Further discussion on the Muv-Luv Alternative Codex

I was supposed to do a TSF/fighter jet comparison this weekend, but I’m sure fans of Muv-Luv will find this one a bit more of interest for the time being.

The reported amount characters in Muv-Luv Alternative Integral Works was around 500k characters. That’s a large amount of Japanese characters in 351 pages or so, and when translated text will expand the page count a lot, at least to 400 page region. Add in the Lunatic Dawn 1-9/ Allied Strategy 1-3 translation in there and you will get a piece that should hit around 500 pages and more. This isn’t the problem in itself. The problem that has popped up is that IW’s character count hits closer to 600-700k region.

Combined with the LDs, the new count would push the translation well over the 450-500 pages limit into 550-600 pages region.

The book dreams were made of, until it's translation become a reality
The book dreams were made of, until it’s translation become a reality. This will also be the last time I take my IW from wraps

To reiterate what Integral Works is, it is a source and guidebook for Muv-Luv Alternative, its fictional world history, organisations, mechanical designs and the like. It is not an artbook. I should have not compared IW to Mega Man 25th Anniversary Book…

Dimensions-wise, MM25 is about the same size as IW
Dimensions-wise, MM25 is about the same size as IW

…when in reality I should’ve probably compared IW to a book that’s more or less similar content-wise. Just with a chapter or two about fictional fighters-turned-mecha.

Like this one here. It's an excellent book you should read. I should update my own, it's over decade old at this point and missing some new key events
Like this one here. It’s an excellent book you should read. I should update my own, it’s over decade old at this point and missing some new key events

Lunatic Dawns/ Allied Strategy are magazine books (mooks) sold at Comic Market. Their content varies from serious additional information about in-world matters in very similar fashion to Integral Works’. However, there are numerous other subjects that LDs have, far more comedic, tongue-in-cheek in tone as well as topics that have no relation to Muv-Luv in form of advertisements and other similar stuff.

I'm not too keen on collecting LD's at the moment, but perhaps later in this year I may have something else in mind
I’m not too keen on collecting LD’s at the moment, but perhaps later in this year I may have something else in mind
Why in the depth of seven hells I have a pane of glass next my computer and where the hell did it come from?
Why in the depths of seven hells I have a pane of glass next my computer and where the hell did it come from? Why didn’t I clean it before taking the photo? Can I use this to take photos in the future?

Much like IW, LDs contain interviews, sketches, behind the scenes information and short stories. They’re like  bits of IW additions next to humour and advertisements.

What I’m going to touch upon in the rest of the post applies only to the physical version of the Muv-Luv Alternative Codex; something needs to be cut.

IW is the backbone of the Codex, there is no doubt about it. Contents of LD’s will be integrated amidst IW’s translated text, hopefully seamlessly.

After discussions with Jason, the Muv-Luv Kickstarter’s community manager, it became apparent that there needs to be cuts made in both IW and LDs in order to accommodate the pre-set page limit. The page limit is more or less absolute, as pressing a book of this size has to have carefully calculated budget. There’s not much room to fidget around. That’s a reality we’ve have to face and there’s really no way to get around it.

I have taken a point of view that the Codex needs to in-line with the tone and content IW has. Cutting materials from LD was previously known, and as such about half of LDs’ contents are cut straight away. These contents are the humour stuff and unrelated to Muv-Luv in general terms. As LDs are advertising for (then) upcoming âge products, they have materials on Chronicles’ series, like The Day After, Joshin Eishi Cryska and the like. As IW is a companion to Alternative, we have an establishes context for the Codex. The Day After belongs to Unlimited timeline, thus The Day After related material has no reason to be Codex, or rather, it has does not have the highest priority. It is not impossible to have future booklets that would concentrate on these The Day After and other materials.

However, as I said, something needs to be cut from IW. Chapter 9 is fourteen page short story concentrating on Tsukiji Tae. You may remember certain cat scene from Muv-Luv to which she is related to. While I would personally want this short story to be included, a fourteen page cut is a godsend, and I will argue for it getting cut simply on that it doesn’t add raw data into the book. It adds world building for sure, but it is slightly too personal.

Second piece that I would expect to be axed is in Chapter 3. Towards the end there is a seven page short story about a TSF mechanic, and while the story would be great to have for further personal world building, I also argue for its removal on the same basis as Tsukiji Tae’s short story.

Chapters 11 and 12 are interviews whereas the 13th final chapter is the Glossary. These interviews are something I would hate to see the axe as they contain information on the creation of the franchise and a little bit around of it. What I like about Chapter 11’s interview is that around the pages there are information boxes of the matters the text is referencing to. For example, it has small explanation boxes for Mospeada, the Andromeda from Space Battleship Yamato, the influence of James P. Hogan‘s SF works, Asimov’s I, Robot, Devilman, Spriggan Mk2, Raster Scroll, and of course, Neon Genesis Evangelion. These bits are interesting for sure, but with the whole library of the world at the tips of our fingers, they can be excised to gain more room.

If you’re worried about the translation quality, all I can say is that don’t be. There is a competent translator working on it.

Expect the Codex look different from IW as well. The reason for this is that ixtl doesn’t own the layout for the book. They own all the content for sure, text and images, but Enterbrain, which is a brand company under Kadokawa Corporation, owns the layout itself. They also publish magazines like TechGIAN and other game related materials. They’ve also dabbled into software front in form of RPG Maker and its relatives, plus they’ve got some actual games alongside some VNs. Tabletop RPGs too, some of which I should buy for my friend.

The person who will be in charge of Codex’s layout will have a goddamn riot day with all the materials and page limit he’ll have to work with.

Currently, the physical Codex is the main concern. The digital Codex will be made afterwards, and it has been mentioned that at the base idea it should be updated. This would mean that the content that would need to be excised from the Codex for tone and space might appear in Digital Codex later down the line.

Muv-Luv as a franchise is experiencing a sort of renaissance thanks to the Kickstarter. Schwarzesmarken is on the television, second VN being released after it has run its course and certain future plans I don’t have any freedom to talk about. Things are looking rosy, for all the fans around the world.

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.

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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.