[Visual Novel Review]: Muv-Luv Part One (Extra)

Part One – Extra

Part Two – Unlimited

Part Three – Alternative

Muv-luv Muv Luv Extra vn visual novel

Rating – R18

Developer – Age

Translator – Amaterasu Translations

Length – 10 – 20 Hours (Extra), 10 Hours (Unlimited), 50+ Hours (Alternative)

Reviewing Muv-Luv has left me a little conflicted. I believe that all visual novels should stand up on their own regardless of whatever is planned for their sequels, but looking at Muv-Luv that way doesn’t quite do it justice. All three parts (Extra, Unlimited, Alternative) work together to build up for a grand finale at the expense of the earlier games and I’m just not sure how I feel about that. I’ve decided to review the instalments as separate visual novels, though I ask you to keep in mind that each requires you to read the one before it to reach its full potential.

 Muv-Luv Extra

 If you take a look at forum topics with Muv-Luv Extra as their subject, you’ll find a large number of people advising others to skip this first part. The reason for this is that, whereas the latter thirds of the Muv-Luv story have science-fiction and action aspects, Extra is a pure romantic comedy. While I can see where these people are coming from, and while it’s certainly the weakest of the three stories, I still think Muv-Luv Extra is worth your time.

Muv-luv Muv Luv Extra vn visual novel

 Shirogane Takeru is a normal high school student. He has a childhood friend, Kagami Sumika, living next door who wakes him up each morning, he gets into arguments with his class representative and he spends his afternoons with his best friend at the local arcade. When he wakes up one morning with the heiress to one of Japan’s most successful and influential families sleeping next to him, he’s more than a little surprised. Mitsurugi Meiya has no problem inserting herself into Takeru’s school and using her money and connections to attempt to win him over, though in her mind they’re already destined for each other. Stuck between the girl he’s spent his life with so far and the girl who’s willing to buy him the moon for the rest of it, and completely oblivious to both of their feelings, Takeru simply does his best to continue living the way he has been till now.

 Muv-Luv Extra is a mixture of normal comedy, hilarious exaggerations and absurd truths that will probably keep you laughing for most of its length, though I can imagine some readers growing tired of the repeat gags. The romantic aspects take a back seat till near the end of the tale but are no less well done. In fact, the only issue I have with it is that nothing really significant happens. Serving as the foundation for the Muv-Luv series, this is the game where you get to know the characters you’ll be seeing for the rest of the experience and as such many of the scenes are simple slice of life affairs designed to act as a comparison for the rest of the story.

Muv-luv Muv Luv Extra vn visual novel

 While there are five heroines in Extra, Meiya and Sumika are very obviously the main ones and act as the cornerstones for the story itself. Their routes are mostly the same except for the last few scenes, whereas the other three heroines each have their own separate endings that are mostly unrelated. The characters themselves all have very strong personalities that nonetheless manage to develop over time, but by the time I had finished the main two routes I had very little inclination to read the rest of them. It wasn’t that I disliked the other characters; it’s just that they were overshadowed by what were really the canon heroines. So as not to simply write off those other routes, however, I played through one of them and found it to be much like the rest of Extra except without the comedy, which didn’t leave very much behind. If you’re looking to set yourself up for Unlimited in the best way possible though, you’ll want to check out Ayamine Kei’s route as it introduces a character that’s reasonably important later on.

 Despite being an older game Muv-Luv’s art is in no way dated. The character models and poses have a ton of personality to them and the backgrounds aren’t half bad either. I don’t think I’ve encountered a visual novel that’s been more adventurous with its sprite positioning and camera techniques; characters will “walk” around the screen, becoming smaller as they get farther away and vice-versa, and the camera will always show you where Takeru is looking. These features are used to better effect in Unlimited and Alternative but they’re still impressive in Extra. In addition to this there are some small touches that serve to make things seem that much more real, like being able to see a character’s breath on cold days. The soundtrack does show its age a little but is no less effective than more modern examples at conveying the mood of a scene and sound effects are put to good use continually. Age (the developer) has done a wonderful job with Muv-Luv’s technical aspects.

Muv-luv Muv Luv Extra vn visual novel

 Summary – As a stand-alone story Muv-Luv Extra isn’t anything special. It’s fun to read but aside from the very ends of the routes the story just doesn’t go anywhere noteworthy. As a precursor to the other titles, however, its worth is near immeasurable, allowing you to connect with the Muv-Luv characters before getting into the really important stuff. Though it was released in 2003 Extra has no trouble competing with its newer counterparts in terms of production quality, even if I can’t quite call it exceptional.  I recommend playing at least the main two routes of this first instalment, but the rest aren’t quite interesting enough to say the same about.

 OVERALL SCORE: 7/10 – Enjoyable

Muv-luv Muv Luv Extra vn visual novel

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About Silvachief

I'm a Gamer that dabbles in a little bit of everything. I'm big on Video Games, Visual Novels, Anime, Books and TV Series, but there's more to me than just those!
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13 Responses to [Visual Novel Review]: Muv-Luv Part One (Extra)

  1. Lambda says:

    This asks the most important question, though: Whose bento would you eat??? Worth it for that alone.

    P.S. I think Yuuko’s hairstyle is awkward (it was actually pissing me off by Alternative… it just looks bad) and there are some poses that look better on her than others. Also you didn’t talk about my favourite part of the system: naming the save files. That made up 50% of the comedy for me ’cause a lot of Extra is stereotypical anime comedy stuff. Also didn’t mention being able to see characters’ breath in cold weather. That’s pretty cool.

    • Silvachief says:

      Well, since we already know who Best Girl is…

      I think pretty much everyone’s hair is abnormal in this series due to its sheer spikiness. I didn’t notice Yuuko’s being particularly awkward though. Do you have a picture?
      I’m personally not a save file namer but I have a friend that has some pretty hilarious file names, so I can appreciate the feature. You’re right, I didn’t mention the breath-seeing. This shall be rectified.

      • Lambda says:

        But would you really eat that bento? Be honest with yourself.

        Ah, no, I don’t. Her hairstyle just really annoyed me.
        My file names are filled with puns and bad jokes but I enjoyed it so. My favourite is my name for the choice of who keeps the cat: Meow! A Decision with Cat-atstrophic Consequences! You’re welcome, I’ll be here all week.

  2. Lazarinth says:

    Even though it’s crucial to its sequels, as the visual novel goes by itself a 7 would be very generous for me. Then again I think I’m not as into slice-of-life stories as you are.

    • Silvachief says:

      I’m actually not much of a pure slice of life person myself. It was just that for most of the visual novel Muv-Luv’s humor appealed to me. It wasn’t amazing, the story didn’t grip me enough to play the other routes after all, but I enjoyed it and wouldn’t mind playing it again. A 7/10 mark from me means “I enjoyed it, but some people won’t.”.

      • Lazarinth says:

        Hah, yes I read ‘How The Reviews Work’ page that’s why I said a 7 would be very generous for me. I’ve noticed, however, that slice of life usually goes hand-in-hand with comedy and/or romance. So you could really say that slice of life does appeal to you on the grounds that you enjoy the said comedy or romance in it. Wouldn’t you agree?

        • Silvachief says:

          I partially agree. Whereas Slice of Life can have comedy or romance elements, I would argue that it’s different from a straight-up comedy or romance story, if that makes sense. Slice of life tends to have a lot of extra, unnecessary stuff included. It’s an incredibly fine distinction, admittedly, so I may as well admit you’re right XD

          I tend to prefer shows with more of a story, though.

        • Lambda says:

          Hm… I’d honestly consider labelling Natsume’s Book of Friends as ‘Slice of Life’ than I would labelling Skip Beat as ‘Slice of Life’. Natsume is not exactly known for its comedy (although it does exist, don’t get me wrong), nor its romance (unless you count fujoshi ships as 100% canon – which as a fujoshi I say isn’t advisable). Skip Beat! could easily be known for both. (Aira, considered as one of the most prolific SoL animes, also has neither I think). Slice of Life is about showing character’s everyday lives with almost no over-arching plot. Romance (and sometimes comedy, actually) can have one.

  3. Shinygami says:

    Wait… In regards to SoL, what about the ones like Age’s other big one, KimiNozo? I know the VN isn’t translated (Unless my sources have become terribly inadequate at their job), and I’ve not fully watched it, but I thought that SoL was typically supposed to be less comedy and more… Well, not as tragic as KimiNozo itself could be, from what I understand, but maybe more bittersweet? Then again, outside of Muv Luv Extra and one or two others I can’t remember, I never was big on SoL.

    • Silvachief says:

      SoL to me can encompass a whole bunch of different genres as long as it focuses on people just trying to live their lives as normally as possible. There can be comedy, romance or, as you mention, drama in any amount. I guess it’s more of a setting component than a genre itself, if that makes sense. I tend to think of almost anything set in a highschool that doesn’t have a focus on action “slice of life”, but in truth that’s a massive generalization. In Muv Luv’s case, I can’t call it a dedicated comedy, romance or drama, so the slice of life label fits.

      Unfortunately I haven’t played KimiNozo (your sources are correct, unfortunately), so I can’t comment on that >.<

      • Shinygami says:

        You’re right, I had a major brainfart. The more I think about it, the more I see SoL as a setting component. I’m remembering things like a lady-friend’s recent obsession with ToraDora, and how she’s fallen in love with SoL for it’s ease of access and quirky romcom scenarios. Perfect for a wind-down for her since she likes to write fairly tragic stuff.

        • Silvachief says:

          Slice of life can be absolutely wonderful and Toradora is a great example to go by. Unfortunately it can also be incredibly dull. There’s a lot of variation =/

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