Let’s talk about Muv-Luv’s changes

By now those of you who’ve got the Steam release of Muv-Luv have most likely noticed changes in there. Most changes have been for the better, some out of necessity.

Before we go on, let’s re-iterate how the companies are related to each other. Degica is the company localising, they are in charge of translation and publishing, while ixtl is the rights holder and makes the final decisions what’s in and what’s out. âge’s the developer, and ixtl was put up to manage their IPs. Both âge and ixtl are under Acid Company Limited.

Degica may be the one in charge of the translation and publishing part, but whatever changes they do ultimately has to go through ixtl. If they decide to veto e.g. a translation title, Degica’s translation staff got nothing to say to it, unless they can provide some hefty evidence, as you may have noticed that both Takimekazuchi and Chizuru are properly romanised instead of using the more archaic forms Takemikaduchi and Chiduru. You can probably expect some bullshit things left in along the line anyway. I’m half expecting something along the lines of not using the official English title of  Sado Island. Hell, it’s even on the island’s own official tourist brochure. I don’t know how the hell Amaterasu missed this one, it’s not even an obscure tourist location. I can even pick up my 1970 World Atlas and take a photo of the page where Japan and its islands are showcased. Give me a moment, and I’ll take it!

Page 70, Suuri Karttakirja, based on Reader’s Digest Atlas of the World, 1970

To be fair again, Sadogashima too is used (sometimes as Sado-ga-shima to boot), albeit not as common worldwide. Even on modern maps, like the one Google uses, lists it as Sado Island. Other languages seem to mainly use Sado, thou I admit Isla Sado sounds awesome.

The most clear cut changes are the new songs in the soundtrack, and music is almost always the hardest thing to license when it comes to Japanese products, especially TV-shows and movies. This is because a single show can include music from various different rights holders, and some may want their music be licensed episode-by-episode, which is why sometimes opening songs are replaced with instrumental versions in Western releases, like The Skull Man‘s or Mobile Suit Z Gundam. Sometimes music pays homage to other songs, and hits a bit close home. Metal Gear Solids theme is reminiscent to The Winter Road, and âge is known for their musical homages. Just like how Metal Gear Solid’s theme was essentially dropped after it was accused of plagiarism, and ixtl wants to avoid such controversies at all costs. They’ve dealt enough with plagiarism claims as is.

That said, while わるだくみ/Warudakumi had its own fans, Drama Bomb! isn’t really bad by any means. It and the other additional song are most likely leftovers from Schwarzesmarken‘s development, as both of them were composed by Evan Call. They have a distinctly different sound to them from the rest of the soundtrack, but like with most things, it’s really up to taste if you like them. It was probably the best for ixtl to replace the songs rather than risk accusations and possible lawsuit. That’s business for you.

This issue extend to Muv-Luv Alternative. One of its more iconic songs, Assault Landing, is similarly a direct homage to Basil Poledouris’ Kledanthu Drop from Starship Troopers. Then you have that pastiche of Buster Machine March and the other examples. You should be half-expecting their removal for the exact same reason.

Another big change people have noticed is that the script has been completely revised to the point of it essentially having no traces of Amaterasu’s fantranslation. If we’re completely honest here, that translation had issues. At points it was incoherent with issues with language, outright missing cues and throwbacks to âge’s previous works and top it all, had inaccuracies to the point of changing some of the characterisations. One of the reasons I never felt strongly for Ayamine was because the English subtitles didn’t really reflect the Japanese, giving her a slightly but significantly different impression what sort of person she was. The same applies to Class Rep. Ixrec or however his nick is spelt has said that he himself didn’t care for Extra, and it shows in his script.

The new script basically does away all these issues, but it’s natural to complain about these changes. It is a normal psychological reaction to feel negatively towards a new translation you’ve grown with. One example would the the Finnish retranslation of Peter Pan. The original wasn’t exactly accurate and took a lot of liberties, translating the names in a more Disney-esque way than anything else. The new translation is more accurate and representative in what ideas the book holds, but people disliked it anyway because it was new and against what they were used to.

As for the cropped CGs, âge’s been doing that since 2007. This isn’t exactly anything new, and these complains are coming in about a decade too late. The reason again is corporate politics. It’d cost more to add more content to the CGs to fit in the new resolution than to crop them. For purists, it is bullshit, but hardcore purists wouldn’t want to play anything but the original CD release anyway. Gotta read it as originally intended. In addition, depending how the CG is stored in the files, ixtl shouldn’t have much problems showcasing the whole CG in the Gallery mode.

As for the lack of porn, Steam doesn’t allow adult content like that. Secondly, producing a patch on itself is its own thing, separate from the rest of the deal. It may sound bewildering, but as the Muv-Luv Steam Version is based on the All-Ages version, it takes work from ixtl’s side to even create a patch to put in the necessary scenes and their script.  My guess is that patch isn’t high on the task list, not by a long shot. A wild guess would be that we can expect to see some proper news about the patch closer to Alternative‘s release. Then again, most people tend to say erotica scenes don’t matter or add to the story, but as soon as they’re missing, people seem to go ballistic.

There is also the issue of them being porn. ixtl and âge have been trying to clean their image, despite their streams not showing that, and there’s also the issue of age, or rather, the assumed age of the characters. Miki’s not the most legal looking character out there, and such things will cause certain troubles if not handled properly.

Still, I’m willing to bet it’s mostly about the money that goes into developing patch, as it might possibly break game saves and the like. From what I’ve seen, even when âge showcases how powerful their editing software are, they’re barely able to anything complex. Every game they’ve developed, like Faraway Dawn and those minigames in Altered Fable‘s Before the Shimmering Time Ends  have been horrible. Hell, the beach ball minigame in bugged to the point winning and losing really is dependent on said bug. I doubt the current release of Muv-Luv would even be out now if they didn’t have outside help.

Outside these, all the rest are more or less in line with the usual updating that don’t require any special mention. Some don’t like how large the user interface is, but I bet these people forget it’s supposed to work on tablets too, hence the design. Some have complained about yakisoba sandwich not being yakisoba bread, when in all actuality it should be baguette with fried buckwheat noodle. There’s some corporate bullshit in the background as usual for Japanese companies, and if you’ve ever really looked into how ixtl and age handles stuff beside their publicity, there’s some rotten stuff in there. The same applies to all Japanese companies, but it’s sad to see that being a rule in their corporate culture than an exception.

If we’re completely fair, if you have complaints that are about the CGs, music and the like that does not concern the English script or Degica’s English publications and PR, you should throw a message to ixtl instead.

8 thoughts on “Let’s talk about Muv-Luv’s changes

  1. “Miki’s not the most legal looking character out there, and such things will cause certain troubles if not handled properly.”

    Extra and Unlimited take place Oct-Dec 2001. Miki is 17 until Feb, Chizuru wont be legal until May. Sumika is 17 or 18, its hard to tell with a July birthday, but regardless she’s only 13 or 14 in 1998 alternative projection. That’s one scene that 100% will never see an official English patch. People need to get a hold on their expectations.

  2. > There’s some corporate bullshit in the background as usual for Japanese companies, and if you’ve ever really looked into how ixtl and age handles stuff beside their publicity, there’s some rotten stuff in there.

    Wondering what you’re exactly referring to here. Something about their changes to avoid any potential legal issue despite them making the VN experience worse, or something worse than that?

    1. Legal issues is another thing, but more about how all Japanese corporations run on the same engine, burning their workers out. I won’t be citing any examples regarding ixtl, but do look into how Konami, Nintendo and Capcom have treated their workers. Konami outside Kojima, that is, that was a power struggle from both sides.

      1. I see. So that is mostly about how they handle their “staff” (instead of “stuff”?) then? Did you read that from some Japanese forums/publications? That’s interesting and I would like to see some more details from the sources, though if you won’t cite examples that’s also fine.

        Although I think it’s a well-known fact that the game industry is a tough one to work in, which is true for both eastern and western companies. I’ve already read multiple articles on how game devs just leave their jobs one by one because of the working conditions and pressure to meet the deadline, etc. Also, if you’re talking about “burning out”, the culture in East Asian countries is just like that. If you don’t show yourself as busy you’d really look an aberration, and the hierarchy always far outweighs individual workers, especially so in Japan and South Korea. Though what I particularly dislike about Japanese ACG companies is their tendency to produce countless spin-off works with no value whatsoever after a successful hit. Also they are becoming more and more soulless over the years. Maybe that kind of greed and pressure on production would also weigh heavily on employees as well? I just wonder if you’re just talking about long working hours without just payments or there is something more sinister than that.

        1. Considering I’ve got some people inside whom I know, in and out of Japan, I can’t really say one thing or the other about sources. Then again, I couldn’t star citing any sources from reading publications that I’ve been reading for few decades, as they’re more elusive than some interviews on the ‘net. Long hours for Japanese workers aren’t really about greed, it’s more like how the whole corporate culture, hell the whole culture in itself, runs on. It grinds people and dreams. I guessing that one of the reasons why people in the grind want to read and produce stories about special people who are able to stand above the society, like Kira Yamato of Gundam Seed, and why isekai LNs have become so popular.

          1. Yeah as I commented, as hard as it might be for the westerners to fathom, that’s just the whole East Asian work culture historically speaking, not really the fault of one particular company, as in if you don’t do that you’d be the special case, not the norm. It seems that there will finally be some changes coming at least in China and Korea; Japan might remain the hardest nut to crack though.

            Definitely agree with the last part. As I’ve always been saying one huge reason why ACG has been so huge in Japan (also in China) is precisely because people’s real life has been really stifling and formulaic. They need some sort of escapism, the polar opposite of what they do in real life. In Germany it seems that as people do tend to have a wide variety of real-life activities they just aren’t that into anime in general.

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