「衛士の一分」 (Eishi no Ichibun)
“An Eishi’s Honor”
Continuing right off from last week, we have Yuuya making his last stand against the BETA. With everything on the brink though, things look just as grim as they did for Yui a few episodes back. But like with her, there’s a guardian angel waiting on the wings in the form of Commander Latrova, as the Zhar Battalion swoops in to save “the idiot busy playing around with the BETA“. Things start looking up for just a moment, but keeping true to Muv-Luv’s philosophy, Murphy’s Law kicks into full blast, and well… I wouldn’t have it any other way.
The bombers start coming in hot, droppin’ em bombs like some insane World War II flick (the amount of budget that must’ve went into that scene, holy crap). And it’s all good… until you realize they’re going to take you out with the base too. At this point, there’s just scarcely any words to describe what I was feeling really, because we saw this coming the second the episode started (and the second the bombers were launched), but damn, seeing the Zhar Battalion bombed to death by their own comrades… that just gets the emotions goin’.
Amazingly, the Battalion end up being saved by the BETA, as the laser class make their triumphant reappearance, trashing everything flying above building height in a matter of minutes. And gosh darn did that have me jumpin’ in my seat, especially since they seemed to have put some extra effort in making the laser class representative of their visual novel (source) counterparts. The exposure time necessary to bore through TSF’s and the bombers were drastically different from the first few episodes and it just restores the laser class as an amazing threat on top of the already ridiculous forces the BETA possess. Add in the tactics involving the fact they never fire on other BETA, and we’re finally also getting a glimpse into some of the actual tactics being actively used to combat each particular class and the BETA in general on a battlefield too. Notably, the bluray versions of the first two episodes seem to have also fixed some of the inconsistencies here as well and added quite a bit more detail to some of the more grotesque, but censored scenes. Also, I’d like to also mention that the Takemikazuchi in episode seems to actually be blue, not purple, indicating a relation in family, but not the actual shogun itself.
Shifting back to the episode, it’s here where Latrova finally accepts that her and her battalion have been sacrificed, something hammered in especially by Yuuya’s dialogue. But as he finds out, things just aren’t that simple as disobeying orders when you disagree with them, as Latrova shows how despite the orders, there’s only so much she can do when its the lives of her family and comrades at stake. To top it off, Latrova also reminds Yuuya that he himself has a task to accomplish, and it just emphasizes the unfair responsibilities thrown onto Eishi (especially commanders) in the battlefield, who must often decide between the mission (and the fate of humanity as a whole) and the lives of their comrades/family. It’s just that kind of world in Muv-Luv, and this situation really just emphasizes how dire things can be in a world facing extinction. But at the same time, there’s also a subtle commentary weaved in about the resilience of the human spirit too, as Latrova ultimately stays resolute despite the grim scenario, opting to make the most of what she can of the situation, and if not, to make the most of their deaths.
Think about it. Her sending of Yuuya back to the base emphasizes her attempt to ensure that at least someone can survive who can make a big difference in the future. Her decision to destroy the laser class with the remains of her battalion a demonstration of her will to protect the country she fights for and the absolute defense line vital to humanity’s overall survival. And last but not least, she even stays behind to fight against the Soviet agent sent to silence her squadron in order to protect her family/comrades too. She refuses to just let the situation bring her down and cower in fear, and it really is just amazing and shows why she was so lauded as a commander in the first place. Not to mention, when you intentionally send away some of your unit and order them to stay away to protect them, yet they still come back because they want to fight alongside you, you know you’re doing something right.
In any case, there’s just so much I can discuss regarding this episode, the commentaries about humanity and military culture, and how this episode emphasizes parts of what made Muv-Luv so highly regarded in the first place, but alas… it’s really just more than I can put in words at the moment. And that’s without even discussing the added scenes at the end of the episode where Yuuya discusses how he’s matured as a result of the events in Kamchatsky, how he realizes how spoiled and immature he was before, and how he says he’ll fight to protect others from now on. Not only does it emphasize the importance and responsibility of those living to continue on in the memories of those that have fallen before hand, but also the fact that it’s important to be able to move on and to have hopefully learned something from their sacrifice. And well, it looks like he’ll get that chance soon enough, as his new XFJ-01a Demonstrator Color just came in the mail (which is ironic since I recently managed to snag the figure version of it in the mail too).
Overall, things are just looking up, and it should be a nice ride from now until the end of the series… albeit there’ll probably be a lull in the action in the coming episode or two (maybe). On that note though, I’ll leave you with one thing, and that’s the question of who exactly the Soviets sent to silence the Zhar Battalion. I’m not sure myself, but that sure looked like Cryska and Inia’s SU-37UB to me…
Some tributes to the fallen Zhar Battalion: