Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout The Animation – Episode 1

By: Toni Sun Prickett July 2, 20230 Comments
Tao, Lent, Ryza, and Klaudia in the woods

What’s it about? In this show based on a well known alchemy fantasy RPG, Ryza is the daughter of a farmer in a small island town, but she knows she wants something more than to just work the fields forever. So she and her friends Lent and Tao decide to go on an adventure off the island! Into the wilderness they go! While they’re there, they are saved from a monster by a Guardian pair, an alchemist and a fighter–and decide to become their apprentices. Will they be taken on?

There were about five times in this extended premiere where I said out loud, “I can’t believe it’s still going!” Given the show is a slow-paced, iyashikei-style fantasy series, the increasingly common double length premiere does it absolutely no favors, making for a 48 minute slog that feels about four times that length. How did this go so wrong?

First of all, the characters themselves have as much personality as a cardboard cutout. Each of them has exactly one personality trait. Ryza herself is a typical genki girl protagonist, who vaguely wants to find something different from her normal life of farming. Lent is the wannabe protector with no fighting skills. And then we have Tao, who by virtue of his character design and penchant for complaining I will refer to for the rest of the review as Arnold from The Magic School Bus. Virtually half of the episode consisted of Ryza pushing the group forward, Lent going along with it, and Arnold complaining. And boy howdy does he complain. Every moment, Arnold was either saying “we’re off the road,” or “we should turn back now,” or “we’re going to get in so much trouble!”

I knew I should have stayed home today!

Unfortunately, in addition to talking like cardboard cutouts, they move like them too. To animate the ornate designs found in Atelier would take enormous amounts of work—in these kinds of layered outfits each element of a character’s clothes has to be animated differently for it to move realistically. To get around this, the characters spend the vast majority of the show as talking heads, with lip flaps the only real animation. The fight scenes look like they were taken directly out of a turn-based RPG, with the enemies politely standing in a row of three waiting for their turn to attack. How exciting.

Lila splayed out on the couch in a bizarre pose with her extremely large breasts poking out

And the fanservice. In addition to the melon-breasted Guardian with arrows pointing to her cleavage, the storyboarders looked for any and every excuse to give us another shot of Ryza’s thighs. Ryza is designed for maximum plausible deniability fanservice, with her shirt looking perpetually wet and her shorts looking like a bright red diaper giving her a serious reverse wedgie. I cannot describe just how unpleasant it is to watch the ED, in which we are “treated” to almost a minute straight of panning shots over Ryza’s legs. And those stockings make me wonder if she’s at risk of an embolism.

Ryza's legs
Fully half the show is shot at thigh level

There is basically no type of fanservice I despise more than using a veneer of a wholesome premise as a vehicle for thigh shots of an underage protagonist. And as much as I wish I could report some amount of gender parity in the fanservice, Lent is not oogled in the same way, despite having as horny of a character design as Rya’s is.

The plot is best described as boilerplate Game Tutorial. They go to Rookie Forest. They fight slimes that Lent can’t even handle. (Pathetic.) They ask to become apprentices to the Guardians, who you know will say yes but still take fifteen minutes getting there because they’re grumpy(?). It is exhausting.

This show is boring. I spent much of the premiere yelling to my roommate across the apartment “please, let it be over already!” I can only recommend it to people who are extreme fans of the games it is based on. Otherwise, there are many better chill-out fantasy series to watch instead.

About the Author : Toni Sun Prickett

Toni Sun Prickett (they/them) is a Contributing Editor at Anime Feminist, and a multidisciplinary artist and educator located in New York, New York. They bring a queer abolitionist perspective shaped by their years of organizing and teaching in NYC to anime criticism. Outside of anime writing, they are a musician blending EDM and saxophone performance, and their hobbies include raving, voguing, and music production. They run the AniFem tiktok and their writing can be found at They are on X, Instagram, and Bluesky @poetpedagogue.

Read more articles from Toni Sun Prickett

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