Since I’ve been thinking about it recently, I thought I’d write down my thoughts on what is possible for the next Muv-Luv anime. Yoshimune has mentioned that they’ve been “talking” about it – which is an almost meaningless statement. It’s only been several months since Total Eclipse finished its home video release, which makes this the exact time for sponsors to “talk”, and decide if they want to do any more business here. He later mentioned that they were still on good terms with Avex, which is a good sign at least. Still, it will likely be a while before all the sponsors formally agree on whether not to make more Muv-Luv. And it will be a while after THAT before they publicly announce it. I would honestly not be surprised if it takes over a year to start hearing news about it.
Anyway, let’s look at all the possibilities, which I have ranked starting with the most likely and working my way down:
Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse – Second Season
The obvious choice. It wouldn’t hurt the Muv-Luv brand to make it clear that its stories will have endings. The ending to the anime diverged from the game, and Yoshimune had mentioned that in the event of a second season, he would encourage the anime staff to continue on their own path. Nevertheless, I think it’s very possible for a second season to follow the basic flow of the game, even if the details may differ here and there. I don’t think it would take another 24 episodes to finish the story, though. A single 12-episode season would be fine, especially if the anime staff took the time to add in new original material like they did for the first season. In a pinch, a 4-5 episode OVA could probably cover the story well enough. There’s quite a bit of Yoshimune’s infamous long-winded dialogue scenes that could be cut from the game without hurting the story too badly.
Muv-Luv Alternative: Operation Zero
Yoshimune has been talking this up recently as his own personal favorite for an anime adaptation. In his eyes, an anime would start with our lead characters – Takayuki, Shinji, Mitsuki, and Haruka – in training, follow them through graduation and joining the A-01, and end with Operation Lucifer. Now, Yoshimune’s word counts for surprisingly little in this process – potential anime sponsors will put money towards what they want, not what Yoshimune tells them to. But this may mean that he is trying to catch the eyes of sponsors for this project as well. The advantages are obvious: Kimi ga Nozomu Eien is still a respected name, and being able to advertise those characters in a new anime is quick and easy buzz. The major problem is that Operation Zero doesn’t really exist yet outside of Yoshimune’s head (a brief TSFiA installment is all that’s been released), so an anime would have to do a lot of the heaving lifting in planning the story. That may not fly well with sponsors, who often like to adapt existing material and may not be looking to put that much money and time into this project.
The successor to Total Eclipse as a serialized novel in Tech Gian, Schwarzesmarken is clearly in the running. As a product, it’s probably the Muv-Luv franchise that sponsors understand best – a light novel series being published in regular intervals. The special promotional video included with the newest Muv-Luv game, Chronicles 04, is of special note. Officially, it was created to celebrate the novels reaching its climax point, so it’s probably safe to assume the story will likely span 7-8 novels total (the 6th novel is going to be released in November). Although tight, that can be covered in a single 26-episode series. Last week, Yoshimune also revealed that the video wasn’t originally intended to be in German, and that the idea of dubbing it in German only came up a month before release. It seems to me that implies that, although we didn’t get to hear them this time, Age has already cast the lead roles with the Japanese actors who would play them in any future adaptation.
Duty -Lost Arcadia-
I’ve always believed Duty was created as an anime pitch. The standard 3-girl setup (the energetic lead, the cool girl, and the slightly weird girl) is common in anime but completely outside of Age’s normal experience. The simplistic setup – with very little international politics entering the picture as of yet – also seems very anime-friendly. And it was created at a time when we know Age was having trouble getting either a Muv-Luv or Total Eclipse anime off the ground. So right off the bat this project seems designed to appeal to sponsors. The big problem is, there’s no story here. The TSFiA segments have thus far done little more than set up who the characters are. Yoshimune has occasionally given out vague hints at where the story might be heading, but nothing has come of it yet. Operation Zero at least has the story arc sketched out, and its characters are reasonably well-defined; a Duty anime would have to build all of that practically from scratch. I’m left wondering what the anime would even end up being about, and considering the laid-back world setting, I get the feeling that the answer would be “not much”.
The Holy Grail. Yoshimune has actually sketched out his “dream” anime adaptation of this. Ideally, he wants three separate seasons, each adapting Extra, Unlimited, and the first half of Alternative. Afterwards would follow three “lavishly animated” movies, each adapting Operation 21st, the Defense of Yokohama Base, and Operation Cherry Blossom. (He argues that the movies would allow for a larger budget for these massive battles, while the smaller battles that come before them would probably not stretch a TV anime budget too badly.) But that’s simply not going to happen any time in the near future. The obstacles that made it so difficult to bring sponsors on board the first time around still remain. And even worse, now that Total Eclipse has been made and people know that the Muv-Luv franchise is about mechs battling aliens, the first Extra anime is going to be met with immense skepticism. People sometimes propose making an anime of Muv-Luv Alternative only, to which I can only say that it is possible to pick Return of the King off the bookshelves and, with some effort, piece together what is going on, but that doesn’t make it a good idea to make a standalone movie of it.
Owarinaki Natsu, Towanaru Shirabe
Now we’re getting into the stuff I’m really only including to cover all the bases. Yes, this exists. Yes, it is set in the Muv-Luv universe. Yes, it would be simple to adapt. Yes, I did enjoy this (more or less). But, it’s not happening. Let’s move on.
An Original Work
This is always a possibility. The Muv-Luv universe is so vast that there is no limit to where it might be possible to slot in a story. I have to admit it would be pretty cool to see an original anime bearing the Chronicles label. But the problems I’ve mentioned before about having an anime staff put in this much work still apply. And I’m not sure I trust an anime staff to build a concept completely from the ground up. I loved what the Total Eclipse anime staff accomplished, but that doesn’t change the fact that I am highly skeptical of the anime industry in general.
Hive-Ru / Ayu-Mayu Theatre / Original Comedy
Hey, how about a comedy? The Age staff seems very fond of Hive-Ru, even including a game version in Chronicles 04. But what I’ve always wanted to see is an expanded version of Ayu-Mayu Theatre. Although coming from Kimi ga Nozomu Eien, the web shorts incorporated a ton of Muv-Luv characters into its wackiness. Everybody loves a good crossover, but despite the numerous connections between the KimiNozo and Muv-Luv cast, Age hasn’t ever really just thrown them together and let them battle it out, instead settling for brief cameo appearances at best. I think something like an Age version of Carnival Phantasm would be awesome. The only problem is, now isn’t the right time for it. A comedy right after Total Eclipse kind of feels like they would be throwing in the towel in terms of building Muv-Luv as an anime franchise. But when the time is right, somebody needs to make this happen.
Muv-Luv Unlimited: The Day After
This is the only item on the list that is literally impossible to do. The Day After is the only story that is completely dependent on knowledge of the original series. Without a detailed understanding of Muv-Luv Unlimited and its place in the timeline, it is impossible to make heads or tails of the story. And that doesn’t get into the fact that many of the characters are drawn from different franchises, and basically requires knowledge of those franchises as well to make sense of how they are used here. The Day After is purely fanservice for hardcore fans of the Muv-Luv series, which makes it impossible to adapt outside of that context.