To preface this review, I do have a bias for Schwarzesmarken as a fan of Muv-Luv overall. However, because of this bias I’ve decided to approach this series from the point of view that it is a singular entity without any ties to pre-existing franchises. This decision also stems from the fact Schwarzesmarken was marketed with that title alone without any naming connections to Muv-Luv. Within the fiction there is no pretence about the connection, and one can only guess why this decision was ultimately applied. Whatever the case may be, the show still needs to stand on its own and deliver a solid show for a positive review.
To expand upon the series needing to stand on its own, this review could compare Schwarzesmarken to the Light Novels and the Visual Novel, and to Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse. This wouldn’t allow the work to present itself as it is. A comparison between different versions of Schwarzesmarken is worthy of its own post altogether.
A television series is a different beast to literal works. Total Eclipse is a lot of people’s first experience with the franchise and Schwarzesmarken served the same role to some extent. Because of this, in this review, I won’t hold against the staff for the changes that were made during the adaptation. Whatever is on the screen and how it is conveyed to the viewer are the only things that matters, supplemental and source materials be damned.
This’ll be more or less in-line with the Kimi ga Nozomu Eien and Muv-Luv posts I’ve done. Expect a general outline of the whole series with commentary running along with it. Not the best way to make a review, but never thought I’d go over this episode-by-episode basis. Expect loads of terrible jokes to boot. If you want a short tl;dr version, you can slip straight to the end paragraphs.
Now that you know where this review will have its base stance on regarding the series, let’s start with the show.
What, did you expect something Christmas themed this year? I’ve been on a Gundam W mood lately, been popping this in from time to time
So, what should I discuss this time? Things haven’t changed since last Music of the Month, so there’s that. Busy, tightly scheduled and all that. On top of all that, my apartment saw a water damage from one of the new pipes they installed, meaning I had to move to a new place for the time being, thou luckily I didn’t have to move all of my stuff. Then again, all my books, materials and whatnot are now in the apartment in the middle of being fixed, meaning I don’t have access to planned things and so on. Sucks to be me, I know.
On the flip side, the Director’s Cut patch for Muv-Luv on Steam got released, and you non-backers can pick it up from Denpasoft, if you’re a dirty old pervert like me. Feels like I’ve been talking less and less about Muv-Luv in general, but not by choice, not completely. I would like to write more about the franchise, but I always want to use time to form up something worthwhile. However, time’s a luxury now. The same could be said of my certain mental facilities, but that’s a story for another time.
Anyway, because I can’t read Schwarzesmarken as I am now, the TV-show’s review has been delayed. Because it took me a year to roll out a review of sorts for Total Eclipse‘s TV version, I’ll aim to rewatch Schwarzesmarken during Christmas and new Year’s holidays and roll a similar entry out around January. Much like with Total Eclipse, it will be taken as-is as a separate entity without ties to the source light novels or the VN. We’ll see if I do anything about the VN yet, which is probable to some extent.
In terms of video games for the year, I’ve already compiled a list of preliminary Top 5 of 2016, like usual, but now that I’ve looked back, there’s a not a whole lot I could do a mini-review out of. However, there should be at least two surprising entries on the list.
Speaking of lists, I waged through The Game Awards and it was terrible. The show was terrible to begin with. They had dedicated more time towards ads and skits instead of talking about games themselves, the choices of award winners and categories were questionable at best, not to mention when people on the stage also had their hands in selection and creation of games, mobile and handheld games lumped in the same category and again all Japan-only games were ignored. The show has become terribly irrelevant to the consumers and is nothing less than industry wanking itself off.
There are no plans for this month, I’m afraid. That means pretty much all posts that you’ll get for the time being will be rather ex tempore, which might affect their coherence, I’m afraid. I do have few idea nuggets polishing in the back of my head, but nothing that could kick off a Monthly Three. Unless you want me to talk about welding. Perhaps for 2017 I’ll plan each month’s themed entries out beforehand and start working on them as soon as possible. Whether or not that would be preferable is something only the readers can answer. Then again, if I write around eight entries in a month, six of them would be themed; Monthly Music, three Monthly Threes, a review and a mecha design post. That’s not a lot of room for other stuff if I want to keep this two posts per week rhythm. A second pair of hands would probably do this blog some good.
This month’s proper review will probably the Dual Shock 4 controller, because I caved in a picked myself a PS4 for some of the upcoming games, including Super Robot Wars V. That reminds me that at least one subject reserved for this month is BanCo’s Asian English translations based on Super Robot Wars OG Moon Dwellers and SD Gundam G Generation Genesis.
And oh, Drill Juice is doing Getter Robo Pai, a mahjong themed Getter Robo comic. Being a fan of all three, I expect it to be titillatingly bombastic. Here’s hoping they will make a proper mahjong tile set based on the comic, I could use a new set.
Let’s dedicate this post to the changes that I need to make things viable again and what that means for my own time use and this blog. First, I won’t be dropping the two posts per week pace, that’s something I won’t back out on, unless something significant keeps me from doing it. The reason for this is that realistically I can’t make a living in my current profession. Craftsmen are not valued to any significant extent and their craft or skills are face the same end. The same tends to go towards designers across the board, and if you can’t make the right connections, there’s not much you can do. As such, I’ve taken a drastic decision to re-educate myself for a profession where I can utilise my previous experiences. To what exactly is something I will leave for the time being.
This means I don’t have much time in my hands. The aim is to go through three to four years of studies in one. That is stupidly fast pace, which requests me to concentrate my efforts and resources elsewhere. However, the nature of this blog won’t change too much if any because of this. Rather, I expect it to add further depth as I get more familiar with certain aspects of… well, that’s the open bit for you.
This is also the reason why there has been no new podcast for some time now. Not only the translator staff is busy at their own with both Muv-Luv related matters but also with their personal stuff. Juggling the schedules together has become exponentially more difficult, and sudden changes in what happens and when will become a daily thing to yours truly, at least. ARG is not killed, it’s just biding its time. The same thing really applies to the idea of my voice blogs, as I noticed that producing those in the way I’d like them to takes about four times longer than just writing. Maybe I should just do a stream of thought without a script, but how that would come together nobody knows.
Winter’s arrived here, meaning that while snow is still a scarce, cold weather has arrived and things slow down to take things with certain sure and safe pace. It also means Schwarzesmarken‘s second VN has been released, which means I can read both VNs in one go and watch the animated series. I’ve pushed the whole review thing back for almost a year now because I want to have a proper perspective on both of them without being influenced by hype or other views. Needless to say, both the VN and animation needs to stand on their own two feet, and comparisons between the two can be made. However, it should be noted that the two were made based on the Light Novels, which essentially served as a base script more than anything else. The animation changes things around to fit in the allotted time, while the VN has a lot more time and space just to dwell into things. That’s just the nature of the mediums.
There was no Monthly Three last month as those take a lot of reading and planning. It may not seem like that, but they really take their sweet time to come together, and I usually plan all three parts in one go. Exceptions happen, of course. The same applies to the whole mecha design things. I do intend to write a TSF comparison this month, which will also serve as the month’s mecha design post. I haven’t decided which one, I need to check what images I have in stash and what I can get. However, for the time being, I do not intend to force myself to do a Monthly Three, unless a subject pops up towards me. Of course, I could use that for the mecha design stuff. Speaking of mecha posts, the post Three Different Approaches in mecha design will get a complete rewrite at some point in the future, and the old one will be replaced with that. However, I will archive that older version for future.
I will most likely insert few personal posts about games on smart phones. This is because my old Nokia finally went bust and I had to purchase a new one. This post, or posts if I end up making multiple, will be observations about mobile gaming in contrast to e.g. handheld console gaming.
I admit that lately this blog has not been up to the standard I’d like to think it has stayed at for a long time now. A lot of news and events that I wanted to write about have come and gone, but my time and simple stamina have been used to a more pressing matters. As said, if I were paid to write, I’d take this more seriously. This is more or less a hobby. Sometimes it stresses, sometimes it feel almost cathartic.
For now, I’ll have to leave you with this, despite it leaving me with a lacklustre feeling. I need to fix my tyres, somebody had slashed them the other night along with seven other’s.
Consider your hand. You control all those 27 bones through muscles and tendons. The nerves give you feedback and send your commands down the like, commands that you are not even conscious of. Twist your hand, and you see it twisting. The large muscles come through the skin, but all the fine motion is lost unless we specifically look for it. It can grab and hold things in a wide variety of positions and ways, some that we don’t even know before someone else teaches that. These hands can build and destroy in equal amounts, they are our the tools of our creations.
Transferring that to a giant robot is a bit of a hassle.
Much like with a lot of other direct transfer elements with human body and giant robots, adapting hands 1:1 is an easy concept for sure. The idea of similar multi-use manipulator is attractive from the get go, but depending on the setting, human-like hands might not be the best option. A human-like hand requires far more parts, development, maintenance and simple tech than a say a pincer or more simple manipulator. Of course, the main argument for having a hand for a giant robot is its versatility, especially when it comes to weapons. However, that’s something that could be easily done with hardpoints where weapon is being mounted. We should also question how versatile does the hand of a giant mecha be, especially for a war machine.
Broadly speaking, all human-like hands with mecha follow the same basic idea, there isn’t much deviation. It’s either smooth or cubic. Using this example from a VF-19 serves as a good showcase.
While it looks complex, it’s more about the layered elements that make it look complex. Inner functions are of course barely thought, they’re not important. The fact that it looks like it could work and has plausible design elements, like the knuckle guard and fingers’ segments layer on top of each other when bent, is more than enough. Studio Nue has always preferred rounder elements to their design (sometimes dubbed as Bubble hands), especially with their older works. In Gundam, Sunrise and Bandai have preferred using more cubic hands, although exceptions are aplenty.
The above generic Mobile Suit manipulator was designed for the models, but seeing how Bandai and Sunrise design their mechas models in mind nowadays, it’s a good example of a hand that’s more or less designed for wielding a gun and a beam sabre. It’s a bit more straightforward than VF-19’s, less well-rounded. The question of course is, if this hand is largely made for weapon carrying, why isn’t it designed as such?
The answer is, of course, because of Rule of Cool. When mechas are designed as characters, they’ve almost always given large amount of human characteristics in order to showcase dramatic events. Hands are no different in this. Beam sabre battles would be less dramatic and interesting if the manipulator would be specifically designed holder than a hand.
Controlling a hand like this has basically three options, direct 1:1 input, control macros or brain wave input. Variations and combinations do apply. While a “glove controller” would be idea, that’s pretty much what you do then with that arm. It’ dedicated for that arm, and the rest of the controls are either automatic or left other arm or legs. We discussed control macros previously, and this is most likely the best option overall, if brain wave scanning tech is not available in your setting.
Designing mecha’s hand really isn’t anything hard; just look at your own and mechanise it. Give it details for something to grab attention and some panels for easy access.
Giant robots don’t really have a need for similar level of sophistication when it comes to their hands, a simple grasping arm should be enough with some level of modification to suit the needed purpose. Hardpoints add a lot of versatility as well.
Of course, fiction doesn’t need to play by the rules of reality all that much, and if technology is advanced enough in a fiction to produce these things, why not? They could of course build better and simpler manipulators, but sometimes you do seek more complex solution for the sake of all the options it could give you. A gripping manipulator above doesn’t really offer many ways to grasp a thing.
Some franchises mix human-like hands with specifically designed manipulators, Muv-Luv popping to my mind foremost.
Another one would Mobile Suit Z Gundam‘s The O with its assisting manipulators underneath its skirt. These manipulators question why would The O even need human-like hands, when the three-prong manipulator does everything they do. The answer to this is, of course, because the human design does not use that sort of hand. In a way, mecha in general should always be contrasted to armoured knights of legends, but that’s another topic.
Hands are ultimately something that Japanese inspired mecha design does. For giant robots, America has always preferred more built-in options. MegaBot’s Mark II is a good example of this.
American vision usually attached the weaponry onto a pre-fixed arm that may have some freedom of motion to it, but is always more dependent on the movements of the main body. Compare this to Suidobashi Heavy Industry’s Kuratas and the difference in approach is notable.
The idea of having this built-in approach and lack of manipulators is just as valid. While it lessens on-the-fly options and puts some limitations, it eliminates loads of moving parts that would require maintenance. The most prominent film example of this sort of thing would be our good old friend, ED-209.
Unlike with mechas with arms and manipulators, you can see ED-209 guns are its arms with no manipulators, as it needs none. It’s a robust little connector that looks sturdy and serves only to take the beating from the cannon’s recoil and swivel enough to shoot whoever full of holes.
Keep an eye to hands you see in mecha films and shows. Take notice how they are portrayed and how they function. Rarely you will see them doing things outside the capabilities of human hands, and showcasing how they are actually controlled is even rarer. Sometimes they take advantage of what a machine hand can do, like how ∀ Gundam washes clothes by rotating its wrist 360-degrees in repetition.
Schwarzesmarken has been and will be compared to Total Eclipse no matter what. The two currently represents the only animated pieces that Muv-Luv currently has, and both are based a light novel source to an extent. The major difference the two have when it comes to the animation staff is that Total Eclipse was reported to have a team consisting of newcomers, mostly. Schwarzesmarken on the other hand seemed to have a team that already had a working history, and the director had his hands in Kimi ga Nozomu Eien adaptation, a thing that shows through if you know where to look from.
Type-94 wrote a worthy post on Schwarzesmarken, and I don’t personally feel a need to repeat too much what he said. You should read his piece as well, if you haven’t by this point.
The largest difference between Muv-Luv Alternative Total Eclipse is that it was a character piece, but the way it portrayed its characters and how directly it adapted scenes that made sense in text form just looked awful on television, and largely were not fun to watch. To some this was an element that could be overlooked as the characters provided the main interest point, and Total Eclipse has a fanbase of its own. Certain sections felt too rushed compared to the rest of the series, and similar thing has been echoed with Schwarzesmarken.
With Schwarzesmarken there’s not much you can do. You have twelve episodes to go through seven books of story and then some. Tetsuya Watanabe, the director, already had experience in adapting Kimi ga Nozomu Eien’s story into tighter package and it shows. Whereas KGNE played out the strengths of the characters better than Total Eclipse, Schwarzesmarken is aired between the first and second visual novels. A reasoning has been made that this has allowed Watanabe to portray the events in a documentary-like fashion, where the events are more worth than the characters. They play out beat by beat, leaving less time for the characters to grow out. After all, Schwarzesmarken’s strengths are laid in the events and in its politics. Not to downplay the characters, but the whole setting Schwarzesmarken trumps over the characters in interest.
Total Eclipse’s first two episodes should’ve been a standalone television movie. It’s an excellent action piece with honest moments that resonate with the viewer. It not only explained the world, but also the themes and atmosphere the series would have, perhaps even franchise wide. Schwarzesmarken’s intro to the world is short and to the point; these events happened, this is the situation. It doesn’t waste in showcasing too much how people live or why things are like they are, the exact opposite Total Eclipse did. Granted, Muv-Luv has become far more mainstream, and Alternative’s setting has become somewhat known when it comes to niche franchise, and thus Schwarzesmarken didn’t need to have any sort of expanded introduction.
Total Eclipse eased watchers into the show, and then kicked in with whatever it had. Schwarzesmarken on the other hand just kicked in.
Schwarzesmarken being a sort of documentary piece that rolls onwards, it keeps things tight and fast. Some may call it rushed, but that is giving it too little credit. Yes, it is fast paced and each episode seems to be packed to the brim to give as much important events to the viewer in the allotted time as possible. I feel that this is not a show to marathon, as its pace is tiring to some extent, and the constant advanced beat of the show may just irritate in one go. One the other hand, Total Eclipse has ruts that look like nothing’s happening because they’re not shown, tiring the watcher with Yuuya’s near constant catchphrase.
Visually speaking, Schwarzesmarken looks pretty for a budget show. It clearly has a higher budget and the designs are pretty, ranging from almost classical Muv-Luv hair to very down to earth look. I have to especially mention the eyes, as they have slightly too thick look in the series compared to the illustrations, but they give each character a lot of personality and soul, something that’s lacking in many other modern shows. I may be a nostalgia goggles wearing 80’s-loving guy, but I do admit that current Japanese animation looks superbly beautiful, even at its lowest point. That’s the CG magic working for you.
Generally speaking, thus far during these six episodes Schwarzesmarken has looked better than Total Eclipse in general, but we’re still halfway through. A review on the series at this point would be largely meaningless, unless it was done episode-by-episode basis.
Discussion whether or not Schwarzesmarken is a good adaptation will come up like with it did with Total Eclipse. However, I do feel that Total Eclipse was the bad end of the stick on the long run, and it should be allowed to stand on its own legs more. Because of how Total Eclipse was received, I made a conscious decision not to read on Schwarzesmarken to the same extent. I was intending to read the first visual novel with the series, but that idea got scrapped a bit too fast due to issues. I’m still intending to stream it one of these days. I do believe each product should be taken as their own piece, be it book, movie or a television adaptation. Comparing each of them between each other and how they handle their characters can’t be directly compared without some allowances, and it’s not uncommon to prefer the first version you go through. Each version most likely changes things around, and under Watanabe’s direction Schwarzesmarken has combined some events into a smaller package, forgoing some events altogether and giving emphasize to others. To some changes like this is irksome, they expect a direct adaptation without any changes. Others expect adaptations to change to fit whatever medium they and allotted time they are given, and yours truly expects this approach.
Schwarzesmarken is all about the setting and the events, much like how Gundam W is more about the music and political struggle rather than about the Gundam pilots. Whether or its somewhat unconventional approach will be good enough to carry the series to good ratings is an open question at this point. Of course, the home release and merchandise sales will ultimately tell whether or not the show was successful. Generally, the current reception has been generally good.
I’ve enjoyed Schwarzesmarken thus far, but for different reasons than with Total Eclipse. Total Eclipse was more or less a show that had possibly good character moments and there a lot of those, but they’re mucked down. The writing is not the best, and it’s chock full of anime references that most people are not aware of, ranging from Gundam 0083 Stardust Memory to Ranma ½, from Saint Seiya to Macross. In that sense, it’s more traditional Muv-Luv than Schwarzesmarken, which has less otaku filling references and more about the history, which to some gives it more legitimacy as a standalone series.
I had a bias for Total Eclipse when it aired, but for some reason I’m lacking one for Schwarzesmarken. Buying the TE Blu-Ray’s Japanese release was a political decision on my part at the time, but with current atmosphere I may not need to do that. I think I’ve been rambling a bit too much without anything solid to say, outside It’s an adaptation, don’t expect it to play the same instruments as the original piece. This doesn’t even apply to Muv-Luv, as the light novels served more a basis or as a first draft for the final product that are the visual novels. The animations more or less work as a driving force to get people into the series and spread awareness of the franchise until… well, that’s for another time. Total Eclipse’s animation had a bullshit ending, I think we all can agree on that, but as long as Schwarzesmarken keeps itself tight as it has, it will have a proper ending that will close the series with a satisfying result. Of course, the second visual novel will have an extended ending.
I’ll be putting a similar sort-of review for Schwarzesmarken when the series is over in similar fashion what I did with Total Eclipse. In the meanwhile, I need to pick up some TSF for as comparison sometime soon.
Let’s point out that the English name of this TSF can be disputed. In Japanese, the name is アリゲートル, Arigeetoru. The little Russian I know, it should be written as Аллигаторы, or Alligatory. Seeing how no other TSF name is plural, I’m going to use my own head here and assume my ass out that its name was supposed to be Alligator, Аллигатор. It’s not uncommon to see âge misspelling names, like Schwarzesmarken or Valkylies.
The MiG-27 inherited the same basic airframe the MiG-23 had, but got a revised nose. It was first introduced to the service as MiG-23B as the ground attack variant of MiG-23, and after initial runs it saw some additional changes. Flogger-D, as NATO designated it, serves as battlefield attacker and thus these changes accommodated its role. Both sides of the cockpit are protected from small arms fire and frontal view was increased. New terrain-avoidance radar and nav/attack systems were installed to give the pilot the edge they’d need.
MiG-23 and MiG-27 were one of the first swing-wing fighters with three sweep settings; 16-degrees for take-off, 45-degrees for cruising and 72-degrees for high performance flight. Sukhoi would continue using swing-wing in its fighters down the line. Sadly, it would seem this variable geometry configuration is more or less obsolete nowadays now that relaxed stability flight controls systems have negated most of the disadvantages the fixed platform fighter had. That, and it takes much fewer resources to designs and maintain solid fighters with no variable control surfaces.
The Tumanksy R-29B-300 turbojet engine the MiG-29 uses gives it a respectable thrust of 11 500kg. The fighters’ empty weight is 11 300kg with a maximum take-off weight at 20 300kg. The armaments are respectable, having one 30mm cannon in the belly pod with seven pylons for missiles and rockets up to 4000kg, including nuclear carry capability. Nevertheless, MiG-27 was in production almost three decades until 1997 with around 4000 units build. It is a potent fighter with ceiling of 14 008m, range of 1080km and climb rate of 12 007m per minute, the MiG-27 can be still found serving different airforces around the world due to Soviets and Russians importing it to countries like Cuba, Iraq, Afghanistan and India.
Overall, a classic fighter, but I’m still partial for MiG-21.
I’m always surprised how tightly knit MiG variants are, but ultimately that showcases how it’s not feasible to have a fighter that would excel in all roles. As such, I’ve noticed how TSFs are either shooty or knify, but the ones trying to do both don’t really stand out at all. TSAs on the other hand stand apart from their TSF brethren just fine.
While the MiG-27 is variant of MiG-23, it’s TSF version is more or less an upgraded standalone version, and its performance and changes made to the frame were supposedly significant enough to give it a separate designation. The two look pretty much the same, having only one or two actually important changes, like on the arms and in certain details here and there, like on the knees and on the holes of the shoulder armours neat the head.
The Alligator uses nicely surfaces and elements from the MiG-27 fighter. It’s more inspired than some other TSFs and has instantly recognizable, boxy look to it. The groin guard is a relatively unique in that it encompasses more elements than just the fighter’s nose. The head isn’t anything special, but I would argue the shapes on top of the head are inspired by the point where the variable wings are attached to the fuselage. The shoulders and arms should’ve been just a tad slimmer to follow the surprising thin nature of MiG-27, but overall there’s a healthy amount of plane elements in there, especially in the line language, mixed with TSF original materials, notably in the legs.
It would appear that close-combat focused TSFs function as equivalents for ground attack fighters. As such, the Alligator has a larger Soviet Army Combat Knife for better BETA cutting power. I’m not sure how this translates as better close combat capabilities, as the Alligator doesn’t have any more sharp points on its armour than its predecessor, Cheburashka. It’s got the WS-16 Assault Cannon and the same DS-3 MPSA shield MiG-21’s use. I guess it’s just quicker and more nimble than its predecessor, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into better performance at close range. That translates into better performance overall.
Much like the real life MiG-27, the Alligator is supposedly still in action during the events of Alternative, making about 40% of Soviet Surface Fighter forces. It’s a competent, basic TSF that doesn’t do anything too fancy, but has the basics down just fine for a Second Generation TSF. It’s direct descendant MiG-29 Ласточка/Lastochka/Swallow and MiG-29OVT Fulcrum do everything the Alligator did and then some more while still staying in the range if Second Generation TSFs.
Of course, Su-37 and Su-47 would totally eclipse the MiG-27 in their time in terms of performance, close combat capabilities and fire power.
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.
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…
…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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
When discussing Tactical Surface Fighters designs both in and out of universe perspective, we have two points that we have to notice that absolutely breaks the previously discussed basis for the core ideas of TSF designs. These two points are the early first generation TSFs and late third generation TSFs. We’ll concentrate on first generation TSFs and direct descendants of the F-4 lines that share similar design points this time and return to late Third generation and F-5 line at a later date.
The first mass produced Tactical Surface Fighter, the F-4 Phantom, is an awesome, heavy piece of shit that set the standard in which its immediate predecessors would follow. This is due to TSF being mainly one line of design that branches off to multiple directions rather than multiple lines of designs you see e.g. in Mobile Suit Gundam with its Zakus and GMs. That’s where the argument that TSFs look the same falls short and has some basis at the same time, as the TSF tech tree is more comparable to GM or Zaku tech tree than the whole variety of designs from multiple points.
The early TSFs mirror this very well. The F-4 is a basis the rest 1st Generation Surface Fighters simply modify. The Soviet Union MiG-21 Balalaika and Japanese Type-82/F-4 Modified Zuikaku are good examples how the basic design of the F-4 was taken a step further while still basically using the same core frame and design. This is also why, to certain degree, the discussed observable rules of TSF design does not apply to them fully. The exceptions here are F-5 Freedom Fighter and the line it gives birth to. This is to give a consistent line of evolution to the tech tree. We are ignoring plane elements in this post, as the focus is set how all and any early First generation designs we may get in the future has to adhere to certain things F-4 has laid down, except if it follows the F-5 line.
While the F-4 essentially has a whole family of variants that look different only in weapon loadout and paint on the chassis, the Soviet’s spun their versions, the F-4R , into development of MiG-21. In real world the fighter was only nicknamed Balalaika, but here it seems to hold as its official name for whatever reason. Anyway, the MiG-21’s design stands very close to the progenitor F-4 while streamlining some components. The MiG-21 was designed to enter and exit combat at higher speeds than the F-4 as well as engage in melee combat. As such, the MiG-21 follows multirole ideology for a surface fighter rather than just sticking the American doctrine to shoot or nuke everything that moves from afar.
Needless to say, it tickles some funnybone I have to think how Russian and Chinese TSFs have direct elements from F-4 because of all this.
While the silhouettes between F-4 and MiG-21 are similar, the key differences are in the aforementioned smoother design. The head has seen mostly changed from chin up. The grooved sides have been replaced with much more low-key sides, whereas the top has an additional communications antennae. MiG-21PF has a different antennae found in the forehead and a smaller rudder-like at the back of the head. This versions was produced in more limited numbers and was designed to function where heavy metal clouds would interfere with communication. We’ll be seeing some of this unit in Schwarzesmarken.
The torso and shoulder units between F-4 and MiG-21 govern both Surface Fighter’s to a large extent and the two are basically the exact same. The only difference the arms have is the change in the angle of the knife housing, the so-called Blade Sheaths. Outside that the two could be switched without anyone noticing the difference outside paint application.
Legs are the point where you can see designers dropping the first heavy armouring the F-4 has. The smoother and more streamlined legs also mean that the weight has been distributed higher in the Surface Fighter, a trend that would continue with most mainline designs, at least visually. There’s few interesting points going on with the F-4’s feet with those additional support pieces both sides of the calves, something that no other new design that wasn’t a direct F-4 variant didn’t use. We can assume that this is both a slight remnant of YSF4H-1, the prototypical test piece that was developed into F-4. That, and the fact that F-4 was most likely heavy enough to warrant these pieces to need additional weight distribution.
J-8 being a MiG-21 variant shares the same body, it just has a new head. The J-8 was also optimised for close combat and thus the Type-77 Close Combat Battle Halberd was born. The J-8 doesn’t strike as a close combat unit, but combined with the Type-77’s heavy topped cleaver it could easily strike down even a Fort-Class. Whereas the Type-74 PB Blade Japanese use should be mainly used with two hands as per the whole katana thing it has going on, the Type-77 CRBH’s heaviness allows a good striking power with just one hand. The recovery time is worse thou due to the very same reason, but it is a preference between power and balance. I can see a J-8 doing TSF kung-fu and doing precise strikes to take down any and all BETA with one large swing. Then again, the the Type-74 PB Blade is depicted to go through BETA like knife through hot butter, so we can assume Type-77 CRBH does that, just better with heavier swings.
The MiG-23 spun the MiG line to its own unique direction with elements fusing elements from the F-4’s line, especially from F-18 Hornet and F-15 Eagle, leaving Zuikaku as the last unit that uses clear elements of the F-4 line. Whenever we get to Su-37 Terminator in the TSF comparisons, we’ll have to take account similarities with the F-15.
However, let’s return to Zuikaku for now. TSF Type-82 Zuikaku is essentially a variant of F-4J Gekishin, a variant of F-4 Phantom itself. As such, Zuikaku is essentially just a modified piece of a modified piece and it shows. Zuikaku’s design follows the F-4 nicely with new twists. The head unit is still the same with additional rudder shoved at top back of its head and rabbit ear winglets at the sides.
The torso is overall the same, with the hole replaced with a line on its chest. I haven’t seen any explanations what these are, but seeing how TSF cockpits are closed with no windows, they’re most likely just interesting pieces of design to break the monotony on the chest. Zuikaku also has additional intakes just below and before its armpits.
Zuikaku’s shoulders overall follow the F-4 line. However, there’s some extra armouring to hold thrusters. Outside that, the overall design is the same. The energy indicators are of different design, but that’s a small change. Arms still use the stock F-4 pieces with slightly elongated Blade Sheaths, but then again they are the lightest and most effective pieces F-4 had. It’s interesting to notice that Second generation TSF have relatively lightly designed arms, and the Third generation then returns to the heavy handed designs.
The F-4 line always had thunder thighs for legs, and Zuikaku follows the suit. While the Zuikaku strips some bells and whistles off from the F-4, the most important change is with the lack of extra supports in the calves. This would signify to us that Zuikaku is lighter than the rest of the F-4 line. This is due to Japanese being unable to realize their own original design and had to opt to take combat data from European Fronts from the late 70’s, and modify existing units to emphasize close combat similar to J-8. Naturally, the output was also higher, allowing the Zuikaku follow the set Japanese doctrine of hack n’ slash with some shooting in there. However, despite it being a good upgrade over the base F-4, it still suffers from being based on that heavy frame. Shiranui and Fubuki are early Third Generation TSFs, and it took Japanese that long to realize their own design that would serve them as they saw fit. During that time the Americans and Soviets had produced their own designs by large loads, while Europe mostly opting to importing those and making modifications to those as needed.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.