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.

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Jormungand – 14

This episode, like the last, was a lot of table-setting, but we got more specifics about the relationships between Chief Black, Renato, and Hex. Those specifics give us a better understanding of what drives them. All of this is leading up to Hex going after Jonah, the one life she believes will matter to Koko above all others. Koko isn’t just hanging off of Jonah to tease him, or as some kind of act. He’s her restoration project, her bodyguard, and her little brother.

Is Hex hunting him just because she’s evil? Well, no. She’s a bitter former elite special forces officer who was cast aside by the military and joined up with the CIA. She also lost her fiance in the 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers. That attack was orchestrated by terrorists who got weapons from arms dealers like Koko. In Hex’s eyes that makes Koko every bit a terrorist as Bin Laden, and she’s going to make her pay nice and slowly.

Black won’t allow her to kill Koko, but he’ll allow her a “sacrifice” if it makes her feel better; after all, she’s his left hand while R is his right; and he needs both to fulfill Operation Undershaft. Yet Hex and R have totally different mindsets; Black’s two hands don’t know what the other is doing, nor do they understand. R owes Black a debt and wants to be loyal, but he’s none too pleased about Jonah’s life being dangled in front of Hex like a mouse for a cat. He’s safe right now, with the trust of both of his bosses, but inevitably he’ll have to make a choice he won’t like that will betray one of them.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

P.S. In one  of the many flashbacks, Koko is totally freaking out; fearing for her life. You know, like any normal person would. R tells her he’ll protect her…but she has to keep smiling no matter what.

Guilty Crown – 02

Ouma Shu contracted with Inori with the Void Genome that was meant for Gai, the leader of the resistance group called Undertaker. He’s pressed into service to deliver the coup-de-grace in an intricately planned operation to save a hundred citizens from the Anti Bodies, among them the sadistic Lt. Daryl Yan, son of the Bureau’s leader. The operation is successful, but Shu turns down the offer to join Undertaker. He believes he’s put it behind him and returned to his normal life when Inori shows up at school, having transferred to his class.

This episode was another feast for eye and ear; home to some pretty fantastic action and combat sequences, with some nice gamble suspense mixed in for good measure. Ouma Shu may not like it, but he has the powers of a god now, and a girl who isn’t shy about calling herself his. He stuck his neck out for her last week, and the reward was being thrust into a world he probably hadn’t even known about. It’s a world where government-sanctioned genocide in the name of eradicating disease is commonplace, and where the weak have to be protected from jack-booted thugs.

It’s only a matter of time before Shu and that little germophobic bastard Yan square off. There’s a lot to like here: you have your etherially beautiful songstress/muse, you’ve got old-fashioned and newfangled mecha (called “endlaves” here), your diverse crew of freedom fighters who have a very serious mission, but trying to keep it nice and casual between one another (contrast that with the cold military style of the Anti Bodies), and the concrete jungle of Tokyo to play in (the vistas continue to impress). Ouma Shu may still be a little on the dull side, but so far he hasn’t shied away from his duty when called upon.


Rating: 3.5 

Guilty Crown – 01

Shu is an introverted student who makes films, and suddenly gets caught up in the war between “terrorist” groups and the government, in a post-semiapocalyptic Tokyo recovering from a viral war. He happens upon Inori, an idol who is also a member of the resistance led by Gai and on the run. He misses his first chance to save her, but doesn’t waste his second, making a pact with her to take the guilty crown and fight beside her.

Sweet Cambridge, this is the fourth series debut that we’ve had no choice but to score a four. Who knows if the season can keep up this momentum, but if it can it will go down as one of the best we’ve had the pleasure to watch. This Guilty Crown will be a big part of it, and its sleek, sexy debut is just about as close to perfection as you can get. Not a moment was wasted and no detail left out. It kicked ass on pretty much all levels.

From its quiet, beautiful opening that layered Inori’s music video with her guerilla activities, to the shounenesque climax and payoff. it exhibited perhaps the best animation, art direction, and character design of the season so far, and had a rich, involving soundtrack to match all the eye candy. Shu is well thought-out too, he’s a wimp, but his growth of cajones is rapid and believable. He’s just stepped into a new and very dangerous world, but he seems well-equipped to deal with it. The next episode can’t come soon enough.


Rating: 4