「錚々たるユーコン」 (Dora taru Yukon)
With the prologue done, the third episode starts delving into the core story of Total Eclipse. It’s a step down from the brutal nature of the first and second episodes, but in the end, it’s what Muv-Luv does best—which is provide a large amount of contrast to heighten the emotional impact. Though, I will admit that since I have yet to read the source material yet for Total Eclipse, I’m not quite sure whether or not there’ll be any more BETA appearances for the rest of the season. One would hope so, but the impression I had originally was that this series would be more of a focus on a project critical to the Alternative timeline and human vs. human sparring/testing, rather than fights with the BETA. Regardless, for now, it seems like the focus is on Project Prominence, the joint US-Japan attempt to create a next generation TSF. And at the center of everything? The American pilot, Yuuya Bridges (Ono, Daisuke).
The main protagonist of the series for the most part, Bridges finally makes an appearance, along with the rest of the supporting cast (more on them later). Exceptionally skilled to the point where he’s considered an ace, as well as being the original test pilot of the Raptor, Bridges comes in as a kind of guy who is probably a level higher than almost all of his Eishi counterparts. Combine that with the fact he doesn’t want to be there at all and well, it explains his demeanor, which is a mixture of arrogance, calmness, and impatience. I’m not quite sure what to think of him as a lead at the moment, but I have to say that Bridges seems like he could easily be one of those awesome “GARRRRR” protagonists that just steal the show from time to time. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for that one.
But that’s enough about Bridges for now, as there’s quite a few other characters introduced this episode.
First off, we get the pilot from Nepal, Tarisa Manandal (Nogawa Sakura). The epitome of the feisty, high-energy archetype, she’s definitely the life of the party for the most part, and she gives a nice dynamic to the interactions of the rest of the team. Her skills don’t seem to be as good as Bridges or the Cryska (Nabatame Hitomi)/Inia (Noto Mamiko) duo, but it definitely seems like she could at least hold her own in a fight.
Next, we have two other members: the Italian pilot Valerio Jiakosa (Hamada Kenji) and the Swedish pilot Stella Bremer (Ohara Sayaka). They don’t get as much airtime as Tarisa, but we’re still able to get a pretty nice window into their personalities. And suffice to say, while they’re both pretty light-hearted outwardly, they definitely have a more serious side hidden beneath everything. I reckon we’ll see more of the latter side before all’s said and done, but until then, I’ll be enjoying the bantering between the two. There’s just something about the guy who acts like a playboy and the gal who teases back but doesn’t reciprocate. Or maybe that’s just me being “M”…
Anyway, moving on! Last but not least, we have the Cryska/Inia duo… who are probably the most intriguing of the new characters introduced. And well, this is mostly because they definitely have telepathic/ESP powers, which was demonstrated by both of them syncing together during the mock combat test, as well as Inia’s “reading” of Yui when she was seeking directions. As a player of the original games, I know the origins of their powers and everything, but I know that other viewers probably don’t have much of a clue except for what I mentioned above. As such, I’m hoping they’ll eventually elaborate on this aspect, as well as how they ended up at the Yukon Pacific base. Notably, from the way they act toward each other and during combat, there’s definitely also a pretty serious story behind their past, which I’m also intrigued about—albeit, I probably know parts of it having played the VN’s.
And with that, that pretty much covers all the major new characters this time around. There’s still the Captain and the mechanic Vincent, but they don’t really play that big a role this time around… especially compared to Yui, who packed a bang this episode despite her limited appearances. Really, that comment and the whole walking past Bridges moment was just an awesome scene, and one I re-winded a few times just to see again. I mean, seeing Bridges get owned like that after his “show” in the mock combat drills… priceless. I do wonder at this point whether or not Yui’s a better pilot, but that is one thing I’m sure will be shown soon enough.
All in all, what can I say? It was a pretty nice episode to say the least. I’m sure there’s some disappointment in the lack of BETA this episode, as well as the fact that we don’t know if we’ll see them again this series, but the introductions to the fairly large cast were pretty well done. I can’t say any of the character’s personalities have really blown me away at the moment, but there are some solid foundations set this episode. Oh yes, did I mention how awesome it was to see those lines of TSF’s, as well as the TSF’s fighting in all their CGI goodness? Glad to see that despite the rumored low budget this series is getting, that they’re still putting in a lot of effort into the TSF scenes. And well, with that, guess that’s about it for this episode.
To help you bide some time to the next episode and to make up for the fact I’m putting a little less in this post than the norm, here’s a bunch of full-lengths (the most I’ve ever done in a single post!). Also, special thanks to SaberMochi for painstakingly stitching together the epic first screenshot of the ending! Words cannot express how awesome you are for being able to compile that image in such short time! *_*