Wednesday, 27 June 2012


The news is out, and it's looking a bit iffy. Muv Luv is getting an anime adaptation courtesy of the same guy who brought us such steaming brown gems as Desert Punk and Rosario + Vampire. Thankfully, this isn't the original Visual Novel trilogy and mecha fan favourite. No, this adaptation will concern the spinoff manga Total Eclipse. You might say we've dodged a bullet in a way, but I'm still a bit disappointed. If there's one Visual Novel series that deserves a proper anime adaptation and would most likely destroy everything for the next half decade, it's the Muv Luv trilogy. The clock is ticking, and there isn't much time left before TE airs in Area 11 July 1st, taking over Aquarion EVOL's newly vacated 1.30am timeslot. Over the next few days I'm going to review the original trilogy and in the process hopefully answer why it's garnered such a loyal fanbase. Let's begin!

Muv Luv is a hard sci-fi/mecha epic that owes just as
much to Starship Troopers as it does any Gundam series.
More brutal than most, it deals with the ravenous ebbing
tides of war, courage, loss and time itself. Eventually.
Being that I am still relatively new to Visual Novels, it wouldn't exactly come as much of a surprise to know that I'd only first come across Muv Luv less than 1 year ago. October 2011, to be precise. I had just finished my first ever visual novel, G Senjou no Maou, and was looking for more. Like someone coming off of Death Note or Bebop wondering if anything at all could EVER top that, I was truly in the market for VNs with no idea where to start. If I could find ANYTHING enjoyable to read, I would be on top of the world. Perusing /m/ not long after, a thread was well underway asking users to list what they thought were the best/most important mecha franchises and series' of the decade just passed. Among the usual Eureka Seven, Gurren Lagann and Code Geass mentions, one name kept popping up that everyone seemed to universally agree on. Muv Luv. A quick google search revealed its third instalment, dubbed 'Alternative', to be one of the most, if not THE most, acclaimed VNs of all time. How could any neckbeard with more than half a brain resist? I had no idea what I was in for apart from vague summaries on the internet, and looking back I don't think I fully appreciated just how good Muv Luv actually was, even after finishing it. It really isn't for "beginners." Grand in scale, themes, plot and with world building in abundance, it's not something to be flicked through on a whim or skimmed over casually. Apart from the first installment Extra, apparently. 

Muv Luv Extra was released alongside Unlimited for the PC in 2003, but wouldn't see any form of translation until Ametarasu picked up the series and released a patch in 2010. In this first instalment we are introduced to our protagonist, Shirogane Takeru, and the rest of the cast attending Hakuryo Academy. Waking up the morning following his parents departure for an overseas trip, he discovers a blue haired girl lying in the bed next to him for seemingly no apparent reason. The blue haired girl, later introduced as Mitsurugi Meiya, presents a problem for our protagonist, as his childhood friend and nextdoor neighbour, Kagami Sumika, is fast approaching his bedroom to wake him for school. Sumika bursts in, MISUNDERSTANDINGS ensue and the 30 or so hour ride begins. Joy.

"When she gets angry she fires lasers from her spectacles. 
Her braids serve as cooling fins."
-Muv Luv Wikia
One thing that is absolutely critical and worth mentioning right here and now is that this is obviously not the Muv Luv you're here for. Extra is a romantic comedy-esque harem hentai game. Each character is very shallow and their interactions range from overtly melodramatic to annoying, each arc drags as if to spite anyone playing just to get to Alternative and events seem to work on a "because it said so" basis, which in the end doesn't matter much in a romantic comedy. 

The soundtrack is fairly decent. The opening is VERY catchy and the pieces sprinkled between casual dialogue do their job. The piano pieces during the hentai scenes, however, are so infuriatingly patronizing it makes me question what I'm doing with my life looking at CGs of badly drawn cartoon porn. Honestly, I have no words to express my utter contempt for this woeful shit.

Apart from bad porn, concurrent arcs of soap opera-tier nonsense and whacky hijinks however, Extra is hiding something. Extra, it turns out, actually serves as a foreshadowing for events that are yet to occur in the next two Muv Luv instalments and takes on new life upon a second playthrough after Alternative. The game is full of dialogue and scenes which seem to make absolutely no sense in the context of this harem game in a high school, but upon hitting Alternative the connections will all add up and a newfound appreciation for this otherwise banal quasi-dating sim will reveal itself to you. It's actually very well written and clever. If only the writing in Extra itself were half as clever I might have enjoyed myself a bit more with it. OR I might just be a fun-hating turd and every problem I have with this game isn't really a problem at all to most people. Stranger things have happened, after all.

All in all, Extra is definitely not the apex of the Muv Luv series, but it's something anyone must endure to reach Unlimited and Alternative. If you can stomach 30 hours of bad romance anime tropes, you'll find something to like. If you can't stomach 30 hours of bad romance anime tropes, tough because you have to anyway to unlock Unlimited.


Up Eventually: Muv Luv Unlimited. 

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