The website for the upcoming Muv-Luv Alternative: The Animation has updated, providing new staff/cast listings, new character designs, and a new trailer. I’ve been busy the last few months so I haven’t had a chance to write down my thoughts on how the upcoming anime is turning out, so let’s go through what we know.
The anime will air on the +Ultra block on Fuji TV. This is a dedicated programming block similar to Fuji TV’s more famous Noitamina block. The block launched 3 years ago, and for most of its existence, their shows were always licensed by Netflix. Cestvs, the show that ran in the block during the Spring 2021 season, was the first show to go to Crunchyroll rather than Netflix. The show currently airing in the block, Night Head 2041, is the second, and Muv-Luv Alternative will now be the third. There’s a part of me that really would have liked to have seen it get a huge Netflix push, but for the existing Muv-Luv community, having it stream weekly on Crunchyroll is definitely the better deal.
For the main staff, the director is Yukio Nishimoto, who is not a particularly big name. Looking through his list of credits, the one that stands out most to me is Galaxy Railways, which was a very well-done, enjoyable modern take on the Leiji Matsumoto universe. Otherwise I don’t particularly have any opinion on Nishimoto’s career – at the very least, I don’t see any red flags.
The story editor is Tatsuhiko Urahata, a writer who’s been working since the late 80s. I’ve seen his name on a bunch of stuff, but anime writers honestly have far less power and influence than a lot of fans seem to think they do, so I’m not sure how much it matters who’s writing it. He’s a very experienced hand with a lot of story editor credits, so that at least is a major point in his favor.
The animation studio is credited as “FLAGSHIP LINE, Yumeta Company x Graphinica”. I’m still not entirely sure what Flagship Line is, but as far as I can tell, it seems to be a production company formed by Avex Pictures and Graphinica to coordinate projects between the two companies. Graphinica is a 3DCG company, and they are a big name in that space. I guess they do some 2D animation too (Juni Taisen is credited soley to them), but they are definitely most known as a 3D company. Yumeta Company is an animation studio that was acquired by Graphinica a few years ago. So how I interpret the animation studio credit is that Yumeta Company will likely handle the 2D animation, Graphinica will handle the 3D animation, and Flagship Line is more like a producer, coordinating the overall project. I’m not familiar with Yumeta Company much, but from their credits, they seem to turn in acceptable but not particularly outstanding work, so I’m setting my expectations to somewhat average for the 2D animation, and higher for the 3D animation due to Graphinica’s involvement. That’s basically my impression of the new trailer as well.
Trailers at this stage are usually cut from the first few episodes of the series, since that will be all the animation that’s completed at this point. And we can definitely see that all of the new 2D animation is drawn from the beginning of the story. There is almost no mecha action in the first few episodes, so almost all of the TSF scenes in the new trailer come from the animation in the old trailers. The BETA animations are new, and I don’t recall seeing those Gekishins in the old trailers, so those are probably from the anime itself. The rest of the 3D footage was created specifically for the old trailers, and may or may not appear in the anime proper.
The actual character designs are new redesigns that first appeared in Age’s Comiket book Exogularity 02. The artist isn’t specifically credited in that book, but it seems to be Urimo, who also did similar new designs in Exogularity 01 as well. Urimo also did the character illustrations for the image boards that have been shown off for Muv-Luv Integrate, so it seems likely to me that these are not anime-specific designs, but rather linewide redesigns that will likely serve as the basis for all future work. I know Age had intended in the past to do a similar linewide redesign with their old artist Sou Miyata – you can see the results in the Chronicles stories Confessions and Resurrection. I have to say, I was not a big fan of Miyata’s redesigns, which made everybody look samey and bland. I actually like these new redesigns a lot more; they seem to preserve more of the original charm than Miyata’s did, while still smoothing out the often ridiculous designs of the game.
Hiroyuki Taiga is credited as Animation Mecha Director. He served a similar role on both the Total Eclipse and Schwarzesmarken anime. I’m glad to see him back; it seems like he’s developed a real eye for how to move TSFs around in a really cool way through experience on the previous 36 episodes.
Also returning from Schwarzesmarken is Evan Call on music. He made an excellent soundtrack for Schwarzesmarken and he’s done amazing work on other shows as well. The old trailer from May featured a new BGM track, but it quoted from the original Alternative BGM at the very end, which sounded great. We’ll have to wait and see how much of the BGM is original, and how much will be rearranged versions of the game BGM. I’m hoping for a lot of game BGM tracks, but Evan Call has done such great work that I’ll be happy with whatever he puts out.
By far the most disappointing part of the new update is the announcements for the show’s opening and ending themes. The opening theme is “Rinne” by V.W.P, which is apparently a “virtual artist group”. It’s typical idol fluff that sounds as lousy as it reads on paper. The ending theme is “Tristar” by Stereo Dive Foundation, which isn’t idol fluff but doesn’t really sound much better. I understand this is a marketing decision which comes down to how old all of the game’s original music acts are, so I was prepared to hear from new artists with no connection to the original game, but neither track suits Alternative at all. It’s not the first time – I thought (and still think) that fripSide’s songs for Schwarzesmarken didn’t fit that story at all either, but I got over it eventually. These songs are a much harder sell, but we’ll see how it goes.
The part about the songs that confuses me the most is that I was prepared a long time ago not to hear any of the old artists, because the old artists belong to Lantis (who worked with Age on the music to all of their older games), while Muv-Luv now belongs to Avex. The Total Eclipse anime used Kumi Koda, an Avex artist, and while fripSide is not an Avex artist, they worked with Avex for the Schwarzesmarken songs. And those projects were from before Avex bought Anchor, so now I was sure that this new anime would 100% push Avex artists. But Stereo Dive Foundation is not an Avex project, it actually belongs to Lantis as well, and Lantis has now put out an official solicitation for the new song, so Lantis is indeed involved with this new anime is some way. So now I’m really confused as to why nobody from the original game is doing the new songs if Lantis is involved. Total Eclipse managed to bring in many of the associated Lantis artists to do insert songs, so maybe the Alternative anime is going to do something similar? That would make sense to me, if they wanted to push their more marketable acts for the opening and ending theme, but allow the old artists to provide songs within the anime itself. I guess there’s nothing to do but hope that’s the case. I would also hope that the game’s original insert songs would play as well – I would be unbelievably sad if Carry On didn’t play at the right time.
The entire cast has been completely replaced. The new voices are:
Takeru – Kouichi Kamiki
Sumika – Tomori Kusunoki
Meiya – Karin Nanami
Chizuru – Miku Itou
Kei – Iori Saeki
Miki – Takako Tanaka
Mikoto – Lynn
Most of these people are really new. Sumika’s new voice, Tomori Kusunoki, is probably the biggest name in there. I’m really sad to hear that the old voices won’t be a part of this, but again, I can understand the business decision behind it. It’s been 15 years since Alternative came out, and according to the Age staff, there have been several failed attempts to get an anime of it going. I’m sure one of the factors that made sponsors reluctant to get in is the relative unmarketability of the cast, many of whom are unknowns. After 15 years of trying and failing, I can accept that some compromises had to be made. And honestly, listening to the trailer, everybody sounds surprisingly close to the original voices. I was prepared for them to sound way more off. We don’t get to hear Tomori Kusunoki’s Sumika (since Sumika probably doesn’t appear in the first few episodes), and that’s the one I’m most concerned about, since her old actress was so perfect for the role. I’m pretty sure there are a couple of other new voices in the trailer belonging to Marimo and Yuuko, and they sound pretty good as well.