30 CommentsFirst Impressions / By Inushinde /

Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse First Impressions – Moeship Troopers (Inushinde’s Take)

Even though my compatriot Shinmaru has already covered it, I feel that I have plenty more to say regarding the first episode of Muv-Luv Total Eclipse. The fact that it’s the only opening episode that I’ve watched sober thus far this season has absolutely nothing to do with it.

My experiences with Muv-Luv over the past month or so haven’t been exactly positive. Playing through Extra, in all its lack of glory, was so mind-numbingly boring that I felt the compulsion to constantly do things that weren’t so dull, like plan a budget for the upcoming semester or learn particle physics. Anything that didn’t involve clicking through drudgery was a vast improvement over what Extra had to offer. I know that many people are going to tell me to play through Unlimited and Alternative before denouncing the whole thing, but anything that opens up with shit isn’t exactly aiming to be liked. I was hoping that Total Eclipse would avoid the banality that made the first half of the first visual novel such a chore to slog through, and while my hopes weren’t exactly spat on with spite, they weren’t treated with grace either.

Right off the bat, the closest comparisons that come to mind are Saikano and Starship Troopers, which Total Eclipse apparently saw fit to emulate in all the worst respects. What made these two notable is that the attempts at putting the protagonists’ lives in danger were effective primarily because of surprise and effective foreshadowing without making things blatant. Saikano in particular, while not a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, made the main character being caught in the carpet bombing in the first episode a complete shock. While Total Eclipse sets up the inevitability of tragedy looming over the horizon, it also sees fit to say right away that the characters are pretty much going to die, ruining any modicum of suspense.

There’s potential subtext regarding why the mech pilots had to be teenage girls, hinted at by them being taught in a mostly empty classroom, but none of it’s built on in any meaningful way; instead of meaningful development, we get halfhearted slice of life and obtuse exposition, all glossed over wonky time skips and brazen nationalism. There’s a feeling that some meaningful allegory is being set up, but its insightful voice is drowned out by teenage girls being insufferably moe in the face of death, banality that I’m sure is intended but doesn’t have quite the intended effect. I imagine what Total Eclipse is going for by showing the girls’ idyllic life is poignancy, but it doesn’t succeed at making me care what happens to them. And even if most of this is explained in other media, the anime isn’t doing a great job at setting the mood.

On the whole, Total Eclipse’s beginning feels simplistic and ham-handed, failing at setting up the foundation for the narrative. I’ve heard that the second episode kills off quite a few characters, which I’m perfectly fine with and even endorse, but I think this episode’s overall lack of finesse will bite it in the ass and dampen any further sense of impact. But whatever, at least there are tits bouncing around in skin-tight suits, so I’m sure at least somebody will find something to like here.

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30 Comments

  1. Posted July 4, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, I’m thinking I was kinder to this episode than I might have been had I not heard about the premiere at Anime Expo. I will say that as stupid as I find brazen, unthinking nationalism to be, I’m at least somewhat intrigued as to how it will be used here, if only because there’s the slightest possibility for commentary. It’s everywhere: the robots are blatantly giant samurai (though this is not unusual for robot series by any stretch), the capital has been moved back to its original city of Kyoto, the country is now “Imperial Japan,” the ostensible main character apparently hails from a long line of shogun, etc.

    If there is indeed as much thought put into Muv-Luv alternative universe as its fans claim, then there must be a reason for all this. I wonder if it goes beyond “the aliens are REALLY kicking our asses, so we need something around which our people can rally”?

    • Inushinde
      Posted July 4, 2012 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

      I found the nationalistic element to be funny. It was like Independence Day, except with boob jiggles instead of Will Smith. I don’t at all doubt that there’s a reason for it, but the lack of context doesn’t at all help it. And it’s not like there aren’t clues around, I know that there are, they just end up a mess of ambiguity.

      • Posted July 6, 2012 at 1:33 am | Permalink

        The Alter timeline most likely won’t be explained in Total Eclipse – the only reason it was in the main trilogy was because the protagonist belonged to another world. Anyway, minor spoilers for the main trilogy so proceed at your own risk:

        -Edo/Tokyo is still the city holding real power but the more traditional Kyoto has been the capital since ~1300. And that apparently makes the Japanese more nationalistic and conservative. All NIPPON DAMASHII and shit.
        -Japan accepts an unconditional surrender in 1944, which leads to the US dropping nuclear bombs on Berlin instead. Japan pretty much loses its sovereignty at this point. Somehow the outcome worked well for humanity as a whole since it managed to trigger a boom in space exploration. That’s how the first Manned Mobile Units came to be, because scientists wanted to have fun on the moon. You already saw what happened to them on the first scene of the anime, though.
        Move forward a few years and you get humanity being fucked over by phallic aliens. The US army decides to pull back all the troops stationed in Japan as the BETA grow closer, which leaves Japan pretty much defenseless. And a little bit angry. The people need a strong figure to rely upon, which leads to the Shogun pretty much becoming a sacred entity. They barely manage to retake the Yokohama Hive thanks to the UN’s aid but destroy the country even further in the process. And that’s when the Muvluv protag arrives.

  2. Posted July 4, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    I’ve heard people say the second episode ramps shit up and all I can say is, “Am I going to care, because this first episode was so banal?” There have been anime with bad first episodes that I’ve liked, but when you kill off a boyfriend we don’t even know offscreen, you’re doing something wrong.

    • Inushinde
      Posted July 4, 2012 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

      I’m sure it will be fine, but it definitely didn’t get off to the roaring start that it sorely needed. Again, I’m sure it was to build up sympathy for the main characters by showing them doing normal teenage girl stuff, but it didn’t actually develop any personalities in the process.

  3. LALLAbye
    Posted July 4, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    Good post. You summed up pretty much my thoughts about this episode.

    Oh, and clicking through Extra was fudging dull for me too… Until I’m in Alternative… Then I started to miss it.

    • Inushinde
      Posted July 4, 2012 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

      Extra is the one visual novel that I just ctrl’d through an entire route in, and that isn’t something to be proud of. At least this episode had actual mechs, so that saved it from the scrap heap.

      • LALLAbye
        Posted July 5, 2012 at 8:12 am | Permalink

        The mechs in Muv-Luv are as real as it gets. Can’t remember them being this fat though.

        Can I assume you read Unlimited and Alternative then?

  4. Posted July 4, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    I must admit that I was surprised the show didn’t emphasize breasts, even though the suits the main characters wear certainly do. It was at least good to see some background about the alien presence and some modicum of motherland reaction.

    That being said, I still see this as some sort of mix between Saikano and maybe Sakura Wars. Better than expected, better than advertised, better than YuruYuri 2: Electric Bûgarû.

    • Inushinde
      Posted July 4, 2012 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

      Anything is better than YuruYuri 2, but definitely agreed. I’ll be honest, I was fairly entertained by the episode, but I still didn’t feel that it made enough of an effort to explain things. As long as it downplays the crappy bits of Saikano, I think I’ll like it just fine.

  5. Mr. Anon
    Posted July 4, 2012 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

    Those outfits make it look like they’re wearing nothing at all!

    • Inushinde
      Posted July 4, 2012 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

      Stupid sexy plug suits.

      • luffyluffy
        Posted July 5, 2012 at 1:27 am | Permalink

        You know who looks really sexy in a plug suit?

        Bright Noa.

    • Posted July 6, 2012 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

      Given how the suits have the extra requirement of being easy to do the horizontal mambo with, yeah, they’re sexy for that reason.

  6. luffyluffy
    Posted July 4, 2012 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

    I had 0 expectations about it so it was pretty good to me.

    • Inushinde
      Posted July 4, 2012 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

      A fair rebuttal.

      • luffyluffy
        Posted July 5, 2012 at 1:26 am | Permalink

        oh my god he actually responds to everyone’s comments can i marry you

      • Inushinde
        Posted July 5, 2012 at 8:37 am | Permalink

        Only when they aren’t damn stupid and I have something to add. So yeah, pretty much every comment gets replied to if I can help it.

      • Mr. Anon
        Posted July 5, 2012 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

        Who needs scamp anymore?

        I for one welcome our new Inushinmaru overlords.

      • Scamp
        Posted July 5, 2012 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

        ;_;

        This must be what it felt like to be Stalin if Stalin could still feel after he died

      • Posted July 5, 2012 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

        Your Movember mustache wasn’t nearly that good. It wasn’t even Hitler good.

      • Inushinde
        Posted July 5, 2012 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

        I think we’re all underestimating the sheer quality of the de Gaulle-stache.

      • Scamp
        Posted July 5, 2012 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

        That may be true, but did either Stalin’s or Hitler’s or even Dali’s moustache save people from cancer? Ha, didn’t think so. Mine wins

  7. Daniel
    Posted July 5, 2012 at 6:27 am | Permalink

    After reading the two reviews I went into the show with zero expectations.

    Turns out it was AWESOME. This is the kind of epic real-ish sci-fi that made eva so great.

    Eva evacuated tokyo3 in movie 2, yet in ep ONE muv-luv exacuated southern japan. This anime is going places.

    +Great animation, +epic world, +well matched music, +mecha
    -silly fan service, -how can 日本 afford to manufacture mecha?

    • Inushinde
      Posted July 5, 2012 at 8:40 am | Permalink

      Most of this is very true, but it’s not doing a great job at maintaining interest for me. Still, it’s far from bad, and props to you for enjoying it.

  8. Shogun
    Posted July 5, 2012 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    If I remember the episode right, I felt the s’life parts before the 2 year time skip were meant to contrast with how care-free they had been compared to who they were come the end of the episode. And how her uncle essentially told her not to grow up too fast emphasized the point.

    • Inushinde
      Posted July 5, 2012 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

      I’m sure they were too, but they weren’t used very well. So instead of acting as a point of contrast, it ended up just being a chore.

  9. Posted July 6, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    Hey, don’t be badmouthing particle physics <_<

    • Inushinde
      Posted July 6, 2012 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

      Hey, I said that particle physics are way better than Muv-Luv Extra! That’s glowing praise!

  10. Posted July 10, 2012 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    I watched for the ecchi, stayed for the mecha, climaxed to episode 2!

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