「極東戦線」 (Kokutou Sensen)
“The Far East Front Lines”
Just a note before starting. This post will be quite long, but please bear with me and at least read the first and last paragraph in its entirety, as I feel that they’ll be key in readjusting your expectations for the series when you understand some additional facts regarding the series.
Coming into this episode, I have to say that I was admitted excited. Yes, I’ll admit I wasn’t sure what to expect immediately after watching the previous one, but it’s since come to my attention rather interesting facts that not only gave me hope for this episode, but the series in general. I’m still not expecting anything along the greatness that was the Alternative visual novel… but at the very least, there’s a very positive outlook at the moment. And what exactly did I find out? Well, pretty much the reason why the episodes up until now have felt and been subpar. And the reason is this: the original intent of the series was intended merely as a tool to sell figures made by Volks and had only included the Yuuya/Yui arc. But, after selling extremely well, the creators went back and added some additional, actual material, leaving the beach episode material as an intermission as they did this (in fact, the titles of the chapters involving the beach are even labeled “Intermission 1” and “Intermission 2”. I myself was a bit skeptical at the source I saw this from, but have since verified many of these facts, especially the intent to use as a marketing tool. And so, like I said before, boy was I excited to see what the difference in tone this episode would bring…
…and damn did it deliver. This episode was perhaps one of the more solid, if not most solid one yet, and it’s definitely showing the impact of the extra effort put in expanding the Total Eclipse universe past its original arc. The characters stayed pretty consistent for the most part, the interactions were better, and the atmosphere much more stable. Sure, the arrival of the BETA helped move things along, but there was definitely a fairly notable difference this time around. But of course, that could only be me trying to look for something different… I’ll admit. But I’d like to believe there was at least some improvement in this episode compared to the nature of the previous. Alas, that’s enough of that for now. I reckon we’ll see with the coming episodes just how much different it is (if any)… so off to actually talking about what happened.
For the most part, there were three main plot points this episode. First up? The culmination of the new found “respect” that Yui and Bridges now have for another, fit with ribbings of Yuuya from the rest of the Argos Flight squad. And it’s just nice to see that they’re both much more open with another, not quick to get into arguments, and actually working together for the most part. The process in getting to this radical exchange wasn’t that great in terms of how it was implemented, but at least the result is a better watch. No more immature outbursts, no more outwardly racist provocations, no more lack of appreciation for the effort each of them put in. It just makes the show flow much better for the most part, though… Commander Latrova would like to have a word with Yuuya about all the goodwill he’s suddenly building up. The guy just can’t get a break!
Moving on, the second major thing was the issues stemming from those fighting on the front lines and those fighting on the rear lines. Issues that include outright abuse of those who are on the rear, even if they’re theoretically your comrades, as well as the apparent intentional usage of other countries’ refugees as front line pilots. It goes to just demonstrate the state of the Muv-Luv world, one where there’s still a fair amount of infighting despite the grim nature of everything… all because of human nature. And while many people would say it’s stupid to still be fighting one another despite all that’s happening, the sad part is, I think if we were faced with the same scenario, we’d end up doing the same thing too. And it just really makes me feel for the people in the series in general, because I’m sure that deep down inside, every single Eishi there wants to rid the world of the BETA. But yet there are still others who won’t fight along side them or respect them for one reason or another, starting a cycle of hatred that really might just lead to their deaths. Just makes you want to scream “WHY?! WHY?!” even if you know the answer ya know?
And last but not least, the remaining plot point revolves around the combat test of the new Shiranui, as things start moving full speed regarding this. For one, we get the reveal of a new weapon, which in turn gives us an insight into some of the politics involved, where TSF not designed to use it is being forced to do so anyway. And it’s notable because many of the previous episodes seemed to have skipped quite a bit of these political elements, which are critical aspects in the Muv-Luv universe. Also, let’s not forget to mention the importance of the combat test in the Argos Flight team even being here in the first place, as it sets up the upcoming fight against the BETA, which should be a sight to behold. To top it off, it serves as a background for introducing the epic commander of the elite Russian Eishi squad, Fikatsia Latrova, who seems as badass as they can be.
And well, just a solid, solid episode to say the least. In ways, I’m tempted to say this was the best episode out of any so far, including the first two episodes. Why’s that? Because I feel that the first two episodes, despite their fairly good reception by showing the BETA… actually did more bad than good. For one, it set up expectations and impressions that were guaranteed to be let down by the episodes between then and now. And for another, it greatly disappointed the visual novel players in the context that there were quite a few aspects that were incorrectly shown. The episode where Yui trashed everyone is probably the only closest episode in quality to this one, I’d say. Anyway, things are looking up, especially in the coming episodes. I’d reckon people who dropped this will be regretting it soon enough (hopefully at least). Really can’t wait for next week!