Muv-luv Alternative and Muv-luv [Spoiler Heavy]

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#51 by emmanuelvr
2011-08-13 at 10:13
On the third paragraph, Takeru should've already been told by Yuuko exactly what you are saying "But there are wars there, right?", with Takeru barely realizing it's not MLE's "world", but rather his city and enviroment. Or maybe not, don't remember what the sequence of conversations in ML is any more.
Anyway, I see if you can't relate to MLE's world. I myself somewhat can, despite having lived through some heavy economic turmoils here in Argentina back in the 00's (Check out "Cacerolazo" or "corralito" in wiki if you are interested), the recent years have been fairly peaceful, and it also hits when Yuuko tells you that shit about living in a bubble. Then again, compared to MLA's level of world awareness, MLE is a very closed setting, though I guess it's exactly how a teenage from a country like japan feels in times of (relative) peace and economic well-being.

Regardless, it was a good discussion, and fairly related to ML.Last modified on 2011-08-13 at 10:15
#52 by overmage
2011-08-13 at 10:28
Yeah, I agree. I can see where you're coming from, Gabe. For me, I'm from an extremely safe country (Singapore, second lowest crime rates in the world), so my world feels pretty much identical to the closed bubble MLE is portrayed as. That's why I can relate well.
#53 by wolff
2011-08-13 at 17:54
I can understand Takeru's yearning for the MLE world not so much because I identify with it (I live in the USA but my family was fairly poor growing up and we didn't have all the creature-comforts and luxeries Takeru and friends had) but because as I get older and the world gets its hooks deeper and deeper into me I can understand the longing one gets for a simpler time, when the world was no less complicated than turning your homework in on time or plucking up the courage to talk to that cute girl who sits across from you in math class. A time when you thought you were the hero of your own story instead of just another face in the crowd, and a time when you thought bad things wouldn't happen to you because you were *you*. In other words, the MLE world = childhood and the MLU/MLA world = adulthood. The ML trilogy might as well be subtitled: "Takeru grows up".

Then again, in retrospect I guess this is pretty obvious. My point, I suppose, is that Takeru's idealization of the MLE world makes sense if you think of it in terms of nostalgia for a lost childhood.
#54 by gabezhul
2011-08-13 at 18:21
The ML trilogy might as well be subtitled: "Takeru grows up".
Wait, you want to tell me it isn't? :P
#55 by wolff
2011-08-13 at 19:31
Actually, I suppose the full subtitle would be: "Takeru grows up .... but takes way, *way* too long about it."
#56 by overmage
2011-08-13 at 20:01
Takeru... is not one of my favourite protagonists for that reason.

I wanted to strangle him.Last modified on 2011-08-13 at 20:01
#57 by gabezhul
2011-08-13 at 21:22
Yeah, it's a little weird that, technically, Takeru is the oldest member of his squad, yet most of the time he feels like he is the most immature one...

By the way, I actually named a specific method of character-development after him, though to be honest, the technique is older than dirt itself. So, about the Takeru-method...

You see, when you create a character, especially a protagonist, you cannot make him/her perfect, not only because the readers cannot really identify with him/her that way, but because it makes character-development really hard. After all, you have to improve something that is "perfect", and thus should not be improved, while leaving the character unchanged would be cheap and boring.
So, there are tow ways out of this: the low-risk and the high-risk route.

The low-risk route is simple: create a compelling character, but give him/her a few strategically placed character-flaws that s/he can overcome with time or by the demand of circumstances. This is the safe choice. It's low risk, but it's low reward as well, since these kind of characters are overflowing the market, thus they have no shock-value, people rarely remember them unless they are serious badasses. I won't bring up any specific examples because 95% of all main characters in any medium fall into this category. Now for the remaining five percent...

This is the interesting part: The high-risk high-reward maneuver. In this scenario you take a really, and I mean REALLY flawed character, and build the entire premise around him/her maturing, changing and overcoming his/her weaknesses during the story. The perfect example for this kind of hero is Takumi from Chaos;Head, but I find Takeru a more relatable example. However, there is where the high-risk part comes into the picture. Since these characters are so flawed and oftentimes infuriating, it's quite probable that the audience won't stay long enough to see their development. However, those who remain will remember the character a lot more than any run of the mill hero/ine from other stories, thus the high reward. The question of the nature of those memories on the other hand...
...
Let's just say "Takerunits", and I close my monologue with that. :PLast modified on 2011-08-13 at 21:31
#58 by delirius
2011-08-13 at 21:40
Is Takeru really such a flawed character? I wouldn't agree. He's just a normal kid with some good and bad sides. He simply has to grow up. A well done "average joe" imo.

Takumi, whom you mentioned, is indeed a flawed character. Taichii from Cross Channel too. Takeru, I think is a low-risk protagonist. High-risk, REALLY flawed Takeru = Shinji from NGE (well not exactly but you know what I mean).
#59 by gabezhul
2011-08-13 at 22:02
In this case I'm not really talking about his MLA personality, but his beginning in MLE. If you think about it, he was:
-Clinically dense. (As I have mentioned before, there were times when SUMIKA of all people had to point out that he was in love with someone for him to actually notice it. You can hardly get any more dense than that...)
-Completely ignorant to literally everything happening around him. (He didn't realize that Mikoto was a trap, just to name the most glaring issue of his ignorance, but his behavior in the beginning of MLU also counts.)
-Lacking critical judgment. (It might have been for the comic relief, but his reactions to the whole ordeal with Meiya and some other issues were downright unnatural.)
-Severely indecisive. (This flaw carried over through the whole series. He just can't seem to completely make up his mind on virtually anything and keeps running in circles.)
-Way too emotional. (Just try to count how many times he got emotional and threw a tantrum, although it just baffles my mind how these outburst are mostly played out to be a good thing... -.-')

So, yeah, I can find enough flaws if I want to, and he did outgrow most of them by the beginning of alternative. :P

P.S.: Also, Shinji is not exactly on the same page as Takeru. Takeru has many different, mild-to-serious flaws while Shinji has only one flaw, but that's as big as a mountain: He is a whiny bitch. -_-

P.P.S.: I also have to note that this is quite subjective. I found Takeru to be a really flawed character, but if you disagree, it's your call. I just think that most people remember him for how he became a more-or less serious adult from an indecisive, stupid brat.Last modified on 2011-08-13 at 22:09
#60 by delirius
2011-08-13 at 22:20
Oh, Takeru from MLE is a boring idiot, no doubt about that (worst kind of protag as you can't even laugh at him, Takumi and Taichii were at least entertaining). I was thinking about Takeru at the beggining of MLA.

Btw, about Shinji - did you see these (fairly) new NGE movies (there are only 2/4 parts now)? He actually mans up in a second one (plot takes a completely different direction than TV series there). Good watch just because of this.Last modified on 2011-08-13 at 22:22
#61 by gabezhul
2011-08-13 at 22:47
Hmmm... I haven't tried the new NGE yet, but now you made me interested... :P
#62 by wolff
2011-08-13 at 23:15
What would you call an extremely flawed protag who shows promising signs of overcoming said flaws only to completely regress to his default state as the series ends? Or, in fact, actually getting *worse*, because that's Shinji by the end of NGE. It has to be even beyond high risk, because with Shinji, there's all risk, and zero reward. Takeru, on the other hand, would probably be no worse than a medium risk (is there room for medium range in your protag paradigm, Gabe?) if that. He does have his flaws, but none of them were potentially game-breaking for me - they just resulted in a high amount of exasperated face-palmage.

@Delirius - You mean Shinji actually grows a pair? I may have to give those new movies a shot after all. I've just been growing increasingly leery of Gainax's shameless attempts to milk the franshice over the years.

EDIT: Okay, I take it back - on second thought, MLE Takeru's obliviousness (and just plain jerkass-ness) is potentially game-breaking after all, but no more gramebreaking than lacrosse matches, cooking contests or forced, shoehorned-in "humor".Last modified on 2011-08-13 at 23:33
#63 by emmanuelvr
2011-08-14 at 00:02
You people seem to forget that Takeru was raised in a normal world and thrust into a hellhole where he has no family or friends.
I'd like to see Chizuru or the maids in such a situation. They'd be a mess compared to the open minded Takeru.
Takeru is the perfect example of relatable, realistic and maturing through time. Nobody becomes suddenly super badass under those circumstances, specially if you are doing a gritty story about the horrors of war and sacrifice. People don't come from war super badass, they come with PTSD and troubled as shit.
Then again, not everyone is able to appreciate characters like that. Many people prefer to drop realism in favour of badassery, even if it's not the place.Last modified on 2011-08-14 at 00:07
#64 by delirius
2011-08-14 at 00:17
@wolff you forgot to mention that by the end of MLA Takeru reverses back to his default self due to losing memory so him and Shinji both get fucked in a similar fashion :P And yeah, Shinji does grow a pair, not so much in the first movie (its only hinted there) but by the end of the second it's pretty clear. Think of those movies as of different route.

@emmanuelvr what you wrote is the main reason why Takeru can't be considered a heavily flawed character in MLA
#65 by emmanuelvr
2011-08-14 at 00:38
Just read this:

-Completely ignorant to literally everything happening around him. (He didn't realize that Mikoto was a trap, just to name the most glaring issue of his ignorance, but his behavior in the beginning of MLU also counts.)
Hahahaha, people actually believe this?
#66 by hayate135
2011-08-14 at 06:06
Ehh? I'm quite surprised that the character of Takeru is getting a lot of flak from a good percent of the users here. Just a bit surprised though, can't blame you as I could understand why you think Takeru is a dislikable character. Seeing as how spoilers and discussions are strewn about, I'm assuming that this has become a makeshift MLA General Discussion thread. Please allow me to divulge my own personal rambling in that case, if you don't mind (You can practically skip the next paragraph and go on to the following, as I'll be going on a bit of my personal life).

I'm aware that I applaud and view Alternative Takeru's character in a more positive light more than most others, due to my own personal reasons, perspective, and that I saw a lot of myself in him; as well as him finding it himself to surmount to things that I'd have difficulty attaining the courage to do so, despite him being a fictional entity. Raised in a relatively safe middle-class environment in the sunnier sides of the US West Coast, I was a kid that had a mindset where everything is easy to justify if you just have the reasons and right thinking. To put it shortly, I was philosophically-conceited on several levels. A major event that became a trial of character for me came along, and so when things didn't go my way, physically and mentally; of course, me being me, I didn't take it very well and it had an effect on my initial way of thinking. Fast forward, I'm a young adult with a major and associated internship that deals with social interaction as a main component. As part of that, I build associations with others and learn about them, their own problems and blessings, and ultimately, their perspective. And because I hear from other's points of view on a near daily basis, often, sound arguments are put on the line and often it gets me thinking about my own personal philosophy and how it either agrees with or conflicts with others. I'd then proceed to thinking endlessly and 'go in circles' with my thought process, on my own stance of what must be done and even my own stance in life at times.

Now, getting to the meat of my post. Because of all those said reasons, I enjoyed Takeru's character thoroughly, even marking his journey and character development as my all-time favorite in any VN. Starting out as a kid raised in a rather peaceful atmosphere, he's then placed in an environment unlike his own. Throughout Alternative, several trials of character occur for him as well as him learning of sound and reasonable perspectives coming from others, which sometimes majorly conflict and threaten his own; how he finds that sometimes, it's not easy to justify your actions no matter how noble they may be, as there are so many shades in between black and white that it's just plain near-impossible to judge right and wrong sometimes. I can understand why it'd come off as irritating for others when his monologues stretch too far into circles as it is a piece of fiction sold as entertainment, non-escapist or not; but as for me, I thoroughly enjoyed them as I could empathize with how his thinking sometimes loops and how they become resolved, then contradict, then become resolved, as we humans are incredibly displaced and inconsistent ourselves at times. Stopping here before I go into even further territory which is best left for your own personal interpretation of Takeru, I'll just say that I found Takeru's journey and character to be incredibly endearing and rewarding.

With all this said, my intent isn't to try and improve other's opinion of this character, it's more so for the sake of enjoyment in sharing perspective with one another.

Regarding his (major spoiler)plane-shifting and following memory loss: I'd like to quote an interesting line mentioned in True Remembrance, another English-translated VN out there for grabs; "If you kill his memory, then you've killed the man". So rather than viewing it as a huge waste of investment in character development, I thought of it as a tactful 'death' to a man whose accomplished his incredible task, and has gone through - and learned - so much.

On a semi-unrelated note, this has got to be one of the most singe powerful moments in VN history (major spoiler if you have't gotten to the start of episode 10): link This specfic Project Jam track plays at the most appropriate moment and really sends goosebumps along with the situation and (all hail Wakamoto) speech!Last modified on 2011-08-14 at 06:44
#67 by wolff
2011-08-14 at 06:38
I personally don't hate Takeru at all, and do not recall if anyone in this thread has said as much. I was frequently exasperated with the guy, sure, but it was a fond sort of exasperation one has towards a sibling or good friend whose character flaws get on your nerves, but whom you love anyway. I do think he made incredible progress from who he was in MLE, and handled the blazing shitstorm of events in MLA better than I ever could have managed (chapter 7 would have had me curled up in a Shinji-esque ball of angst for the rest of the VN). It's just that his indecision occasionally reaches Hamlet - sized proportions, which can be quite frusterating for somebody immersed in the incredible story of MLA. He does grow immensely as a character, but oftentimes it feels like a two steps foward, one step back kind of growth. Again, though, I far from hate the guy. If anything, it's his similarity to myself that makes me occasionally frustrated with him. It's also that selfsame similarity that makes him such an effective protagonist. He is a reflection of us, with all of our flaws *and* potential for awesomeness magnified.

@Hayate - thanks for your post; your anecdote reminded me of just how different Takeru is from most VN protags, as well as why I love MLA so much. Dammit, I'm feeling the urge to go play the thing again, now!Last modified on 2011-08-14 at 07:01
#68 by hayate135
2011-08-14 at 07:27
He is a reflection of us, with all of our flaws *and* potential for awesomeness magnified.

Couldn't have said it better.

Haha, chapter 7, oh man... good thing that I was wearing brown pants, as I was shitting myself consistently from the start of Marimo-chan up 'til the end of the game. And I'm hearing you on the urge to replay MLA; as of the moment I'm running around the 'net replaying some key scenes from the game - man, I forgot how amazing the rUGP system is during the battle sequences.Last modified on 2011-08-14 at 07:30
#69 by wolff
2011-08-14 at 07:44
Heheh ... My wife was watching TV in the living room as I was reading the final third of MLA, and she patiently bore my frequent bouts of: "Holy shit!", "What the fuck?", and especially: "Nooooo! Not <insert character here>!" Finally, as I was nearing the climax of the story, and getting increasingly vocal, she looks at me and snaps: "If that thing's pissing you off so much, why are you still reading it?" To which I fired back: " Because it's AWESOME!!" That was the MLA experience in a nutshell for me.
#70 by overmage
2011-08-14 at 08:17
Marimo shows Tomoe Mami of Madoka how it's done. Yum yum.

Seriously, I was traumatized for a few hours after that. The following chapter did NOT help.
Last modified on 2011-08-14 at 08:17
#71 by gabezhul
2011-08-14 at 09:08
Okay, it might sound like rambling at first, but please stay with me. Wolff had a line that made me bring this up, namely:
It's just that his indecision occasionally reaches Hamlet - sized proportions, which can be quite frusterating for somebody immersed in the incredible story of MLA.
First off, I agree. However, there is a point I'm trying to make here, using this line as base point. I believe there are two kinds of stories out there: character-based ones and event-based ones.
-Character-based stories, as the name implies, focus on the characters, their relations, development, reactions to different problems and circumstances.
-Event-based stories are focusing less on the characters themselves and more on the overarching plot and events, with mysteries, action bits, conspiracies, etc.

MLA is certainly the latter. The only character we are focusing on is Takeru, and for a good reason: all the others were developed and explored in the other parts of the series, thus they got relegated to the background. They became the part of the setting and their new job is to move the gears of the plot. If you think about it, in MLA, it's not their personalities or actions that matter the most, but how they are connected to the main plot by their relatives and background.

And here is what I wanted to end up on: Takeru's character-development is brilliantly done, BUT (and in case you didn't notice, that one big 'BUT') strictly speaking, it's somewhat unnecessary. MLA is about the plot, the action, the events; and while Takeru's angst over his motivations and whatnot is perfectly suitable as a juxtaposition to let the reader calm down and process what's happening, it's just overdone. As I said before, this switching sometimes can break the immersion of the reader, simply because it's so different. I still haven't managed to read past it, but the coup d'etat arc itself had several moments where the action and the plot abruptly stops so that Takeru can have a little character-development.
When I was talking about how I would have developed his character differently a few posts ago, this is what I meant. I personally would have given him less angst and shorter character-development sequences in order to keep the plot flowing more naturally. If you ask me, this is the only fault of the game I can name right now, but it might be just my personal taste speaking. :P
#72 by wolff
2011-08-14 at 15:10
@Gabe - thanks, you pretty much managed to sum up what I was trying to say earlier but couldn't quite pinpoint. My frustrations with Takeru arose not so much out of his inherent flaws but because of the writers excessively shoehorning his internal monologues into a plot-driven story.Last modified on 2011-08-14 at 15:13
#73 by emmanuelvr
2011-08-14 at 17:36
MLA is about Takeru coping with everything around him and coming on top no matter what. And while other girls do get "shoved into the background" (Not to insulting lengths though), Meiya, Yuuko, Kasumi and Sumika receive a ton of development. Meiya particularly more than in previous entries.
I wouldn't consider MLA event-based at all, despite relying on events to move the characters forward. The events are excuses, the alien plot, while great, is an excuse, and is truthfully barely explored when you reach the superior. It's all geared towards making Takeru understand how the world and humans work. Anyone who considers MLA not character-based has probably missed the point of chapter 7, the final chapter and, most importantly, the final scene of chapter 10 between Kasumi, Yuuko and Takeru. The plot is very important in MLA, and so is the setting, but everything relies on the characters and their struggles to give meaning to any of these.Last modified on 2011-08-14 at 17:40
#74 by delirius
2011-08-14 at 19:09
I say MLA is simply both event and character based. A hybrid so to speak, not very focused in either direction. Most VNs popular in the west are like that more or less but MLA is the only one I know that really keeps the perfect balance between the two. The most event based VN I read is propably Kara no Shoujo and even then I'd say it's 80% event/20% characters based.

MLA is 50/50. I think this is the best/most natural approach for us western readers but not very popular in Japan (I heard MLA got a lot of criticism there).Last modified on 2011-08-14 at 19:16
#75 by overmage
2011-08-14 at 19:19
Not really, MLA is 92% on erogamescape and extremely popular in Japan. The criticism in Japan was mainly for the consentacles scene with 00 unit Sumika in the middle, and Marimo yum yum scene; Japanese viewers felt the former was in poor taste, and the latter too disturbing. To support my point, All-Ages version which censors both of those scenes has 95% rating which is the highest on that whole site. The voting base on egs is overwhelmingly Japanese so, you get the idea. :p

By the way emmanuel you may want to spoiler tag part of your post.Last modified on 2011-08-14 at 19:22