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.

Plane elements in Tactical Surface Fighters; Su-37 Terminator

The Flanker series of Sukhoi fighters have always been competent fighters. In Muv-Luv Alternative’s BETAverse, the base Su-37 most likely exists somewhere, but is never seen anywhere, not even on the TSF tech trees. As such, this comparison will be a bit weird in that I am using a base version of Su-37 to Su-37m2. This is the single seat variant that Fikatsia “Mama Bear” Latrova and 221 Batal’on Zhar used in Total Eclipse. The TSF Su-37’s don’t have outside differences par painting scheme, so either could’ve been used. If this bothers you, too bad.

A modified version of Su-27 with canards first flew in 1985 and was the prototype from which the Su-35 would be based on. The first true Su-35, called Su-27M at the time, flew in June 1988. It was a single seat fighter with moving canards, improved engines, digital fly-by-wire system that had quadruple redundancy to prevent mishaps. The prototype was made to be an aggressive fighter with great control. Because of the redundancy systems, Su-37M could fight and take hits without losing control. Probably. The Su-35 was a beast on paper, but Su-37 would improve the fighter further.

Su-37  was an experimental fighter with many names. NATO calls it Flanker-F, Sukhoi themselves calls it the Terminator. A loved child has many names. For a multi-role fighter first flown in 1996, the Su-37 was super maneuverable and able to utilise two dimensional thrust vectoring with its moving nozzles. All things considered, it had  great weight-to-thrust ratio with its Lyulka AL-37FU engines providing 12 500kg thrust to a fighter weighting 17 000kg empty. 2500km/h is nothing to scoff at either, especially for its time. With fly-by-wire, the Su-37 could do very impressive vertical acrobatics that impressed attendants at airshows in 1996 and 1997.

For its armaments, the Su-37 had one 30mm cannon and 14 hardpoints to carry a range of missiles and bombs up to 6000kg. The maximum take-off weight for the fighter was 34 000kg. Later Lyulka-Saturn developed AL-31Fp thrust control engines that were able to move in both horizontally and vertically. Some Su-37 were installed with these for tests and were named Super Flankers, but the engine is more associated with Su-30 Multi-Role Flanker. In December 2002, a Su-37 crashed during a ferry flight, ending the program. The plane series never entered production, and it seems Russian air forces are emphasizing Sukhoi PAK FA as a sort of response to US’ F-22A and F-35 Lighting II.

In Muv-Luv Alternative Su-37 saw larger production and was one of the main stepping stone towards Soviet Union’s 3rd Generation TSFs, namely the Su-47 Berkut.

F-14 Tomcat
Had to use these models, never found a good coloured back image

The Terminator, as its known here, is a single-seat front line TSF. It has a brother version in Su-37UB, which was used by the Scarlet Twins Inia Sestina and Cryska Barchenowa. Anyway, the Terminator was a 2.5th generation TSF with an emphasize on Close-Combat. Sure, it carrier the usual A-97 Assault Gun, but much like its little brother, the Terminator carries Arm Blade Motors ie. Chainsaws in its arms and basically has enough Spike and Blade Vanes to give a modeller bleeding hands. It lacks proper knives to do the Knife Dance, sadly.

One thing that needs to be separately mentioned is that both Su-37 and Su-47 are very similar to each other. There are clear differences for sure, but designers at âge clearly intend to reflect the fact that Su-47 used the same tandem-tripple layout with canards and tailplanes that Su-37 would use. This leads to other interesting things like the Jump Units having two tailpods instead of one found on the real plane. Furthermore, the torsos between the two are extremely similar if not identical, which harkens back to the fact that Su-47 was originally knows as Su-37. Russians have a tendency to re-use definitions with their fighters, which honestly has caused me more than a little headache when it comes to writing this entry. While Su-47 came first in the real world, it’s very clear that Su-37 came first in BETAverse. The Terminator also is a bit poor example of fighter elements in TSFs.

One interesting thing with the Terminator is that its skirt armour has forwards pointing thrusters, which most likely adds to its maneuverability. While the Terminator was not all that impressive in Total Eclipse VN or the television series, it’s safe to say that for its time it reflects the real world counterpart in how agile beast it is. The differences between 3rd and 2.5th generation TSFs is not all that big, so it would be safe to say that the Terminator could give early 3rd gen TSFs run for their money. That is, if the US surface pilots aren’t dicks and stay in stealth mode, shooting from miles away.

I also need to revise these charts at one point from ground up.

Music of the Month; Crusader

This one will be short. For a while now I’ve been emphasizing on these Music of the Month bits how I’ve been living in a period of change and how I have been busy with work. Well, let’s just say that work business has now died down, and I will be busy with other matters. That said, I will not put the blog down and will continue to do two posts per week, more if possible.

This week we recorded a podcast with Evan from the Alternative Projects and few other special guests. This is one of those special podcasts that will appear on this site, but it’s a long one and as such will take some time to edit down. It was supposed to be ready today, but I had a two-day gig again, which took all of my time.

All previous ideas from last month are still valid and on paper. I tend to play the long game. You might remember it took almost two years to make that laserdisc player review. To continue from that on, there’s is nothing new on the Muv-Luv front. Sure, Schwarzesmarken first part was just released and I have read it a bit, but it’s less relevant for the Western fan that doesn’t understand the language. What I mean is that currently the Kickstarter is at production phase, where some products are going through final revisions whereas others, like the reworked translations, are under being worked on. As such, this is pretty much the storm’s eye moment, where we went through the first part of the storm with the Kickstarter, but we still need to go through last gusts of winds.

And that spot is was worries me quite a lot. Recently you have seen some news of game companies refusing to release games in the West if they have sexy characters. Dead or Alive Extreme has been on the news for this and Koei Tecmo made an official announcement on the issue. Next to them, Idea Factory and Compile Heart have stated that they will follow the suit. This is pretty fat bullshit, and we all know it. Here’s the thing; no company or no person should be forced to censor their product for a foreign audience, especially if this product is already for teens or older.

I do understand why these companies want to avoid localisation. It’s not just about the bad press they would get, even if it really would be from limited sources like Gawker. It’s amusing to see how the US has become a hugbox where nobody’s feelings can be hurt in any way, and France is the nation that is picking up a fight. There’s also a monetary aspect, and just not having to deal with bullshit expenses is always welcomed.

Companies like XSEED have been treating their products and customers well. Degica, while a company that doesn’t put itself too much in the front, really need to be noticed. Not only they handled Muv-Luv’s Kickasterter incredibly well, but they’ve been pushing out games like Dariusburst Chronicle Saviours. Hell, Degica has been digitally publishing large numbers of shooting games, including a bit obscure titles like Judgement Silversword. Now if they could just partner with GOG to the same extent. However, I am expecting to see some level of shitstorm brewing about when Muv-Luv’s release draws near. I know NeoGAF already had issues with it, and whenever they release the patch that adds the ‘important bits’ back, things may get a bit heated. The best thing for Degica in this case would not to back on their word. After all, it’s a million dollar Kickstarter, breaking promises will affect their possible future fund raisers.

So, what’s store for us? I’ll be finishing year’s last TSF comparison, I wanted to do some more reading on it, but I feel all of it was for nothing. There’s that aforementioned podcast and then… something I need to check, I have a horrible memory. One thing I require to do is to take time for myself and make myself better at things. There most likely will be a personal entry, haven’t done one of those in a long time. Let’s have some more Keldian to lighten up the mood, shall we?

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.

ARG Podcast #1; Muv-Luv Kickstarter interview with Degica

Here it is, the promised second interview with Degica on the Muv-Luv Kickstarter.

Without further adieu, tune in;

It’s always a pleasure to talk with Mitch and Jason. They’re always aiming to answer whatever question we have for them, and this time I have to admit that I went bonkers with them. The questions were way too big in size, several lines on paper instead of focusing on making point-hitting inquiries. That’s on me, but in my defence each question tried to combine things that the fan community has been discussing for some time now.

This interview is about as long as the last one we did during test ‘cast, and these really can’t go much longer due to the schedule Degica’s Muv-Luv team is running under. You do get answers about the Kickstarter itself, how the project is being handled and some  behind-the-scenes info.

On my end, we’re not going to see much more podcasts in this blog, as we’ve come to a conclusion that keeping it related to Muv-Luv works the best for people who already follow Alternative Projects’ blog. Some special episodes excluded.

Plane elements in Tactical Surface Fighters; EuroFightas Typhoon

The canard-delta wing craft  multi-national pride Eurofighter Typhoon first flew in March 27 1994. The Typhoon began as a joint project between Great Britain,  France, Germany, Italy and Spain. As we know, France split from the group in 1985 to pursue their own fighter, which became the Rafale. The two fighters share a similar overall appearance because of their common origin.

Whatever you want to call the Typhoon, there’s no denying that the fighter is well-suited for its air dominance role with instantaneous and sustained turn rates, low wing loading, high thrust-to-weight ratio, excellent all-around vision and ease of handling. It’s two turbofans generate a combined thrust of 18 396kg, which is comparable to the F-14 Tomcat’s, but an unladen Typhoon weights half as much as the weight of an empty Tomcat. This is due to the Typhoon being constructed by using lightweight composite materials and glass fibre.

The good vision the pilot has from a Typhoon serves it’s sophisticated attack systems well, and its identification and defence systems include Infra-Red search and track, advanced medium and short-range air-to-air missiles and largely a comprehensive electronics warfare suite. Despite it lacking stealth the Typhoon can put up a tough fight, especially when you realise that it doesn’t just have chaffs and flares, but decoys as well carried on its wingtip pods.

Despite it’s intended role, the Typhoon is really an all-around multirole combat fighter. It’s basic armaments consist of one 27mm cannon and 13 hardpoints carrying up to 6 500kg of ordinance from short and medium range AAMs to wide range of stand-off weapons, bombs and rockets. It’s underside looks like they just bolted every single sort of missile and rocket they could and made it fly fast.

All this sounds good, but it could’ve been even better, if not for Germany threatening to remove themselves from the joint project in 1992 due to rising costs.

The Typhoon requires fly-by-wire system as it is aerodynamically unstable. This offers the fighter  high levels of agility, enhanced lift and reduced drag. Fly-by-wire has become standard to a large extent, which can be equated to power steering in cars. The pilots also have a relatively advanced cockpit with wide angle HUD and three monitors displaying the needed instrument information and flight data. The helmets even have a sight for the weapons, and direct voice input allows the pilot controls by talking to the fighter. That’s some serious sci-fi shit right there; Next  thing you know is that some poor bastard falls in love with their machine while fighting some strawberry jam aliens.

The British variants of the Typhoon are assembled by BAE Systems from components produced in partner countries, and partner countries have their own assembly lines in Munich, Turin and Madrid. There are numerous variants of the Typhoon, and even a navalised variant has been proposed.

Unlike the F-14 Tomcat, the TSF version of the Typhoon stands well next to its original counterpart. Numerous elements are instantly recognizable, despite the legs again being more or less based on nothing.

F-14 Tomcat
Original and image board version

Much like the fighter, the TSF EF-2000 is a fast hitting machine wielding sharpened components in almost every part of its body, which gives it an edge in engaging the BETA over American F-22A. These components also work as control surfaces during high speed maneuvers. Then you have the Euro Front only weapons: BWS-8 Flugelberte with the Germans, a goddamn axe, and the choice of weapon of the British Storm Vanguards, the BWS-3 Great Sword that’s made so insanely over the top that it’s nickname’s the Fort Slayer.

It's a ridiculous sword
It’s a damn ridiculous sword. Type 74 and Type 77 PB Blades, XCIWS-2B, BWS-8 Flugelberte are all reasonable weapons, but the BWS-3 and Falcate Sword are just way over the top, BWS-3 topping everything else

Despite all these close-combat abilities, the EF-2000 is able to carry the more or less usual GWS-9 Assault Guns, but also has the access to the absolutely bombastic Mk.57 Squad Support Gun, which is essentially a high-mobility support gun for the TSFs. While the US doctrine is to shoot everything and most others combine traditional armour forces with the aforementioned traditional forces, the Euro Front employs the Mk.57 with its TSFs to support each other, freeing thanks and others to stay at defensive positions. With the range of over 20km and high mobility of the EF-2000, the Mk.57 has made its impact.

093
Outside the GAU-8 Avenger the A-10 carries, this gun is the best gun ever. Then again, the A-10 is a TSA and not a TSF

What more to add? While visually the real life fighter is a bit dull, the TSF is absolutely spot-on.

ARG Test Cast #T05; TV Vulture

The fifth test podacst is up and ready to be listened to. The topic we cover is television culture and the differences between nations. We got few first here too, as Kevin from the Alternative Projects joins us and we have a guest to fulfil an empty spot. We also start with a newsbit about the Muv-Luv stuff that has been going on.

The song at the end is the intro for the TV show MacGyver.

This being the fifth one, we’re going to go on a hiatus and see what works and what doesn’t. Feedback would be appreciated, overall speaking. Otherwise we’d be on an empty base. I’m not sure if we should concentrate on one theme only, like Muv-Luv, as that would be a subject that would be burnt through relatively fast. You’ve most likely also noticed that we’ve yet another provider change, hopefully our last.

There’s not much to add. We will most likely do a celebratory podast or a live stream on Youtube when the Muv-Luv Kickstarter begins, but depending how things go, the podcast may not be seen as updates in the future, but turned into a widget. That might work for the best, but you never know.

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.

Discussion on Muv-Luv and its Kickstarter for Western localisation, Part 2

From the last discussion I left out one bit that most of my readers probably realised I intentionally ignored. That point is whether or not there is any need to make this release an expensive one when we can already tell it will have a limited succession even if the Kickstarter actually manages to get off the ground.

To return to a previous example, The King of Braves GaoGaiGar was released with much fanfare and buzzle from the fans. However, the by the second collections sales had dropped and general interest wasn’t there. It was a clear threat that GaoGaiGar would not see a full release, but then Media Blasters cut voice acting out to please the niche audience they had.

Discotek is a company who realised that there is a niche market to cater to. They have been licensing and releasing products without much bells and whistles with success enough to encourage them to release further niche products. The same story applies to Shout! Factory. These companies have been releasing such shows like Cutie Honey, Starzinger, Captain Harlock, Gaiking and Mazinger Z. Despite the fans knowing these by heart and probably have already seen their fansubbed versions, these releases are rather barebones to the lower quality DVD cases and rather poor cover images they come with. These are cost cutting measures these customers are willing to allow in order to get an official Western release they can pay for and show support, thus perhaps getting more of the same down the line. What matters is that they are out there, officially.

However, most if not all of these lack English language. As discussed how an English dub and proper localisation are expensive ventures to do and seen something that allows everybody to get into and enjoy the product by everyone except the core purists. There is a reason why most of these cartoons have English audio as the default option; it is expected by the common consumer. When we come to Europe, certain countries expect their language to be the default option or at least have a language selection before anything else actually starts playing, including the piracy warnings. France, Italy, Germany and Spain are good examples of nations that tend to favour local releases to the point of producing unique releases just for that nation, despite some releases being pressed for a certain larger area of nations with each having a different sleeve in the cover.

Thus, while I encourage and promote as full blown English release of Muv-Luv and Muv-Luv Alternative as possible to maximise the amount of people who could possibly get into it, I also see the reasons and benefits on having a smaller scale release that would cater only to the fans. This is where we get to the whole discussion of what sort of approach the translation should have overall as we discussed in the previous post.

Mazinger Z DVD Volume 1 has a one star review that simply reads No in English. While the fans will laugh at this and purists will snicker Why would anyone want Mazinger in English?, the review does show that there are those who are willing to take the plunge even when a product is not marketed for them.

However, we can also take the discussion to another direction; whether or not the series needs or requires an English release. The fans in the West have already experiences the Visual Novels via fanpatch. Why should they feel need to purchase something they already read years ago?

We can discuss the issue of piracy and all that someday, but that’s something we need to face; there are those who will not put any money down for the English release due to the fact they’ve already read it all. However, the unofficial patch has been the best kind of advertisement for the franchise to a large extent to the point we could even argue that the current Western fandom would not exist in its current form without it.

If the core fans have already read the story through multiple times, what is there to push towards purchasing the English release? Basic consumer principle would dictate that we pay for what we consume, but this isn’t how things roll in reality. To say that all fans will fund the Kickstarter and/or purchase the English release would be naïve. If so, then striking true with the core fandom, which is rather split, becomes highly important if the larger possible audience is ignored, or raise the discussion whether or not the whole localisation should be done. The core fans have already paid for them and imported one the Japanese editions or bought them from DMM. Why bother try selling a product to a consumer base that either already has bought it elsewhere or is satisfied with the unofficial patch? Wouldn’t it be better to provide them with something they haven’t read before, like one of the sidestories or the upcoming Schwarzesmarken? After all, in Muv-Luv most Alternative timeline sidestories are able to stand on their own as separate pieces as long as the world setting is explained.

I will wage my personal opinion from here on.

I want this to happen, and I want this to have as massive release as possible all the doors open for the larger consumer crowd to step in. If it means stepping on some fans’ toes and having the company being called sellouts or whatever other names, then so be it. I am highly doubtful that the Kickstarter will go through just with the power of current fandom, but I am highly hopeful that I am proved absolutely wrong.

I am a fan and while I try to keep as objective view on issues at hand, it is highly difficult and something I can barely do. I am a fan who has bought Muv-Luv and Alternative two times around now; the original CD release for Muv.Luv and DVD release for Muv-Luv Alternative, and the Xbox 360 pack that came with Kagami Sumika figure. I have bought Kimi ga Nozomu Eien few times around, I have books and I have toys. I even have some Comiket materials. Hell, I have the Japanese Blu-Ray release of Total Eclipse and those cost me around 930€ out together. I’m not too fond of the sidestories themselves, but I’ve always been willing to give them a fair chance, just like I will give to Schwarzesmarken when it comes out.

A messy shelf out of...four, I think? I have âge materials spread all over the apartment. I even have some TSF prints on my walls, framed
A messy shelf out of…four, I think? I have âge materials spread all over the apartment. I even have some TSF prints on my walls, framed. I have an A3 F-22A hanging from the side of the bookshelf. A friend of mine who goes by the nick Daironeri jokingly calls this one shelf as the âge Altar

I can’t say that I want to see the Kickstarter and localisation done right, but I want it to be done so that there would be possibilities for future âge releases and that it would find new fans, and perhaps some of those who have never gotten into something like this before.

To put all that down here feels more or less a wrong thing to say as I break the character. Who am I, as a fan, to say how things should or should not be done?

Everything, in the end. Just like you have every right to say how you want to be catered. You are the customer, you are The God. Or perhaps in this case, you are the Creators.

Music of the Month tomorrow, I promise.

Discussion on Muv-Luv and its Kickstarter for Western localisation

When The King of Braves GaoGaiGar was licensed and localised by Media Blasters, it came out of nowhere. It was one of those things that you didn’t expect to happen due to highly niche audience in the West. It was almost suicidal attempt in terms of business, and ultimately after the first half was released the releases were put on hold. The series didn’t sell well, and when the second half was released, they dropped the English track.

Unlike how the far too many people seem to think, English dubbing and localisation is not about destroying the sanctity of the original product. It is not about disrespect. It is the very opposite. Local language dub, especially English dub in Americas, has two things to go for it. One is that it open the product to a far larger series than previously. For GaoGaiGar, if the series had been released in the late 90’s or early 00’s on TV with dub, it could’ve been relative hit. It is a children’s cartoon, and including a localised language serves this as most kids can’t read subtitles and it often takes then until second grade to be able to read fast enough to follow subtitles. It is also a cultural thing, where the language of the local is preferred. Japanese a funny language in many ways, but more importantly a foreign one that is just as impenetrable as a gray stone wall. The syntax, the vocalisations and everything is so different from English that it would take some learning to get into it.

Second thing is that an English language localisation means the product is deemed valuable enough to have one. The original 1956 and its original English release are good examples where the original product was taken, and then stepped up for the American release. It wasn’t a matter of thinking the product needed tampering or changing. It was because the product was seen as such a good movie that everybody should be able to get into it. Dubbing a new voiceover is incredibly expensive, and not to be done lightly. With low budget voice acting and tight schedule, you will get only bad results and even that takes money. Time is money, literally in this case. Renting a recording studio is very expensive and often a dub can fall short because there simply isn’t any money left to take new takes on the lines.

The American Godzilla is an excellent showcase for an adaptation that adds scenes only to emphasize a new viewpoint character for the new audience and takes nothing away from the core of the movie. The same can’t be said of Robotech, but at its core we are able to see the same thing happening. While purists will see both original American Godzilla and Robotech as butchered pieces, both of these products opened a whole new world to an audience who would absolutely love these. Robotect was a hit with children, and while the current animation fandom seems to hate it due to Harmony Gold’s Macross blocking, the older generation that was there then has the best view how much impact it had. The exact same applies to American Godzilla. It is easy to look at hindsight at these and laugh off them as half-assed attempts at bringing some product to the lowest level to appeal to the lowest common denominator.

This, of course, is bullshit. At its core it’s about language and accessibility, two things that can make or kill a product.

With Muv-Luv and Muv-Luv Alternative getting a Kickstarter in order to aim for official English language release, language becomes something that needs to be balanced carefully. The question whether or not translation team should listen to the fans on what words they like the best is something that should be avoided, the question is how well the they are able to translate and localise the terms and names so that Muv-Luv can become something even more wider audience can enjoy. Luckily, âge has official English translations on most of their more incomprehensible terms. Senjutsuhokousentouki or Senjutsuki is Tactical Surface Fighter. For Eishi we have Surface Pilot, and variants around that. There are numerous other terms and names, and you can check those from Integral Works and other materials for overall Alternative universe for further reference, but as of now Integral Works has one of the better Glossaries on subjects and terms in the series.

Another example of IW giving a direct translation for a term, this time for Senjutsuhokousentouki
Example of Muv-Luv Alternative Integral Works giving a direct translation for a term, here for Senjutsuhokousentouki

What use it would be to release these just for the fans?, some have asked. They do have a point. With the unofficial patch, more people have been enjoying the story in its English form and that release has set certain bars to the fandom and established certain terminology. However, now with official release looming about, things can be done, arguably, correctly to the letter.

Let’s use the Surface Pilot as an example. There are two options; stick with Eishi, and to stick with form of the letter and call it Surface Pilot.

For Eishi it would make sense for a Japanese character to use that term, but not for an American or French. In-universe it has intricate value to it and stands slightly separate from the overall meaning of Surface Pilot. Eishi means more or less a bodyguard, and we can argue that this term stands for all the Japanese pilots that guard the humanity. Thus, it would be logical for the Japanese characters in the franchise to use that term in their speech.

However, that’s where sticking with Surface pilot comes in. As the VNs are not dubbed into English, something that would be absolutely awesome, the translation text is that; a translation of the language. Thus, while the character may be speaking of Eishi, the translation for that particular word, in and out of universe, is Surface Pilot. Surface Pilot is also far more sensible use, as after seeing what a Tactical Surface Fighter is we can immediately see the connection between fighter pilots and surface pilots in terms of profession.

The full title of the Fortified Suit is also Surface Pilot Fortified Suit
The full title of the Fortified Suit is also Surface Pilot Fortified Suit. Notice that the Japanese text describes Eishi as a pilot of a Tactifal Surface Fighter, further giving an indication to the meaning of the Japanes word. There is also a mention of the 8 minutes of death.  Taken from Integral Works p.331

On another hand, that is an issue for a person who is aware of these issues. A personal going straight into the story has no clue of the underlying meanings of the names and terms used. Perhaps the best translation here would be idiomatic, something that conveys the core meaning of Eishi combined with the Surface Pilot. Of course, we can argue that after the term is established in the story, then there’s no problems with it. This doesn’t apply to promotional materials or such, where the term has no weight or carries no meaning without further research.

There is another dimension that the fandom brings with it; the pre-established terminology. I have seen the term pilot used far more than any other. It seems like I among few other people tend to use Surface Pilot, but as a whole simple pilot has become a standard when speaking in context. When a separation between what sort of machine is being used, then we see some using TSF pilot, Surface pilot and so forth. Thus, in English, we can say that pilot is enough in context, and when further accuracy is needed, the prefix TSF or Surface is added. In similar manner in real life we have pilots, a person who flies, pilots or controls a (flying) craft.

It should be noted that âge themselves have also established the terminology in English to a large extent. It’s another issue whether or not fans are aware of these, as most of them are found in Japanese language source books.

What I use is not indicative of what should be used. Neither is it the job of the fans to say how things should be done, thou it has to be said that at this moment 50.4% of the voters have said that they’d prefer using the term Eishi, whole the rest would use an English term or anything that works. It’s down in the middle, and I would argue that the results don’t give too strong result what to use. Yes, the half of the voters would like to use Eishi as the term, but the other half would rather see something else. We’re not going to discuss about who is the best girl or best TSF, because we all know that those are subjective matters.

While the providers are there to provide the consumers, the fans are not only the ones. Muv-Luv has possibility to be a larger hit than just with the fans it already has. However, in the West it are multiple elements that will hold it back.

One is that it is very Japanese and that alone is something that will keep people away from it. A proper, easy to approach translation and localisation drops the bar quite well, as discussed above. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, it is a Visual Novel. Visual Novels are a form of entertainment and software that are not really games, but aren’t really books or plays either. They usually need a considerable investment of time, and suffer from the stigmata of being nothing but vessels for porn. The latter isn’t really wrong either, as VNs historically were born from the need to show graphics with as little animation as possible while holding high amount of detail and quality on NEC’s PC line. At some point I read that in the 80’s people who owned PC-88 at their home were seen as dirty people who do nothing but play those porno games on their computers. As such, it understandable for anyone to want to release the All-Ages versions of the VNs. I would do that myself as well in order to maximise the possible customer base.

There’s also the issue of âge’s Engrish. I won’t hold back on any of this and directly say that all of it has to go. All of it. From the opening narration in Alternative, where they find HUMAN BRAINS to the patches saying Valkylies. While I recognize that this is an issue they can’t help to some extent, the fact is that these points just don’t fly when doing a proper translation and localisation. âge is able to modify these to the extent in fixing these, and making the changes should not be too hard or time consuming. However, they are a detail that everyone and their mothers will notice and it needs to be taken into account. The fans will laugh and take them as a nice joke and so forth, but the larger consumer group will only see these bits as large flaws that could have been corrected.

IW p.225; All members of the Valkylies group in as seen in Alternative. The whole L and R thing is known in Japanese and should be corrected in the CGs as well
IW p.225; All members of the Valkylies group in as seen in Alternative. The whole L and R thing is known in Japanese and should be corrected in the CGs as well

With that we come to the point where the fans really need to sit back and watch. Whenever something like this with a strong cult following may have its chance, the community may be a detrimental value. Or rather, the communities. For Muv-Luv there doesn’t exist one large wholesome family of fans, but separate sects. 4chan is a microcosm example of this, with the /m/echa, /a/nime and /jp/ boards having widely different nature of discussion and points of view. When you jump to different site altogether, you get completely different views on what should be and should not be.

With Japanese language we of course have the argument whether or not honorifics should be used. At the baseline, a good translation will not use them, and adding nonsensical words in English makes little to no sense. A person with no knowledge on Japanese will have no idea why the hell people are called senpais or kuns, and there are proper guidelines how to translate these. Some creativity needs to be used to convey the more exotic pet honorifics, but that’s not the largest challenge when it comes to translation.

When Mega Man X8 was being made, CAPCOM wanted the fans to be involved with its development. There were polls, discussion and questions what should and shouldn’t be. I never saw any results in any of it in the final product, but I need to question the validity in there. With Legends 3 a whole new level of transparency was added to the development, but in the end the game was never made and can’t say how much the fans would’ve had to say about the end product outside selected enemy designs and polls for character designs.

There are other examples where things have been less than successful when a provider has directly asked What you want. Tomato sauce Ragu and Pepsi are another examples of this. It is always better to observe and see what the consumer really wants, and more importantly, what they need.

Lastly, the issue of Kickstarter and Steam. Long time readers know my stance on Steam and on Valve’s practices. However, I fully recognize that digital release is the only proper way to get any of âge’s products localised nowadays. GOG version has been said to be on the to-do list, a thing that is greatly welcomed. However, all this discussion may be for nothing if the Kickstarter fails, and Kickstarter is a thing a lot of people simply hate. Some fans have already mentioned how this will be their first Kickstarter. They are willing to support the product, and I find that very heart warming. However, depending on how much money they require for the localisation and release is something that may ultimately doom this. Muv-Luv and Alternative, after all, are products many has already enjoyed and may not be willing to give money for an actual release. Then again, with Kickstarter there is a possibility to offer physical copies of the Visual Novels to those who have funded certain tier. I will be honest with you; if such tier exist, I will be putting money down for it.

This post reflects more or less how I feel about the possibility of getting Muv-Luv release here in the West as an observer and as a fan. There is validity to all sides of arguments I’ve tried to cover here, and I’ve most likely missed a whole lot more. I may spin this off into a separate series of its own and use a new page for future âge related stuff to categorise things better. For some time I’ve been having a feeling for a need to separate fan content from the actual content of the blog, despite the two overlapping each other to a large degree.

I don’t know what the future holds. It’s apparent that âge has recognized the Western, non-Japanese fandom in a way they never have before, and that’s a new page on the history of the franchise. Kimi ga Nozomu Eien was a story that had no growth possibilities, but it still stands their best story. Muv-Luv Alternative on the other hand is all about pontetial growth and expansion. Let’s hope it’ll expand to the West and support that as much as possible.

 As a sidenote, this was supposed to be Music of the Month post, but it got way too long for to be one. We’ll get back to that later on.