Dengeki Hobby Magazine 12/2002

July 24, 2016

Here’s a special bonus for everybody.  In the previous post I mentioned that in October 2002, Volks (specifically, their A-Brand division) unveiled figures for 5 Fubukis and Miki in her pilot suit.  A few years ago, I went digging through some old magazines in my closet, and I found this issue of Dengeki Hobby Magazine, which actually had a feature on those new figures.  It was a huge shock to discover that I owned something connected to Muv-Luv from so long ago, just sitting in my closet completely unbeknownst to me for over 10 years.

As a rule, I don’t post pictures on this site because I like to encourage people to buy them for themselves, but seeing as how this is a monthly magazine from 14 years ago, I think we can bend the rules a little.  So here we go:

Some things of note:

The article writer gives Age a few gentle jabs at how the game still hasn’t come out yet, which warms my heart a little – even in 2002, the Muv-Luv tradition was alive and well.  In fact, at the bottom of the first page, you can see the info box read “Release Date: 2002 – under adjustment”.  That’s not a release date, that’s an admission that they don’t have a release date.

At the end of the article, the writer explicitly points out that there is no mech labeled 03, clearly inviting speculation as to why.  Of course, now we know that the reason is because that’s Mikoto’s unit, and labeling it as such would have clearly shown that the Mikoto who pilots it writes her name with different, more girly kanji.  Nowadays it seems clear that Mikoto is the missing character in this lineup, but back in 2002, Unit 03 could easily have belonged to Sumika, Kashiwagi, Akane, or even Kasumi (who by this point had appeared in promotional materials, but whose role in the story was still a secret).

Finally, the article finishes off with a special comment from Kouki Yoshimune himself – although this is from so long ago that the name “Kouki Yoshimune” didn’t even exist yet.  During this time, he was known as “Yoshida to Iu Ikimono” (“The Creature Called Yoshida”).  Here’s what he had to say for this article:

I’ve heard that the modelers at A-Brand are starting to get worried that the robots in Muv-Luv are just a gag, and they won’t actually appear in the game at all (sweat).  For the record, they will indeed appear, so please be at ease!

The robots will appear starting about 1/3rd into the story, and these Fubuki models in particular will appear quite a bit.  Still, this is a bishoujo game, so we can’t give the mechs more focus than the characters themselves.  Instead, rather than focusing on one over the other, we are working to put all our efforts into both.  After all, if A-Brand is going to put in this much work, we can’t back down either.  Those of us working on the game are pouring our souls into making sure that we don’t lose to A-Brand’s figures!

To everyone reading Dengeki Hobby Magazine, I would be very happy if you take an interest in Muv-Luv after seeing these figures.  . . . But to be perfectly honest, I would have wanted these figures much earlier (cries).  If we had had these before, it would have been much easier to draw these robots . . .

It’s a pretty standard statement to give to a magazine, but what stands out to me is the “1/3” comment.  It suggests that, even this late into development (they would release Muv-Luv only 3 months later), they were still hoping to include all 3 chapters of Muv-Luv into a single game . . .


The Road to Muv-Luv

July 22, 2016

August 2000
According to creator Kouki Yoshimune, this is the time period during which he developed the plans for Kimi ga Nozomu Eien and Muv-Luv.  The two games were intended to complement each other, by focusing on the same theme from two different angles, and were intended to come out at roughly the same time.  In fact, the Hakuryo Hiiragi winter uniform seen in Muv-Luv was designed first, and the summer uniform seen in KimiNozo was designed afterwards by modifying the winter design.

October 2000
The gaming magazine Tech Gian announces both KimiNozo and Muv-Luv, with a tentative Autumn 2001 release window for both.

April 2001
Age announces that Muv-Luv will be released in November 2001.

July 21 2001
Tech Gian includes the first episode of Akane Maniax in this month’s issue.  The idea is that Akane Maniax will run for five months, ending in November, cleaning bridging the gap between the KimiNozo and Muv-Luv release dates.  This is the first time fans get a clear look at the Muv-Luv characters.

August 03 2001
Kimi ga Nozomu Eien is released to immense acclaim, selling far more copies than Age could have imagined.  Age begins to rethink their approach to Muv-Luv.  They had to scale back their original vision for Muv-Luv, due to both technical limitations and available manpower – however, the money coming in from KimiNozo could change that.  Age decides to funnel the profits from KimiNozo into making Muv-Luv even better.

September 10 2001
Accordingly, Age delays Muv-Luv from November 2001 to a “Winter 2001 – Spring 2002” release window.

February 23 2002
Age announces that Muv-Luv will be released on April 26 2002.

March 25 2002
Figure maker Volks puts up a teaser page featuring their future Muv-Luv offerings.  The illustration on the page shows Meiya wearing a strange pilot suit and a robot silhouette.  Fans begin to wonder if there might be a science-fiction/mecha component to Muv-Luv.

March 27 2002
Age delays Muv-Luv from April 26 2002 to June 28 2002.

April 03 2002
The Muv-Luv single CD is released from Lantis.  This was meant to coincide with the April release of Muv-Luv itself, before the game was delayed.

April 24 2002
The drama CD “Kimi ga Nozomu Eien Drama Theater Vol. 3: Akane” is released.  Chizuru plays a supporting role – this is the first time fans are able to hear one of the Muv-Luv characters voiced.

April 25 2002
Volks updates its site to show off its offerings for Dolls Party 7.  Among its offerings are “Meiya Mitsurugi: Type-99 Surface Pilot Fortified Suit”, “Takemikazuchi: Meiya Unit”, and “Takemikazuchi” (a white version of the Meiya Unit).  Volks does not offer any additional insight into what these terms mean or how they are related to Muv-Luv.  Fan speculation begins to intensify.

May 16 2002
Age delays Muv-Luv from June 28 2002 to “Winter 2002”.  Fans begin to grow increasingly frustrated.  Unlike the other delays, this is essentially an admission that Age themselves don’t know when the game will be finished.

May 23 2002
Age releases Akane Maniax as a fan-club exclusive game.  This version combines all 5 episodes from Tech Gian into a single game, and is fully voiced.  This is the first time fans are able to hear the voices of the full Muv-Luv cast (besides Meiya, who does not appear in Akane Maniax).

July 11 2002
Age releases a trial version of Muv-Luv through its fan club.  The trial plays from the beginning of the game to October 26, the day before the cooking competition.  Of note, this version features Kozue Yoshizumi as Meiya, rather than Kazumi Okushima.  Yoshizumi played Mayu in KimiNozo, and would eventually go on to play Meiya’s twin sister Yuuhi in Muv-Luv Alternative.

July 24 2002
Minami Kuribayashi holds a live performance at Shibuya Eggman.  During this concert, she performs the Muv-Luv Extra ending theme “I will” and the Unlimited ending theme “Harukanaru Furusato no Uta” for the first time.  As a secret special guest, Masaaki Endoh (then famous for Gaogaigar) appeared to announce and sing the Muv-Luv song “Carry on”.  At the time, it was unheard of for somebody as famous as Endoh to perform a song for an adult game.  Of course, this only sparked a new wave of speculation as fans tried to figure out how this song could fit into the game.

September 10 2002
Muv-Luv Prelude is released by Enterbrain.  Prelude is a small book containing new information on Muv-Luv, but more importantly contains an expanded Muv-Luv trial.  This version contains all the content from the original trial, plus a second part stretching from October 29 to November 1 (the early part of the lacrosse story).

October 25 2002
Volks updates its page with additional offerings.  These new offerings include “Fubuki: Takeru Shirogane Unit”, “Fubuki: Meiya Mitsurugi Unit”, “Fubuki: Chizuru Sakaki Unit”, “Fubuki: Kei Ayamine Unit”, “Fubuki: Miki Tamase Unit”, and “Miki Tamase: Type-99 Surface Pilot Fortified Suit”.

December 21 2002
This month’s issue of Tech Gian includes a Muv-Luv short story called “Your Name is Takeru”, taking place before the main story.  Like Akane Maniax, this version is unvoiced – it would eventually be collected in Muv-Luv Supplement (and later in Muv-Luv photonflowers) with voices.

December 29 2002
Age mercifully announces that Muv-Luv will be released on February 28 2003.  Recall that it has now been over half a year since Age made any official mention of a release schedule.

January 21 2003
This month’s issue of Tech Gian includes a second short story called “My Name is Meiya”.

February 28 2003
Betraying expectations, Age actually manages to release Muv-Luv on this date.  (Age would eventually admit that they were simply out of money and could not afford to keep pushing the release out.)  At the same time, they also announce that the third and final chapter of the game could not be finished in time, and was not included in this release.  As a result, the Takemikazuchi model that had introduced fans to the mecha side of Muv-Luv ends the game sitting in a hangar, unused – a particularly harsh blow for Volks, who now had to sell figures of it despite nobody ever having seen it in action.  The highly anticipated Masaaki Endoh song also fails to appear in the game.  And, of course, anybody playing the game to the end will find that the major mysteries of the story go completely unresolved.

Not to worry, Age assured fans.  The story for the third chapter was already complete, so the follow-up game should come out very shortly.

But that’s a story for another time . . .

Muv-Luv Released!

July 14, 2016

Today is quite a momentous day: the original Muv-Luv is now available in English from Steam!  Check it out here!

I got to take a quick peek at the game at Anime Expo, and I spent much of yesterday playing through the pre-release, and I’m thrilled to report that so far, the translation is amazing.  I have played this game numerous times for over 12 years and I have a very strong sense of how I would have wanted it to read in English, and this translation is right there.  To finally be able to play this game in English, and to know that it is how I always pictured it, is a strange and exciting feeling.

(They also went with “Surface Pilot” for the translation, which scores massive points with me.  This is the official English term used in all Muv-Luv media, so using this term in the English translation shows an immense respect for the franchise.  When I think back on how close they seemed to be to going with “Eishi”, I realize what a miracle it is that we get to enjoy this translation instead.)

If you’re only familiar with the old Muv-Luv release from 2003, you’re going to be shocked at the improvements made to the game since then.  I’ve mentioned some of them before, but for anybody still on the fence about supporting this release, I’ll go over them in greater detail:

This release seems to be based on the most recent version of the game, the PS3 version (this version was also used for the Vita release).  For Extra, this means the pre-menu OP is “LOVE STEP” by Minami Kuribayashi.  The in-game OP continues to be “Muv-Luv”, as in the 2003 release.  New EDs are included for the Chizuru, Kei, and Miki endings – “I will” remains the ED for Sumika and Meiya.  For Unlimited, the OP is now “sion” by Masami Okui rather than “Muv-Luv” – this is the only opening sequence from the old versions of either Muv-Luv or Alternative to be completely removed from the game.  The ED for Unlimited is unchanged.

The most obvious change from the 2003 version is that this game now uses the same system as Alternative.  The game appears in widescreen and without a dedicated dialogue box.  All sprites now have eye and mouth movement.

All TSF scenes in Unlimited have been completely redone in the Alternative style.  This includes using Alternative TSF sprites, and directed using the more advanced AGES techniques from Alternative.  The TSF HUD has been completely replaced with the Alternative HUD, including character comm sprites.

Music from Alternative now appears throughout Muv-Luv.  Most importantly, “Briefing” now plays during briefing scenes in Unlimited.

Reading it on the page, these changes may not seem like much.  But when you actually play the new version, I promise you will be blown away.  Muv-Luv now actually FEELS like the same game as Alternative.  It actually feels like a real trilogy, rather than different games separated by 3 years of development.

There’s also a small bonus for hardcore Muv-Luv fans.  There are some small differences in setting between the original 2003 Muv-Luv release and Alternative.  Most notably, in the original Muv-Luv the idea seems to be that Yuuhi was the Emperor of Japan, as Meiya is described as being related to the Emperor.  By the time they released Alternative, they changed their minds about that (I think I read once that they decided depicting the Emperor in their Imperial Japan fantasy was a bit too sticky, politically), so now Yuuhi is a Shogun nominated by the Emperor.  For the re-release of the original Muv-Luv, they actually went back and rewrote (and rerecorded) several lines to match up with this new setting.  It doesn’t really affect the story, but I appreciated that the original game no longer contradicted the later works.

Of course, it’s tradition in this industry for re-releases to include new artwork and CGs, so given that the PS3 version is the newest version, we get all the new art that wasn’t included in the original version.

I’ll put up another post dedicated to the actual game itself . . . eventually.  (Just like the Muv-Luv franchise, I don’t keep any deadlines I try to set for myself anyway.)