Today, the Muv-Luv Kickstarter is coming to an end. Having shattered previous visual novel Kickstarters with over US$1 million, it ends on a final high-note. The end result is that one of the most highly regarded pieces of Japanese literature is coming to English.
I’m making this last article as candid as possible, because this isn’t just an appeal for more backing, this is a letter to all the fans that made this happen. In just under 24 hours, all the work, the hype, and the hope of over 6,500 fans (including myself) is coming to fruition. To the tune of over $US1.1 million. This is a victory for an entire generation of fans, one that I don’t think we’ll see repeated for a while.
What makes Muv-Luv so special? What’s made us give an average of nearly $170 per person to make it happen? That’s a question that even I’ve had to ponder over the last few days, and I took to social media to figure out what it was.
When Yoshimune Kouki did his initial appeal to the masses for the Kickstarter launch, he brings up a crucial point early on in his talk. Muv-Luv’s central theme is about a man that’s been ripped out of his life and thrust into an impossible situation, and he suffers for it immeasurably.
Takeru’s journey toward the ending of Muv-Luv Alternative is both a coming-of-age story, and a social commentary on the modern world that includes a discussion about the trials of young people. It’s an experience about not just living, but living a life worth fighting for.
In case you haven’t realized what I’m getting at, Muv-Luv was a new age Young-Adult novel before those were cool again, although it didn’t have the same popularity in the west due to its origins.
Many agree that Muv-Luv isn’t necessarily the greatest story told, nor the best edited, but something that ties almost everyone together is that Muv-Luv was a groundbreaking experience. It stays committed to the story it tells all the way through the end and acts like it’s not just a story, but an entire experience. It doesn’t tell a story you’ve never seen before, but the overt completeness of the narrative, from the most basic world elements to explaining exactly what Takeru is feeling, makes the entire narrative unique.
It’s this completeness that made many start to invest in the story and understand Takeru by the end, including myself. The more invested we became, the more emotional the whole thing seemed, and the more the story seemed to be telling us, the readers, to keep going through the eyes of Takeru.
Speaking of Takeru, the main character doesn’t start out as the man we eventually come to know very well. Muv-Luv goes the extra mile and creates a character that is nearly insufferable at the beginning, and shows his gradual evolution into a capable man. It’s a commentary on how humans can become so much more than what they start out as, just by moving forward.
This emotional attachment to Muv-Luv and character building is what inspires this fanaticism. As many have said, it’s not just a story to most, it’s intended as an analogue for life itself, wherein the story portrays many extremes, but it does so in moderation. Life isn’t life without its sadness, and its disappointments, but the only way to get past them is to move forward.
Muv-Luv is a Japanese story, but its core values and themes are capable of crossing cultural boundaries due to their simple nature. It doesn’t take a fan of Japanese culture to understand it, as each culture may read it differently, but (just like the people of Muv-Luv Alternative) we all can understand what’s at stake. We all understand the values it thrusts to the forefront of the narrative.
It’s for this reason that I backed Muv-Luv with the vigor I have. This is the sort of narrative that I feel enriches everyone that reads it, or at least gets close to doing so. It’s a coming-of-age story, but it’s also a social commentary, and a speculative retelling of history.
Bringing Muv-Luv to English is a victory for this generation, because many never thought it would happen. It’s a narrative that easily can apply to every human on the planet, but it was only available for a small subset of us. Now an entire generation gets to experience it new, just like so many of us before you.
Muv-Luv means a lot to those us that have backed it, that’s no exaggeration. It’s changed lives, mindsets, and given us experiences that we’d never take back. That binds us together. Are we sure that’ll be the same for the rest of you? No, we’re not. Nothing is ever certain, but we hope that there’s plenty of more people who will see it the same way we did, and that’s worth the Kickstarter.
It’s been a pleasure writing about Muv-Luv as much as I have, and I hope we’ll see more people posting their thoughts as the novel releases (hopefully) next year.