Oct. 22, 2019, is a day that will remain in the hearts of fans of the Muv-Luv series and of the rest of its developer’s games as the day in which âge turned a new page in its long history.
âge released many games since its debut with Kimi ga Ita Kisetsu in 1999, and acquired massive popularity in Japan with Kimi ga Nozomu Eien (Rumbling Hearts) in 2001 and the Muv-Luv series that started in 2003.
Yet, the studio’s releases slowed down considerably in the past few years, grinding to a halt after Schwarzesmarken in 2016.
While western gamers finally got Muv-Luv, Muv-Luv Alternative, and Muv-Luv Photonflowers, Japanese fans only had the Muv-Luv Alternative Strike Frontier mobile game published by DMM, and that also closed down in the summer of 2018.
With semi-vague statements on future games and no new releases (or even actual announcements), it’s hard to blame those who doubted whether âge was still alive or not.
The indefinite postponing of the event that was supposed to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Muv-Luv series at the end of 2018 felt to many like a nail in the beloved developer’s coffin.
Yet, a few weeks ago âge suddenly announced its 20th-anniversary event, and the title “Still Breathing” certainly felt like a message.
The folks at the studio likely knew very well that their fans, as passionate as they are, wouldn’t wait forever, so they finally decided to unveil what they have been working on.
The event was held at the offices of âge’s parent company, Avex, and about 200 fans who were able to secure a ticket braved the rain of a national vacation Tuesday to line up in front of the skyscraper in the trendy Omotesando area of Tokyo.
Twinfinite was in attendance, and this is our full report. Hopefully, it’ll help you feel like you were there as well.
The plaza in front of the event had the first surprise for the fans: a small truck sold the iconic yakisoba pan, a favorite treat for one of Muv-Luv’s beloved heroines, Kei Ayamine. Of course, she was prominently featured on the truck.
The first part of the event was a “garage sale” in which âge had a ton of merchandise from its storage. There even were some lucky bags full of goodies.
This kind of lucky bags are very popular among people visiting Japan, and if you go to Akihabara, you’ll find them pretty much everywhere.
Unfortunately, those in Akihabara are tourist traps and you should really, really avoid them, but the ones at this event were most definitely different.
As the massive Muv-Luv fan that I am, I asked our reporter to buy one for me (I’m still salty that I couldn’t go myself, after all). I have to say that I wasn’t disappointed by its contents, as you can see in the gallery at the bottom of the post. This is likely the best 10,000 yen I spent in a long time.
After the garage sale, attendees were invited to move on to the seventeenth floor of Avex headquarters, where the main event was held in the spacious cafeteria named The Canteen.
They were welcomed by staff in themed Muv-Luv and Muv-Luv Alternative costumes, and could enjoy some interesting attractions including a VR experience.
There even was a fantastic Laser-class beta wandering around. The atmosphere was definitely festive, as members of the passionate community gathered to celebrate their love for âge’s games.
One of the interesting elements of the event was the catering including bento boxes reproducing meals from Muv-Luv alternative, just like Shizue Kyouzuka would serv them at Yokohama Base’s PX.
Two different menus were available, based on pork and mackerel.
A massive display showcased basically everything ever produced by âge and its partners, including games, manga, anime, models, soundtracks, figures, and more.
In the pictures below you take a good look at the massive amount of goodies that have been produced and sold over the years, giving you an idea of the popularity enjoyed by âge’s games in Japan.
A gallery displayed some fantastic artwork created by various artists to pay homage to the developer’s anniversary.
In the meanwhile, two DJ (one of whom turned out to be Director Kumano-san disguised behind a wig and sunglasses) jammed away with music from Kimi ga Nozomu Eien, the Muv-Luv series, and other âge games.
You can enjoy it all below from the livestream, and you definitely should because it was an awesome medley of great songs.
After about 90 minutes of music, the live show started, including some rather relevant personalities.
Alongside Muv-Luv creator Kouki Yoshimune we saw Kazutoshi “Tororo” Matsumura, Nobukazu “nbkz” Sakai, and Hiroshi “Bamboo” Takeuchi, and media personality Mafia Kajita.
If you’re not familiar with them, Tororo used to be at the helm of Circus, known for many popular games including Da Capo.
Nbkz’s former studio Minori also had multiple great titles in its lineup, including Ef: A Fairy Tale of the Two.
Bamboo’s Overdrive was popular for series like Kira☆Kira and Edelweiss.
Mafia Kajita apparently is a massive Muv-Luv fan, despite his young age, which means that he jumped on the train quite late.
After presenting an absolutely lovely fan game which hopefully will turn into something bigger, Yoshimune-san started talking shop, announcing that work on the mobile version of the original trilogy is still ongoing, and that he’s targeting next year for episode 04 of Muv-Luv Alternative: The Day After.
The show continued with the celebration of the developer’s history as the panelists shared their fond memories. We even got the mention of two couples in attendance that got married because of their common interest in âge’s games.
After that, things started getting heated, with Tororo announcing that he joined âge as general producer while nbkz also joined in a support role. Bamboo will help on the financial side, but they were just getting started.
The developer teased an upcoming reboot of the legendary visual novel Kimi ga Nozomu Eien (which you may know as Rumbling Hearts due to the western title of the anime adaptation), and that’s when my hands started shaking while writing, so much that I misspelled the title of the game in the headline.
That “Nomzomu” will haunt me for the rest of my life (or at least of the month)… Or maybe I was just hungry. It was lunchtime, after all.
It’s challenging to properly describe the importance of Kiminozo to the visual novel genre, but there is a reason (actually many) why it’s so beloved and appreciated. It’s an absolute masterpiece, and seeing it coming back is a dream come true for an old fan like me.
An intermission followed, with a few video messages from celebrities who were influenced by the studio’s games.
Among them, Attack on Titan creator Hajime Isayama talked about how the Muv-Luv series served as a major inspiration for his manga, while singer Komi Kuda reminisced on how Muv-Luv Alternative Total Eclipse’s opening song restarted her career after she had to take a break following her maternity leave.
Incidentally, the music video of the song “Go to the Top” is absolutely fantastic. You can watch that below.
Some expected this to be the end of the show, but Kouki Yoshimune had a lot more to deliver.
It was finally time to start talking about the future in more precise terms and we got the announcement of a brand me Muv-Luv mobile game code named “Project Mikhail,” which will take a rather aggressive gacha-free route to the market.
Yet, it was the next announcement that really showcased the fact that âge is “still breathing” and ready to move toward a much more active (and hopefully even more successful) future. Yoshimune-san announced that the team is about to move Muv-Luv forward with a proper sequel to Muv-Luv alternative, titled Muv-Luv Integrate.
This is basically a dream coming true for the fans of the series, as it appears that it’ll bring together all the characters and stories from all corners of the Muv-Luv Alternative universe.
Seeing beloved heroines gathered together in the same frame certainly had a strong impact, and I will admit that I teared up a bit. You probably know by now that I’m a pretty emotional dude.
The show continued with an absolutely lovely mini-live performed by Minami Kuribayashi, whose career was boosted by voicing Haruka Suzumiya in Kimi ga Nozomu Eien and by singing many of its songs.
She was then joined by CooRie’s Rino, who originally performed the ending theme of the game.
Yet, Yoshimune-san was not done.
In the traditional “one more thing” moment, while the livestream went back to the logo, the audience on-site was given a final treat.
TSF mecha appeared on screen engaged in battle with the announcement that Muv-Luv Alternative anime is coming. The fans in attendance went wild.
This is an absolutely massive reveal as the franchise was adapted into anime before with Muv-Luv Alternative Total Eclipse and Schwarzesmarken, but the original trilogy never received its own series, despite the fact that the fans have been asking for it for a long time. At long last, our wishes are being ganted.
We have waited for a long time, but this event certainly left the impression that the wait is finally ending. âge is alive and well, and its renewed staff is ready to carry its beloved series into the future.
If you’d like to know more about Âge and the Muv-Luv franchise, you can read my article from a few days ago explaining all you need to know to get into one of the best visual novel series of all time.
[On-location reporting: Mari Okochi]