Mecha Monday: Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse “Real” Impressions

The real Total Eclipse starts here.

Last week, I gave my impressions on the Total Eclipse anime.  Basically, I liked it, but I thought some of the elements were stupid and ridiculous.  The animation was also pretty piss poor.  However, the cast of the first two episodes are certainly not the cast of the rest of the show.  Admittedly, the initial cast was pretty boring, but as I said, they’re just plot devices.  I was very much interested in seeing what the main cast was like.  Was this worthy of a new post though?  You bet it is.

Let’s get some of the technical aspects out of the way.  Apparently, the director of the show had to be replaced.  It was reported that he took on too much stress.  Apparently, every episode after the second was affected, and should’ve technically gotten worse.  This confuses me, as I thought episode 3 was an improvement.  Sure, character art looks the same, but I thought the mechanical aspects improved.  TSFs look like they animate much better now, as their movements are more intricate (though they are using better craft, so that could have something to do with it).  The fights looked a lot more dynamic in this episode.

However, I did notice a bit more corner cutting this episode.  It seemed as if they tried their hardest to hide TSFs from the shot as much as possible, as you’ll have these units go behind buildings pretty often.  I remember one particular instance where two TSFs were engaged in a rather intense close quarters battle, but at one point, they flew around a large structure, and came back again.  Conveniently, only about a quarter of the structure was visible in the shot, and the camera didn’t bother panning.  The dueling TSFs were conveniently off screen for a small chunk of time.  This may not seem like much, but it happens pretty often.  Moreso than in the second episode, I believe.

This part was also weird, as these two were just floating there for a good five seconds, while their enemies were nearby, and could've easily shot their cockpits or headpieces or something.

While the opening animation isn’t as pitiful as it was in the second episode, it seems as if they reused some scenes from the episode.  They didn’t do it very often, thankfully, so the opening did have a decent amount of unique video.  However, I believe the quality of the opening isn’t all that great.  It’s about a step up from the norm, which still doesn’t amount to much.  At this point, the visuals overall seem to be mediocre.  They do get the job done, thankfully, but not particularly well.  Despite all my nitpicking, I can live with these visuals.  I just hope they don’t get any worse from here on out.

On the narrative side of things, there’s pretty much a plot now.  Before, it was “high school girls doing high school things”, until shit got real, and everything went to hell.  Flash forward a few years later, and Yui finds herself transferred to Yukon Base in Alaska, where they test unique new TSFs.  In other words, it’s just like Top Gun/Macross Plus/Gundam 0083.  If you hate this sort of premise, well, Total Eclipse will probably put you off.

As for me though, I actually love this kind of premise.  Granted, Top Gun wasn’t really a pillar of quality, and neither was 0083 (though I’d argue that Plus was pretty damned good), but I just love seeing cocky pilots testing prototype craft dangerously, all the while cracking snarky remarks.  It’s really rather thrilling.  And that’s pretty much what the plot of the third episode of Total Eclipse was like.

That's a funny way of spelling "YF-19", lieutenant.

At first glance, it doesn’t appear like Total Eclipse is doing much to differentiate itself from the pack.  This episode starts off with the main character, Yuuya Bridges, and his mechanic, Vincent Lowell, flying up to Yukon, where they almost immediately get caught up in a heated TSF fight.  Luckily, Yuuya manages to get them out of the danger zone quickly.  Soon enough, we meet most of the other cast, who are established as ace-pilots.  Pretty soon, we’re treated to a skirmish between Yuuya and some of the other ace pilots there.  To make sure we’re all on the right track, this is a skirmish to show off who has the better skills, and who can show off better.  One thing that surprised me was that there was a fair bit of team work involved, which didn’t really apply to some of the other examples of this premise.

Yuuya is… well, he’s pretty much Maverick and Isamu rolled into one character.  If the show didn’t drive the point home well enough, his nickname happens to be “Top Gun”.  He’s cocky, but atypically, he isn’t a hotshot.  At least, he doesn’t sound like much of a hotshot.  I guess he’s trying to be like those silent badasses, but who knows.  We’ve seen that he’s had some issues in his past, getting into a rather serious fight with one of his old squadmates.    Most interestingly is his apparent disdain for anything to do with Japan, despite him being Japanese (or at least, half-Japanese).  I’m not exactly sure where this hatred comes from, but he sure doesn’t have anything nice to say to Yui after she calls him out on his reckless piloting.

I think we found our Isamu and Guld.

Yui didn’t have much of a presence, but that’s largely because she already got two whole episodes of screen time.  However, the two Russian girls, Cryska and Inia, didn’t get much screen time either.  The show established that Inia seems to be rather reliant on Cryska, and is in some ways, underdeveloped.  One of the two sisters also happens to be quite axe crazy when in a TSF, though I believe Inia was the crazy one.  Or both, for all I know.

Outside of the main characters, we have Yuuya’s mechanic, who’s voiced by Tomokazu Sugita.  He’s a pretty funny guy.  Then there’s an Italian guy, a Nepalese girl, and a a Swedish woman.  The Italian guy, Valerio Giacosa, seems rather normal at first, but he has some suave tendencies that make him seem like a romantic.  Yuuya calls him Macaroni.  The Nepalese girl, Tarisa Manandal, is pretty short, and is also really hot-headed.  She’s pretty much a tsundere.  She’s pretty over the top though, so I can’t really take her all that seriously.  But I’m sure that’s the point, as she seems more like a parody, if anything.  Yuuya calls her Chobi.  I have no clue what he’s referring to here, but google tells me it has something to do with rugs.  Ouch.  Then there’s Stella Bremer, the Swede, who seems normal, but also reminds me of one of those older sister types.  She seems like a seductress, if anything.  Yuuya calls her Venus, which is rather cool for something he thought up in half a second.

However, while this all pretty much sounds like a retread of Top Gun and Macross Plus character territory, Total Eclipse’s characters have some key differences.  While the main characters of Top Gun and Macross Plus were very uncooperative, the characters in Total Eclipse at least understand the necessities of teamwork.  As such, Total Eclipse will probably have a much better team dynamic.  That’s not to say I see things going just peachy; quite the opposite, I pretty much expect something major that’ll shake up this team dynamic.  Yui hasn’t done much yet, and I can only imagine what throwing Inia and Cryska into the mix would do.  Still, some of my favorite parts of Macross Plus were when the lead characters couldn’t stand each other anymore, and I imagine those types of moments will be the best in Total Eclipse.

Sure, they may look all friendly now...

Also, this episode had a GRANRODEO insert.  If nothing else, that gets my approval.

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A mad scientist who's so cool!

Laevatein

A mad scientist who's so cool!

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