OP: 「Go to the top」 by 倖田 來未 (Koda Kumi)
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「帝都燃ゆ (後編)」 (Teito Moyu (Kouhen))
“Burning Capital, Part 2”
Moving right along, the end of Yui’s prologue starts kicking off the shackles a bit. Whereas the first episode was held back by attempts to get first time viewers into the story, the second episode has much less in terms of info-dump and time skips. That’s not to say there were none of those aspects this time around, but it’s notably present at a much smaller degree. In turn, this allowed the anime to get some more leeway in terms of what they could show—and this is exactly the reason why this episode was able to do what it did, which was show viewers what the Muv-Luv universe is all about.
See, up until now, the BETA were pretty much faceless adversaries to say the least. Yes, we saw some quick glimpses at the end of last episode. But, with the amount of info-dump, constant shifting through the years, and the light-hearted school environment, it was pretty hard to gauge exactly how big of a threat the BETA were. I mean, if there are a bunch of places seemingly going about life normally, they couldn’t be much of a threat could they?
But you know what? It’s exactly what the creators wanted to do with the series—to lull you into a false sense of security, then blow you away in big gusts of BETA fury. And regardless of the issues plaguing the beginning, they pretty much succeed in this aspect. Granted, the censoring limited the impact a bit and the death flags were there, but even I didn’t expect them to kill off the characters the way they did… with Izumi getting munched on like a midnight snack, Yamashiro getting ripped apart, the unit commander getting sniped down by lasers, and the Instructor sacrificing himself to try and protect the rookies. But in the end, it just goes to show just how dire the situation is in the Muv-Luv universe. It’s one where humans are fighting a losing battle against ruthless enemies, where people try to maintain whatever normalcy they can to keep themselves sane, and where the adults readily accept their deaths if it means their children will never have to see the battlefield. And well, it’s a story that’s just absolutely stunning (as you can probably tell from Moomba and I’s overview of the games), and one I hope will be given justice in this animation.
At this point, it’s hard to really predict where the series will go, but I do like most of what I’m seeing at the moment. Considering the low budget, the CGI and animation are quite superb, giving each of the respective mecha their moment in the spotlight, and highlighting the individual differences between the major classes of BETA. The music by Nagaoka Seikou is quite fitting in its military nature as well. It’s not quite in the vein of Iwasaki Taku and the other assorted artists that worked on the awesome game soundtracks, but still very good. Other positives include the use of various sound effects present in the original game (the BETA stampede sounds), the demonstration of the auxiliary arm systems, as well as the fairly accurate scaling of the BETA to one another and the TSF mecha.
Alas, there are some slight negatives as well, albeit the impact is probably small to the typical viewer. It’s much more glaring to those that have played the games before, but there have been some inconsistencies both from episode to episode and from this series to the original games. Most of them revolve around the laser class, which was shown to be shooting long range beams that can cut through planes, but then inexplicably being changed to more short bursts. Also strange was the fact they were able to shoot down the unit commander in the first place, because their range is set and they should not be able to hit objects flying fairly close to the ground (nap-of-the-earth flight). If the commander was in range to begin with, it feels to me that everyone should have been shot down at that point, which leads to the next awkward thing involving the laser class: the accuracy. At some point, they’re shown as being godlike in their accuracy, but other times shown to be anything but. In addition, they don’t seem to have any delay between shots, which is a key point in the tactics utilized by the military in the original games. Also, the ending of the episode was—for lack of a better word—quite ridiculous, as who would intentionally walk into a zone of Tank class? Furthermore, what makes even more strange is how the BETA just ignored her like she wasn’t there, when they’re said to be one of the most sensitive classes in terms of detecting humans.
Still, I can’t help but wonder if these inconsistencies are due to the prologue possibly being anime original… which would explain quite a bit. I’ve heard rumours in regards to this, but have yet to confirm as I have yet to read the manga myself or read any official sources. In any case, they’re not really big issues in the big picture I suppose, but it does take away a bit from what would otherwise be a pretty amazing episode in my book. That and the sudden three year time skip with 30 seconds left. At least though, it seems like the prologue is done for the most part, and the foundations have been set for the main part of the story. I reckon we’ll be seeing the main protagonist (Yuya Bridges) soon enough and well, there’s definitely some potential in the series. At the very least, it’ll give die-hard mecha fans their “mecha fix” now that Aquarion Evol’s done. At best, we’ll get one of the better shows of the year—a great, emotional story with a solid cast.
ED: 「signs 〜朔月一夜〜」 (signs ~Sakutsuki Ichiya~) by 栗林みな実 (Kuribayashi Minami)
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