By William Haderlie / January 18th, 2017
The developers and writers will assume that you’ve been through the major character routes in Muv-Luv Extra (which you can read more about in Part 1 of the review) before you’ve played Muv-Luv Unlimited. Also, they will assume that you have romanced to completion every girl in Extra that you choose to romance in Unlimited (with one major exception). The story starts out basically midway through the events of Muv-Luv Extra, and instead of Takeru waking up due to the hijinks of Meiya or Sumika, he wakes up on his own. He quickly discovers that neither of them is around, and in fact, his house is surrounded by ruins instead of a neighborhood. At that point, you have to start deciding whether he traveled to a parallel world, or whether this is all a dream. It should be noted that the possibility of a parallel world was discussed with his Physics teacher during Extra, so it should be immediately on your mind already.
So obviously Takeru Shirogane is still the protagonist of this story, but he does change for the better between the two versions of events. Granted, a lot of his changes have to be literally beaten into him by his environment, but his change for the better represents one of the larger reasons why I enjoyed Unlimited more than Extra. He’s a little less stupid, and he’s a lot less lazy, but one of the nicest changes was that he’s not quite as completely oblivious to the feelings of those around him. In fact, a lot of his hesitancy about their feelings has more to do with respecting their actions and also not wanting to be a narcissist. He doesn’t quite handle the change in his environment very well at first, and some changes he handles quite poorly throughout the story, but he eventually starts to adapt to most of it.
Takeru quickly discovers that almost everyone from his previous world is in the same basic location in this world as well. They are also largely unchanged from their previous incarnations, personality wise. But unfortunately the world has been invaded by aliens called the BETA long before any of them were ever born, and therefore they have grown up in a war zone. Where their high school would have stood is instead a military base and training facility. In addition to high-level research, they train pilots for the mechs that they use to fight the aliens. Their technology is very advanced beyond the 2003 technology that Takeru was used to, but only in the regions that have to deal directly with combat. In many other ways, they are far behind what he was used to. One of the first people he meets in the different world is none other than his former Physics teacher, Yuuko-sensei. In this world, she is almost exactly the same, but instead of controlling a high school with her iron fist of blackmail and bold actions, she instead is the head military researcher at the base and holds all the real power in the facility. She is a bit skeptical about Takeru’s version of events but accepts it a lot more than most people would, so she becomes a huge asset to him in this world. Much like with his Home Room teacher in Extra, Yuuko is available as a sexual conquest option in an alternate ending (only available after you’ve finished the game once). Also, as in Extra, the resulting sexual scene is much more adult in nature than the consummation with his younger (and much less experienced) classmates/squadmates are.
Even though the protagonist quickly discovers everyone else in his tight circle of friends, there is one notable absence even from the title screen. There is no Sumika in this world, and by all records there never was such a person. One strange thing that they discover while looking over records is that there should be no Takeru in the world either, which helps Yuuko accept that he truly is from a parallel world. Later on in the story, someone comes to him with the information that he was formerly an inhabitant of this world, but he should have died long ago. Unfortunately, they do not explore this storyline at all, which was a huge disappointment. The only thing that you glean from it was that you might have meant something to Meiya long ago when you died, but she either doesn’t remember or doesn’t acknowledge that history. In Sumika’s place, the person that wakes you up in this world is Kasumi, someone who was not in the other world. She is a very mysterious girl who looks quite a bit like a rabbit (including both the ears and tail), but she doesn’t really talk all that much and she lives in a very top secret part of the base. Yuuko claims that she is her daughter, but that is very obviously a convenient lie. Your former Physics teacher finds it rather amusing that Kasumi takes to Takeru so much, and so she allows him a lot of access to seeing her. There are some brief hints during Unlimited that suggest Kasumi might have something to do with Sumika, but that is also woefully unexplored.
One of the largest surprises awaiting Takeru, and the one he handles the worst, is the change in gender of his former best male friend Makoto Yoroi. As I said in Part 1 of the review, he was an effeminate male in that world, but in this world, he’s a masculine female. In some ways, this transition is handled well by the writers, and in some ways, it’s not handled so well. To be fair, in 2003 it was not exactly popular to give any particular thought towards the varying scale of gender and sexual identity, but that excuse only goes so far. I had my first gay friend in the early 90’s and had an MTF trans-gendered roommate in 1997, so I was perhaps a little ahead of the curve. But it wasn’t like this aspect of humanity was totally unknown. So I give the writers some credit for exploring this in more than just an Eroge way, but Takeru handles it extremely poorly. Even though he is much better overall in the story of Unlimited, his treatment of Makoto was particularly upsetting to me at times. There is just no way around the fact that he mistreats Makoto with no respect to her feelings for a very large portion of this story. But that made their romantic consummation even more desirable to me because I wanted them to fix the situation so much. Finally, Makoto gets to be treated like a girl, just like the rest of their squad, as she’s wanted to be so badly.
Because all the girls have grown up in a war zone, they are far ahead of Takeru when it comes to training. Most of the struggles in the first half of Unlimited are due to how woefully unprepared and in poor physical shape the protagonist is. He makes it up to them in the second half of the story, but thankfully the struggles to keep up with them turn him into a much better person. That is one of my favorite parts of the story here is that subtle social commentary his transformation exhibits. His whole squad is very underwhelmed by him at first, because he holds them back so much, but slowly they grow to have a lot of affection for him. It turns out that him being the only male in a squad of females is very normal in this world. One of the great aspects of this story is that they try to take the alternative version of events in history very seriously and come up with very plausible outcomes for those events. One of the very realistic outcomes was that when all the armies on earth were obliterated by the aliens, that decimated the male population. Like it or not, even in 2017 the military forces around the world are still dominated by males. They do expect their males to be quite a bit more battle ready than Takeru initially is, but that doesn’t change the fact that there are very few males around for women to get the attention and affection of. In the real world, one of the solutions would be a dissolution of monogamy standards, I would surmise, but for now they are more concentrated on destroying the invaders than repopulating the earth (which is down to only 1 billion people).
While the BETA serve as a global antagonist, for this story they are largely an unseen force. As a story motivation, they are more there to provide an alternate militaristic world and a reason for humans to use mechs in combat. There are enough similarities to the mechs Takeru piloted in video games during his life in his other world to give him a strong advantage in that area. Truthfully they dedicate so much time to the video game during Muv-Luv Extra, that this aspect of Unlimited was not any surprise whatsoever. That aspect over any other made the inclusion of both worlds a wise decision right from the start, it ties the worlds together more than anything else in the stories. But to get to the point where he will be able to pilot one, the protagonist has to go through some fairly hardcore military training.
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