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)
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)
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)
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)
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.
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)
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)
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)
Cryska clarifies to Yui that she wants to know what it is about Yuuya that makes Inia so interested in him. Yui suggests she ask him herself, and while gathering firewood with him, she does. When Cryska faints again, Yuuya gets her to admit she has thalassophobia. Yui catches them embracing at gets upset, but before long their team members arrive at the island to rescue them. To take responsibility for the shipwreck, Yui is forced to wear a revealing bikini for all to see and photograph.
Sarcastic congratulations are in order for Muv-Luv, for taking the one dependably tough, no-nonsense, interesting character and turning her into a blushing mess of a tsundere. At various times she’s either lashing out to Yuuya and Cryska, and when they ask her to explain herself, she begins to, but gets frustrated and sulky. What’s more frustrating is that despite how blatantly tsundere-y Yui acts, Yuuya doesn’t pick up on it. He’s proven he can be a decent, chivalrous guy in a shipwreck, but when it comes to picking up obvious cues from the opposite sex, he’s apparently denser than a London Fog.
As if Yui’s dignity weren’t compromised enough, she’s ordered to entertain the soldiers at the base – most of them she outranks – by parading around in a skimpy bikini. Seriously…WTF? There’s a difference between raising morale and ogling/snapping pictures of your superiors – it’s neither appropriate nor realistic from a military perspective. We’d lighten up about it, but there’s a war on, and this was a two-part swimsuit episode in which almost nothing happened. Worse, there’s now a rumor afoot about Yui and Yuuya, which would be interesting if, ya know, anything actually happened. Alas.
Rating: 4 (Fair)
Argos Flight is on Guadalupe to perform joint environmental endurance tests with the Soviets. Tarisa and Inia instantly take a dislike to each other. On a day of dinghy racing, Yui’s partner Cryska collapses. Yuuya swims aboard to assess the information, and they row to an island as a large storm approaches. Yui sprains her ankle, so Yuuya carries Cryska then her to shelter. When he goes to check on the boat, Cryska asks Yui about him, and the boat is gone.
As soon as we heard “photo shoot for media materials to raise wartime morale”, we knew exactly what we were in for: a beach episode and transparent opportunity for the gals to show some skin. A side effect of such dawdling is that the urgency of the war – already lagging due to the lack of real combat the last few episodes – continues to erode. Once Yuuya was stranded on an island with two girls, the momentum of the Beta War screeched to a halt. And while we had more than an inkling that beneath Yui and Yuuya’s tense professional friction they’re attracted to each other, we didn’t expect Yui to let her guard down so much this week.
Their stranding and her ankle sprain are obvious devices to get her in Yuuya’s arms, and on numerous occasions she’s blushing like a schoolgirl. At the same time, if you’re going to put them in this situation, at least go all the way and have them actually decisively act on their brimming feelings, which didn’t happen. It was nice to see a gentler side of Yui and Yuuya actually acting noble and not like a hotheaded ass, but while it’s nice to know there is more than ice water pumping through her veins, the impending love triangle with Cryska isn’t the most thrilling of prospects.
Rating: 5 (Average)