Spoiler warning for Muv-Luv Alternative
One thing that seems to divide the Muv-Luv fanbase to a large extent is the core reason why Takeru falls into the Alternative world and why he keeps looping through the Unlimited timeline until he begins to remember.
Let’s open the issue a little bit here. Sumika was one of the people who were caught and experimented on by the BETA. She and Alternative’s original Takeru saw their townspeople taken away one by one as their screams echoed in the Yokohama Hive. She saw a Soldier-Class kill the man she loved soon after, and the next thing she knew was that her own sanity was stripped away just like her flesh. She became someone else, and locked her real self away as she became a mere lump of gray matter to be kept alive and observed by the BETA. What kept her alive was two things; love and hatred.
I reiterate; the BETA ravaged Sumika’s world and home town, killed and raped her closest and most loved ones, then proceeded to slowly mutilate her body in ways she never could never foresee, and turned her very soul into a twisted mirror of all the darkest desires and fears all men have, then only to have flesh stripped from her still living body until she was reduced to her absolute minimum, where one can’t escape from. These beings from another world needed to be hurt and punished equally and then beyond. Understanding and compromise were not options, only the obliteration of the BETA would allow the souls of the dead rest in peace. The hatred Sumika felt wasn’t something a normal person would experience. While I personally believe in grays in extremes, Sumika’s hatred toward the BETA was nothing but pure, world cindering hatred. And all that stemmed from her loneliness and love toward Takeru.
In her reduced state, Sumika’s mind had shut everything out she could, from her memories to her emotions. She barely thought a thing. Her unconscious repeated the only thing her heart truly desired; to see Takeru once more. With the retaking of the Yokohama Hive through the use of G-Bombs, something happened to her existence. It’s better to be left as an unknown event, but Sumika’s deepest desire crossed time and space with bittersweet consequences. She became cosmically aware on a very limited scale due to the G-Materials’ reactions to her unconscious wishes. I trust that most of my readers have enough life experience to say that love is not a clear cut emotion. It has shades of all the possible positives and negatives. Here, Sumika could only love in the most pure undistilled form combined with the wish to see Takeru again. Her wish to do it all over again before that destined day of 22nd of October, so that things could be better.
Because of that one selfish wish filled with nothing but love, Takeru walked a path of The Day After time and time again.
Sumika knows Takeru the best, but she is uncertain of herself and even less certain on Takeru. Her days with him in the Extraverse are happiness filled nonsense without a motion towards realization of her feelings and dreams until Meiya steps into the play. Yet she is certain of one thing; Takeru loves her sincerely, and despite the routes and everything involved, this is true. You can see his true emotions during Sumika’s and Meiya’s Extra route, and especially in Unlimited where he reminisces on Sumika and is happy that Sumika, as far as he knows it, does not exist the universe where the BETA exist. But Aalt, in Unlimited he automatically ends with Meiya or the other girls? How can he really root for ‘mika if he shags somebody else? Things change. Takeru was in an unknown world alone with versions of people he knew, and spend time with these people. He forged a new bond from his old ones. The time and place opened new doors for the others, where this one person was suddenly dropped into their lives. Takeru realized that he had to move on and live on what he had in his hands now, much like Takayuki did in the end of Kimi ga Nozomu Eien. Here’s a general rule for any romantic relationships; be in contact with physical presence. Sumika wasn’t there, and so he moved on. Life is harsh and in motion. Time does not wait.
I agree that Sumika was selfish in her wish, but she can’t be held in full account for what happened to Takeru. We can play with straw man arguments as much as we want about Takeru suffering from Stockholm’s syndrome or whatnot as long as we are willing to see that ultimately nobody is to blame, much like in Kimi ga Nozomu Eien. Actually, how could he even suffer from Stockholm’s syndrome when he had no idea what kept him in Altverse? It’s also largely disrespectful against all the other routes and girls, as it would also imply that he ends up with each of them just because he is trying to find a way out rather than sincerely living his life as it is now. Even as Takeru is in Unlimited, he isn’t a weak person and accepts his fate to live in a world that isn’t his. The events that played out were not dependant on one or the other, and it wasn’t Sumika’s choice to go through the experience. I am positive that if Takeru was asked if he would go through Hell time and time again in order to Save in the Name of True Love, he would agree with a nervous Yes. In the end of Alternative, he barely is what he was in the beginning of each of the major chapters. He grows and adapts, changes and takes responsibility not only for his own actions, but for what he chooses not to do. He has a clear goal and responsibility of carrying all the consequences of his own desires. Yet, he is a normal teenager, fearful and self-doubting. Then, a miracle he never wishes to be true happened and Sumika, the 00-Unit, stood before him.
Feels wrong to see her eyes so lifeless
The 00-Unit arc, which can be seen as the True Route in Visual Novel terms, shows how Takeru has changed and how Sumika’s existence has an immense impact on him. No, even before that. Back in the Extra-Branch he saw Sumika’s accident and her losing all of her memories of him. He saw the one person he could always rely on to be there and the one he would always think of in the a [remove one article] place where neither of them ever wanted to be in. Sumika has always brought out the best in Takeru whenever necessary and that goes the other way around as well. What Takeru did for the 00-Unit was a selfish act from him. This is a complex issue, but I’ll put it like this; As long as there is a possibility to love and be with Sumika, Takeru will choose her. When she doesn’t exist, he lives a life without her because he has to.
Sumika, as the person who has all the answers and keys both Takeru and Yuuko were looking for, is devastated as the 00-Unit. Her wish may have been the one that brought Takeru back to her and had him go through living hell again and again, but I dare anyone to say that if Takeru had known he hadn’t gone through all that. Ultimately, she tried to take responsibility on what had transpired and make sure that Takeru would not go through any more suffering. Much like too many people, she didn’t confront Takeru face to face with the issues. What she did was something we all have done to someone else. Something we all are most likely going to repeat in the future. But Sumika’s a person with little life experience, and she went through her own hell as well. Normally I wouldn’t give anyone or any character a break, but seeing that Sumika wasn’t all that healthy, I’m willing to let it go. Fortunately, the Takeru she knew wasn’t alive anymore, as the one in front of her had grown, and this Takeru decided to do something he should have done a long time ago. Take Sumika and give all of him to her in return in both body and spirit.
The reason I love Muv-Luv are the main characters. I admit that I don’t give cents about the sides stories and I find The Day After rather pretentious with how its presented. No, that’s not it. I’m just mad at myself about a lot of things. Far too many things. What Sumika did was because she was scared. She pushed someone she loved from the bottom of her heart away because she thought it was for the best, because she was afraid how Takeru would see her after what had been done to her and what she now was. I assure you, dear reader, that without Takeru forcing himself through her defenses, the end result of Operation Ouka would have been very different and not for the better. In the end, what she did was not directly her own direct choice, Sumika did try to carry the weight of her deed, and she did it with the help from Takeru.
The thing I’m trying to say in a very convoluted way is that love in Muv-Luv, and in Kimi ga Nozomu Eien as well, is portrayed as a rather raw emotion. It is not fantastical, unrequited or fairy tail pure.
You know what? I’ll take a break from the characters and I’ll write about the TSFs in the next Muv-Luv entry before Total Eclipse.