For those of you unfamiliar with Teito Moyu (otherwise known as The Imperial Capital Burns), it is a prequel to Muv-Luv Alternative Total Eclipse. The game showcases the backstory of Total Eclipse‘s heroine, Takamura Yui, as she recounts the painful experiences that shaped her. Teito Moyu was originally an anime-exclusive prelude to the Total Eclipse anime to introduce newcomers to the Muv-Luv BETAverse. They later adapted Teito Moyu into light novel, and eventually visual novel form, expanding upon the story with each release.
You may be wondering how Teito Moyu compares to the main story of Total Eclipse or other Muv-Luv side stories. My short and simple answer is that while Teito Moyu ultimately falls a bit short of what makes Total Eclipse so special, it provides important context and characterization for the main story of Total Eclipse. I don’t think Teito Moyu is quite as good as some other Muv-Luv side stories like Confessions. But it is still pretty solid in its own right and a must-read for fans of the franchise. Total Eclipse is one of my all-time top 5 favourite visual novels — living up to that is a difficult task. All things considered, Teito Moyu is quite solid.
Can You Start Muv-Luv with Teito Moyu?
Some of you may be wondering about whether or not Teito Moyu is an appropriate starting point for the Muv-Luv franchise. After all, many peoples’ introduction to Muv-Luv was Teito Moyu via the first two episodes of the Total Eclipse anime. Furthermore, aNCHOR themselves market Total Eclipse as a great starting point for the Muv-Luv franchise. My honest answer is “yes, but I wouldn’t recommend it”.
Teito Moyu does a great job at introducing the audience to the Muv-Luv BETAverse, making it somewhat comprehensible for newcomers. That being said, the visual novel version of Teito Moyu features some recurring characters from the trilogy as well as some plot points that can be hard to grasp without prior knowledge. Furthermore, Total Eclipse, which Teito Moyu is a prelude to, functions largely as a thematic complement/response to Muv-Luv Alternative. As such, it would be a huge disservice to yourself to start off the Muv-Luv series with Teito Moyu. Therefore, at the bare minimum, I would highly recommend finishing the original Muv-Luv trilogy first. Muv-Luv Unlimited: The Day After is helpful to play beforehand as well but I wouldn’t say it’s essential.
Teito Moyu takes place between 1997-1998 in Kyoto, following Takamura Yui and her friends as they attend the Yamayuri Girls’ Surface Pilot Academy. Yui’s life forever changes when one day, aliens known as the BETA invade the Japanese mainland and force their way towards Kyoto.
Teito Moyu in the Total Eclipse anime spends maybe 10 minutes on Yui’s school life and 30 minutes on the actual action itself. The Teito Moyu visual novel, however, spends over half its length focusing solely on academy life. For fans interested more in slice of life and series lore, you might find the first half more interesting than the action-packed second half. The first half provides notable insights to the series that you might not have thought about before. The second half is, meanwhile, very exciting for fans of the more military-oriented parts of Muv-Luv.
But if there’s one thing that Muv-Luv excels at, it’s coming-of-age stories. We’ve seen it with the original trilogy, Total Eclipse, and to some extent, even here with Teito Moyu. This here is more of a prelude to a larger coming-of-age story involving both Yuuya Bridges and Takamura Yui than it is a coming-of-age story of its own. But nonetheless, it still does a fantastic job showing who Yui is and how she became the woman she is in Total Eclipse.
Total Eclipse itself is fundamentally a tale about identity and kindness — more specifically “paying it forward”. To any third culture kid or immigrant children out there, Total Eclipse hits really close to home. If you grew up constantly moving from country to country, attending international schools, Total Eclipse is THE visual novel for you. But if you grew up in the same place your entire life, you might feel more inclined to like Teito Moyu, which takes place entirely in one place (Kyoto) but still covers some of the same themes.
The anime version of Teito Moyu unfortunately feels thematically too detached from the rest of Total Eclipse. The visual novel version, however, attempts to rectify that in the ways it expands upon the anime. Within its more slice-of-life heavy first half, it adds in a substantial amount of new dialogue and conversations, many of which cover the same themes as the main story of Total Eclipse. For example, it expands upon Yui’s samurai identity and the societal pressures young women faced, which Total Eclipse doesn’t focus on too extensively.
Overall, I don’t have many qualms about the story in Teito Moyu. It’s pretty standard — and much better-handled than the anime. It’s just not nearly as good the main story of Total Eclipse or something like The Day After. But for short side-story standards, it’s not bad. I still much prefer the likes of Confessions or Last Divers though.
Total Eclipse has one of my favourite visual novel casts, in large part because it mostly consists of adults. But it’s also amazing because it’s incredibly diverse. After all, the characters are all of different nationalities and there’s a near-even number of male and female characters. Teito Moyu, however, almost exclusively follows high school girls. While I’m a little tired of visual novels following high schoolers, that’s not necessarily a fault, especially given that a huge part of Teito Moyu is centered around the prejudices and discrimination that young elite women faced.
Anyways, Teito Moyu’s characters are by no means bad, but they’re a far cry from Total Eclipse’s. But again, for Muv-Luv short story standards, however, they’re mostly fine. Unlike the anime, which leaves little time to explore these characters, the visual novel fleshes out them all. It makes you actually care somewhat for Yui and her classmates. The addition of internal monologues from the perspectives of each and every character adds a tremendous amount of value to the narrative. The game makes you feel the pressures that each of these young women bore on their shoulders in an ever-changing, anxiety-ridden world. Nevertheless, I can’t say I felt particularly attached to anybody from the cast aside from Yui, Yamashiro, and Captain Sanada. But all in all, the cast is more or less fine.
Release and Production Quality
The production values for Teito Moyu are quite strong, even for Muv-Luv standards. They’re comparable to that of Muv-Luv Unlimited: The Day After Episode 03 but with the added benefit of occasional animated sequences taken from the first two episodes of the Total Eclipse anime. Unlike the main story of Total Eclipse, which is only able to use animated sequences for as far as the anime covers, Teito Moyu is completely adapted in the Total Eclipse anime. Therefore, it has much more consistent use of animated sequences, making the whole release feel more cohesive in style overall.
In terms of release quality, however, this is a mixed bag. On one hand, the port itself is an improvement from that of previous AGES Mk.II ports in the sense that there aren’t any significant audio compression issues like there were with The Day After and Total Eclipse. On the other hand, however, there are a few other technical issues. Without Borderless Gaming installed, full screen mode doesn’t work as intended. Moreover, most images simply aren’t translated or edited at all. Whether this is due to engine difficulties or a lack of resources, I don’t know. But nonetheless, the image editing quality is almost as pathetic as that of the official release of Chaos;Head NoAH. This can significantly impact an English reader’s ability to understand the military-focused parts of the story. And even ignoring comprehension-related factors, it’s a massive eyesore to see such poor and inconsistent image editing…
As for the localization itself, I can’t speak too much on translation accuracy. My Japanese isn’t great and I haven’t read the Japanese version so I couldn’t compare it anyways. However, I can comment on other parts of the localization. This release is substantially less “localized” than The Day After and Total Eclipse. To an extent, this approach is more befitting for Teito Moyu, which is set in Kyoto following elite women, as opposed to Total Eclipse and The Day After, which are set primarily in the US with very diverse and international main casts. Teito Moyu still reads somewhat well, but much more stoically, reflecting the attitudes of the Kyoto samurai class.
I found that the downside to this approach, however, was a blander and less entertaining read. The Day After and Total Eclipse’s localization choices often left me howling in laughter. They read as if they were originally written in English — quite fitting for stories set in the US in racist and discriminatory environments. But perhaps this release’s approach was the right one for a story so deeply embedded in traditional Japanese culture. This time around, I didn’t notice any glaring typos like I did with Total Eclipse in its later chapters either. Images aside, Teito Moyu‘s localization seems fine to me.
Teito Moyu is a solid Muv-Luv side story with strong production values, significant lore contributions, and crucial characterization for the main story of Total Eclipse. I would strongly recommend anybody to play Teito Moyu before getting to Total Eclipse itself. It will tremendously increase your respect for Takamura Yui’s character and also significantly improve your understanding of Total Eclipse. I would also highly encourage fans to avoid watching the anime until after finishing the game. However, given that the game is very short (it took me less than 7 hours to complete), the $25 price tag might seem a tad bit steep for a decade-old game.
Nevertheless, this release leaves me quite disappointed as there’s many unsubtitled/untranslated background lines and an enormous amount of untranslated images. For Muv-Luv English release standards, this is a huge step backwards. If I was solely judging Teito Moyu by its narrative alone, I would give a slightly higher score (~8/10). But unfortunately, I cannot ignore the technical problems with this release. It hurts to assign this rating since Total Eclipse is easily my favourite part of the entire Muv-Luv franchise, but nonetheless, here’s my final score:
The Muv-Luv series is a highly acclaimed romance and military sci-fi visual novel franchise made by âge and aNCHOR. The original trilogy consists of Muv-Luv Extra, Muv-Luv Unlimited, and Muv-Luv Alternative. The trilogy infamously starts as a typical romance story before turning into an alternate timeline coming-of-age alien invasion war epic. In light of the series’ success, âge expanded upon the trilogy with various side stories in multiple mediums.
Muv-Luv Alternative Total Eclipse and its prequel, Teito Moyu, are among these side stories. Teito Moyu is available on Steam for $24.99 at retail price. Its sequel, Total Eclipse, is also available on Steam for $39.99.
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