I’ve recently fielded a few questions about where to start in Muv-Luv just recently. Considering how expansive the franchise is, I decided to break it down for everyone using my knowledge of the franchise.
The Muv-Luv franchise is broken down into two parts: there’s the main saga and the side stories.
The Main Saga (Sometimes Main Trilogy):
The main saga is inclusive of both the two-part Muv-Luv visual novel and the single-part sequel Muv-Luv Alternative. Both of these games were fully fan translated by Amaterasu Translations into English. Don’t know what a visual novel is? Our resident visual novel writer on TAY has you covered.
The two-part Muv-Luv is a borderline parody romantic comedy dating-sim that I reviewed here. An extremely important thing to note here is the “two-part” description. This visual novel contains both Muv-Luv Extra and Muv-Luv Unlimited. Extra is available from the first installation of the game. Unlimited only becomes available after you complete both main routes of Extra (which are Sumika and Meiya’s endings). Seeing Unlimited is crucial to understanding the story.
Speaking of, Muv-Luv Alternative (spoilers are present in the linked review) is generally regarded by Eastern and Western audiences alike to be one of the (if not the) greatest visual novels in existence. I already talked about how I think it’s the greatest story I’ve ever experienced right over here, but there are rather major spoilers in it for the first game. There’s no tricks to Alternative, it’s a one-route visual novel that literally ties all three parts together.
The Side Stories:
The side stories are a collection of visual novels, light novels, and manga series that take place in the world of Unlimited and Alternative, although some take place in the world of Extr. Naturally they are basically walking spoilers since their very existence spoils the setting.
Among these side stories is Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse, a light novel series that has since been adapted into a manga, an anime, and a visual novel by the original developer of the main saga, âge. The anime version has its moments, but it has its problems as well. My old review was done before I played the visual novels (I wouldn’t recommend this, but that’s how I discovered the VNs). Fellow Ani-TAYvian Rockmandash has you covered there.
Other than Total Eclipse, there’s also a whole slew of side stories that âge released since their goose laid the golden egg with the surprise hit that was Muv-Luv Alternative. Among these side stories are the Muv-Luv Alternative Chronicles series, which are collections of stories in the Unlimited/Alternative universe. Each Chronicles batch contains a few short stories alongside an episode of a larger story called Muv-Luv Unlimited: The Day After. This particular story shows us the result of the end of Muv-Luv Unlimited.
Both the main saga games also have Fandiscs that expand on the content of both games in different ways. Muv-Luv has the Muv-Luv Supplement disc while Muv-Luv Alternative has the Muv-Luv Altered Fable disc (it is conjectured by fans that Altered Fable is, in a way, a stealth-sequel to Alternative).
At this point though, I must point out that only Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse (the anime version) has been translated out of all of these side stories. Fan translations are occurring on some of them, but they are slow going and are not guaranteed to succeed in the near future.
(Update 7/12/2014): This list has since expanded to include a partial translation of Muv-Luv Altered Fable, a full translation of Muv-Luv Alternative Chronicles 01, and a partial on Muv-Luv Alternative Chronicles 02.
(Update 3/10/2016): This list has further expanded due to the success of the Muv-Luv Kickstarter, which will give us translated versions of the main trilogy as well as translations for Photonmelodies and Photonflowers. These are compilations of the following side stories:
- Aspiration (Side story featured in Chronicles)
- Resurrection (Side story featured in Chronicles)
- Before the Shimmering Time Ends (the main story of Altered Fable)
- Before the Sakura Trees Bloom (the main story of Muv-Luv Supplement)
- Muv-Luv Heroine Short Story Collection (I honestly have no idea)
- Chicken Divers (Side story featured in Chronicles)
- Atonement (Side story featured in Chronicles)
- Inheritance (Side story featured in Chronicles)
- Rain Dancers (Side story featured in Chronicles)
- Confessions (Side story featured in Chronicles)
In addition to that, Teito Moyu, the visual novel equivalent to the first two episodes of the Total Eclipse anime featuring the defense of Kyoto will be released, along with the demo for the visual novel adaptation of the currently-airing Schwarzesmarken.
Quick aside, there âge also has produced games called Kimi ga Nozomu Eien (which did have an anime adaptation, but avoid the dub like the plague) and Akane Maniax which had characters that were a part of the Muv-Luv universe, making them unofficially members of the franchise.
So, Where Do I Start?
The universal answer is (and should be) with the two main saga visual novels. You should not be allowed to skip the first game, despite any reviews you may see about it. This saga only works if you play all three parts in succession.
I’ve heard it said that you should also watch the Kimi ga Nozomu Eien anime before you play Muv-Luv because it expands on the backgrounds of characters you’ll meet in the visual novel saga. The Akane Maniax anime OVA might be a good idea for the same reason.
I have not tested this advice, but I won’t argue with the idea that more character development would make Muv-Luv’s impact even more excellent.
(Update 7/12/2014): As part of an ongoing marathon by myself to replay the “âge-verse” from the beginning, I’ve watched both anime adaptations. They are clever in that they very intricately tie into Muv-Luv on many levels. It’s not going to help you understand the saga any better, but it offers more insight into the world, which is very good.
After you finish the main saga, you can try out Total Eclipse if you want, but I wouldn’t say it’s required or even recommended by any means. If you can speak Japanese and understand Kanji, then I’d suggest checking out the first part of the Muv-Luv Alternative Chronicles. I’ve heard good things about it from those that have.
That’s about all I have for you. If anyone has anything to add, I invite you to do so in the comments. With any luck this will be the last time I write an article about Muv-Luv because I feel like I bring it up every week.
You can find all my articles on Dex’s Corner.