“Save in the name of true love” – Subtitle under Muvluv title logo
“それは、とてもちいさな とてもおおきな とてもたいせつな あいとゆうきのおとぎばなし”
“Sore wa, totemo chiisana, totemo ookina, totemo taisetsuna, ai to yuuki no otogibanashi”“This was, a very small, a very large, a very precious, tale of love and courage.” – Muvluv tag line.
Release dates: CD-ROM Edition: Feb. 28, 2003 DVD-Rom Edition: Apr. 30, 2004
This is a spoiler-free/spoiler-light review/introduction to the game. A spoiler-laden synopsis-type thing is now available, here at the Muvluv Synopsis Project
After their success with Kimi ga Nozomu Eien, Age released Muvluv. In strong contrast to Kiminozo’s very serious and generally adult-oriented feel, Muvluv is a high-school comedy, with a large cast of characters that each have some exaggerated trait that makes for all sorts of strange situations. Oddly (or not so oddly) enough, the interactions of all the cast actually work delightfully well and make them all lovable.
The design concept of Muvluv was that it was to be a three part series. They would be titled: “Extra”, “Unlimited” and “Alternative.” Of those three, only Extra and Unlimited were actually completed in time for the MuvLuv release in 2003. Muvluv Alternative would only see the light of day some three years later in March 24, 2006 after numerous delays.
Overall, Age seems to have hit the right balance of absurdity and nuttiness, with characters that were all unique and pretty well developed once you started going down their individual scenarios. Perhaps the only true complaint I have was that the story was not finished for 3 years. That is a very very long time to wait in order to see the proper end to the story line. Despite that, Extra mode stories are more or less complete and almost self-contained, so it’s not like the entire game had unfinished bits hanging at the end.
Age’s rUGP system engine also was pushed very hard for Muvluv in general. For something that is essentially a visual novel, there is ALOT of movement on-screen. You feel like you’re riding in Takeru’s skull very often. As he moves his head to peer at Tama, the screen shifts to the right, and down (because Tama is a ways shorter than the other girls). If someone grabs him by the collar, you get pulled in for a close-up, lots of little things like that which add to the more “personal” (I guess that’s as good a term as any) feel.
For the DVD release, Age started using their new “AGES-ACS” system, which is an attempt at adding voice virtualization effects. For example, if Sumika is shouting on screen, and Takeru flees from her, the engine would adjust the volume and quality of Sumika’s voice so that it (sorta) sounds like she’s behind you and getting farther. Or if someone’s speaking, but not facing you, their voice would sound different compared to when they turn around. It’s a very interesting idea, but I don’t think they managed to make it work like they envisioned just yet. Still, it takes a few clicks in the options to turn the entire engine off, and if you leave it on like I did, it doesn’t really make itself annoying for the most part.
I can’t find any particular reason not to like Muvluv other than it’s not completed without Muvluv:Alternative. The comedy in the game ranges from sight gags, to crazy situations, unexpected cameos, impossible happenings, to just music that can make you smile. And to balance that, Age shows that they haven’t lost their ability to write drama, because even if the game is generally comedic, there are still moments of touching, some might even say tragic or dramatic woven into the stories if it was appropriate. I really appreciate the former, but I’ve always loved the latter, and so, accordingly, I loved it.
Premise: Extra mode is pure high-school romantic-comedy part of the story. Set in Hakuryou, the same school setting that Kiminozo was set in, and Suzumiya Akane acts as a cameo character in the story here. In Kiminozo, we left the universe while Akane was a 1st year student. Now, in Muvluv, she is a 3rd year student, and our cast of characters are in the same grade as her.
Muvluv: Extra revolves around the events after the day Takeru’s life turns upside down, his parents go on an extended vacation, a strange girl appears in his school and in his life, everything just starts changing. Along the way, you meet strange new people, develop new relationships to people you know, all while the game takes an if not absurdist, then certainly satirical spin to things.
In the end, when you finish Extra, you get the strongest sense of closure you have in the entire game. If Unlimited didn’t unlock, Extra would have probably made for nice self contained game by its own right. That’s not to say Unlimited doesn’t have endings also, but you definitely feel like you want more after.
One thing that might be hard to imagine is the answer to the question “How do you work giant combat robots into a high-school romantic comedy?” Well, Age decided to use one of the typical ways: Alternate Worlds!
After completing a few of the stories in Muvluv:Extra, the Unlimited scenario locks. For no reason that you can discern, Takeru wakes up in his room, and finds himself in a totally different world. A world where mankind had been locked in a fierce global war against space alients known as BETA (Beings of the Extra Terrestrial origin which is Adversary of human race) for well over three decades, with the human population ever shrinking.
This time, the story revolves around how Takeru, an average student and civilian, learns to deal with life in a world that has known only constant warfare for over a generation. Along the way, because it is an alternate world, he finds people who he knew from his home world. Meiya, Sakaki, Ayamine, Tama, everyone seems to have a counterpart in the Unlimited world that bears an uncanny resemblence to the people that Takeru knew. Histories may have been different, but the people who were once his closest friends are still the same people as before.
Despite the fact that the world of Unlimited is without a doubt more serious than in Extra, for the most part, comedy still is rampant. Takeru and friends all manage to find time to find themselves in humorous situations desipte the seriousness of what is going on in the world.
Characters for Extra: I hadn’t really meant to, but, with the exception for Takeru, I’ve unconsciously listed the main characters in the order that I like them, even though I really like them all.
Shirogane Takeru – The Protagonist
The story of Muvluv is told through the eyes of Takeru, a 3rd year Hakuryou High School student. He’s somewhat like all typical high school protagonists of the genre, a bit lazy, likes to play video games and has a tendency to have a smart mouth. I say that the story is told through his eyes, because in somewhat of a break from general practice (in 2003) of these games, Takeru actually has eyeballs. And for a few scenes in the game, actually has a voice!
Kagami Sumika – The Osananajimi
Sumika is one of what could be considered the two main heroines of Muvluv. Sumika could be described in but a single phrase, “high tension.” She tends to be very loud, spending quite a bit of screen time shouting and arguing with Takeru. Despite all the joking, fighting, and yelling between the two of them, they to have a good relationship with each other.
Sumika’s trademarks include:
- the long antenna on her head changes shape constantly in tune with her mood.
- she saves a special attack, the Drill Milky Punch, and even Drill Milky Phantom, for when Takeru really gets her angry.
Mitsurugi Meiya – The Ojou-sama
Meiya is the second of the two main heroines of Muvluv. She’s the daughter and heir of the Mitsurugi Zaibatsu, a giant conglomerate with seemingly unlimited resources and can “make the impossible, possible.” She appears one day in your life believing that your relationship with her is bound by absolute fate and her arrival starts the chain of events of the game. She is generally naive about certain aspects of the world, but makes up for it in confidence and will.
Meiya’s trademarks include:
- her mode of speech is very distinct, she sounds very much like an imperial princess might.
- she carries with her a katana, and she knows how to use it.
Ayamine Kei – The mysterious girl
Ayamine (Takeru doesn’t really call her by her first name) is a very reticient, anti-authoritarian girl, often cutting classes just to sit on the fence on the roof of the school. She is also very good at controlling her emotions, and so it is extremely difficult figuring out when she is joking (whichi is often) or being serious. She speaks very little, often in cryptic little phrases, and is constantly at odds with Sakaki, the class president.
Ayamine’s trademarks include:
- she knows martial arts, and can seriously hurt you if you lay a hand on her without permission.
- she loves yakisoba-pan.
Sakaki Chidzuru – The Iinchou
Sakaki is the class president of Takeru’s class. She’s a rather strict by-the-book sort of person, and so that sets her at odds with Ayamine. The two of them are constantly at each other in a private little war, and the interplay between the two is one of the highlights of the class. Takeru’s flippant attitude towards things also set her off, but not nearly as much.
Sakaki’s trademarks include:
- she plays on the lacrosse team, which becomes a big event in the Extra storyline.
- she is close friends with Suzumiya Akane
Tamase Miki – Tama
Tamase is a tiny little girl, that wears a large round bell around her neck, and always has a pink tail attached to her uniform. Takeru calls her Tama, and she lives up to being cat-like in a number of ways. Otherwise, she likes for people to get along, and so she is constantly trying to get Sakaki and Ayamine to calm down and stop fighting.
Tama’s trademarks include:
- it’s hard to picture Tama as anything but a big pink kitty.
- despite her diminiutive size, she participates in Kyuudo, archery, and provided that she’s not too distracted, is quite good at it.
Muvluv sports a pretty wide cast of supporting characters. They range from people who are extremely important to the story, to people who seem to be there just for comic relief. In no particular order, and potentially not an exhaustive list:
Yoroi is one of Takeru’s best friends, and they often play games at the arcade together. He is also al
ways beating Takeru at Balgernon, the giant robot piloting combat game that Takeru loves to play. Othe
r than games, Yoroi has a strange father who is always taking his son to exotic, remote locations, and leaving him there.
- he seems to have great difficulty following a line of conversation, often missing the point by a fai
- for a guy, Yoroi’s rather small, he’s not much taller than Tama.
Tsukuyomi is Meiya’s chief maid and companion. She’s normally very polite and sweet, but when somethin
g angers her, she’s scary.
- she has a tendency to appear and disappear with little warning… like a ninja
- the manual felt it was worth saying so I’ll repeat it here, she’s a virgin.
Yuuko-sensei is a genius. No really, that’s how she describes herself, and there’s nothing in the story to really contradict that. In fact, with her lab coat and all, you can easily think of her as a mad scientist. Incidentally, she’s the homeroom teacher for Akane’s class. Her loves include driving fast cars, and “fun” or “interesting” things. In general she’s very good at manipulating people to get her way, and loves to pick on her best friend, Marimo.
Yuuko-sensei’s trademarks include:
- her beloved car is a Stratus.
- to show off her genius, she often starts developing new theories about things, while teaching class, and sometimes, do experiments that have bizarre consequences.
Takeru and company’s homeroom teacher, Yuuko’s best friend, and generally a very kind teacher. Sadly, she’s apparently quite unlucky when it comes to things like, men, or avoiding Yuuko’s machinations.
Marimo’s trademarks include:
- it seems to be tradition that for inter-class competitions, like sports festivals or culture festivals, Yuuko and Marimo have some kind of bet going. Marimo has never won before.
- getting Maroimo drunk is apparantly a very bad idea.
Kamiyo Tatsumi, Tomoe Yukino, Ebisu Minagi – San-baka
These three girls operate as a unit. They are the maids that work under Tsukuyomi. Their only true purpose in life seems to be comic relief, though they are quite good at their job. In fact, it’s actually quite difficult to remember their names, as Takeru pretty much refers to them exclusively as the 3-baka. Tsukuyomi calls them by their last name fairly often, but otherwise it’s hard to remember much about them.
Character changes for Unlimited:
Although for the most part, people seem to possess the same general sort of personality between worlds, not everything in the same. And Takeru even gets the chance to meet some new people along the way.
In Extra, Yoroi was simply Takeru’s best friend. In Unlimited, Yoroi presents a rather interesting twist to the plot: in Unlimited, he’s a She. Yes, if you thought Yoroi was somewhat small and slightly feminine in appearance, well, now he’s 100% female. And yes, Takeru’s reaction is probably the same as what you are feeling right this moment.
- Yoroi’s name is pronounced the same, however, the kanji used for “Mikoto” is actually different, and more suited for girls.
Kasumi is a new character for Unlimited. She’s a girl that seems to have some connection to Yuuko, and is a rather strange and quiet little girl. On top of that, she wears bunny-ear-like mechanical things on top of her head at the base of her pig-tails and her long skirt has a fluffy white bunny tail attached to it. And although she seems to be rather isolated from most of the people on the base, she seems to take some small interest in you.
- despite that, she’s not a finishable character, so don’t get your hopes up ^_~