Apologies for the lack of talk much lately, I’ve spent much of my free time either Cardfighting, relaxing, or catching up on series. I’ve been pumping out Afterwords after Afterwords in an effort to do a massive catch up on relevant series before the next season hits in a few weeks. Expect a season preview in the next few days as well. Xewleer is working on a story and other mini-projects, so expect some stuff from him too.

Since 1973, an invasion of aliens known as BETA upon Earth is driving human civilization into nearly collapse. Facing an enormous mass of enemy force, mankind has developed large humanoid arms called as Tactical Surface Fighters and deployed them to its defense lines through out the world. However, all those efforts could slow down defeats but could not stop BETA, and mankind is forced to abandon major area of the Eurasian Continent. For 30 years, mankind is bogged down in an endless war against BETA without any hopes of victory.
In 2001, the Imperial Japan faces difficulties in the development of a next-generation main Tactical Surface Fighters (TSF) as it defends the front lines of the Far East. The UN has proposed a joint development program between the Imperial Japan and the United States as a part of its international mutual development project of TSF, the Prominence Project.
Yui Takamura, a surface pilot of the Imperial Royal Guards of Japan, is given responsibility for the project and sets off to Alaska. Meanwhile, Yuya Bridges, also a surface pilot of the US Army, was heading to the same destination.
Yet they never knew that their encounter would change their destiny drastically.
This story with exciting human dramas and robot actions takes place in the development of a new Tactical Surface Fighters, the most important and effective weapons against BETA, at a crisis of human extinction.

Trust is a beautiful word, it contains the melody of harmony and understanding. But even such word has a dark side. That is, trust can be misplaced and abused. And the more trust there is involved, the easier it will be to make that stab in the back or abandon the gullible fool to shoulder the entire burden alone. Therefore, wouldn’t the most rational viewpoint be to view everyone with initial distrust? This is particularly true the more there’s at stake; the fear of losing and temptation of gaining through betrayal is too much to handle without succumbing. And some have too much at stake to afford to trust; nations. Each of them carries the responsibility and mission to protect their own interests. Since there’s more than one nation on earth and limited resources, the result is conflict. International relations are tainted with rivalry, suspicion and hate, and their history is one of warfare. Some envision humanity would form a common frontier to stand against an alien invasion, and that we would then target our “us and them” mentality at the outsider threat rather than each other.

What a joke. A species so accustomed to distrust as humanity couldn’t suddenly trust a former rival or enemy to watch their back, or count on them to do their part. At least in the world of Muv-Luv Alternative, when the hostile first contact was finally made with BETA, hordes of ferocious and seemingly inexhaustible aliens, it wasn’t the beginning of the era of humanity’s harmonious unification. Alliances and united efforts were made, but the true agenda always extends beyond the official ones such as pooling resources and knowledge; how to take as much as possible but give next to nothing, and how to keep their true hand hidden until the last minute. All this in order to control a world beyond alien invasion that might never come to exist.

Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse takes place in the same universe as Muv-Luv Alternative, the popular and highly regarded final part of the Muv-Luv visual novel trilogy. Total Eclipse’s events are centered around Project PROMINENCE, an international joint venture that gathers technology and ace pilots from around the world to come up with new weapons to fight BETA. The protagonist is Yuuya Bridges, a serious and arrogant but really talented young TSF (Tactical Surface Fighter) pilot. He’s half-American, half-Japanese, but he loathes his Japanese heritage. Abandoned before his birth by his Japanese father and discriminated against for his Japanese roots as a child, he doesn’t have any good will for Japan or the Japanese and can’t stand getting associated with them in any way. Anyway, he is sent to Project PROMINENCE in Alaska be the main test pilot of team Argos Flight, a cross-national team of ace pilots formed to help with TSF and other weapons’ development. His transfer is off to a rough start when the person in command of the team is Yui Takamura, one of those treacherous Japanese.

Going back to some of my comments from earlier in the season, the fact of the matter is that Total Eclipse was originally intended as a sales device. However, after becoming much popular than ever anticipated, genuine effort was put into expanding the series (whose original material hit episode 7) and making it a proper iteration of the Muv-Luv universe. In this context, it can be said that Total Eclipse succeeded. The shift to the Kamchatsky arc heralded a noticeable improvement over the first arc, and despite not being anywhere near as good as the original trilogy, Total Eclipse did manage to at least give first time viewers a glimpse of what the Muv-Luv universe offers. Yes, there the abruptness of the shift was pretty obvious in terms of both the tone and the character development, but considering the fact that the original beginning was already there and set in stone, they did a fairly good job. And this is what I mean. Total Eclipse is a story of two faces: the one we got before the shift and the one after the shift. I personally liked how things managed to pick up despite its shaky beginnings (and the its anime original first 2 eps), but there are others that aren’t as forgiving, and would penalize the series greatly as a result. Notably, this in turn leads to my next point, which further emphasizes how one’s view affects how their opinion on this series.

From my standpoint, I have to say that I liked the series. Admittedly, this comes with a bit of bias as a result of how much I loved the original trilogy, but I just feel like there was more to like about this series than to dislike. I won’t go blindly saying this series was particularly great or masterpiece level, but it did succeed in various aspects that I have to give it props for. For one, it provided an opening for which first time viewers could get into the Muv-Luv universe. Considering how great the original trilogy was, how many people I personally know came out loving the experience, and how otherwise these viewers would’ve never bothered… it’s definitely a success in my book. Furthermore, for those like me who played the original trilogy already, Total Eclipse served as a great supplement—providing details regarding the development of TSF’s you see in the main story and a glimpse into the other previously nameless ones fighting in other locales. In addition, the series represented some of the best of science fiction (my favorite genre) with its mecha/technology, as well as its demonstration of human potential too. Granted, it also showed some of the worst of human nature too, but that merely serves to show the complete experience that Muv-Luv gives.

At the end of the day, Total Eclipse is and always was a side story. As such, I never expected anything as epic as the original trilogy, and the end result was that it wasn’t. The experience had its share of flaws to say the least, but at the same time, it feels to me that the series still manages to exude its own charm despite this fact. Sure, it doesn’t shine as grandly as its parent story, but it shines nonetheless.

It has been a surprising show in a lot of ways. It’s been more military style than I expected, but it brought in some very human elements. It played to the science fiction side well with the aliens and made us see the course of events early on that lead to the present day realities. It also really surprised me with how it played on nationalism, racism and more that you almost never see in shows anymore. National pride was a huge factor in the characters across the series and it made for a welcome change in order to show just how difficult it can be to work together. There were a few surprising lulls along the way, but it ended strongly overall and has left me wanting to see more of this world brought to life in anime form. The show could have used some tightening up in a few ways and a cleaner execution early on, but the end result is a show that feels like it has some great origins in eighties style anime with a very modern approach. It’s a show that I suspect would play a lot better in marathon form as well. No matter what you thought about the flaws in the series, there just ain’t anything like Muv-Luv floating around, regardless of which iteration of the universe you use as a basis. And considering how we’re at a time where originality is a premium and novelty an exception, that’s quite something.

With that said and the scores for each episode here.

Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse gets 88/100.

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