Muv-Luv is a series of visual novels that started out as your typical high school romance and love triangle and turned into a sweeping story involving parallel worlds, aliens, mech suits and more love triangles. (Because there’s always time to love, right?)
It’s pretty much a given that in the main trilogy, which consists of Muv-Luv Extra, Muv-Luv Unlimited and Muv-Luv Alternative, Takeru Shirogane is the main character. He’s the player’s avatar and one with all the girls fawning all over him. He’s gotta be the guy, right?
Except what if he isn’t. What if the original Muv-Luv trilogy is as much about Meiya Mitsurugi, the primary heroine, if not more so?
It’s an easy thing to consider, even if you avoid spoilers. While she’s often showcased among the other women of the cast, special circumstances cause her to stand out in Extra, Unlimited and Alternative. She’s as important to the story in Takeru in the initial instance, and while Takeru steps up in subsequent storylines, in-story her Unlimited and Alternative roles have greater value than his.
It’s Meiya’s appearance and storyline that drives the plot in the original Muv-Luv game. Meiya shows up in Takeru’s home, sleeping beside him in his bed. While the idea that not only one woman, but multiple women, has been used as the driving force in many harem series, Extra is a very personality driven game. The goal is for her to get close to Takeru, in the hopes of achieving a grander goal. Much of the game’s most memorable moments come from seeing her form ties with Takeru and the other characters, as well as discover the motivations for her fixation on the hero.
It’s a situation in which much of the focus is on Meiya. Kagami Sumika, the girl next door, is the other love interest, but she doesn’t have nearly as compelling or intricate storyline as Meiya. And Takeru himself can come across as a something of a blank slate. In Muv-Luv Extra, nearly all eyes are on her.
The Meiya in Muv-Luv Unlimited and Alternative plays a more subdued role, due to Takeru getting improved characterization in the alternative environment, but her background still makes her a critical character and more of a deuteragonist than a leading lady and love interest. Once again, Meiya is a rich, powerful and capable woman from a substantial family. She’s a leader and, as the story proceeds, people get to see her step into roles that equal Takeru in terms of power. Spoilers aside, a player could see Meiya as someone capable of ruling the world.
While Takeru gets to be the big hero in Alternative and Unlimited, Meiya finds herself in positions where she can have just as big an influence on the in-game universe as he does. The same potentiality is there, which can’t be said for the other characters in the game.
It isn’t often that a visual novel can make people wonder who the true stars of a series are. Whether you agree with whether Meiya is as important as Takeru or not, it’s encouraging that a title is able to allow for such a consideration and showcases the series’ character development. It’s one of the things that helps make Muv-Luv so unique and lends nuance to the story. For those interested in playing the game, The Muv-Luv Team has taken to Kickstarter to localize the trilogy, and has already passed its $250,000 funding goal.