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)

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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 – 05

Yuuya begins training in his new Type 94 Shiranui Type 2, and is just as frustrated with it as we was with the Type 97. Lt. Takamura tells him ‘a man and horse must be one’, and Vincent reiterates that fighting the natural tendencies of the TSF won’t get him anywhere. After a belated welcoming party, Argos Flight goes on another training mission, which is interrupted by Takamura herself. She quickly takes out everyone and spars with Yuuya, who adjusts his piloting style and manages to knock her sword away. On her way back to HQ Yui encounters Inia, who greets her and then runs away.

The battle of wills between Yuuya and Yui continues next week, and was just on the verge of becoming stale when Yui decided to go out and teach Yuuya a firsthand lesson in how to handle one’s TSF. As Vincent astutely points out, they’re actually pretty alike; in that neither back down when they should, and neither are totally honest with themselves. Deep down they probably both see themselves in one another, which pisses them off even more. Yui may go on about how useless he is, but as her shower scene makes clear, she’s irked by his fast progress and potential for greatness.

This isn’t surprising, since Yui probably blames herself for not being able to save any of her friends years ago. Ever since then she’s built up a thicker and tougher armor around herself, but that trauma still festers. Still, her job is to polish the rough ore of Argos into a shimmering gem of BETA-killing, and so her surprise crashing of their training mission also made sense. Her goal was to either beat the hell out of him, or get him to trust his TSF enough to defend himself…and it worked. Now, if only we knew what the heck Inia is up to, and why she keeps showing up and calling people nice…


Rating: 6 (Good)

Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse – 03

Ensign Yuuya Bridges transfers from Nevada to Yukon Base in Alaska, joining a international group of elite TSF pilots called Argos Flight: Stella Bremer from Sweden, Valerio Giacosa from Italy; Tarisa Manandal from Nepal; and lieutenants Takamura Yui from Japan and Ibraham Doglu from Turkey. Bridges and Stella team up against Tarisa and VG in a mock battle. Bridges is able to use himself as a decoy in order to get the cocky Tarisa in the right position for Stella to snipe her. Though he won the battle, Takamura isn’t impressed.

With Takamura the only survivor in last week’s dark bloodbath, the series serves up a fresh cast; the one we’ll probably be following the rest of the series. We like how casually the group comes together; no barrage of dozens of characters. The episode doesn’t try to do too much, after all, we’re still a little disoriented after the events of the first two episodes, which covered years; this week only covers days. But those first episodes painted a vivid picture of the trials Takamura Yui went through to get to where she is now: a lieutenant in an elite UN corps that may be humanity’s last best hope of survival. It also explains why she doesn’t like Bridges.

Of the members of Argos, only Bridges and his pal Vincent are from the US, a country not under Beta occupation. It’s apparent his life’s been a lot easier than Yui’s, nor he hasn’t seen any of the horrors she’s lived through (i.e., he hasn’t seen any friends get EATEN). The way he wins the battle – letting the enemy get right on top of him and relying on Stella to bail him out – probably wouldn’t work in a real batle against the Beta. At this point, we still like Yui the best, followed Stella (nicknamed “Venus”) and Valerio (“Macaroni”), where were inoffensive enough. But “Top Gun” Bridges seems like kind of a dick, while Tarisa (“Chobi”) is a shrill, irritating, arrogant little brat. Here’s hoping they mellow out a little.


Rating: 6 (Good)