Still, I feel a bit unsatisfied. In my mind, it feels like the Atelier series hit its peak for me personally around Meruru/Ayesha (both of which I would have given a 9.2 or higher without second thought) and has been coasting on fumes since then. I was happy that they added back in a bunch of classic Atelier mechanics and tried new things, I hope they keep doing that, but I just couldn't get into the characters that much. Characters are really, really important for JRPGs and I just am not feeling much attachment to anyone in the Mysterious trilogy so far. I feel a bit unreasonable, wondering if the problem is with me and not with JRPGs.
Maybe I'm just getting old, is a lot of the magic that drew me to JRPGs when I was younger is gone now?
While this is technically a review site, it's really just a place where someone with a lifelong love of JRPGs wanted to blog about the games he likes.
[Real Life blogging warning]
Love of Japanese RPGs was the main catalyst for me wanting to learn Japanese in the first place. I spent countless hours playing games like Final Fantasy Tactics and Xenogears as a kid, I continued to enjoy games like Ar tonelico 1 & 2 later on. In college I majored in CS, but spent a lot of my free time playing Japanese MMORPGs and single player RPGs to get more language practice.
Some time after graduating college in the US, I realized I wanted to do more than just play games with the time I'd invested in the language. I got a job offer from a software company in Japan two years ago and hopped on it - I don't regret it. Japan is a wonderful country, and I've made many great friends here. The work culture is a bit crazy, and I haven't had as much time to refine my language skills as I'd like (most Japanese people will not correct your spoken Japanese as long as they can understand you, so even if I talk to Japanese people every day, my spoken and composed Japanese is still pretty bad).
[End of real life blogging]
I've come to a point where long running and famous staples of JRPG fandom like Final Fantasy XV and Persona 5 are games that I'm not even considering buying. It's not out of some weird niche hobby elitism, I don't 'hate things that are popular' or anything like that, I just somehow fell off the fan train for these series.
Gust is the last remaining company that I fanboy for pretty hard. Right now I'm having to face the reality that they've been having a very bumpy ride these past few years. While I love Ciel/Ar nosurge, the business execution for those games was a disaster, and now the director, Tsuchiya, is doing a mobile game/anime crossover instead of my long hoped for Exa Pico universe sequel. The song magic games side of Gust seem to be dead and buried, and that's depressing. Atelier Shallie was a disaster in my opinion, Sophie was good but it (along with Shallie) jettisoned a big chunk of the fanbase by shedding time limits only to bring them back in Firis mid-trilogy...it's not very encouraging. I still think they can right this ship when it comes to Atelier, especially next trilogy when they get to do an artist/world reset.
Anyway, I don't know what I'm gonna play next. The Vita has a couple DRPGs that look decent (Demon Gaze 2, Mary Skelter), but DRPG fatigue is real. I want to save my DRPG hype for Dungeon Travelers 2-2. That doesn't come out until April 2017 though, so maybe I can fit one more DRPG in. There's always Tales of Beseria - I'm not much of a Tales person (I've only played Symphonia, Vesperia and Xillia) but it might be interesting to step back in and see how it is. Also, it's not a JRPG but I might pick up Fate/Extella once the price drops even though I expect it to be mediocre. I loved Fate/Extra CCC and was crushed when I found out Extella was a musou instead of a JRPG.
Thanks for reading, let me know how you feel about the overall state of JRPGs in the comments if you feel like it.