Earlier this week, âge announced Muv-Luv Integrate, a brand new title of the series, and a proper sequel of the ultra-popular sci-fi visual novel Muv-Luv Alternative.
Creator Kouki Yoshimune mentioned that the title “Integrate” stands for “bringing together” and looking at the game’s art, it’s easy to understand why, at least for hardcore fans of the series.
That being said, it may be a little more challenging for those who have played only the original trilogy in English (and possibly the latest release Photonflowers). The key to the mystery is in some of the artwork showcased during the 20th-anniversary event.
Do keep in mind that below I’m going to mention a few spoilers from past Muv-Luv games. It’s inevitable to make a few relevant points.
The illustrations are instrumental in showing how Muv-Luv Integrate will “bring together” various storylines and characters from all corners of the Alternative universe.
That being said, those who played only the original trilogy may not immediately notice the true potential of that premise, because most of the characters showcased never appeared in games localized in English.
In the following few paragraphs I will explain who they are to help you get up to speed. Of course, their identity has not been officially confirmed. While I’m 99% certain of my picks, there’s always a chance that âge may have blindsided me, but I seriously doubt it.
Yuuko Kouzuki is the most obvious among the characters showcased in the art.
The beautiful and ruthless scientist is basically the “deus ex machina” of the whole original trilogy, plotting and planning to save humanity regardless of who she hurts in the process.
She is effectively in charge of Yokohama base and all of its resources, and she is the one who guides the hero Takeru Shirogane in his quest to defeat the beta and protect those he loves, albeit she certainly doesn’t share many of his goals.
In part thanks to her controversial nature she is likely one of the best characters ever written, and I mean in the whole history of the gaming industry.
At the end of Muv-Luv alternative, the game hints heavily that she is in trouble with the military, and it appears that said trouble is a lot more serious than we imagined.
Akane is a little more challenging to recognize due to the slight change in her hairstyle and the fact that she lost her iconic hairband, but the emblem of the Isumi Valkyries on her sleeve is a dead giveaway of her identity.
Her debut dates all the way back to Kimi ga Nozomu Eien in 2001, which is why she is extremely popular among the fans.
At the end of Muv-Luv Alternative she is left recovering from her injuries, and we know that afterward she returns to the Imperial Japanese Army commanding the “Skuld” squadron of the Fuji Tactical Fighter Training Group, retaining the emblem of the Valkyries which is prominently featured on her brand new Type-04 Shiranui Second TSF.
Due to her popularity, she is the most likely candidate for the role of main heroine of the new game.
With Fikatsia we start treading uncharted territory for those who have only played the original trilogy.
She comes from Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse, a side story set in Alaska within a similar timeframe as Alternative itself.
She is a Lieutenant-Colonel of the Soviet Army, in command of the infamous 211 Battalion “Zhar” at the controls of her Su-37M2 Terminator.
She plays an important role in encouraging protagonist Yuya Bridges to better understand himself.
Following Operation Ouka at the end of Alternative, her situation is unknown, but apparently she survived and she is ready for more.
That’s good, because she’s awesome.
Ilfriede von Feulner
Due to the fact that she never appeared into an anime series, Ilfriede is likely the most obscure among the characters portrayed here.
Yet, she is also the one that western fans likely have the best chance to get acquainted with before Muv-Luv Integrate launches. She comes from Muv-Luv Alternative Chronicles Adoration, which is part of the Photonmelodies fan disk, the next in line for localization.
While we only see her back and she got a brand new uniform belonging to the United Nation’s armed forces, there is no way we could mistake that hairstyle.
In Adoration, she is part of the renowned 44th Tactical Armor Battalion “Zerberus” of the Federal Republic of Germany. Despite its German origin, the battalion is effectively part of the UN’ 1st Army on the European front, so her new uniform isn’t excessively surprising.
She is another of the series’ best characters, both when she is serious and during her absolutely hilarious comedic scenes.
She is also a very talented pilot at the controls of her EF-2000 Typhoon.
Gretel Jeckeln is one of the main characters of Schwarzesmarken, which is the latest among âge’s visual novels.
Set in 1983 in East Germany, it’s effectively a prequel of Muv-Luv Alternative, showcasing the desperate struggle to slow down the unstoppable advance of the BETA in Central Europe.
Gretel is the one who gave me the biggest issues when trying to identify the characters portrayed in the artwork, simply because she is born in July 12, 1962.
This means that even if we assume that Integrate is set just a few months after the end of Alternative in 2002, (Akane needs at least a bit of time to heal from her injuries), Gretel is at least 40 in the picture.
By my personal parameters, she looks like an insanely attractive and most definitely youthful 40-year-old lady. Yet, considering the art style, that’s not too shocking.
Her looks, body proportions, and the shape of the frame of her glasses quite clearly indicate her identity.
In Schwarzesmarken she is the political commissar of the famous 666th TSF Squadron “Schwarzesmarken” of the German Democratic Republic.
She is definitely a very unique character because you don’t often see passionate communists as main characters in video games, and political commissars are pretty much always portrayed negatively in western (and Japanese) media.
Yet she is also one of the best characters ever created by âge, even because of her unique outlook on life and her introspection as the story pushes her to doubt her duties and role. Yes. I am aware that I am sounding like a broken record, but it’s not too surprising that the developer picked some of its best surviving characters to represent its newest game.
In Schwarzesmarken she pilots a Mig-21 Balalaika, but her role shifts progressively away from TSF combat. Her outfit in the new artwork definitely seems to indicate that she may have left the cockpit for good, which is pretty normal considering her age.
It’ll certainly be interesting to see what role those heroines will play, and if they’ll end up fighting on the same battlefield.
I tried imagining what it would look like below using my Volks A3 figures of their TSF mechas. Of course, I included only Akane, Fikatsia, and Ilfriede because are the most likely to pilot their TFS in Integrate.
Yes. I am aware that I likely have too much time on my hands.
Muv-Luv Integrate doesn’t have a release date or announced platforms. As a matter of fact, we’re not even entirely sure that Integrate will be a visual novel. We’ll have to wait for an announcement from âge on that front.
In the meanwhile, 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.
You can also read my latest interview with the series’ creator Kouki Yoshimune and my report of the 20th-anniversary event hosted earlier this week in Tokyo.