Back in 2005, I remember being in the mood for a light-hearted show. I was pretty bummed out, things weren't going so well, so I looked around for something to watch. I saw that a show called Kimi Ga Nozomu Eien, or Kiminozo to fans, had some pretty cute girls in it and that it was based off a popular eroge. Back then, I equated that with laughs and chuckles, so I went ahead and started watching it. As anybody who has ever seen that show knows, it takes a rather drastic turn at the end of its second episode, going from your typical romantic comedy into a depressing drama about how people's lives have been wrecked by a single accident. While I thought the show was well done, it definitely was not what I was looking for and I knew from there on out to watch out for anything done by the original makers of the eroge, a company called âge.
Years later, I was randomly searching what âge had been up to and found out that they worked on a science fiction spin off of one of their eroge series called Muv Luv Alternative. From what I read, it had aliens, giant mechs, cute girls and various alternate universes that had the Earth in various states of destruction. I hoped that somebody would eventually turn it into an anime and it seems somebody finally listened to my wishes.
How did it turn out? Well, you'll have to hit the jump to find out!
Muv Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse starts off with a quick summery of this world's history: in 1967, mankind discovered aliens called BETA, Beings of Extra Terrestrial origin which is an Adversary of the human race. Yep, that's the whole name. Despite the stupid name, the BETA's are more than a match for mankind's military force, and after the First Lunar Surface War, the BETA turn their buggy eyes toward Earth. By the early 70s, the BETA land on our planet and lay waste to Europe.
The show jumps to 1997 and is set in Kyoto, the capital of Imperial Japan. Things seem pretty normal here, with girls walking to school on streets lined with cherry blossoms, when a pretty sweet looking robot called the Zuikaku Tactical Surface Fighter lands nearby. Set in a mecha school, these girls are part of the pilot program for the Imperial Guard. Honestly, I hope these girls don't have to defend anybody, because ditzy doesn't begin to cover their general personality. The first proper character we're introduced to is Takamura Yui, a cadet at the academy and the daughter of Zuikaku's creator. She also a vassal of the Shogun, which shows how society has changed since the arrival of the BETA.
After jumping to Fall of the same year, we find out that Yui's father is still abroad while the rest of the Asian Union sets up an absolute defense line to prevent the BETA from attacking Japan. Yui's uncle arrives home, with only a message from Yui's father. He's fighting on the mainland and the situation seems to be worse than reported. Later that night, Yui's uncle visits the Koubuin family, the 'rival' to Yui's family. They discuss weapons that should fair better against the BETA.
The next day, Yui begins her TSF training along with the rest of the girls in her class. There are some fairly intense flying and ground training, but the lot of them are clearly not ready for any sort of skirmish. From there they switch to inter-class battles, with a giant game of paintball and robo-kendo. Afterwards, you see more the various school girl adventures involving the girls, including getting caught being out late and having to clean the mechs as punishment.
Come 1998, the war front pushes its way onto the Korean peninsula, with the rest of the mainland having been dominated. By July, the BETA have landed in Japan and are headed toward Kyoto. Evacuations take place while several militaries come to the aid of Japan and the girls of Yui's class are forced to defend their land. Their placed at a temporary supply base and told to defend it…which means that they're almost immediately forced to hop in their suits and defend the place. The episode ends with the girls launching into battle.
Well, I'm pretty happy with the first episode. As Kiminozo does before it, Total Eclipse switches its initial tone quickly. There's quick and cheap fanservice early on, but the titillation disappears when the girls go from happy-go-lucky schoolgirls to terrified pilots in the span of 20 minutes. Granted, the first episode covers a year and the deteriorating war against the BETA, so the shift makes sense as battle comes to Japan's step. The only surprise was the speed of the tone shift, though it was probably done to keep the pace moving along in a 12 or 13 episode show.
The problem with the pace moving so fast is that the viewer doesn't really get to know any of the girls besides Yui and her rival. What this probably means is that most of these girls are going to die HORRIBLY next episode, leaving Yui the lone survivor of the conflict. If that's the case, then I suppose it keeps up with the pace set by Kiminozo about changing the context of the story by the end of the second episode.
I'm also digging the hopeless-war tone. It's established fairly quickly that this is a war for survival that humanity is losing. Despite having fought for a little over 20 years, there seems to have been no major pushes against the BETA, as they've steamrolled forces all through Europe, mainland Asia and now Japan. Even if Yui comes out of the conflict (and I'm pretty sure she will,) it's only a fight to take out as many BETA before the wipe out humanity. I'm curious to see where they're going with the story, as several of the alternate Muv-Luv Alternative stories have some dire turnouts.
I'm definitely going to keep going with Total Eclipse. They've done a good job setting up the world and the stakes, which are stacked heavily against humanity. I'm getting shades of Gunbuster here, what with a school of female pilots being trained to battle huge aliens trying to eliminate mandkind. Anytime I can say that, you can bet that I'll be paying attention. I'm also hoping that things will be nice and dark, as I'm in the mood for something a bit more introspective. To be fair, I don't expect things to stay as grim-dark as they are now. I mean, even the drama-fest that was Kiminozo had it's lighter moments. What I hope for more is that the threat of impending death from big, toothy aliens will keep most of the stupid rom-com tropes from popping up. I fully expect a romance here, I'm just hoping it won't be a stupid one.
From other sites around the web