So as you readers may know, Muv-Luv Alternative is probably my favorite visual novel, and for good reason. While Muv-Luv originally started out as a run-of-the-mill romcom, it evolved into something much greater. You can see my reviews on the three of them here, here, and here. If I had to distill what I loved most about Alternative, it would probably be the setting, but more importantly, how characters managed to struggle and survive in said setting. The entire trilogy was an experience to me. Now we have one of the bigger entries in the series getting an anime adaptation. As a fan of Muv-Luv, I would never forgive myself if I didn’t watch it. The show is set up in a peculiar way, however, in that most of the main cast doesn’t show up for a while, so I’ll probably do another post later.
Well, the plot of Total Eclipse is that basically the BETA are invading, and now they’ve reached Japan, so shit’s starting to go down. Yui is a girl who comes from a Shogunate Protectorate family, which is pretty elite. She goes to a special training school with all the aesthetics of a normal Japanese high school, but with mechs about. It’s kind of like the first episode of Gunbuster, actually. Anyway, so Yui has her own small group of friends, and even gets her own rival. She even resolves it quickly, like in Gunbuster. Gunbuster plays quite a large influence on this show, huh. Anyway, so pretty soon, the BETA invade Japan, and shit goes down quite hard.
While the first episode wasn’t all that heavy, the show gets noticeably more intense in the second. People die left and right, and war is hell. I don’t want to say we’ve seen this kind of thing before, but well… At any rate, while some of the deaths start out comical, they pretty soon become pretty shocking, and very, very brutal. If it weren’t for some of the censors, I’d say they can even be somewhat traumatic. Nonetheless, it serves as a good way to introduce Yui. I can’t speak for the other characters, however, as they were all pretty much plot devices.
As a fan of the series, I’m gonna have to nitpick some stuff. Sorry. Skip down if you want, I’ll indicate when I’m done complaining. Anyway, for starters, I believe there was one explanation in the VN regarding TSF armor and Lux lasers. Specifically, I believe it would take a laser 5 seconds to break through TSF armor. In episode 2, we see Quake 3-level instagib laser skills, or something. This could very well be a case of tech differences (as the second episode takes place in 1998/1999, while Alternative takes place in 2001), but it’s weird to see such large discrepancies. I am probably nitpicking with this, but that difference would’ve probably kept more people alive. Instead, we get stuff like BOOM COCKPIT SHOT.
My other nitpick is that this anime portrays TSF maneuverability strangely. In Alternative, TSFs would make really long hops to cross great distances. In Total Eclipse so far, it appears that they just fly. I’m not sure if everyone in-universe realized flying for long distances is probably pretty inefficient, and taught everyone to bunny hop around, but it strikes me as odd.
Alright, that’s about enough complaining about details. The visual quality of Total Eclipse is rather mediocre. Though TSFs are animated using CGI, they look pretty animated to me. Essentially, it’s like what Satelight did with Macross Frontier and Aquarion EVOL. Everything else looks pretty damned half-assed, however. Faces look off, character animation is pretty stiff, and BETA look pretty stupid. It’s pretty disappointing. If they ever animate the main trilogy, I sure hope the animation’s a lot better than this.
The sound is pretty decent. The music is very reminiscent of Alternative’s soundtrack, which I also mentioned was one of my favorite VN OSTs. Basically, just about everything I said about the music in Alternative applies here. But to reiterate, the music in Total Eclipse fits the mood quite well, quite easily conveying the hopelessness in fighting the BETA. Sound effects are pretty appropriate, and sound just like how they did in Alternative. Voice acting has been pretty decent so far, but I’m going to have to hear the main cast to make an actual decision.
Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse has some promise. I can’t say much about the characters, but it does a decent job of establishing the cruel setting. I don’t know if it’ll be so horrifying the entire time, but I guess it shows what the show is capable of. On the other hand, the visual aspects of the show are seriously underwhelming. Total Eclipse looks very cheaply done. This really worries me. Hopefully, they’ll improve, but I’m not holding my breath. Still, I liked it. It’s not amazing, and it’s certainly not representative of Alternative’s quality, but it was enjoyable. I’ll stick with it.