Review: Muv-Luv Kickstarter goods

The approach to this review will not be anything different from any other review I’ve done thus far. No special treatment, no kids gloves on; I will approach this as any product reviewed in this blog thus far. It’s only fair towards you, the readers, and the staff behind the Kickstarter. However, I won’t be reviewing all the KS goods. I’ll be concentrating on the main dish most people probably got through their backing; the Kickstarter physical package, the Codex and the Destroyer Class plush. This will strictly discuss the items themselves, not their translation or such.

Let’s start with the physical package.

This is also the image that was used on Alternative‘s original DVD release. It’s honestly the perfect choice for this

At first appearance, the package seems pretty on-par. Despite using thin cardboard, the appearance isn’t half bad. The decision to put the description and all copyright information to the bottom is an interesting take, as now its reversible to every other direction. This breaks how commercial boxes are designed, which some perfectionists might find jarring, as now the box doesn’t flow well with other software boxes.

However, visuals aren’t all. While the box still feel sturdy in hand, the contents inside are loose. The image above is just before I opened the box, and I could hear and feel the items inside rattling back and forth. This isn’t great to any extent. A box like this should have necessary support inside to keep items in their proper places during transit, as now no matter what sort of stuffing is used around it the items can be damaged. So, let’s open this one up and see what’s inside.

You could fit another booklet in there or something

This is exactly what I didn’t want to see; items rattling around in an oversized box. Because the box is made thinner cardboard, the same some DVDs have around them, it loses most of its structural integrity when opened. I can feel the CDs being lose inside their jewel case, let’s open that one up to see if they’re damaged. The case’s cover is nice choice though, but the back cover should have been revised. Maybe drop the song titles here completely and have them inside in an insert.

Oh. Ooooooohhh…

Luckily, only one of the CDs were loose, but the discs’ printing is not up to quality. While the chosen images are good in themselves, for whatever reason the images are lower resolution than the text, which itself is sharp. The typeface and font chosen for the CDs ends making these look like something printed at home. Furthermore, these discs should have been labelled as numbers, e.g. Muv-Luv Alternative Original Soundtrack Disc 1, not Volume 1. The fact that OST is used on the discs like this, and the fact that there is no kind of information who composed the songs, makes all this feel like a homebrew compilation.

As for the games themselves, the front covers are what you’d expect and look good. Nothing to say about these, but the back covers are another thing. There’s too much text on them. Even when these VNs are long, the descriptions should have been cut in half and with heavier emphasize on images. To use Sweet Home as an example, the flavour text is two whole sentences, being straight to the point. The word homebrew creeps back to my head with this, as things like Minimum Requirements should be on the box. Actually, they’re not seen anywhere on the packaging.

The discs however are rather standard, overall speaking. There’s nothing to mention about them, though I would’ve expected more legal text on all of these. Perhaps printing a monochrome image on the disc similar to âge’s Japanese releases should have been brought on to the table, as its much easier to make them look sharp rather than what might end up looking like a sticker on a disc.

I must mention that the disc I have for Muv-Luv seems to have been damaged somewhere along the way, as it has a strange arc on the underside. Despite this, the disc seems to be readable. There’s also a weird discoloration, as if something had spilled all over it inside. This might be a quality control issue, and I’ll be sure testing this disc further down the line.

The darker wavy line is easy to spot, the lighter arc near not so much., I have no idea what they are and I am slightly worried

The shikishi, a drawn image signed by the author, that came with the box is pretty great. Sumika doing a Drill Milky Punch is nice, even when it’s just a print and not a real thing in itself. The artbook uses similar typeface and font as the CDs, and doesn’t exactly look the greatest. Everything’s printed on a thin, glossy paper that in itself isn’t terrible, but the cover should have been heavier duty. The feeling the book gives is flimsy, plus it creases extremely easily. Corners will get damaged fast in normal use with this paper too. Because of the thinness, the pages are slightly transparent and the images on the other side bleed through. The images and character descriptions are on-point, though the complete lack of illustrator credits anywhere in the codex is a bit disheartening. Seeing the second and last to last pages under the covers are completely blank, these would have been great places to put them on.

Here’s how I solved the rattling the contents: I added two pieces of cardboard on both sides, and a support structure to keep the CD jewel case in place. To be completely honest, the outer box does feel like something you should throw away, as the package overall lacks any sort of premium feel to it. The added cardboard makes it feel more rigid and gives some extra heft. There shouldn’t be any reason for me to do this addition, but as things stand now, I had to. For comparison, here’s how Senran Kagura Burst Re:Newal laid its contents. Notice the use of sturdier cardboard, how the items are laid and fit perfectly, and the use of supportive thinner cardboard at the bottom of the PS4 case.

 

Well, let’s move unto the second big thing, the long-time Holy Grail of Muv-Luv Alternative source of information translated and recompiled with Lunatic Dawn content; The Codex.

Like some majestic predatory bird

The first impression of the book is nothing short of impressive. I didn’t expect hardcover version of the book, especially considering the number of pages, but first looks can be deceiving. When you stop and look at the cover, it’s not pretty.

On the right, you see the scanned cover of the Muv-Luv Alternative CODEX. On its left you have the same illustration, scanned from Muv-Luv Alternative Integral Works. I recommend opening them in Full View to fully see how badly the covers have been fucked up. Either someone forgot to pit High Resolution mode on in In-Design, or something seriously went awry during data process. Both covers have been printed in low resolution, while the cover text nice and crisp. While a book shouldn’t be judged by its covers, this piece can never be called high quality or premier product. A way to remedy this situation would be to create a dust jacket for the book with high resolution print on the cover.

However, the meat of the piece is on the pages. With some few hours looking through, there appears to be no real concern how accurately things have transferred during translation. There are also welcome changes, like changing Melee Halberds into Close Quarters Combat Melee Blade. While a mouthful, melee blade in itself is more than enough. Back in 2016 I wrote a post concerning the topic, which was comped with a review of TSF’s close combat weapons. I strongly recommend you to read them both if you haven’t. There is one fib that has leaked through, where BWS-8 Flugelberte is described to resemble a halberd, when in reality it resembles an axe. Or a bardiche.

The information itself is great stuff, but it shows that this is a book that’s glued together from multiple sources. The Lunatic Dawn content that’s in the latter part of the book is just bolted on, rather than taken and included into the book proper. The word on the street originally was that the book would need to be completely revised, but in the end it follows Integral Works‘ looks and design with the occasional change in order accommodate English.

Good ol’ Gekishit. Isn’t ‘Play Back’ one word though?

The paper used is similar glossy paper that’s in the artbook. It’s a level heavier, but creases still extremely easily. Despite being heavier and slightly thicker, it still isn’t near heavy matte paper in terms of preventing transparencies, as seen above. Fingerprints will be abound while reading this book. I’m rather surprised that this wasn’t a softcover book similar to Integral Works or Mega Man & Mega Man X Official Complete Works, to which I compared IW to back in the day as well. Codex‘s paper is nowhere as heavy and hefty as the two aforementioned, but the book is third thinner due to the new paper. It doesn’t allow the book to have any air to it either.

Because of the glossy surface and the sheer amount of text, people with poorer eyesight will have headaches while reading this. The typeface selected is just small enough to cause extra strain on the eye. As everything’s also packed very, very tightly in this small size, people who suffer from either vertical or horizontal dispersion in vision, meaning certain letters will lose lines, making reading a chore at best, extremely headache inducing at worst. This is easily alleviated with the use of different typeface or slightly larger font size.

The use of this sort of glossy paper can also be a double-edged sword. While Yakuza 6‘s artbook had the same paper, some copies were completely glued together, some were completely warped and some had ink smudges all over them. The feel of glossy paper works best for single leaflets and photos. When going for a book like this, its still best to consider heavy matter paper first and foremost, as it offers longer life and cuts down possible ink and paper problems down to mere percents.

All in all, the covers are just a damn travesty, sadly. Well, that and one of the pages, p. 353, get repeated on the following opening. While accidents like this sometimes happen, this does sting of lack of quality control.

Lastly, we have the Destroyer Class plushie, one of the things that was suggested very early on due to its role in the fandom. The plushie is based on a very certain background piece in Joshi Eishi Cryska EX.

While the plushie is clearly different from it CG original, this is due to difference in reality and fiction. The overall quality is damn nice, chosen materials feel sturdy enough to give this to a child to play with. Interestingly, the back end has a sack that’s filled with grains rather than fluff the plushie is filled with otherwise.

The grain section is about one-third from the back, starting from the tag on its arse

It’s just a joy to see and have, maybe even the best part of the package in terms of quality. This thing really should see mass production. Clearly, there is a market for BETA plushies.

I’m sure that at this point it’s rather clear what’s the end verdict is. The Kickstarter original products are largely a disappointment in terms of quality. I’m not going to mull over whys or hows, that doesn’t net anything. They are what they are, now’s too late to do anything about it. Other items, like the ones in Yuuko’s Gift bag, have higher quality. Stickers are hard to screw up as are postcards (though mine are rather warped, requiring me to straighten them down.) It must be also mentioned that Valkylies has been corrected into Valkyries with the patches.

Those patches were produced by Cospa, company that produces cosplay goods, including the jackets and shirts that were on the Kickstarter. The pilot jacket may be 100% polyester, but I can’t expect a cosplay clothes company to manufacture clothes like they were actual military wear. The Drill Milky Punch T-shirt is at 100% cotton and I’m wearing it while typing this review. This extends to the dakimakura, which is of standard Japanese productions for items like it, I expected no less.


The experience with the Kickstarter goods, delays and pretty much everything including the end results of the goods probably affected negatively both backers and staff. It would not be surprising if this was the first and last Kickstarter we see, and the rest are done away with less fanfare, which would also mean no physical products would be produced. However, in cases like this, I would always strongly recommend companies and people looking into Limited Run Games, a company that specialises in doing limited physical run on goods. At the time of Muv-Luv‘s Kickstarter, the company wasn’t relevant, but now it has managed to establish itself just fine. For example, they are delivering Shantae: ½ Genie Hero‘s Kickstarter goods. But all this is academic at best. I can only hope that lessons have been learned, but have not allowed to snuff the staff’s spirit.

I’ve got no good end for this review. Shit happens, we will probably never know what, but the end results are in our hands.

 

Goodbye ixtl, welcome anchor

On July 6th, âge announced that ixtl, the company that was put up in 2011 to manage their copyrights and IPs, has now been renamed as anchor. Their website has also been revised accordingly. It would seem that anchor’s role is not just to manage âge’s rights, but also to design stories, i.e. story content creation of sorts. XR experience can be loosely equated to VR and other experiences that might come in future, e.g. themed hotel room or such.

This comes in the wake of Avex Pictures acquiring ixtl in 2017, ixtl having a survey for international and Japanese consumers what they’d like to see from them as well as Avex and Graphinica announcing they have established Flagship line, a company to produce goods, such as animation, games and VR titles.

Perhaps most importantly, anchor’s site specifically teases a new project coming soon, there is already something in the works. Considering Avex Pictures took notice of the million dollar Kickstarter, renewed interest to revamp a company branding and other changes, it should not be too hard to guess what they’re ramping up to.

Music of the Month: 8-Bit Brave

Ah, what a month has it been. If you’ve noticed that the writing has been all over the place for during January, that’s because I’ve had much less time to given any emphasize toward quality (or whatever quality goes into making this blog) and just getting something out. Let’s stretch a bit, as usual for these posts.

We basically skipped the usual robot related design and a review post. The Virtual-On historicals have taken their slot, as they require comparatively a bit more research than what I have time now, especially considering I still need to play the games to give them a proper assessment rather than just going with the flow. I’m also planning an additional post about where VO has appeared outside of its own games, mostly mentioning Valgern-On and MARZ‘s Super Robot Wars entries. There’s quite a lot of to do with these upcoming three, and I can’t even begin to write properly about A Certain Magical Virtual-On as of now. I’ve also added the VO entries into Robot Related Materials you can access in the menu on the top of this page.

With VO posts doing relatively well for a niche topic, I’m considering of doing more of post of their sort. Not necessarily historical entries per se, but more series or franchise comprehensive series. Still, Muv-Luv and Guilty Gear related stuff still reign at the top of most hits, with few mecha and that NES region free post in the mix.

With my new work contract that I’ve gained via career change, I’ll be working a full day-job in five shifts. Whether or not I have time, or simple energy, to write something of worth nothing twice a week may become rather challenging. I’ve decided not to push myself with this, and will allow myself to pass on one of the posts, if deemed necessary. I’ll try to drag A9Doc, who did the neat Digimon post recently to cover my sorry ass, if he manages to come up with a neat topic. You may see more Digimon related posts than usual because of this, but all of them should touch on character designs or the like first and foremost to keep it according to the blog’s theme.

This also means I’ll be breaking the thousand word limit I’ve had for years now. This is to ensure that I can include all the things I’ve wanted to mention rather than splitting some topics. In some cases, I’ll forgive myself if I got well under that golden standard I’ve been living up to. If somebody is wondering why I had such a limit, it was because early on I got some feedback that I tended to write posts that were too long to read. Thus, cutting back and making them more palatable was the goal back then, but that was then.

To help with things overall, I will take last year’s Monthly Threes and combine them into one larger post per topic. Is this cheating, I hear someone ask. It partially is, but these posts have some of the best stuff I’ve done. With some encouragement from a certain Casp O’saurus, I’ll be picking some of my better posts and try to spread them around a bit more.

As for the ixtl/âge stuff, there hasn’t been much I’ve wanted to comment on. I never made any posts about Avex picture’s acquisition, because I never got a good picture what sort of company they are, in the end. There are less good sources to go through, and things being more or less standard Japanese corporate politics says things can go either ways. Either ixtl will stay as they are and be milked to the end, until they’re absorbed fully into avex as a whole, or they’ll manage to do some seriously impressive stuff that will make money. Knowing ixtl’s track record, despite the Kickstarter, things can go either way. At least the translation team has now moved to ixtl’s stables. We’ll just have to sit back and see when everything has been cleared out, as they’ll have to relaunch Muv-Luv on Steam under a new publisher now that Degica is no longer involved.

TSF comparison entries are still planned, but just as with the Guilty Gear comparisons, time is a commodity  that I don’t have too much. I’ll plan one of each for March, as February is still Virtual-On country.

I once said that I’d follow Yo-kai Watch‘s success in the West, but seeing its success was less than expected, it really did drop from my radar. I picked up the first game from sales recently, and I have to admit that I’m liking its semi-automatic battle system. I’ll have to play it a bit more to get a proper feeling, but all things all, I can understand well why the series got such a loud applaud in Japan. Maybe a review is coming out on it at some point, but not anytime soon. I’ll be giving some of the sequels a look too, and how they’re managed to change the formula.

And oh, the reason why Yuusha Oh Tanjou! got the spot this time around is that The King of Braves GaoGaiGar‘s final episode’s 20th anniversary was on the 31st of January.

 

So you’ve finished Muv-Luv Alternative, and wondering what next

Due to circumstances, I haven’t had time to type out anything too wholesome to read for this Tuesday. Hence, I’ve prepared a small suggestion guide what to check next in the Muv-Luv franchise if you’ve finished Muv-Luv and Muv-Luv Alternative. This is a spoiler free listing, splitting between English and Japanese contents.

Official English language options

Muv-Luv Alternative Total Eclipse

Muv-Luv Alternative Total Eclipse TV-series has been officially licensed and released by Sentai Filmworks. While Total Eclipse has rather negative reputation among the fans, it was the first Muv-Luv related product that reached the Western shores. It offers a new cast of characters, with questionable production values, and takes place before the events of Alternative. You can read a larger take on the series here. It doesn’t offer the best the franchise has, but is an expansion to the world Alternative has introduced. It stands as an independent story from the rest of the franchise, like most of these larger sidestories, and its two first episodes are probably the show’s best ones.

If your Japanese is good enough, the PC version of the Visual Novel is a definitive pick, though some argue that the anime is better due to it lacking certain significant revelation.

Schwarzesmarken

Schwarzesmarken was officially simulcasted by Crunchyroll, though for whatever reason they managed to misspell the title with a space. Set in the BETAverse’ 1980’s, the story is far removed from either Total Eclipse or Alternative. It has a more dreadful to it than Total Eclipse, with cold war between East and West still raging in Germany, all the while the BETA still push towards Western Europe. Half as short as Total Eclipse, Schwarzesmarken offers some look into earlier days of war against BETA, when not all tactics were put into stone yet and TSFs were heavy coffins. Opinions are split which one is worse, Total Eclipse or Schwarzesmarken, though I recommend watching both to make up your own mind. The two shows may have a connection through one certain character, though that has never been officially confirmed. If you want to read more about Schwarzesmarken, I have a full review of the series on the site.

The Visual Novel was split into two and didn’t sell all that well, but is a better piece of the two, if only by a margin. Only in Japanese though.

Rumbling Hearts

Rumbling Hearts AKA Kimi ga Nozomu Eien was localised by Funimation in the mid-2000’s and is available at their site for free to watch, though this is region locked. Nevertheless, the DVDs are common and cheap to pick up. Rumbling Hearts, while not exactly a prequel to Muv-Luv, shares the same setting as Extra, and certain character appear in their BETAverse versions in Alternative. However, unlike Extra, Rumbling Hearts is very much dead serious in its tone to relationships to the point of being probably one of the more realistic depictions of troubles in romantic relationships in Japanese cartoons. It is a fantastic adaptation, shrinking the core of the Visual Novel while still giving it some originality to it. It’s highly recommended if you haven’t seen it, regardless of your genre preferences. I have a podcast special with Invalidname, a huge fan of the series; Evan, one of the translators of Muv-Luv and all around pretty cool guy and Muv-Luv Alternative; and Doc who I dragged along because the show needed a third party opinion.

If you can muster the language, I recommend reading the Visual Novel as well.

Whenever the Photon collections gets released on Steam thanks to the Kickstarter, this spot will be updated with multiple entries when applicable.

~Unofficial~English Language Options

These option require you to acquire the discs themselves for you to patch.

Before the Shimmering Time Ends

Before the Shimmering Tim Ends is a sequel to Muv-Luv Alternative. This story can be found in the Muv-Luv Altered Fable and Photon Melodies collections. It is a common misconception that the story’s name is Altered Fable, but that’s just the collection’s name it comes in alongside Faraway Dawn and Total Eclipse Mini-ADV . Those who have finished Alternative should be aware of the last events changing things a bit, and this story takes full advantage of them. Alternative Projects has translated three of the routes in the Visual Novel of the PC version, and the required patch can be picked up from their site. The three routes are highly recommended to read, as it soothes the pains lingering from Alternative. Or makes them more exaggerated, depending on you, dear reader.

Haruko Maniax

One of the shorter stories, Haruko Maniax gives you what’s in the title. One of Evan’s spot-on contributions around, before the Kickstarter hit the ‘hood. If you liked Haruko as a character during Alternative, this is a must read. It follows Haruko’s little brother, who seems to have some fixation to his older sister. Filled with comedy and fantasy segments of erotic kind, it’s a fun little read while you’re waiting for other stuff to come out. You can pick up the patch from Alternative Project.

Muv-Luv Alternative Chronicles 01

Much like how Altered Fable is a collection, the Chronicles lineup of fandiscs (releases that are directed at the fans rather than as full-blown, Big Name releases) serves as a backbone to ixtl/âge’s expanding both Unlimited and Alternative through side stories. The Day After is a series that takes place after the events of Unlimited‘s end and offers a world that is very much gone to hell, with half of it turned into an ocean of salt, struggle against famine and BETA an everyday thing. Both Chicken Divers and Rain Dancers give further insight to the struggle against BETA from the viewpoint of your normal surface pilots. Once more, the patch can be picked up from Alternative Projects.

Muv-Luv Alternative Chronicles 02

Chronicles 02 continues where the previous one ended, though this time there are only two stories to read through; The Day After Episode 01 and MLA Chronicles Adoration. The Day After continues with the Unlimited timeline as previously mentioned, while Adoration having a lighter tone to it as it follows Imperial Royal Guard member Makabe Seijurou’s exchange in Euro Front’s Dover base. Not much need to be said about either one, except that Alternative Projects have a separate patches for TDA01 and Adoration.

Various Rumbling Hearts short stories

Evan, one of the Alternative Project’s translators I mentioned above, has a site up called Kiminozo Life, which contains his unofficial translations for numerous Rumbling Hearts and Muv-Luv related side stories. These include, for example, Melvina Maniax’s Kimi ga Nozomu Muv-Luv, which sees the two main characters between the two stories switching places, and True Lies, one of the more comedy filled entries in the KGNE/ML metaverse. There are no patches, as the translations are done through subtitled videos. You can also bother him on Twitter about anything.

Japanese options, for fun and language training

This is not intended as a complete list of all âge/ixtl’s products that have relations to Muv-Luv, but here are some specific picks for those hungry for more and have the language skills demanded.

Before the Cherry Trees Blossom -Muv-Luv After Episode-

A story set after Sumika’s Extra route, starting in February 2002. While having some janky writing, it is nevertheless the first direct continuation of an Extra route, and it’s a must read for those who want to see more Sumika, and how the cast graduates. If you absolutely hate her guts, you might as well skip this. Otherwise, it’s extra for those who like Extra. It can be found in Muv-Luv Supplement, alongside with rectal destroying card game Muv-Luv Duelist and few other stories.

Muv-Luv ~Another Episode Collection~

Stuffed to Muv-Luv Supplement, Another Episode Collection also goes under the name of Heroine Short Story collection. These stories are set in before and during Extra from other character’s perspective. Also in Photon Flowers, so you can dust off that PS3 of yours, or sit tight and wait.

Kimi ga Ita Kisetsu

Kimi ga Ita Kisetsu is the whole shebang that started âge’s Kimi ga line of VNs, that lasted all two titles. Much like how Muv-Luv follows up on Rumbling Hearts, Rumbling Hearts follows on Kimi Ita. The title’s not anything special, if we’re honest, but does give an insight to certain characters that appear as their BETAverse counterparts in some Muv-Luv titles. There is also an updated version, if you find the late 1990’s style garish.

Chronicles 03 and 04

Chronicles 03 follows in the footsteps of Chronicles 02 and has two main titles: The Day After Episode 02 and MLA Chronicles Resurrection. Resurrection follows the exploits of one Silvio Orlandi. While the story opens up as a rather serious take on him praying in a church before he engages a mission, it quickly turns into a more light-hearted romp about him becoming a Six Million Dollar Man and is sent to infiltrate the Yokohama Base as a spy. It’s a rather lengthy story to boot, with multiple chapters and a change in visual style.

Chronicles 04 collects more stories than the two previous installments, with TDA 03 introducing a certain familiar face from the mainline trilogy. Let’s just say all those hours put into Valgern-On really paid off. Last Divers could be called a companion piece to Chicken Divers as the two share themes with each other, with the significant difference of Last Divers taking place in the Unlimited‘s TDA timeline. War Ensemble takes place in 1998, and unlike most other stories, it concentrates on the infantry. While we have TSF running around, the story’s main point is to show how inglorious it is to be a foot soldier, with few powered armours at your side, when a BETA assault lands on you.

And if you’re a fan of anthropomorphised BETA, Chronicles 04  has an episode of Haiburu.

Tactical Surface Figher in Action and other materials

Tactical Surface Fighter in Action, or TSFiA for short, is a series of short stories concentrating on the TSFs themselves and numerous events across Unlimited and Alternative timelines, crossing over with both Schwarzesmarken and Total Eclipse. These were essentially story advertisement for TSF toys and models, and dioramas were made using these. Some of them stories have been translated, but that was some years ago, with this being the latest version.

There are loads of books regarding Muv-Luv, from source books to comics. Some of the comics have been scanlated at least to some extent, and I’m sure you can locate some through use of a search engine. A special mention needs to be given to the Alternative comic, which has gotten a positive reception from those who have read it. Integral Works is also recommended, though its info is used in the upcoming Codex. TSF Cross Operation books are sort of expansions to Integral Works in that they contain expanded information and short stories, including numerous TSFiA ones.

Muv-Luv Alternative Faraway Dawn

Faraway Dawn are two sets of strategy games included with Altered Fable and Haruko Maniax. In essence, your job is to keep TSFs intact and their pilots alive through number of missions in rUGP powered STR. Expect high difficulty and lots of savescumming. The game plays on a field build on hexagons, and while all the menus are in Japanese, understanding them is a small matter of trial and error. It’s about as easy to get around them as it is with a standard Super Robot Wars, though there are more things to consider than in SRW titles.

Akane Maniax and AyuMayu Theatre

Akane Maniax is a name of a visual novel and a three-episode OVA. The OVA was meant to bridge Rumbling Hearts to Muv-Luv in animation form, but that came to naught. However, it is the first time we see Takeru & co. in animated form, and while it does lean on the comedy side of things, it’s a good fan service overall. You can pick the Japanese DVDs rather cheaply nowadays, or if you’ve got the dough, the BD set that comes with Rumbling Hearts, Akane Maniax and Next Season OVA with some other extras. You can freely apply fansubs to these versions, and there are specifically timed versions floating around the net. Next Season is effectively an optional end to the series, made to both advertise then-new Latest Edition of Kimi ga Nozomu Eien VN, and to appease raving Haruka fans.

AyuMayu Theatre, or AyuMayu Gekijouban if you’re so inclined, is an ONA based around making fun of both Rumbling Hearts and Muv-Luv, having cast from both series stepping and having comedy of their and the viewer’s expense. It’s really a recommended watch, and subtitles floating around can be put into good use as the DVD is dirt cheap nowadays. Seriously, it costs one yen if you know where to look and are willing to buy used. If you’ve grown fond of Ayu and Mayu, they got their own Alternative.

AyuMayu Alternative

The last entry on this short list is AyuMayu Alternative, a rather tongue-in-cheeck spin-off with more of the comedic characters from Rumbling Hearts and Akane Maniax getting a huge spotlight. It’s a fun read, especially if you’re a fan of old-school robot anime and Saint Seiya. However, if you’re in mood for something more serious, AyuMayu Alternative also hosts two Chronicles stories.

MLA Chronicles Atonement and Inheritance/Succession (it’s got two competing choices for a translation) follow a select two characters. In Atonement, we see Jinguuji Marimo‘s past when she was a cadet, at her Comprehensive Combat Eval. and her first sortie against the BETA. These expand on the character, and while I’ve seen some argue that it cheapens the character, others have countered that it expands and gives another meaning to the 7th chapter Muv-Luv Alternative; The Unforgiven. Inheritance concentrates on the immediate family of Captain herself, Isumi Michiru, specifically her little sister Akira. Set soon after the events on Sado Island, Akira meets with her sisters after a victory celebration, only to pass out due to PTSD flashbacks. Later, they learn about Captain’s faith. Towards the end, we see Akira taking part in Operation Sledgehammer in 2003, the third known successful Hive infiltration, and the first successful Hive capture for humanity without a need for weapons like G-Bombs.

There is lot more to Muv-Luv as a franchise than what’s on this list, especially if we take into account the rest of the expanded metaverse, but for now these should offer some ideas what to check out next. There is a lot more to come in the future.

Exogularity; F-47 Ishkur

To celebrate Muv-Luv Alternative hitting Steam, let’s talk about the future of Tactical Surface Fighters. Namely, the 8th Generation Tactical Surface Fighter F-47 Ishkur.

Needless to say, this be spoiler country.

 Ishkur is the Sumerian name for Hadad, the god of rain and thunderstorms of spring. A fitting name for mankind’s latest weapons against extraterrestrial threats: the BETA and their Silicon creators pose. While the previous generation of TSFs were defined in their G-Generators and system made possible through them; a decade of operation time without replenishment, TSF sized particle cannons and advanced Rutherford fields that could withhold Fortress-Laser Class’ barrage for fifteen minutes. Tactical Surface Fighter development became stagnant after the introduction of the 7th Generation due to mankind-wide civil wars. With the global unification of 2043, a project to face the creators of BETA was launched a year later, with a need for the 8th Generation following in suit. Three years later, the F-47 would meet with abilities such mission would demand.

The 8th Generation is redefines the role of a TSF to the point that it’s no longer “Surface;” Space is its main field of operation, but the F-47 has been designed to function from Zero-G to 3-G environments. Movement is attained by manipulating gravity, and as F-47’s main role is to function as an envoy to the space fleet aiming to contact the Siliconians, it boasts an impressive long-range particle cannon as its main weapon. Furthermore, the F-47 is able to engage in limited ranged warps and contains regenerating life-support systems, giving the unit ability for independent interstellar travel.

The name Ishkur represents this aspect of F-47 being able to rain down storm and thunder on whomever the pilot chooses to strike.

This rough design shows where we’re going. One thing that I didn’t include in the above description of the unit, is that Ishkur would be able to purge its damaged sections to continue to fight unhindered, at least according to Ishi Sho. Notice that the melee blade below is attached to the F-47’s right arm here, it’s not a lengthy cannon.

While the F-47 Ishkur sounds overpowered, the mook it is from, exogularity 01, hints that BETA tactics have evolved as well. Despite this, it does carry more traditional weaponry.

We can already see from these roughs that the two familiar weapons seem to be a mainstay still. The Assault Gun boasts rather functional design, probably to give emphasize how it has to function in variety of environments an interstellar mission might have. The Close Combat Sword we have here seems to have taken the handle idea from BWS-8 Flugelberte as it is arching to the wrong direction, but I’ll let that pass, as we’re talking about a giant robot and not a human hand. The lowest one is 8th Generation multi-purpose additional armour, a shield of sorts, though it is rather small for that function alone. It is missing from Strike Frontier render of the unit, and may have been dropped from the design for now.

As the F-47 is a completely new design, not based on any existing aircraft, its Jump Units are based solely on Tactical Surface Fighters’ own design language.

If you look too long at these, you may end up seeing a skull of sorts. That may just be me.

To summarise all this, F-47 Ishkur is what Tactical Surface Fighter line would naturally evolve into when materials, sudden surge in advanced technology and necessity for interstellar warfare all come together. It was Yoshimune Koki himself who jokingly said that it’s not longer “Surface” and that TSFs have now entered the realm of Super Robots, but he isn’t half wrong. Perhaps calling F-47 Ishkur Tactical Space Fighter would be more appropriate, even when it could function on Earth-like bodies. Tactical Multi-Environmental Fighter doesn’t have the same ring to it. I’m not ready to agree that this mecha fits in the Super Robot category straight away. It certainly is a compact and hi-performance mecha all things considered, but in a world where technology is being combined with extraterrestrial material that allows bending dimensional barriers through the sheer power of love, I’m reminded of Third Clarke’s Law; Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

The design itself is combination of two things; the designer Ishi Sho’s own taste and view how the TSF line is to evolve, and cues from Mamoru Nagano’s Mortar Hedds from Five Star Stories. However, I would also argue that there is an influence from Tomohiro Shimoguchi’s illustration works, namely Linebarrels of Iron. Furthermore, some elements, like the shoulder armours, do remind of Gundam AGE‘s Vagan designs, thought this is probably just my eyes tricking me. F-47 Ishkur is probably the first properly modern design in the franchise, as even the 4th TSF Generation still has visible vestiges of the early 2000’s mecha design. If I can be frank about my own view for a moment, Ishkur’s design does please the eye and probably does good to the franchise in that it is far removed from any real life fighter jet.

This mecha, Ishkur, represents what will probably be the future of the franchise, if it has the chance to go that far. Things have certainly changed, with âge now more or less servicing as the brand and front for ixtl, Avex Pictures acquiring ixtl itself and both Muv-Luv and Muv-Luv Alternative being officially released in English. However, with both Total Eclipse and Schwarzesmarken being largely failures all around, the staff at âge/ixtl are in a position very few people would wish to be in. Whatever comes next has to strike true. Of course, with Avex Pictures now being the upper management, an adaptation of Muv-Luv and Muv-Luv Alternative itself isn’t far too far-fetched. However, it would have to be an adaptation that would aim to expand the audience, something the core fans probably would not prefer. It would be necessary for the health of the franchise and companies involved.

But for now, let’s enjoy what we have.

Listen, The wind is still, And far away in the night — See! The uplands fill With a running light.
Open the doors. It is warm; And where the sky was clear– Look! The head of a storm That marches here!
Come under the trembling hedge– Fast, although you fumble… There! Did you hear the edge of winter crumble
-Mark Van Doren, 1924

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!

DSC_4669
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.

Plane Elements in Tactical Surface Fighters; F-15 Eagle

The F-15 Eagle was designed to be successor to the F-4. As such, the F-15 needed to be an all-weather, high manoeuvrable fighter that would keep the US Air Force at the top in air superiority. The F-15 had a legacy to stand up to.

F-15A made its first flight in 1972, and two years later the first USAF F-15B Eagle was delivered for service. Early 1976 saw the first front-line combat squadron delivery, and things carried on from there. However, the F-15’s first fight was not with USAF, but with exporter Israel who shot down four Syrian MiG-21s in June 1977.

The F-15 is probably fighter with the best combat record, with 100.5 victories over zero losses. This record is mostly due to the fighter’s maneuverability combined with high acceleration, work range, advanced avionics and range of weapons.

With two Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-100 turbofans that allow 11 340kg of afterburner thrust, the F-15 is a nimble and relatively low profile fighter with maximum take-off weight at 25 402kg, achieving maximum speed of 2 655km/h rather easily. Mainly armed with the N61A1 20mm Vulcan cannon in the fuselage, the F-15 can carry four AIM-7 Sparrows, AIM-9 Sidewinder AAMs and loads of other options up to 7 267kg ranging from rockets, missiles and bombs with its five hardpoints. With a range of 966km and ceiling of 19.2km that can be climbed in 15.25km/s, the F-15 was extremely well equipped.

It also helped that the F-15 had a low wing load and with the low weight-to-thrust ratio, the fighter is capable of doing sharp turns without losing airspeed. Another thing that helped was that the D-15’s avionics were superb for their time and are still serviceable. HUD on the windscreen displayed all necessary information and was visible in any light conditions. Due to its position, the fighter had no need to look down to the instruments for additional information. The radar that would provide the information was a versatile pulse-Doppler radar capable of doing pretty much any sort of tracking the fighter needs. The electronic warfare with the F-15 provided both threat warning as well as automatic countermeasures against selected threats.

The F-15 was initially a single-seat fighter with a TF-15 as the twin-seat variant, and these designations were changed to F-15A and F-15B after the first flight. In 1978, single-seat F-15C and two-seat F-15D models entered production. Furthermore, F-15 Multistage Improvement Programme was enacted in early 1983, with first F-15Cs produced in 1985. Upgrades included a new central computer for new versions of AIM-7, AIM-9 and AIM-120A missiles, and expanded radar functions. Existing Eagles were retrofitted with these improvements, unifying the fleet as a whole.

During the Gulf War, the F-15 Eagles were the deadliest thing in the air. When Operation Desert Shield was put into action, U.S. Central Command deployed F-15C/D Eagles into air within hours, and forty-eight Eagles made the longest fighter deployment in history between 14-17 hours of nonstop flight from Langley to Dhahran. When the situation went from defence to offence to remove Saddam Hussein’s forces from Kuwait, the air was effectively dominated by Colonel Richard Parsons’ 58th Tactical Squadron The Gorrillas, which were running on Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-220 low-bypass turbofans at this point, further pushing the fighter’s speed. On the first night of the war, USAF F-15s kept shooting down numerous MiGs, including MiG-29 Fulcrums. It bears to repeat; during all of Gulf War’s operations, F-15 simply dominated the air.

The F-15 saw an upgraded version with F-15E Strike Eagle. The F-15E was envisioned to be a replacement to F-111 Aardvark and to support the existing F-15. To oppose the F-15 role as air superiority fighter, the F-15E was a ground attacker. Its basic airframe is the same with internals changed for what is essentially a multi-role fighter. It can fight its way into enemy lines, bombs its target and fight its way back. Just like how the F-15 has been imported, the F-15E has seen exported by the different countries.

It would seem that the story of F-15 is about to end. In 2015, the F-15C faces cuts or retirement due to sequestration, and the willingness to push the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II as its successor. It is proposed that the F-15C fleet would remain at 51 aircraft even with the introduction of the aforementioned advanced fighters. Here’s a list what F-15 might need to go through in order to be completely viable in the future.

In Muv-Luv, the F-15 is dubbed the strongest 2nd generation TSF due to its performance and track record.

The initial need for superior TSF to fight the BETA comes from the failure of Operation Palaiologos, where NATO and Warsaw Pact tried to attack the Minks Hive, but after numerous attempts at capturing it during the following months, the BETA amassed a counter attack after Soviet’s failed 43rd Tactical Armoured Division’s failure to assault the Hive, leading both NATO’s and Warsaw Pact’s lines to be completely broken and allowing the BETA to advance further into Europe. The combat data and Volk Data gathered from this didn’t just launch the F-15 series, but also the Rafale and EF-2000.

The US department saw that the largest threat to the TSFs was the Laser-class, as over half of the units were lost to their fire. Increasing armour would not be an option, as the rest of the strains would simply destroy the units if they were heavier. Mobility and manoeuvrability   became the goals of the new TSF-X project as opposed to F-4’s armour. The F-15 mirrors its real world counterpart in having great weight-to-thrust ratio, advanced avionics and pioneered Operation by Wire further. It’s build is simple with optional hardpoints or weapon bays allows it to care spare ammo magazines or CIWS-1As in Blade Sheaths.

Unlike the real world counterpart, TSF F-15A entered service in 1984, which was rushed out rather than wait for the technology to mature. Only few years later the F-15 series saw its proper performance with upgraded fuel cells and Jump Unit engines, and upgraded avionics with F-15C. It wouldn’t take much to assume all existing F-15s went through these upgrades, much like how they did in real life.

Japan has its own F-15 variant in the F-15J, or Type-89 Kagerou. On the outside, nothing changed, but under the hood, the Kagerou saw large changes in order to accommodate Japan’s close combat doctrine.

F-15E on the other hand essentially an upgrade to F-15C instead a supplementing fighter. F-15E had completely overhauled insides, meaning that it looks the same from the outside, but out-performs its previous variants to the point of standing up to a Type-94 Shiranui without any problems.

Generally speaking, F-15s have basic armaments that all TSFs carry in their respective armies during respective time periods. This includes the Type-74 PB Blade for the Japanese variant. Outside the F-15 ACTV Active Eagle, all F-15 variants share the same basic outer frame (i.e. they all share the same sprites and CG resources), and as such in this comparison will use TSF F-15E Strike Eagle and base F-15 Eagle fighter. If we ever see the base F-15, then I’ll just rework this one.

Let’s get to the meat. You’re not here to read my ramblings on fighter history, you’re here for the design comparison.

 

F-15 EAgle
And the image board variant as per usual. We’re starting to run out of these. Click for larger size

The F-15 seems to be a repetition of the Tomcat in terms of what was lifted from the fighter itself is lacking. There are no real soft and curved shapes like on the fighter’s back, as most of the shapes in the torso and shoulders are straight. The nozzles on the shoulders would’ve been an excellent spot to curve things up a bit, but straight lines were used to make a hexagon casing. You can see that they have a slight slope to them on the back-view image, but most of the time it’s almost like they just straightened it out.

The torso really is a missed opportunity, as nothing has been lifted from the fighter itself. It is largely original, and the only thing that remotely resembles anything from the fighter are those round bits near the shoulder joints. Their general position looks like that of the fans in the intakes, relative to the head if it was the cockpit.

The arms have a softer look to them, but re really just straight lines. They’re generic TSF arms with no real elements from the fighter. Just like the legs, they’re more or less inspired by the fighter in some ways. The strangest bit out of them all is the vaguely hourglass shaped knees under the kneeguards. Unlike the sideskirt armour that’s just the top of the intake, the knees have no place in the fighter. Most likely they were done for the sake of the design.

Speaking of the legs, they display simplicity the fighter also carries. There’s nothing out-of-place or special about them. Just straightforward legs with no bells and whistles. The F-15 is supposed to be no-bullshit design after all, so maybe this sort of slightly angular simplistic look is supposed to drive that idea in. And of course, you have the fighter’s nose as the ischium, as per usual.

However, the must unusual thing about this is the Jump Units. They’re run-of-the-mill most of the time, but the nozzles it has looks like they’re from a pre-production F-15 STOL/MTD that has 2D nozzles. The usual nozzles are round, but these are flat. This would’ve been a really nice spot to use further from the base F-15, especially with the round shapes, but no dice.

There’s nothing much else to say. It’s the idea and role that carried over the real life F-15 rather than its sleek and aggressive shapes. This TSF just went lanky instead of those. It would seem that America’s TSFs are governed by straight lines most of the time and it shows. Maybe I’ll change to Japanese TSFs next time and go over how Mitsubishi F-2 served as a sort of inspiration for XJF-01a Shiranui 2nd Phase 2.

Muv-Luv Alternative Integral Works, Lunatic Dawn and the Codex

It’s the last week of Muv-Luv Kickstarter, and I’ve yet to write a single entry on it. However, I do feel a need to write about the Codex. Or rather, the elements the Codex would be build from; Integral Works and Lunatic Dawns.

Integral Works, a name referring to pieces of essential characteristics. For some time the name has been used in Japanese source books for some time, and when referring it in context of Muv-Luv, Integral Works is a 352 page book about the world history, technology, BETA, organisations, physics regarding in-universe exotic materials, war tactics and strategies and about certain key events that took place during the second visual novel. I’m sorry, I ended that sentence too soon. IW is not just about those, but also about sketches, glossary, interviews and small sides stories.

000
There’s a clearer image of the cover in the book as well. The hologpraphic cover is so 90’s trick, but still pretty neat. Easy as hell to scratch.

In short, Muv-Luv Alternative Integral Works is an essential sourcebook for the fans, as it expands all the concepts introduced in the main work. The book is not a series or production bible, but more like an extensive companion.

Pages like this are treasure troves. Hell, that Shiranui image alone shows how TSFs have rather rare joints when it comes to mecha
Pages like this are treasure troves. Hell, that Shiranui image alone shows how TSFs have rather rare joints when it comes to mecha

Lunatic Dawn is a name of series Comic Market exclusive books that expand on what IW was. New Tactical Surface Fighters were introduced in them as Declassified. For example the F-35 Lighting II was introduced in Lunatic Dawn 7. These information pieces are not just your run of the mill splashtext, but rather extensive history and performance overviews. Lunatic Dawn 7 alone revealed eight never seen Tactical Surface Fighters. They have a slot in the IW TSF Tech tree, but had no visual representation. In addition, Lunatic Dawn books offer more detailed information on certain individual characters, setting, mechanics and organisations. Each instalment of Lunatic Dawn is like an additional piece to Integral Works, filling its gaps as new pieces to the franchise is released. Often an entry of Lunatic Dawn surrounds around some upcoming or new story, like The Day After or Total Eclipse, explaining bits and pieces of information that may never come through the actual work, but nevertheless applies to them. Lunatic Dawns also follow the Japanese mook format, a combination of magazine and book. Not really thick or hard enough to call a book, not really thin and flappy enough to call a magazine.

Lunatic Dawn 4 was more or less Chronicles centric entry
Lunatic Dawn 4 was more or less Chronicles centric entry

Combine Integral Works, and Lunatic Dawns, and you have an incredibly large and in-depth piece. That’s what the Codex of Muv-Luv Alternative is like. The Codex, as the Kickstarter calls it, is a combination of Integral Works and Lunatic Dawn Anthologies 1-3 in one piece.

The fan-favourite Tactical Surface Attacker A-10 Thunderbolt II was first revealed in Lunatic Dawn 3
The fan-favourite Tactical Surface Attacker A-10 Thunderbolt II was first revealed in Lunatic Dawn 3

At least, it could be. The Codex as a physical piece is Muv-Luv Kickstarter’s last stretchgoal at $900 000. That’s a lot of money, but it’s not impossible.

Here’s the reason for this post; Muv-Luv Alternative Integral Works is the sole most important printed piece of Muv-Luv franchise. The sheer volume of primary information it offers is incredibly valuable to the overall franchise, and all of it is untranslated. There are bits and pieces of an item or two that’s translated, but the whole thing is still an unknown entity.

Charts like this are just a grain in the vast desert of untranslated pages
Charts like this are just a grain in the vast desert of untranslated pages

A digital piece would do no justice to this. I cannot emphasise enough how important it would be to have something like this in your hands, feel the covers and paper in your hands, smell the scent of a new book. See the print shine in the light, admire the layout and simply read the words. Would the digital piece hold all the same information? Without a doubt. That, however, is beside the point.

A physical piece is more expensive to produce. It requires more work to get to the consumer. It demands more. It would be a glorious piece to hold. To use a comparative piece, Mega Man & Mega Man X Official Complete Works 25th Anniversary book 432 pages long. The Codex would be larger piece than this, most likely hitting a sweetspot somewhere around  450 pages. A digital version is only ones and zeroes. This sort of book demands a high quality printed product. This needs to happen, there’s no reason not to have it realized.

Height and width are standard, but the depth/thickness is not. MM25 is about 1/5 thicker than IW. The Codex on the other hand would be around 1/5 thicker than MM25
Height and width are standard, but the depth/thickness is not. MM25 is about 1/5 thicker than IW. The Codex on the other hand would be thicker than MM25

Here is some stuff Integral Works and Lunatic Dawns consist of. Of course, everything is in Japanese. I busted out my second Integral Works from wraps to have this mediocre flipthrough to give a glimpse what the book is all about. This didn’t do it justice, but dammit the size of it should speak volumes alone.

While you’re at it, listen to our discussion sessions with Degica about the Kickstarter if you already haven’t. There’s some golden bits in there.

Alternative Projects + Aalt presents: ARG Podcast #2 – Interview with Degica + winners for the Giveaway

Three or four weeks ago, I’m not entirely sure, I contacted Degica’s community manager via Twitter if he would be interested in an interview on a podcast that didn’t exist at the time. I didn’t have much faith, we are talking about a singular fan contacting a company for information nobody else had access to.

But ‘lo and behold, things went on an overdrive. Not only did the community manager was aboard the ship, but he also got Degica’s Global Manager/ Project Leader aboard. I got a bit too greedy, and I scrambled to put up a test show. You heard it last week. Last Saturday I sat down with the representatives and Gabgrave of Alternative Projects to discuss some of the matters that people have been guessing around the Internet. Basically everything was set up in three weeks, and that’s not a whole lot time to get used to podcasting or practice it.

Now, this wasn’t just related to the Kickstarter as I wanted to approach them with questions that also relate to the main content of the blog, and as such I split the question in the middle with Gabgrave, where he handled the more Muv-Luv Kickstarter related questions.

There are some bits and pieces that I think fans of the series will love to hear, especially that little story from Anime Expo. The winners of the Giveway they were running at their site are announced here as well, and a new contest is launched a well, so keep listening to the very end.

This episode is around thirty minutes long, half of the previous one. The reason for this is because, as mentioned multiple times, things are changing and some information isn’t available. It could be said that I jumped the gun by asking for an interview too early.

Without any further intermission, let’s roll with this.

Rules for the trivia competition; Tweet your answer to @muvluvseries on Twitter in order to enter the contest. The duration of the competition is until Sunday 26th. Good luck to all the contestants.

The song at the end is Arranged version of Storm Vanguard.

Correction; In my quick mouthing I managed to misstate the website. It’s degigames.com, not degicagames.com.

For further transparency, there has been no monetary transactions whatsoever. This is a fan reaching out to a company for a contact, and them responding in a positive tone. The interview went through ixtl as well, but it went through in its initial cut. I’m sure I have a conflict of interest too by being a fan and having a bias.

What does Muv-Luv mean?

Mabu-dachi (マブダチ) in older Japanese slang that stands for good friends, best friends or real friends. Mabu (マブ) is a peculiar way of saying true or real, dachi coming from tomodachi (友達, ともだち or トモダチ.) Thus it’s easy to take that and give it a slight change into Mabu-Love, which would then stand true love. Corrupting terms, words or even sentences is nothing new to Japanese, or other languages in general, to make new terms or giving them usages. Seeing how staff at âge are bunch of fanboys from the days mabu-dachi saw most popular use, from the 80’s and 90’s respectively, it’s easy to see this then popular slang being used. Mabu-dachi is used in various other products as well, like a 2001 movie using it as its title.

The title is reflected in the catchphrase Save in the name of true love, which can be seen in the franchise’s official logo to this day.

I’m sure I can find an asset from the VNs that has only that relevant bit
That's better
That’s more like it.

The final nail in this question, for those who are still not convinced, comes from Kimi ga Nozomu Muv-Luv.

The True Love you Desired
The True Love you Desire

The furigana for 真愛 is Muv-Luv, and these two stand for True and Love respectively. There’s no doubt about the meaning of Muv-Luv any further.

What does True Love in regards of Muv-Luv stands for? There are as many different arguments as there are people reading the visual novels, and so I can’t really say anything for sure, but I’ll list a few of them.

Perhaps most divisive argument that the title refers to Sumika. She is arguably Takeru’s true love. We can also argue that because mabu-dachi is slang for true friends, we can see connection between their friendship and their romantic love. Alternative is also all about finding that one thing that can break the loop and send Takeru home. We know that is his true love that can do that, but she needs to be saved, in a sense.

Argument can be made for Meiya as well, as she is one of the two characters whose route needs to be completed in order to unlock Unlimited. Her childhood promise with Takeru can also be seen as a pact made in true love. Such love would survive through times in romantic sense, after all.

The rest of the girls, whether or not they fit the bill is an open question, one which can be turned a bit around.  What if the one true love here is Takeru? It could be seen so that as long as Sumika is present, Takeru is locked with her by his own volition and feelings towards her. With all the alternative worlds’ Takerus being one being in BETAverse, all the options are more or less Unlimited. Of course Extra has routes for all the female characters, but even then this take would hold water as we can assume each route representing one parallel world with different outcomes for whatever reason. Nevertheless, it would seem that Takeru is destined to end up with Sumika, but it’s always nice to see âge leaving such things absolutely and completely open for debate, which fans have made into certain level of warfare.

Me, using images from previous posts?
Me, using images from previous posts?

Nevertheless, Takeru being the true love would stand in Alternative too. While I’ve seen the subtitle standing for the alternative route the story takes to prevent The Day After events, which does, it can be said that it refers to the girls taking action in order to save Takeru. He being their true love, he is the one who needs to be saved at the very end. Even if it costs their lives.

____________

[8.1.2016 addition]

I was supposed to modify this post earlier, but you know my memory. Yoshimune Koki has confirmed the meaning of the title few times around, but perhaps most recent was during Kickstarter, when he mentioned that Muv-Luv stands for true love. In addition, in one of the Kouhou no Houkou, or Roar of Publicity he mentioned that Sumika is indeed the titular true love.

_____________

I’m not interested in discussing who is the best girl or anything like that. That’s completely up one’s own opinion. What the visual novels say is another thing altogether, and how we interpret them is a whole ‘nother can of worms. Still, I can imagine we all can make our own mind to what the title refers to.

One thing I’d still want to put into the spotlight; how does the title hold up with the later instalments of the franchise?

HEXAGONS, SHAPE OF THE FUTURE TODAY
HEXAGON, SHAPE OF THE FUTURE TODAY
This style seemed to be somewhat popular for a short period of time
This style seemed to be somewhat popular for a short period of time. It’s kinda rare to see a product family sharing two so distinct logos

In reality, Muv-Luv after the original visual novels is just the name of the franchise. While both of the two more important spin-offs of the original stories, Total Eclipse and the upcoming Schwarzesmarken, have romance as one of their major themes, it’s more about carrying the theme of Muv-Luv in general than being about one true love. Then again, in Total Eclipse we do see Yuuya ending up with Cryska, and it’s mutual by all means.  The animation doesn’t go that far, so in that we see Yuuya wanting to bone Shiranui Second Phase 2.

I should remember to use my own library for materials rather than spend thirty minutes trying to find a decent sized Schwarzesmarken logo

The most interesting thing with this is that Schwarzesmarken has no Muv-Luv in it. It’s just Schwarzesmarken. It’s almost like they want to make a clear distinction with it, which isn’t all too uncommon, but always a bit surprising. I know from second hand information what Schwarzesmarken is all about, but seeing how I haven’t read the actual thing myself, I’m leaving this bit open until the visual novel is released sometime in the near future. Knowing âge, it’ll be pushed back at least two times and sees the daylight sometime in 2016 rather than this year. Nevertheless, I’m sure I’m going to have some fun discussing it with a friend who is pretty well versed with events and stuff that went on between the split Germans.

As a side note, Schwarzesmarken is Engrish. It should be something like Die Schwarz Marks, The Black Marks. Essentially, âge fucked this one up, like Valkylies, but this time gave it an in-universe explanation later on; it was a Russian who gave them the name, screwing it up. Eh, it works.

I wanted to make some kind of jokes about True Love and Muv-Luv, but there’s very little one can make jokes out of. Perhaps the one thing the two have in common is that outside the whole romance thing is that we don’t have one true love, unless we so choose and decide to grasp it. In love stories this is different. My own take is that Mabu-Love is, at its core, a story about love and loss between Takeru and Sumika. That’s just me, and whatever you hold true is just as valid, unless somebody at âge decides to make definitive statements about things.