Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse – 01
「帝都燃ゆ (前編)」 (Teito Moyu (Zenpen))
“The Imperial Capital Burns, Part 1″
As first episodes go, this was undeniably one of the more… for lack of a better word, ‘varied.’ I wasn’t entirely sure how the series would be starting us off – there was talk about making it more open to viewers unfamiliar with the rest of the franchise and while I can’t attest to how well they actually did, the effort was definitely there. The episode starts with a series of time skips, glancing over the important information on first contact with the BETA (Being of Extra Terrestrial origin which is an Adversary of the human race) and the devastation they wreaked during their arrival on Earth.
From there the episode is content to launch into a rapid condensation of eishi training and Takamura Yui’s (Nakahara Mai) background. This is basically used entirely to attempt to pile any relevant world information on us, through lectures, news broadcasts, phone calls, etc, much in the same way as Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon was wont to do. I suppose it’s effective on some level, but at the same time, it’s an extremely blunt way to go about it and I hope this wasn’t the entirety of their plan to make the series accessible to newcomers. It almost always seems to be more effective when the intricacies of the world are shown to us rather than forced upon us through background exposition.
So much of the episode was spent on rushing us through these time skips that little to no time was actually spent developing the character who I assume is meant to be our focus (it is her back-story after all). I really have very little idea what to make of Yui at this point, though it seems they’re trying to take her down pretty much the same route as Takeru – starting her off as a naive and idealistic solider who wants to get into the fighting as soon as possible only to have the horrors of war with the BETA abruptly thrust upon her. Heck, it seems pretty likely she’s going to be faced with a mercy kill situation next episode, which is definitely guaranteed to either push her down the path of PTSD (to parallel Takeru of course – they seem to be doing that a fair bit so far) or turn her into something badass (hopefully this). I suspect we’ll be finding out by the end of the next episode unless they intend to drag this arc out for three episodes.
In a sense, the first fifteen minutes of the episode played the Unlimited to the second half’s Alternative albeit with next to no fanservice. We had that carefree nature Unlimited used to lull us into a false sense of security, trying to make us see it as a cute-girls-piloting-mecha series (of course, anyone familiar with the rest of the franchise will have known how impossible that scenario was). This only holds true up until the accident, which plainly tells us that terrible things will happen. I doubt anyone watching was particularly phased by the death of a nameless entity, but it does help to cement the idea that it’s not all going to be sunshine and rainbows, even if we still don’t have firsthand experience of the BETA. It’s one thing to hear about the terror the BETA have wreaked on humanity; it’s entirely another to witness it. It’s that feeling of being distanced from the trouble – that it isn’t something that will directly affect you – that made the experience so fantastic in Alternative and will hopefully do the same in Total Eclipse. They’ve actually gone to great lengths throughout this first episode not to give us any direct shots of the BETA themselves – only quick glimpses and partial, often blurred images. I really approve of this since, even if it’s not quite to the extent it could be, it’s still helping to build unease surrounding them. Our proper glimpse of them, I imagine, will come next episode – a lot earlier than I’d originally anticipated! As a fan of the franchise, I’m pretty uh… ‘wary’ about finally seeing the BETA animated. Hopefully Statelight will do them justice.
For a few short minutes (ten to be more specific), I began to wonder at the complete absence of fanservice. Moments later my wondering ceased. For now, there are two primary reasons for watching Total Eclipse – mecha and fanservice. Since the original work was created mainly as a marketing ploy to sell TSF kits, at the very least the mecha should be stellar. Fanservice will also abound, particularly with all those skin-tight eishi suits everywhere (though their female anatomy is uh… unusual. Censoring I guess?). Ideally, given its parent franchise, it will also have a brilliant storyline, but given the series’ original purpose and the side story’s general lack of popularity in comparison to the rest of the works, it’s probably best not to hope for too much.
To close, anyone feel like making bets on how many of the girls survive? Yamashiro is pretty much guaranteed to die in the next episode given the preview… maybe it would be better to place bets on how many actually manage to survive beyond the initial eight minutes? Other than Yui herself, I’m betting none.
- I didn’t actually think we’d be getting any cameos from the rest of the franchise, but I was pretty happy to see Yuuhi! I doubt Takeru or Sumika will make any sort of appearance though since this actually takes place before Alternative.
- Couldn’t help comparing the drill instructor to Marimo… he doesn’t live up to her standards. Not by a long shot.
- There were a fair few scenes with less than perfect art and animation – I hope this merely means they’re saving their budget for epic BETA and TSF battles (I said something similar about Medaka Box but my hopes unfortunately weren’t realised).
- On the plus side, we did get to watch two TSFs duelling with swords which was pretty damn awesome!
Note: I’m only covering Total Eclipse for this single week while Zephyr is off travelling (insert Mikoto reference here), he should be back to resume coverage next week!
Additionally, for more Muv-Luv related reading, check out the joint Overview post Zephyr and I wrote a while back!
Finally (I swear this is the last one!), the OP was used for the ED this week.
OP: 「Go to the top」 by 倖田 來未(Koda Kumi)
Watch the OP!: Streaming ▼