It’s not that rare to find a person who has had his life changed by a story. Look at that one Finnish Macross fan for example told a friend of mine few weeks back. How was I changed, and why? I’ve been asking myself this for some time, and perhaps now I can answer these questions…but only with an answer that still leaves a lot open.
Let’s get into the spoiler heavy territory here. If you ever had the smallest intent to read Muv-Luv (which I strongly recommend) stop here. Really, there’s no reason you to NOT read Muv-Luv. Ask yourself when was the last time I actually recommended you to read something with a straight face without joking and tell you that it’s that good? Just don’t give up in the lacrosse arc, I know its tedious…
It’s been about a month since I read Muv-Luv, or so it at least feels. How did this story actually change me?
Well, physically I’ve been far more happier, smiling a lot more and generally I’ve felt more energetic. This can be attributed that I found hope in the story, even when it’s one of the most bleak, hopeless and… desperate story I’ve ever read. Yes, desperate. That’s the word that comes to my mind when describing Muv-Luv as a whole, more specifically Alternative. The first two parts, Extra and Unlimited, are quite light in mood and read, even if Unlimited’s ending is one of the most heart wrenching things. Either the one you love lives on another planet while you keep fighting, or both of you keep on fighting together to the bitter end.
I chose her to go. To love, to let go, no matter how much I get hurt in the process.
Muv-Luv Unlimited ends with this scene. That one star where I’m fighting for those two to return…
There is a side story to Muv-Luv known as Muv-Luv Unlimited The Day After. It continues from this point on, telling the tale of soldiers fighting against the BETA on Earth mostly scorn of war, vast salt seas fill the planet surface and most of Europe has been flooded. People live in crowded cities in conditions no human should ever live. Lack of any kind of food or water, crime, extreme control over everything and the simple desperate fight for survival is common. Those who are in army are in luck, but they’re not fairing any better, as BETA still keeps attacking the last remnants of humanity. Riots are common, and as are the casualties in said riots. Satellite communication, or electronic communication in general at long range, is impossible due to the G-Bombs used to decimate the BETA Hives in Eurasian continent.
Yes, the G-Bombings. At the end of Unlimited, plan known as Alternative V was set in motion on Christmas day. It consisted of two things; migrating selected humans to the closest suitable planet, and bombing the BETA Hives with the strongest weapon in mankind… with the results you read above. The bombing of the Hives is then dubbed as “The Day.”
Not my video, but gets the message across
It’s clear that in this world, humanity is doomed. Even the humans that migrated are basically doomed, as they have no viable defence against the BETA, if they ever were to land on that planet.
The world is beyond desperation, and one Shirogane Takeru witnesses all this. Multiple times. He dies in this world of Day After many times over… until an alternative sets in.
The world of Unlimited (and The World After) is bleak. During Unlimited itself you only have hints of the situation, of the war going on. Everywhere else you don’t only see it, but you feel it. It’s the desperation of the people simply trying to survive, when it’s more than clear that the the end has come.
Still, there are people smiling, laughing and continuing their everyday life… The Day After is well written and shows the much darker side of Muv-Luv.
That is, until one reads the end of Alternative.
This was, and most likely will always be, the face of those who lived with the story of Muv-Luv.
The end of Alternative doesn’t just grab your heart, but it shatters whatever you had left. It breaks the reader completely.
It’s the last eight to twelve hours of Muv-Luv Alternative that showcase what lengths one has to go in order to make a significant difference. From the RED to Sadogashima, to the defence battle of Yokohama base, to the very core of the Original Hive, the reader can’t let go, the reader isn’t allowed to let go. It shows war in a raw light that you wouldn’t expect from a story filled with giant robots and aliens. Anyone can die in a single moment, no one has a possibility to avoid death completely. One by one, the reader is thrown deeper and deeper into the abyss from where he is unable to escape. At one point there is light, a dim light of hope that keeps shining, and the reader tries to grasp it.
Here you see the last stand of Ayamine Kei. She is here because no one else could be. She is here to live long enough that the man she loves could save the world. She knows that she is dying, that she is going to die right here, right now, surrounded with her best friends and comrades in arms. The last thing she can do is to make sure that her will doesn’t give in too soon, that her arms do not give in too soon. Her life has not been an easy one, and neither shall be her end. She is here not because of love, but because of pride and the duty she has.
Ayamine Kei chosen to give her life here, as she could not give her love.
Invoke the motto of the Isumi’s Valkyries.
“ Complete your mission with all your might
Despair not ’till your last breath
Do not die in vain “
Nobody but two people in the world shall remember her, or even know her.
Writing the paragraph above was something hard to do. Simply picking up those two images brought memories to the surface; the voices, the sounds, the music and the motions. I relived the whole scene. Muv-Luv didn’t only make me far more happier, and healed me of Kimi ga Nozomu Eien, but left me with something… precious would be the best word to be honest. It’s a wound that I do not want to heal, as it reminds reminds me how I realized a lot of myself, and values that have always been there, hidden and neglected. It wasn’t only her, but all the characters that stood proudly with the Valkyrie’s motto, that I found something special.
It took deaths of fictional characters to get me realize how much I truly care for those around me, and how I want to serve them in arms. I can listen to you, I can help you and be there for you, but I want to be able to protect you in the face of something larger if it ever were to come.
While I’d like to say that I want to live according to the Valkyrie’s motto, I’m afraid that it’s impossible in this world. That is a good thing. Still, the very core that it encompasses is something that I can try to strife for, as it closely resembles that of my own ideology.
Her name Mitsurugi Meiya. She was the sword of her nation, her Emperor and her own devotions. Mitsurugi Meiya is the character I fell in love in the beginning. However, much in like in the story itself, I already had something beneath that I did not want to admit. As with Takeru himself, the One Person gone I went with Meiya’s route in Unlimited. Looking it back now, choosing so hurt me even when I didn’t notice it. It was a natural change, but yet…
Mitsurugi’s final fate is something that I wouldn’t want to go in here. Her fate is one of the most beautiful scenes in fiction, as inevitable as it is. She dies with a smile that only her loved one, and her sister, could ever understand.
You’ve might have listened to song before. The Flame of Life, 生命の炎, Jinsei no Honou (if I’m not completely incorrect), stirs me. It’s the song I don’t listen to much simply because for the time being it’s far too strong for me. As Storm Vanguard is the song that makes go, The Flame of Life is the song that makes me stop. This one song, to me, is about sacrifice, beliefs, hope, pride, duty and perhaps most importantly love one can have for another.
At this point of the Alternative story the reader has witnessed what it takes from one man to stand next to his believes. Takeru’s hands are stained in the blood of many innocent people, blood that he with his actions has caused to bleed. With either his indirect or direct actions he has taken many lives of his fellow men and women for the sake of saving the world they’re losing. Whatever has stood in his way he has swept back, clenching his teeth. He has been a soldier… no, an Eishi to the highest degree, never letting his emotions get in the way again, never letting the deaths of those he cared so much go in vain.
And when all that comes to a closure in one important second, the world is saved… and one more sword in this world is lost, he only he, and the reader, knows the significance of her smile.
After that, it all comes to a point: Shirogane Takeru of this world had died before the events of Muv-Luv ever took place in the hands of the BETA. This Takeru we know are, as the readers, is an amalgamation of countless Shirogane Takeru’s from various possible worlds. The memories he has are all of his own, he has lived through them an every time he has died in the world of Day After, he has been brought back to 22nd of October, his body still remembering, but his memories lacking without proper place to go. He has been the causal conductor, the one with ability to travel beyond boundaries of probability, able to cause pain and suffering where he goes, but also save countless lives and worlds.
Takeru’s mission in Alternative, after realizing this “time loop,” is to save the world and find whatever made him the causal conductor.
What caused him to become the causal conductor is a result of physical and mental rape, the raw power of human subconscious and he elements mankind has yet to understand.
The Kagami Sumika of the Unlimited/Alternative world had ceased to exist. Sumika was ultimately the one I truly fell in love as a reader… and as a person. Her attitude, character, language, everything about her was something special. I found myself steering off from Meiya and closer to Sumika, unable to choose between the two until I was in front of decision to either be with Sumika, or go after Meiya. I stayed under That Tree next to Sumika.
But in this world, there was the war with BETA. She was taken into a BETA Hive for studies and for recycle with her townspeople and this world’s Takeru. People dwindled down, until only she and Takery were left, and when this world’s Takeru stood to defend her, the BETA simply disposed of him… and proceeded to study Sumika by raping her, giving her the pleasure beyond any man could ever give, and dissecting her while she felt the pleasure shocking her body over and over again until what was left of her was only the very last essence; her brain in a BETA column. She wasn’t alive, but she was conscious in eternal darkness, trapped inside her own mind. There she wished only one thing more and more; I want to see Takeru. In her subconscious she called forth memories of Takeru, no matter who this Takeru was. Her pure, selfish wish to keep on loving made Shirogane Takeru the causal conductor on that day when humanity reclaimed the Yokohama Hive, and built the base on top of it. Why? The elements known as G-Elements and G-bombs caused, alongside with Sumika’s raw form of subconscious as the catalyst, broke the causal barriers and brought him in to the world of BETA… every time he wasn’t there, even after Takeru died he returned to the 22nd of October anew.
The one I wanted to destroy as Takeru was the thing I loved the most… as did Takeru.
However, how Sumika was made again from the 00 Unit, from her brain again, made her dependent on BETA reactor lying beneath Yokohama base, which was destroyed as a last resort prior to the final mission. Her new life was to be short, filled with regret, hatred, love and passion, with tears and laughter with the one she has always loved.
She had caused great sadness to the person she had loved over and over, and now, she could let him be free again by letting herself fade from this world. She was made human when she and Takeru became one, and at that moment she ceased to be the thing that kept Takeru as the causal conductor. However, Sumika could not exist as the 00 Unit for the sake of humanity.
For the next five minutes let me be myself, let me cry for all of them. After that I’ll be hero they’ve been waiting for. Then I’ll smile at those men and women outside and be the Eishi they look up to. The door was shut after Kasumi, and there was no distinction of me or Takeru. We both cried and stood there, holding the last love in our arms. The world was saved, and the names and memories of those who had saved the world will never be known. Isumi’s Valkyries are a squadron that the world will never know about.
This last bit of Alternative story is a painful one. At this point, if the reader lived in the world of Alternative, is allowed to cry. Before that, the reader could only clench his teeth and march forwards, never letting deaths go in vain.
How could I describe it all with enough integrity and make some justice to the story? There is no way I ever could without being face to face with you, telling every single detail I felt and remember with these gleaming eyes, with these trembling lips and with these passionate feelings I have. Mentally Muv-Luv might have had me realize the value of life again, the value of friends and nation, but physically it left me memories that I can’t describe. I relive every moment of the story just by seeing the images above, hearing everything like it was just now. I get dizzy just by seeing a glimpse of the chomp scene, my adrenaline levels and muscle tension rises quickly simply by hearing the CODE 911 alarm sound, I do work more productively while hearing the Storm Vanguard and halt in my place whole listening to The Flame of Life.
But Muv-Luv doesn’t end just Takeru fading away from BETA world now that Sumika isn’t there any more. His power, as well as everybody’s memories of him par few people, are fading away. Takeru, fades away back to the 22nd of October of his own world, now fixed from the damage he caused earlier. In this world, where there is no BETA, he would not remember anything.
Muv-Luv ends as it has began; with a morning you find yourself next to a blue haired girls while your childhood friend (who loves you but you’re just too dense to notice it) comes to wake you up.
It’s confusing at first, seeing these people again this way since… since the story began. There also is something extra, if you will, in form of Mitsurugi Yuuhi, Meiya’s twin sister. There is also a certain russian girl with psychic powers, and unlike everybody else, she remembers all that had taken place in the world where humanity wages war against BETA.
And with this, a world could continue living on its rightful course, while another would still fight the BETA remnants on their planet, and countless of others in the sea of stars…
Muv-Luv’s story isn’t just about the endings. If you remember my other long post, you might recall the amount of build that went into Muv-Luv. It’s the interaction of it all, and how it all ties together to form one larger than life story that deserves more than it has got. Sure, it’s one of the most hailed visual novels out there, but it’s still unknown the vast majority of people who read anything that even slightly veer to its direction. I’ve said it before and I will say it again; Muv-Luv is the best fiction I’ve read. While it’s more like watching a play rather than reading a book… well, that doesn’t matter in the end. What matters is that Muv-Luv, as a story, could become a classic on its own rights. If I could, I’d love to see it becoming one.
These images are more than mere pictures to me. Much like my video games carry my memories, these images carry more weight than any photo I have. They remind me that there are emotions and feelings in me that I’ve yet to show anyone. They’re there, but I just need to find a way to show them. Perhaps I was immature at one point, perhaps I neglected them or something like that. As with Kimi ga Nozomu Eien, Muv-Luv didn’t just touch my heart, they opened the doors to my heart for a time and showed me something that was there.
Muv-Luv is strong piece of fiction. I went in expecting halfassed story about giant robots and aliens, and got a life changing story about love and courage. Muv-Luv allowed me to take the final step over some larger things in my past regarding my own feeling of duty, doubts and past love. With The Flame of Life playing in the background I can walk down a street in a blizzard and smile, as within this chest burns a heart so hot, that it melts anything getting on its way. It’s a courageous and loving heart, that one day will be opened to someone once more.
Before I finish this post for the night, I want to leave one certain image here.