (Why did the boys agree to go with her so easily? Why didn’t they get more than a slap on the wrist for such dangerous misbehavior?) could have used more depth. I feel like we’re just getting set up for the real plot to come in the following episodes (shonen’s gotta shonen, after all). The graphics are ok, the camera movements are kind of fun, the music passable. There’s just enough interesting world-building to keep my interest for now, plus the well-done character designs of the alchemist and Miss Wolverine. So I’ll keep this one on my list for the nonce.
Lila’s nail extensions Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout The Animation can be enjoyed on Crunchyroll.