It has been a really exciting time for Muv Luv and March will be a really defining moment for the franchise and visual novels in general. It’s come quite a long way since it’s original release in 2003 and since then it has expanded to several side stories and anime releases, most recently the Schwarzesmarken anime that is set to air very soon.
Of course fans are absolutely ecstatic about this, but for me, I’m really excited for all the new players that will be experiencing it for the first time.(and not just cause I want to see people mentally traumatized...)
The Muv Luv franchise has always been really difficult to talk about and this article is no different as I’ll have to be very vague to not spoil anything. Because to get the most out of it, it’s best to know absolutely nothing, which makes it really hard to recommend to other people. What it ultimately delivers is an experience rather than just a story, and âge creates a very unconventional formula to do this. It takes something that was very familiar to the Japanese audience and uses it to blossom into something unforgettable.
Now that it’s officially coming to the West, 13 years after the original release, things have changed quite a bit. The franchise has expanded and gotten more popular which makes it harder for a newcomer to get the original experience that comes with playing the first installment of the series.
I’ve asked a few people how they got into Muv Luv and most of them had someone recommend it to them after explaining the premise of Unlimited and Alternative or they watched the Total Eclipse anime and actually liked it for some reason. I think this is kind of unfortunate, because experiencing Muv Luv completely blind, detached from all the hype and expectations, and seeing it transform into what it is now, is what makes it such an amazing experience. But now we have many entry points into the franchise like Schwarzesmarken and Total Eclipse, which change your experience when you start up Muv Luv after watching one of those.
Schwarzesmarken is a standalone story, so it is watchable without knowing anything about the Muv Luv franchise, but it is a story catered to those already familiar to the universe. The context of the plot will likely be quite confusing if you haven’t played through Muv Luv Unlimited and in reverse Muv Luv will have a lot less impact when you are exposed to the plot of Schwarzesmarken. So it’s best if you read the visual novel, at least Extra and Unlimited, before you expose yourself to Schwarzsesmarken or any of the works related to that. Doing so will increase your enjoyment of both mediums.
TL;DR: Play Muv Luv when it comes out in March, before you watch Schwarzesmarken.