Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse – 25 (Fin)

When Major Christopher activates his TSF’s onboard thingamajig, the Scarlet Twins go berserk, killing him, ripping Lt. Sendak’s TSF’s arms off, and tearing Chobi’s TSF to pieces. Yuuya bails out Yui by facing off against them, trying to talk them down. He eventually drops his weapon and lets them spear his TSF. They come out of their hypnosis. The American Air Force mops up the Beta, ending the crisis. In the aftermath, the XFJ Project is in doubt, and Yui Takamura is recalled to Japan for debriefing and inquiries. She promises to return. She and Yuuya say farewell without words, and Cryska tells Yui that she also loves Yuuya, making them rivals in love.

Well, you’ll have to forgive us for getting the final episode count wrong again. Episode 20 was just a recap, making this the 24th “real” episode, despite being numbered 25. So this is the final episode. And while the end of the world was averted (for now), a lot is left on the table. Who Yuuya picks to be his mate is not resolved. Admittedly, that’s not the biggest deal in the world, as even his most tender moments with Yui never exactly set the world on fire (that’s for the Beta to do.)

We were glad Major Christopher got a quick exit stage right, but his mysterious “Master” is never identified, nor is his specific plan for the world, a map of which is hung in his swanky office upside-down, suggesting he intends to turn the world on its end, though that’s just a guess, and like we said, who the heck knows? Sendak is apparently a bad guy too, with plans for the Scarlet Twins that they probably aren’t privy to. All these hanging threads leave open the possibility for a sequel one day. Would we watch that sequel? Our answer is a firm “maybe.”


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

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Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse – 24 (Not Fin)

As US and Soviet special forces attempt to recapture the Comms Center and HQ, Yui, Yuuya & Co. must execute a feint attack on the RLF’s TSF forces, led by Major Christopher piloting an advanced experimental Soviet model. Sandek intends to activate “Prafka” to sic the Scarlet Twins on the BETA before Red Shift is tripped. Leon and Sharon team up with Yuuya to take on the RLF’s TSFs. Back at HQ, Sharon is ignored by both Christopher and the RLF’s’ “Master”. She intends to send out a surrender order, but is killed by a subordinate. The remaining RLF fighters then kill off the UN command staff before taking their own lives. Only Dogulu and the UN Commander survive. Sandek activates Prafka, but Christopher activates something else that disrupts Cryska and Inia.

There’s a lot going on in what we thought would be the final episode. Now there’s apparently two more to go for a total of 26, not 24. That’s probably for the best, considering all the loose ends that still need tying up. The RLF may contain many fighters who truly care about refugees, but they were all being used by Major Christopher and whomever he answers to. It’s as if their whole raid was just a diversion so that he could get his hands on that badass Soviet TSF. When Zarner realizes their mission has failed and that causing Red Shift would be catastrophic, she puts her partisanship aside and tries to do the right thing…and is killed for it.

That’s a shame, because she was a much more interesting character than the one-dimensional Christopher, who doesn’t seem to care how much the world suffers for his own selfish goals. By attacking Inia and Cryska, he seems intent on allowing the BETA to reach the Red Shift line, which will trigger 2,000 50-megaton nukes and cast a radioactive pall over the last remaining breadbasket on earth. The question is, why? Does he just want to watch the world burn and laugh? Add to that the fact he was introduced to the show so late in the game and we know almost nothing about him, and we have ourselves a fairly dull villain who is sure to have his ass handed to him before the series is over. If and how that happens will determine if this ends well.


Rating: 6 (Good)

Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse – 23

With RLF-controlled TSFs on the way with guided rounds, Yui takes Sendak’s advice to split their forces, leaving Yuuya behind alone to cover their retreat. Yuuya is surrounded, but bailed out by Inia in the Terminator. Yui, Cryska and the others return to Yuuya and Inia, and all the enemy TSFs are taken out. The last one, piloted by Mariem’s sister Gisele, self-destructs when Cui reaches for her weapon, but Cui ejects in time to survive. Meanwhile, after failing to sway Dogulu, Mariem broadcasts the RLF’s demands and actions taken, including releasing Laser-class Beta from the research lab to take out American bombers. She also publicly reveals the secret “Red Shift” plan, which would destroy the heart of Alaska to create a new defense line, abandoning the USSR and Eurasia.

This week Yui, Yuuya, and the test pilots prove they’re no slouches in real-deal combat, taking out all 24 TSFs the terrorists deployed. The group also proves that even when the head of an operation is cut off (the UN leadership, HQ, and even Lt. Dogulu are out of action this week), they can still cast aside their individual cultural or national prejudices to work as a cohesive combat team. The only problem is, the RLF are no longer the only threat on the field. They’ve released Beta, and if those Beta reach a certain line, a line of hydrogen bombs will nuke the shit out of Alaska, killing the entire cast of this series! But wait, there’s more! As Mariem Zarner states her intentions and demands to the world, the Major is commandeering a TSF with some modifications made to it.

This will probably ensure this major’s a wild card in the impending finale. It would seem his desire to rule over “supermen” (is he talking about Cryska and Inia?) trumps whatever humanitarian goals the RLF claims to have. And Dogulu said it best: being a trod-upon refugee who’s had a tough life still doesn’t give you the right to kill people. Mariem isn’t hearing it, and when she learns her sister was KIA, she decides to make revenge her leading motivator. Will Cui ever get that date with Yuuya, or will they be annihilated in a massive nuclear fireball? We doubt the ending will be that nihilistic. We wouldn’t even be surprised if next week isn’t actually the end of this story.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse – 22

Yui and all four Argos pilots are able to make it back to the Argos hangar, along with Cryska and Cui. Yui orders the launch of all TSFs, lending Strike Eagles to Cryska and Yui and retrieving her own TSF. After picking up Sendak, she orders Stella and VG to head to anchorage to try to find help, while everyone else heads to the defensible urban combat training ground. Sendak suspects the Americans may be behind the terrorist attack. Back at the command center, Dahl is cornered by RLF fighters, including Mariem Zarner, a refugee he saved while in the Turkish Army.

The terrorists keep referring to “The Lord” as their one true commander, including the shadowy, red-haired fellow in a suit who’s in charge of the whole thing. Rogofsky mentions the “Christian Allegiance”, but they neither confirm or deny it. Regardless of their religious proclivities, they’re supremely well-organized force that has control of the command center and most of the UN base. Their one miscalculation was not pressing an attack on the test flights. Argos and Idar are able to get their units in the sky. Yui aims to disrupt whatever’s happening here in any way she can. While last week tore to pieces all the comfort and order of the base and left everyone scattered, quick and steady leadership by Yui gets everyone organized.

We like how much everyone has to improvise, using found weapons or in Cryska’s case, brute force to fight the RLF-controlled TSFs. It’s also pretty neat to see Cui and Cryska in Argos flight suits flying borrowed Argos TSFs – their various nations’ tensions will have to be put aside as long as they’re all at RLF’s mercy (the love polygon crap is also put aside, thankfully). Leon and the American Infinities remain a wild card, while RLF’s Mariem Zarner proves it’s a small world by bumping into the man who saved her and her sister Gisele. Will she sway Dahl to come to her side, or vice versa? However this pans out, it’s good to see the series in high gear again.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse – 21

Lt. Cui comes to Argos with the offer to practice with them in preparation for their fight with the Infinities, but only if Yuuya goes on a date with him; Tarisa tags along as a chaperone. Pilots at the UN patrol standby hangar are ambushed and killed by members of the Refugee Liberation Front posing as civilians and Coeurl Express deliverypeople, who have infiltrated the entire base. They set to work killing all UN, US, and Soviet officers. Yui narrowly escapes and bumps into Cryska, Lt. Dahl and Lt. Sendak split up to find answers, and the base command is penetrated by the RLF vanguard. Yuuya, Tarisa and Cui’s Humvee is stopped by an RLF group led by Natalie, who loudly proclaims their plans before being shot dead by her compatriot.

The second half of this series has been in a bit of a tailspin of late, with four unremarkable, momentum-killing episodes leading into by far the worst episode of the Fall, followed by a pointless recap. You could say the same of the entire UN/XFJ/Prominence program: teams of spoiled, elite test pilots draining excessive resources sparring with each other after the most potent weapon against the Beta was destroyed. As the rest of the world starved and suffered, the eishis in Alaska have drunk, caroused, and ended up in ridiculous love polygons. Like the series itself, they all needed a splash of cold water; a wake-up call; a reckoning. They got one, in the form of a brutal bloodbath. All hell breaks loose this week, to which we say: finally. However shortsighted or hypocritical the RLF may initially seem, they got our full attention in this, easily the most compelling episode of the series’ second half.

They put a desperate, vengeful face on the human fallout of all this warring, and helpfully reveal secret Beta research. They also highlight how everyone at the base has simply gotten way too comfortable. Even Yui’s instincts are nearly too late, as she just narrowly saves herself through the use of a cloud of paperwork obscuring her baseball slide (a nice touch), and some crack driving skills after her driver’s head is blown off. She, Yuuya, and all the main players survive the initial RLF assault, but they’re all scattered, isolated, and highly vulnerable – everything they haven’t been since Kamchatka. The series succeeds only when its cast is put through the physical and psychological wringers, and this episode heralds a good start to the home stretch, and proves yet again that humanity’s worst enemy is itself, not the damn Beta.


Rating: 8 (Great)

P.S. The new OP and ED are a nice compliment to this much-improved episode. Both are fresh, have decent themes and well thought-out, well-paced visuals.

Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse – 19

Concerned with the increasing rivalry and antagonism between research teams, Lt. Orson orders them to participate in an “international friendship meeting” in which they participate in comradrie-building exercises. This boils down to a camping trip where the various flights converge on an Alaskan hot spring and avail themselves of it.

Yeah, not much to say about this episode; the teams pretty much go camping, make food, then strip down either to swimsuits or nothing at all. This represents a new low for Muv-Luv, because unlike other stinkers in its run, there wasn’t even any significant character development in this episode. We already know Cui likes Yuuya and thinks of him as her husband, We also already know Inia likes Yuuya and Cryska grudingly also likes him. We already know Yui likes Yuuya, and wants to cook awesome food for him…

We also already know Yuuya and Leon are not friends. The fanservice wasn’t even that great, as this seemed like a particularly badly-animated episode. Also, Lt. Orson seems to have set up this whole exercise so he could collect video of all the girls in their skivvies. Next week, it seems we can look forward to a recap and a new OP and ED, which we’ve said are fine and shouldn’t be messed with. In fact, the OP and ED were the best parts of this episode.


 Rating: 3 (Bad)

Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse – 18

Back in 2000 in Nevada, Yuuya is with the Ghost team participating in Raptor tests, and he goes beyond the parameters of their sortie. His chaser Lt. Sven is killed in action. A tribunal clears Yuuya of any fault in the death, but Leon vows never to forgive him. Shortly thereafter Yuuya broke up with Sharon and transferred to Alaska and the Argos Flight. When Argos celebrates its win over Bao Feng, Lt. Cui warns Yui to give up on Yuuya. Yuuya is being followed and monitored, and Cryska is confronted by her superior regarding her interactions with him.

While last week was mostly about how virtually everyone is now in love with Yuuya, this week focuses more on the cause of his feud with Leon Kuze, explaining and justifying both Kuze’s hostility thus far. The series made a good move telling Yui’s story first, so we’d be on her side when Yuuya suddenly shows up all brash and arrogant. This week we learn exactly what happened and why he seemed like such an asshole when we first met him. In short, Yuuya wasn’t born into money or power; he’s earned his rank and status and risen to excellence by hard work and willpower. He’s also always been hated; making Kuze’s vendetta just icing on the cake of his life, going back to his childhood in the racist deep south.

Yuuya has certainly changed since his joining Argos, but the driven young man who always has something to prove is still there. Cui, Cryska, and even the bartender Natalie all have nice mature conversations this week. Cui castigates Yui for falling in love with the person Yuuya has become through her tending, not the person Yuuya was before he changed. Cui believes people should be accepted for who they are, not accepted only when they change to suit your ideal of them. Cryska and Natalie tell Yuuya not to dwell on a past you can’t change, and simply continue to savor every day you’re still alive to shape the future, something precious few humans have that luxury. And all this talking is backed up by a really nice soundtrack.


Rating: 6 (Good)

P.S. Didn’t Yuuya say he wanted Yui to teach him kendo? There seemed to be ample free time to do so this week, but nothing has come of it yet.

Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse – 17

A flashback documents Cryska’s beginnings in a Soviet research facility, where she first met Inia. Back in the present, Lt. Cui now wants to marry Yuuya, and promises they’ll go on honeymoon if Bao Feng beats the Infinities. Unfortunately for her, they are brushed aside with ease. Yuuya goes to town with Inia and Cryska, who wants answers regarding why they’re exhibiting what seems to be feelings for him. Yui stalks Yuuya as he gives the twins flowers and is confronted by Cui. At the local bar, Yuuya asks Yui to train him in kendo, but Leon interrupts, and a fight ensues that they both vow to finish in Blue Flag.

We’ve seen how test pilots are rewarded for risking their lives in new and untested equipment by being given a lot more perks and living more comfortable lives than front-line soldiers. Those benefits are out in full force this week, as for the duration of Blue Flag, if you’re not competing, the day is yours to do with as you please. That means walking around town, hanging out in parks and bars and generally relaxing and not doing much. We’ve always said this series is best when the shit hits the fan and the characters have their backs to the walls. This episode is decidedly not the series at its best.

Nearly every girl is interested in Yuuya, but go about it in different ways. We have Yui, perhaps the most plausible suitor, devolve into full Jealous Blushing Stalker Maiden Mode, and Cui Yifei in Horny Self-Proclaimed Wife Mode. Inia can’t explain why she likes Yuuya, but Cryska likes him too and he makes her happy with a bouquet – only she’s so underdeveloped in social graces, she doesn’t quite grasp what affection, love, or happiness even are. Then there’s apparently a past between Yuuya and Sharon Imes. But more interesting to us is what happened to make Leon hate Yuuya so much and vice versa. Unfortunately, the episode ended before it could get into that.


Rating: 5 (Average)

Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse – 16

Leon and Sharon chat with Vincent at the Polestar bar about Yuuya. Cryska and Yuuya finally find Inia. Idar fights the EU’s Slechtvalk Flight and defeat them easily in less than ten minutes, but Cryska and Inia’s CO is concerned with a slight drop in reaction times. Argos Flight goes up next against Bao Feng, led by Lt. Cui, and after the Chinese repeatedly toy with them, Yuuya takes Tarisa’s advice and challenges Cui to a one-on-one duel and defeats her. Cui shows up later giving him permission to fall in love with her.

Yuuya wants to be the best test pilot he can be. That means making the Shiranui look as good as possible, but for him, it also means getting that “feeling” back – the one he got whilst surrounded by Beta. The latter is the means to the end. He doesn’t let Leon faze him, and while Inia’s always-cryptic comments shook him a little, he also stood up against Cui Yifei and learned that she’s apparently attracted to eishis who are able to slice her TSF in two. Add Cryska’s apparently growing feelings for Yuuya and Yui’s post-duel attaboy, and he has himself a nice harem in the making.

Cui is luckier than Cryska and Inia, because she loses and gets to hit on the victor, while the Scarlet Twins are poked and prodded by Soviet scientists to determine why their victory wasn’t perfect. There’s little doubt Cryska’s emotional wavering will factor into a future Blue Flag final between Argos and Idar, which we assume this is leading up to. Though we shouldn’t rule out Leon Ruze and the American flight, as their Raptor TSFs look like they could also pose a challenge. We’d also like to say it’s awfully considerate of the Beta to pause their anti-human offensive for the extent of this tournament. After all, why attack the humans when their guards are down and they’re preoccupied with sparring with one another?


Rating: 6 (Good)

Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse – 15

Back in the Yukon, Yuuya and Argos Flight enjoys a welcome home party in which Yui cooks him the same niku-jaga his mom used to make. Their love-in is interrupted by Lt. Cui Yifei, leader of the Bao-Feng Flight, one of the many foreign TSF development teams that have been invited to the Yukon to participate in a tournament, the end result of which may determine if the XFJ program is scaled back or eliminated altogether. Inia runs off and Yuuya helps Cryska look for her, until his former squadmates Sharon and Leon Ruze show up.

Not a lot happening this week, more of a breath-catching respite after all the last arc’s excitement. Yuuya also exhibits how much he’s changed since the Soviet excursion, and indeed since joining Argo Flight. He’s a little wiser, a little more patient, and a lot more likable than the prick of yore. Yui is wrestling with the inconvenient but inescapable fact that she may have feelings for him, and even Cryska notices the change, as he volunteers to help her look for Inia, who’s always liked Yuuya.

The new characters we meet are more like the old Yuuya (and a lot like many of the Zhar Battalion eishis, who are all dead now). Cui Yifei calls him out at the bar and asks him upfront: “What’s your race?”, which is no way to greet someone. Yuuya takes the high ground, identifying himself as as “Japanese-American” for what we believe may be the first time. Then there’s his old squad buddies arrive, apparently to beat him at eishi-ing. We agree with Yui and Yuuya: this human-on-human “Blue Flag” tourney seems like a waste of time, considering the Beta are still out there.


Rating: 5 (Average)

Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse – 14

Moments from defeat, Yuuya is bailed out by Latrova and the Zhar battalion, who wipe out the Beta surrounding him. The Soviet bombers start bombing the base, killing five of Latrova’s Eishis. Laser-Class Betas take out the bombers, saving Zhar. Latrova orders Kayl and Tonya to escort Yuuya to safety. She pursues an unknown signal while the rest of her battalion attempt to destroy the Laser-Classes. Just as Argos is about to pull out of the USSR, ending their joint exercises, Yuuya hobbles home, to everyone’s joy and relief. Later, news comes that Zhar Battalion was victorious in holding the front, but were was lost in the process. A new “Second Phase” Shiranui is unveiled.

Numerous times while conversing, Latrova mocks Yuuya’s Soviet conspiracy theories as not only stupid, but irrelevant. He and she are Eishis – the only remotely effective weapon against the Beta. They have neither the time nor the inclination to worry about politics. She has a point – it’s a strenuous job without worrying about the moral implications. But she also shows her softer side in voicing her belief that Eishis have a unique power to protect those things closest to them. Fikatsia Latrova lost her husband and son because she lost sight of her primary duty, and perhaps shared Yuuya’s suspicions. Now she has a new family with Zhar Battalion, and she intends to protect them to the end.

To do so, she covers their rear by going after a lightning-fast, mysterious TSF that’s shadowing her, but we never see the result. But she knew that both she and her battalion probably weren’t coming out of this alive. When she sends two of her comrades off with Yuuya with orders not to return, she’s actually saving their lives by excluding them from the impending battle. Of course, they disobey and return after dropping Yuuya off, likely joining their commander’s fate. But much to Yui’s relief, Yuuya returns, with Shiranui in almost one piece, and the unveiling of its replacement marks the end of the Soviet arc and the start of the next chapter in humanity’s struggle against the vile Beta.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse – 13

Yuuya cannot fight effectively or flee with Yui aboard Shiranui, so he transfers her to Stella. They use a taxiway to try to take off, but Yuuya doesn’t have enough power, so he opens a path for Stella to escape, leaving him on the ground, surrounded by Beta. Meanwhile, Lt. Sendak’s superior orders the Kamchatsky base bombed with no traces left behind.

Nothing’s simple for Yui, Yuuya, and Stella this week. With Yui safe, all they need to do is blow up the cannon and escape the base. Yuuya intentionally aims low, saving the core module so he can carry it with him, but a Beta shears off the arm he was going to carry it with. Because Yui isn’t in a plug suit (there aren’t spare ones aboard the TSF?), Yuuya has to take it easy or risk killing her. And even when he passes her off to Stella, his Shiranui is simply so beaten up he can barely do anything.

With all these logistical issues at hand, Sendak insists he can still retrieve the cannon by ordering Zhar to “rescue” the UN guys. But his boss cuts his losses and orders the base razed. Which means while Stella and Yui are out of harm’s way (for now), Yuuya is about to face dual dilemmas: a company of Beta all up in his grille, and death from above (and shucks, he didn’t even hear Yui insisting he call her by her first name!) Still, Yuuya seems to see this as an opportunity to prove himself yet again, and we’re confident he’ll pull through somehow.


Rating: 6 (Good)