Muv-Luv is back and this time we’re rolling the clock back to 1983. Set a mere 10 years after the arrival of the BETA, Schwarzesmarken gives us a glimpse of humanity’s early fight against the BETA, and it wastes no time in thrusting us directly to the front-lines. What we’re treated to is a dark and bloody intro highlighted by the arrival of the franchise’s infamous Laser-Class, and the quick demise of Inghild ends up one of many casualties in an episode filled with BETA corpses. Amid it all, the politics are in full play with the separation of Germany into the West and East, and it’s a great demonstration of how in the Muv-Luv universe, the BETA are far from the only threat.

As it turns out, the most sinister of enemies could very well be the humans you’re fighting along side with, and the first episode goes the extra mile by framing Irisdina Bernhard as someone who’s far more than just the ruthless commander of the 666th Squadron. The notion of PTSD and the enlistment of young children into the military gives viewers further insight into the state of things in Schwarzesmarken, and this is a start that leaves you with much to digest before its all said and done.

One could argue ultimately that it’s a little too much, and this is one of those cases where it’s important to note that while one can watch the series without prior experience with any of the franchise’s iterations, it’s certainly better to have at least some knowledge in order to really grasp everything we’re getting here. The introduction we get regarding the BETA is short and concise to the point where you’ll essentially be watching and trying to accept how things are as you go, and the fact that there are brief terminology references (“heavy metal cloud”) with no elaboration cuts out some of the impact of what the 666th Squadron’s mission is, the importance of their task, the threat that the Laser-Class pose, and some of the many tactics used to combat the BETA.

A lot of the complexities that made the franchise great are covered behind things such as that, and one would hope that at least a little bit of elaboration goes into this in the future, unless it turns out that it’s not meant to be for new viewers in the first place. Either way, I’ve put a generally spoiler free explanation of what the “heavy metal cloud” entails and the reasons for their usage in the spoiler below:

Show Spoiler ▼

All-in-all, your enjoyment of the series will vary depending on your prior experience with the franchise. The impact of this will likely lessen as time goes on as the series’ own story develops, but for the first episode at least, it could make the difference between you thinking it’s either a average Sci-Fi series with mecha/action elements or an enjoyable series that does a decent job capturing some of the things you loved about Muv-Luv franchise. This is certainly one of those cases where the wait-and-see approach comes in handy if you fit in the former category, while those in the latter likely already know if they’re in it for the long haul. That said, I’m interested in seeing what you thought of the first episode if you fit in the former category, so feel free to share your impressions below. As for coverage, there is nothing confirmed Schwarzesmarken at this time, though depending on time constraints, the next episode or two may receive a post.


ED Sequence

ED: 「哀しみが時代を駆ける」 (Kanashimi ga Jidai o Kakeru) by Zähre


  1. Seems like it will be good and I like having a somewhat relatable universe. The potential of the story to get pretty dark is nice too. Still would of rather have a continuation of the Total Eclipse story but I’ll take what I can get.

    1. I would certainly take that yes. Interestingly enough though, I’d say that it may be likelier we’d get a TL-ed English version of the VN than a continuation of the anime at this point.

      1. I did hear that, but there were certainly some things I heard good comments about, and it’d be nice to see how it sorted itself out in the end.

        Few things are worse than leaving a story unfinished you know?

    1. Technically speaking yes.

      But as I’ve played the VN’s, the previous animated iteration in TE also had MLA in the name and this is in the same overall setting. I felt it was more apt to have MLA in the name to highlight this association.

      I feel that putting just Schwarzesmarken would cause misconceptions about the series.

      1. It might not be titled Muv Luv Alternative, because it takes place before the split into Alternative and Unlimited. Total Eclipse was Alternative cause it went till the last OP of the original VN.

  2. Having never watched any Muv-Luv, I can say I’ll be sticking around for this. Scratches all the right sci-fi itches and half decently portrays the DDR and its military forces (Kampfpanzer T-72s with ERA, why yes thank you). Hell even the German names actually make sense!

    Ironically all I can think of with the back story though is Resistance: Fall of Man, moved up ~30 years or so, taking place in Germany, and using mechs. Not that I’m complaining, I love the Resistance trilogy 😀

  3. This episode would’ve been far less overdramatic and consequently more tolerable without all the bad military disciplines like a pilot that just went berserk and casually brushed off her superior’s order. Thankfully, the blonde chick boss is strict as hell and a no-nonsense type (and big boobs), so the fights could end without so much bullshit. And then in the last 10 minutes there appear a ponytail imouto-type girl that speaks like screeching nails on chalkboard and spouts naivety nonsense (it was quite satisfying to see her getting a bitchslap, tbh), making the episode annoying again. Thankfully, the mech battles looked badass and the whole East/West Germany (and cold war) seems interesting. So it kinda evened out.

    1. Ah that’s interesting that you saw it that way.

      One of the big things in the ML universe is its portrayal of the stress from being thrust into combat, so post-traumatic stress disorder’s a big thing that typically results from combat with the BETA. The fact that most pilots rarely last over something like a minute before dying in combat is also another big thing, so she was likely dealing with that and/or the loss of someone previously.

      There’s a built in treatment (mixture of psychological hypnosis and actual medicine) they try to implement to try and override it enough to send pilots out anyway (they did try it here as well), but it doesn’t always work, and that’s generally what you saw there.

      So there’s actually a lot behind it, but sadly there’s only so much room to really go into the intricacies of it all.

    2. They aren’t just sending 15-year-old girls out into combat for shits and giggles, there’s a real shortage of manpower even at this relatively early stage in the fight against the BETA. Pulling back all the soldiers with PTSD would result in almost no one left on the battlefront. TSF pilots in particular are important to have out there, since not everyone can become one and they are the only effective way to deal with the laser-class.

      Also, Zephyr, you forget about the eight minutes of death?

  4. I would watch this but then the girl with a screeching annoying voice appeared so I dropped it instantly. I can tell she is going to be one of those annoying character where the creator just keeps pushing and pushing for her importance, making the main character fall in love with her (even though there are far better females around him). I’ve had enough animes like that. Seriously… that voice…

    1. I think you’d be somewhat surprised at how things tend to develop in series within this universe.

      Not sure how this particular series works out in the end, but if the other series in this franchise are any indication, I wouldn’t predict that kind of ending before hand…

    2. Having watched the series since Kiminozo, I have to agree with Zephyr on predicting the ending. But if you can’t stand Katia’s voice, then I think it’s best to drop this. Her goal is making friends, so she’ll be around and talking a lot.

  5. you see, there is this fighting between them and looks like this fight inside them has more priority then these Aliens. So its the same as Muv-alternative, just other setting. So not my cup of tea. Sorry

  6. It’s also a natural progression for the series given Muv-Luv Alternative is simply Japan, Total Eclipse was NATO/Western powers, and now we have the Soviet/Eastern powers as the highlighted group (of whom we only saw some short glimpses of their ruthlessness and such in Total Eclipse).

    Though, as others bring up, I do hope Katia ends up losing her naivete soon. Not that she should come to hate anyone and everyone from the Eastern bloc, but at least realize that her happy-go-lucky “let’s be friends” attitude isn’t going to fly, and realize the actual consequences to her own actions.

    1. After her look at the very end, I wonder how much of her “naivete” is actually real. She looked fairly serious eventually, and I could perfectly imagine this to be a “cover personality”.

      Let’s wait and see.

  7. Seems like an adaptation for existing fans. “The treatment” just being mentioned compared to shown cauded a PSTD girl on the frontline to made less sense to new viewers. There are few other details such as shielding melting in few seconds and quick shuffling of frontline, and frontline beta suddenly opening the way for laser beta to shoot that would be appreciated by experienced viewers but lost on new ones.

    Will continue to watch, although I won’t expect too much since I heard it tends to get overly dramatic and gritty at times… But collapsing frontline should makes for better watch compared to test pilot base.

    1. As a VN reader, I agree. BETA tactics and why there are minors with psycological problems on the front is not explained.

      But because I am an VN reader I was more then pleased with how they showed things.
      I really liked how that laser class in the begining really took about 2 seconds to destroy that one TSF with a constant beam of light instead of fiering Total Eclipse’s “one-hit blaster bolts”.

  8. I’ve always been iffy on Schwarzesmarken. I’ve never read the LN because I just wasn’t interested on a prequel set on Europe. Largely because the VN (and Total Eclipse for that matter) make it very clear how the war with the BETA went. Its like watching the Star Wars prequels and wondering if Anakin will turn to the dark side.

    Furthermore the other part I liked about Muv-Luv: the mecha porn, is not present on this prequel. Its mostly the First Generation TSF (F-4, F-5 and their derivatives) and not the great designs of the Second and Third Generation machines. At best we might see the American A-10 TSF since they also participated in the Europe war.

    So all that is left is the characters and the political setting that can hold my interest. So far the characters are pretty standard and nothing too annoying. Though this is Muv-Luv, I probably won’t get too attached to them knowing anyone of them will bite the dust soon. And as always with the franchise, its pretty much invokes the real world politics, mostly with the division of West and East Germany so that’s probably the one thing the can keep me watching.

  9. I’ve always been iffy on Schwarzesmarken. I’ve never read the LN because I just wasn’t interested on a prequel set on Europe. Largely because the VN (and Total Eclipse for that matter) make it very clear how the war with the BETA went. Its like watching the Star Wars prequels and wondering if Anakin will turn to the dark side.

    Furthermore the other part I liked about Muv-Luv: the great mecha designs and details, is not present on this prequel. Its mostly the First Generation TSF (F-4, F-5 and their derivatives) and not the great designs of the Second and Third Generation machines. At best we might see the American A-10 TSF since they also participated in the Europe war.

    So all that is left is the characters and the political setting that can hold my interest. So far the characters are pretty standard and nothing too annoying. Though this is Muv-Luv, I probably won’t get too attached to them knowing anyone of them will bite the dust soon. And as always with the franchise, its pretty much invokes the real world politics, mostly with the division of West and East Germany so that’s probably the one thing the can keep me watching.

  10. Been a fan of the Muv Luv franchise since i had the honor of playing Alternative and I must say, Schwarzesmarken is definitely doing a good job of immersing the audience into the shltty world of BETA infested earth.

    To the newbies in the series, the MuvLuv Alternative world will teach you a few painful things. Allow me to point out some of them.

    1. In a world where humans are struggling to starve off extinction, the value of life has experience quite a devaluation.

    2. Those who can fight are prioritized. Those who cant can die for all they care. This mindset cant be help given the situation.

    3. There are no super soldiers here. Our protagonists (or atleast the one that looks calm) have already been beaten and broken. They simply able to pick themselves up and pull themselves together. Expect a lot of anger and PTSD

    4. “Why are they so young?” Coz the older “Professional” soldiers have already died off. Schwarzensmarken is set on 1983 and the world hasnt even recovered from the WW2. Then suddenly the BETA came…. Yes… they are sending kids to battle coz they have no choice.

    5. “Why are there so many women?” Similar to Number 4. Nearly all of the soldiers at the time of WW2 and the following years later were Men. They were the first to die. The guys you see now are the ones that were either too young or lucky enough to not die from the war and the alien invation

    6. “Since the characters are pretty, there should be romance right?” Yes…. sort off…. There should be a harem-ish feel at some point, similar to Total Eclipse…. but Muv Luv is a douchebag to its cast.

    7. CHOMP… lots and lots of CHOMP

    Okay, I’ll end my rant there.

    Now comes my expectation/desperate plea to the anime.

    Please end it like Total Eclipse! End it on a good note and dont bother adapting the rest of the LNs! The Muv Luv universe has a atrociously bad habit of pissing of their fanbase. The rage inducing crap they do is just criminal!

    Last but not the least, some random crap,

    Oh look… a foreshadowing that even a blind man can see coming.

    Them big Polish Titis!

    1. I rather products be finished though, good or bad, let’s you form opinions. plus atleast the rage inducing is memorable, the bigger sin is to peter off and be boring and unmemorable for a entertainment product. Plus not fair to anime only viewers, it’ll just be another incomplete adaptation that plagues the anime medium already.

      1. While you are correct and I do agree with you in most cases…. The repeated heartache that the Muv Luv universe made me feel just makes me want to beg for either an anime-only ending or an incomplete adaptation.

        Just once! Give me a happy ending! I beg you!

  11. It was rather fast, I think. Really enjoyed the mecha sequences, though I feel Total Eclipse did a better job in showing the dangers of the Laser class. Not sure why, but I don’t get the feeling that they are that dangerous during the mission. I think it’ll be my Mecha/Sci-fi fix for the season.

    One thing that really interest me is the politics and how they shape our characters. The setting in a Stasi controlled East Germany worked quite well for me. I actually laughed when Katia started rambling about how she’s West German inside a Stasi infested base. I don’t think it would work so well in other settings. It also made it easier to remember the whole squadron. We have comander, second in command, political commissar, normal guy, stuck on the wrong side of the wall guy, crazy girl, crazy looking girl and RIP girl. I’ll remember their names after a few episodes I’m sure.

    I’m not too ingrained in Muv-Luv terminology, but I don’t think there were really confusing. Using “Heavy Metal Cloud” as an example, I know they’re like chaff. So they should function in a similar way, and from the explanation given here, apparently they do. With the added detail of accidental kills from debris, but that wasn’t to important for the episode. I also think that they’re going mixed media with this. The anime website actually explains a few terminology. A lot of mechs and BETA are also shown there. Really excited to see how a 21 meter Heavy Laser will act.

    Overall, I quite enjoyed this episode. No real major complaints, except after watching this episode, I don’t think Katia will have a gruesome demise.

    1. As been pointed in another comment, laser class was portrayed wrong in TE. It was tOP pew pew laser bolts which killed things instantly compared to proper one like this, a laser beam which melt things in seconds. With pew pew laser bolts, anti laser strategy shown by the 666 squad in this ep won’t work.

      Laser class was deadly because of its accuracy, range, and coordination (and few other spoiler materials), not because of instant kill cannons.

      1. Accurate portrayal aside, it wasn’t the instant kill that made them seem dangerous. It was more of how a slight miscalculation will prove fatal. And yes that has to do with the fact that they do operate beyond visual range. Unlike the close range variants where you think they should have seen that coming, laser class victims you think: they should have followed engagement rules. Admittedly I don’t really know how common that knowledge is in this era.

  12. I’m certainly going to follow this one – so I would love if you’d pick it up for recurring blogging, Zephyr! I also believe that having someone familiar with the universe giving explanations like the one you gave about laser class/heavy metal cloud would be a real service to those viewers unfamiliar with the setting.

    Obviously we’ll have drama overload happening here. Good 🙂

  13. War is hell.
    Total war is hell squared. And BETA raise the totalness factor by 10.
    Total war in a totalitarian society is… what we see in Schwarzesmarken.
    This is the series I have awaited the most this eason and I have so far been fully satisfied.
    Graphically, series does great job with both mecha design and frozen landscape so familar to me who lives in a city on the very same river Oder, just north of the place where battle has taken place.

  14. Certainly a more accurate portrayal of the laser-class than in Total Eclipse. I suppose they could throw in an info dump during Katia’s first briefing with her new squad for laser hunting, but I don’t know if it would make sense to get the full breakdown of everything like we did when we followed a group of cadets.

    As a fan of the franchise, I enjoyed this episode much more than most of the TE anime. While I wouldn’t necessarily mind if they make it more accessible for new viewers, I wouldn’t like it if it came at the expense of the overall product. Cutting out some of the infodumps might be the best way to go about this.

    On that note: for anyone new, I would strongly advise against google/youtube searches, as well as any wikis, if you want to avoid spoilers. The main trilogy of VNs is getting an official translation that should come out this year, and it’s quite the experience if you go in unspoiled.

  15. I haven’t watched anything Muv-Luv related until now and I must say I don’t see why there should be an issue for newcomers.

    So far, it’s easy to guess what they are doing even without knowing the jargon (it’s not as if Evangelion explained it either). If according to the posts there is indeed a good explanation behind it all, it means I can enjoy the series without worries in that regard.

  16. As soon as the named characters of the squad were introduced in the middle of the BETA attack, I already knew one of them would die brutally (if not downright maimed). And was proven correct a few minutes later.

    Welcome back to the world of Muv-Luv, where anyone can die (especially characters you’ve grown to like), those who manage to survive on the front are dysfunctional as f***, and despite facing a threat that could potentially end the world as they know it, humanity still has time for realpolitik and pushing their own self-serving agenda like those folks over at Westeros. (Hurray for skewed priorities…)

    Be warned though: If you’re following the CinemaSins maxim of “the books [or in this case, side materials or visual novels] do not f***ing matter,” you may be a little hard-pressed to enjoy this show as a standalone story. For this is but one small tale in an overarching franchise. (OK, so my only other brush with the Muv-Luv ‘verse was the Total Eclipse anime. But man, compared to that–and if this episode is any indication–I sense Schwarzesmarken will be even more brutal.)

    Anyway, can anyone confirm if the woman in this scene was voiced by Yoko Honna–best known as Sumeragi Lee Noriega from Gundam 00? If that was her getting typecast as a mission control-type character, that would be hilarious. And I do want to find a bit of humor in an otherwise bleak series.

    1. It’s already been noted that the series name itself isn’t exactly the proper translation and some German phrases are not properly utilized.

      I’m merely using it as it’s officially listed on a couple different places, though at this point I’m also seeing it named Schwarzes marken as well, but it’s still spelled that way overall.

  17. Seems like a solid opening to a new Muv-luv series, though given how fast and far the last one crashed and burned that’s no guarantee of quality. I’m liking the grounded personalities (minus Katia – unless the innocent hippie shtick really is an act) and especially how the MC is cynical and somewhat cowardly. The two big potential pitfalls I can see are the same ones Total Eclipse fell into: degenerating into overtly cliche harem antics while the world (literally) burns, or pushing an overtly ideological nonsensical plot driven by characters with the intelligence of a teaspoon. A Stalinist/Fascist totalitarian state nearing its death throes is a really unique and interesting setting with a lot of potential, hopefully it won’t be wasted on poorly motivated 2D villains or cookie cutter protagonists.

    Doctor Hochmeister
  18. For the LN/VN readers, did humanity managed to win and wipe out the BETA from the face of the earth and moon?

    See that this is a prequel of sorts and the BETAs were still going at it on Total Eclipses, we could assume that whatever plan that the 2 Germany laid down against the BETA, they failed. I’m simply watching this for the politicking, infighting, west vs. east, death scenes of named characters and character/romance developments.

    1. That depends on which timeline you are asking for since the VN has alternative dimension and time-travel shenanigans.

      The Muv-Luv Unlimited Timeline can be charitably described as “It got worse”

      The Muv-Luv Alternative Timeline:

      Show Spoiler ▼

  19. I’m quite interested in this as a whole more so than I was in Total Eclipse from the get-go, altho I felt TE’s slower start was a bit better. The cold war atmosphere, besides the BETA war is more interesting than one who’s main purpose is to test a new TSF.

    Theodor doesn’t seem to be a mechaphile like Yuuya, which is a + for me(tell me he isn’t) and he prob had the best line this ep “Insane pilots need to stay off the battlefield.” I don’t care how good or genius that pilot is, if they can’t control themselves, they’re a threat to their comrades, as seen.

    Manly Tear

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