Anime Manga Reviews

Liking Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse? See also…

Earth’s invaded, humanity’s out-matched and Japan’s moe legions are our first line of defence. Would you feel confident?

One of the biggest surprises of the summer season has been Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse. A name as bad as that is enough to scare away most, but that this is both a mecha anime and a bloody brutal one at that is stranger still. Whether it can live up to the intensity of these first two episodes is another question entirely, but right now, it’s just nice to reflect on a job well massacred! The root cause of it all? Aliens, of course! Earth’s invaded, humanity’s out-matched and Japan’s moe legions are our first line of defence. Would you feel confident?

Most will have been waiting for the Gundam influence to show itself once a surprise attack throws the cutest of our new recruits into the thick of the action. You’d expect them to somehow pull through and counter-attack, but that doesn’t happen at all: this time, the kids get eaten alive.
If this is all sounding a little cheap, that’s probably because it is. There’s nothing big and clever about such things, but it’s still exciting to me. There’s nothing like a good dose of cynicism every now and then. I’ve always enjoyed survival horror anyway, and if your appetite was whetted by this, you really need to see Blue Gender and Bokurano, too.

In Blue Gender, a guy wakes up from his decades-long coma to find Earth overrun by giant insects. The first-half of the series follows him and a band of soldiers as they search for a way off the planet, all along the way fending off attacks from the creepy-crawlies and watching their numbers gradually dwindle. It’s a notably bleak affair and well worth tracking down if you’re up for some harsh, adult anime.

Bokurano is the bleakest of them all, though, with a premise about as cruel as they come. Piloting mecha in this series is a once-in-a-life-time kind of deal, given that if you lose, your planet is destroyed, and if you win, it’s only you that dies. Once you’ve agreed to be a pilot in this story, there’s no turning back. A bunch of kids are tricked into signing up because it sounds like fun, but the reality is obviously different.
It’ll be fun to see how Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse sews itself back together again. A fan it has made of me.

10 replies on “Liking Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse? See also…”

Ah, I just finished the first two episodes! This show is insane! I still don’t get why its a bunch of teenage girls fighting these things, but I guess that’s the way that anime goes. I don’t really follow series as they air, but this and Sword Art Online have really attracted my attention this season. Thanks for the recommendation!
Also, if you’re looking for something bleak like this that follows in the same vein, try Saikano. It’s not the best, but it does have some poignant moments and it’s only 13 episodes.

I’d forgotten about Saikano! I’ve never seen it, but from what I’ve heard, it’s one that I really should watch.
The girls thing… I don’t know either. I guess I’m through the looking glass when I don’t even question this stuff anymore! D:

Interestingly enough, neither of these episodes actually came from the source material. Both were written by the staff of the anime in order to introduce new viewers to the Muv Luv viewers. Otherwise people might get a bit lost, since this is an adaptation of a spinoff of a sequel after all.
The original Muv Luv took a typical spineless harem protagonist, tossed him into the middle of a battlefield where humanity was losing, and forced him to grow up. You never saw the aliens until about 60% of the end of the story; everything before then was taken up by deliberately unfunny comedy, followed by low-key mecha hijinks, followed by enormous amounts of exposition, followed by politics. So when the aliens came out of the woodwork and completely wrecked the status quo, it was a legitimately shocking moment.
Something tells me that Total Eclipse attempted to replicate this feeling of OH SHIT by starting with a relatively light first episode and following it with a second where everyone dies. The problem with this is that you’re missing that frankly enormous amount of investment that the original Muv Luv put into its characters before things started getting serious. Total Eclipse in comparison throws a bunch of names and faces at you and expects you to care as they’re horrifically slaughtered. Somewhat effective, but probably not the best substitute.
So all in all, it’ll be interesting to see what happens when Sunrise starts adapting the “real” story. Will the writing improve, or will the staff let this show down? We’ll just have to see.

Whoops! I guess I meant Satelight, not Sunrise. The two are totally different and I messed them up arrghhhh
Anyway, point still stands. Hopefully the show will improve once they get to the actual novel material, otherwise (most likely) we’re in for a disappointing slog.

I often wonder about statements like “…and they expect us to care? After only 2 episodes?” The point of a pilot episode(s) would be to grab attention, and this seems to have done to trick. There’s now a sense of “okay, so what’s next?” about Total Eclipse, but if they can maintain the story’s strange attention to detail then we could be seeing something decent here.
Either way, thanks for explaining a little more about Muv Luv’s franchise. Until last week, I had this thing down a generic harem-fest, and now I find it’s this crazy miltary mecha mash. I’m looking forward to its next episode a fair amount! 🙂

Wendeego has a point. We’re supposed to care about these characters after two episodes? Though I’m relieved to hear that they weren’t part of the original. Apart from the growing dread of the alien invasion (and those humanoid mouths freaked me out), everything else was done very poorly. If we’re getting to the proper story now maybe the storytelling will improve.

As I’m catching with the blog I stumbled across this post and had to cynically smile to myself. The first two episodes were fucking awesome. Even more so compared to my incredibly low expectations. Very subtle sense of tragedy and hopelessness that creeps into the girls’ lives.
As for why there are almost only girls: most of the men got drafted and killed already, at least that’s what I have read elsewhere.
And now, what is up with this show? It’s taken a fast 180 towards bullshit territory. Everything is now contained in this show that they left out in the first 2 eps. The girls are continously exploited for fanservice, and the Japanese girl’s(what’s her name?) character has turned from a potentially great main character into standard issue “military asshole but also secretly in love with that boring dude and actually tsundere or whatever the fuck”. It makes me want to throw up.

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