I don’t know what drugs âge’s staff was in when they thought up Muv.Luv’s premise, but I want some. A normal guy getting transferred to an alternate world where he must grow through endless trials until he comes to a point where he must take matters at his own hands. The setting allows them to expand the story as much as they please in principle. The first part, Muv-Luv EXTRA, is its own entity and needs no further story. However, the general world of Unlimited and Alternative is a treasure trove.
In Unlimited the reader does not really see much of the world where BETA roam. We see the main character Shirogane Takeru’s survival as a soldier in another world and that’s basically that. We never see the enemy, we only hear about them. We never see the world surrounding the military base, we just hear about it. In Alternative we see much more of the world, the politics that are going on and the players on the world’s theatre. It’s a masterfully plaid out and presented, and the build of the world is cohesive and expanding. However, in Alternative itself the world is but a stage and the story follows where Takeru goes. It’s his and Sumika’s story, nothing more, nothing less.
âge has opted to doing numerous side stories for Muv-Luv’s BETA-verse, so to speak. Muv-Luv Alternative Chronicles are a set of discs that contain stories that are about the world and it’s history Takeru lives in, and ultimately gives his most in. Takeru is the end of the current stories told; Muv-Luv Unlimited the Day After, Muv-Luv Alternative Total Eclipse, The Faraway Dawn, Euro Front, Schwarzesmarken and so on. All of these stories take place before the main series, before Takeru’s story, except The Day After, but we’ll come to that. Schwarzesmarken for example takes place far before Takeru enters this world, and expands the backgrounds on the Tactical Surface Fighters (TSF) and the how the political situations have been building up. Faraway Dawn takes a closer look at your normal run-of-the-mill Surface Pilot’s desperate fight against the BETA. This is actually a turned-based tactics game, which allows a bit more immersion and insight how difficult the fight against the BETA really is. Total Eclipse, which is getting an animation series released this summer, follows bunch of test pilots that develops the next generation of TSFs, and the characters give more insight to certain factions in the world at large.
The Day After is part of Takeru’s story, but in another way. It’s part that we never see during the main series, but what we will feel through his introspection. The Day After takes place after Unlimited’s endings, where the world is in brink of collapse. The BETA are everywhere, the world’s oceans has crashed elsewhere in Europe, flooding it. Humanity fights more among themselves than against the BETA, and people are abusing each other as well as manipulating to their own ends. Takeru lives through these events more than once. These events are the ones that finally make him to man up, and push him towards his own selected destiny.
âge most likely had thought this over as they developed the story and the world back in the early 2000’s after releasing Kimi ga Nozomu Eien. They had a franchise at their hands, but no real direction where to go with it, or no knowledge what the general audience would think of it. Well, seeing Muv-Luv’s one of the most revered visual novel series to date tells something. The BETA-verse in Unlimited and Alternative has literally a world filled with untapped potential. âge can tell stories before the BETA, the stories during the first contact with the BETA, and everything that came after. Everything that happens during before Takeru’s story will tell a story of brave men and women fighting a losing fight, where there is no real way to win, not until a light of hope is glistening in the horizon. If âge ever decides to tell stories after Takeru’s efforts, the tone will be much different; there will be hope and newly found strength that wasn’t there before.
This is how a potentially killer app franchise can be made through one compelling story.
Giving the audience something they can relate to at first, and then taking them along the ride, introducing them to something else and completely open allows them to ask What is there? When the audience begs this question to be answered, the storyteller may sit down and tell what there is to tell.
Expansive is the keyword, but it can’t be a world that lacks content. In Muv-Luv’s case you have a world’s full of content already there, never seen. There’s a huge sourcebook, Muv-Luv Alternative Integral Works, that basically tells the ´current´ state of the world and a little bit more. There’s nothing keeping âge from telling stories outside the main series, as they matter just as much. Takeru’s story is intertwined with the BETA-verse’s own history, but can be told as a separate entity.
What certain franchises lack is the content of the world. For example, while the Alien comics and books have expanded the Alien universe, they’re just expansion of the world, they’re not organically part of it, similarly to Star Wars’ prequel films are like different tree of the world rather than part of the supporting body. Predators actually has potential to have organic growth, if the Predators’ hunting society was more elaborated on. Predators actually managed to expand the world a bit more, but for some reason the film wasn’t really well received.
You can’t add stories to a franchise and be done with it. It isn’t really enough just to do an additional story in the spirit of the original work, thou it helps a lot. The original story itself has to have content that’s not used as background information or the like. Star Wars IV did this well by just telling a bit about the Clone Wars, but the Clone Wars that we got wasn’t in spirit of the original work.
A game sequels on the other hand have something different to work on. They have to have more content, but they should always stay true to the original content. It has to be organic growth, like Super Mario Bros. to Super Mario Bros. 3. You see more of the Mushroom Kingdom, you get more usable items, you get the map screen etc.
In Muv-Luv’s case, all the side stories are tied to the main series in the main series’ content. The stories, and the tactical games, all are part of the world. They’re not hanging threads here and there with only few connections, but something that the audience asked for.
And for now, something completely different