Yuuya Isn’t Much of a Pilot, Which Is a Great Starting Point for This Arc of Muv Luv Alternative Total Eclipse (Episode 04)

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[Muv Luv Alternative Total Eclipse Episode 03]

To be straight with you, I don’t really care much for the back story of Yuuya or anyone else in this show. I’m not engaged by any of this at all. I’m not sure I completely follow the root cause of his hangups, but in appreciating adult characters I prefer suffering that’s caused by regret, and not by oppression/victimization; especially in my lead characters.

This isn’t as damning as it sounds however, because Yuuya as a character has something much better going for him as far as I’m concerned: He’s not a very good pilot. He’s overrated.

This is great.

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This isn’t your hot upstart kid with loads of talent that gets cut down to size a bit by the elder team members and such. This is an adult with a battle record, with demonstrated ability, being revealed as an unrefined. This is a neat trick, if still a cheap one. I’m almost certain he’ll get the knack of piloting the Japanese TSF, but the set up of this initial failure is really well done. It capitalized on the deaths of all those moeblobs from two episodes ago.

SEE, THEIR DEATHS ARE MORE MEANINGFUL THAN ANY STUPID BACK STORY “CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT” HORSESHIT.

Their deaths serve as a setup for characterization that matters. Yuuya matters more than them, and now we know how exactly acute his failure was, in the context of what is a meaningless battle, a training exercise wherein there was no real risk of his death. In the face of all this over-the-top melodrama there is this subtlety, and it’s well-executed and perhaps brilliant, even.

THE SHOW DIDN’T HAVE TO MANUFACTURE DRAMA IN THIS EPISODE’S BATTLE BECAUSE IT USED CHEKOV’S DEAD MOEBLOBS A TIMESKIP AGO.

Just think about it. In the hands of a lesser show, someone in the team would have an accident and Yuuya would fail to save her because he couldn’t control his TSF well enough. Then he’d blame the machine and all sorts of whining, rage, and crying ensue. Not in this episode, and perhaps not on this show.

Yui got to tell him he was a talentless hack to his face. This was delicious stuff. You certainly don’t see the hero pilot get told off like this, ever. This is why I think very highly of this episode as an exercise of characterization. It’s quite subtle and you may miss the deftness beneath all the other, usual or mundane melodrama.

About ghostlightning

I entered the anime blogging sphere as a lurker around Spring 2008. We Remember Love is my first anime blog. Click here if this is your first time to visit WRL.
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59 Responses to Yuuya Isn’t Much of a Pilot, Which Is a Great Starting Point for This Arc of Muv Luv Alternative Total Eclipse (Episode 04)

  1. Taka says:

    I dunno. I think he is a talented pilot but he has a specific psychological handicap against using anything with the word Japanese in the abbreviation. He’s not really trying to change his style to appropriately pilot a new machine since he wants to blame the machine simply because it’s Japanese made. Though I feel like there should be a way to calibrate it to make it more comfortable for his piloting style.

    On the flipside Yui has her own hangups that I don’t entirely understand. Yuuya hates Japan I get that but I don’t understand why Yui hates Yuuya…before she even really gets to know him. I’m mean she’s sort of acting like an asshole to him right from their first meeting. I wonder if maybe she has a hangup about American’s. Perhaps because they took so long to assist in the battle of kyoto.

    • I don’t think we’re really in disagreement. But it is also fair to expect good pilots to be quick learners. If the least pilot can do well and an advanced one can’t, it’s an excuse for Yui to chew him out. It doesn’t mean she’s being fair, or I am.

      Still, the very fact that Yuuya is put into this situation is awesome.

  2. Zoberraz says:

    I’m not so sure as you are that he’s talentless. The mock skirmish had him show a few moves that seemed to be considered ‘inspired’.

    Frankly, I’m dubious as to why Yui is giving him such a hard time. I haven’t seen him do anything that’d be an embarrassment to the japanese nation at all. So, the japanese TSF were tough to run? He did an error in judgment in trying to overcompensate for his discomfort and rush in with the hope that he’d work it out somehow? I see the error in it, but it doesn’t strike me as a damning flaw. We’ve seen “Chobi” do far worse, after all, with light teasing in return.

    Sure, japanese trainees could handle the training TSF better than he, but being placed in a discomfort zone which flips over our honed skills and habits can be really hard to get over. The trainees -could- handle their training machines and fight in them, but on the other hand it was all their were weaned on. The familliar-and-yet-not can be more challenging to get accustomed to than something entirely new.

    I do find your take on it interesting, to be sure. It’s another point of view I had not quite considered, mainly since I’m easily entertained and was content to just wait out that conflict to be resolved.

    But, as I see it, Yui has high expectations of Yuuya based on his supposedly sharp record, and his japanese descent. He’s held on a high pedestal, and any stumble has her willing to lash out at him (again, other members of the team seem exempt from that scrutinery – hence why I can feel that mention of him being ‘overated’). There’s also the nationalistic pride thing coming in here very thickly – he’s japanese to her so she expects the best of him. Than there’s him whom hates that label due to his upbringing and the critique his father got from the american side of his family.

    But, I don’t quite get was set off the match for this fire. From what I’ve seen, he did rather well in a mock-battle – certainly adequately, though teamwork won out more than his clever moves did – and then the episode ends with her scathing criticism which frankly came out of nowhere. It feels forced.

    I end up thinking the possible point of the criticism is to push him to get better under adversity. Otherwise, it’s not making much sense to me.

    • r042 says:

      Really what makes it interesting, to me anyway, is he’s acting like the Roy Fokker, Isamu Dyson (hell, even Kamille Bidan) archetype from mecha anime – in a series where the opponents were all humans who flashy moves would work against, there’d be less of a foul and Yui would be being unreasonable.

      The problem is the enemies are an inhuman horde and (as the previous episodes have intimated) working as a team and keeping to a simple “kill them all” plan will keep everyone alive. Yuuya got some results but had to be bailed out, which isn’t at all the sort of thing needed in a war where humanity is outnumbered and on the defensive.

      • r042 says:

        In short, in mecha anime terms he’s a capable pilot – but TE is setting itself up to not be a traditional mecha anime, it’s a man-v-horde sci-fi bit of body horror, where charismatic no-fuck-giving ace pilots end up munched and its the guys who stay in formation and stick to the plan who get out.

        Yuuya’s the guy who says it’s just a bug hunt.

    • See my response to Taka.

      As I also said in the post, this is still a cheap trick in that I don’t think it will take much time and effort beyond an “aha” moment for Yuuya to put things together and reach his potential/meet expectations.

  3. Pingback: Continuing To Look at Total Eclipse – Episode 4 « Ideas Without End

  4. schneider says:

    In the hands of a lesser show, someone in the team would have an accident and Yuuya would fail to save her because he couldn’t control his TSF well enough. Then he’d blame the machine and all sorts of whining, rage, and crying ensue.

    Doesn’t that sound like Top Gun?

    I rather like Imperial Japan in the Muv Luv setting. It gives them military might and national pride–Yui talks down an American ace, which would not have happened otherwise.

  5. Mike says:

    Top Gun is going to get served next week.

  6. jonas says:

    See, those pectorals are obviously body armor, they don´t even match Yuuya´s body.

  7. Reid says:

    “Muv-Luv Alt. Total Eclipse” continues to live up to my low expectations in some areas and exceed my prejudices in others. While I am more or less impressed with the mecha aspect of this show, despite somewhat unappealing/confusing mechanical design and the obviously fetishistic pilot suits (and the camera angles to exploit all the jiggling without much reason plot-wise), particularly in the area of the fully realized nature of the tactics used by TSFs in the field and the high-speed action of robot vs robot combat, I am close to entering a love-to-hate relationship with Total Eclipse. Here’s why.

    I don’t mind for a moment that Yuuya is initially unable to pilot the Japanese TSF effectively (though I’d hardly say having difficulties piloting an unfamiliar machine on the first or second try should classify this as him being “without talent” as the Lieutenant accuses him). Nor do I have a problem with the Lieutenant calling him out on his failure in the training mission (he even admitted it was embarrassing before she started accusing him – leading into the “it’s your stupid robot that sucks, not me [and this could indeed be the case - why else would the Japanese need to use Allied know-how to develop their own fighter?]“). No, what I have a problem with is the whys and wherefores of this whole shameful proceeding. Yes, this show might just be the most offensive collection of racial and national stereotypes in recent times. G Gundam had fun with stereotypes – Chibodee Crocket, anyone?! Axis Powers Hetalia (though I’ve never watched it, nor do I have the desire to do so) is at least all about playing things off as a big joke, as befitting a comedy series. Nobody takes “Blazing Saddles” or “Don’t be a Menace to South Central…” seriously. This show is SERIOUS BUSINESS though (lol it’s a porno visual novel), and the coin it trades on so far is Japanese nationalism and, by extension, historical revisionism owning to the same diabolic stupidity that gives us the pacifism-in-name-only of recent Gundam shows, most recently Kio’s turn for the worse in Gundam AGE.

    Look at it this way: Yuuya Bridges. Just his name tells us all we need to know, given the context of the show. I get how this is an anime program and so the main characters will probably be Japanese or part-Japanese. I’m ok with this. Amuro Ray is half Japanese. Shin Kazama is all Japanese (and his best pal Mickey is American). Both those guys are fairly ill-adjusted, if highly skilled pilots in their given series (Mobile Suit Gundam and Area 88). Yuuya Bridges is also half-Japanese…but he’s also half white and half American. The flashback scene shows how Yuuya’s maternal grandpa is a bigotted jerk who hates “those sneaky, cowardly Japs!” because of how the tike’s father left his mom and the kid in the lurch. You might excuse a father for feeling like his daughter and grandson were betrayed by the guy, especially considering how he (grandpa) was opposed to the marriage (on racial grounds, of course). What makes the “cowardly monkeys” routine all the more shameful is how Yuuya’s mom doesn’t say something like “You’re wrong, Dad! My man had his reasons for leaving, reasons that really hurt him and if you’d only give me a chance to explain…” No, instead she says something like “But, FATHER! You don’t know what’s so great about their CULTURE! They’re all so kind and polite!” Blanket statements on both sides, but only one viewpoint is supposed to be sympathetic. Guess which.

    The assumption we, the viewer, is supposed to come to is that Yuuya sucks as a pilot not because he failed to adapt to a robot entirely new-to-him, but because his American (white) half makes him bigoted, intolerant, rude, crude, arrogant and jerkish. See, the Lieutenant calls him out as being less talented than a trainee not because he lacks conviction or honor or some other profundities, but because he’s suddenly unskilled? Give the guy that ACTIVE Eagle and see what he can do. Or the F-22 Raptor, you know the one HE HELPED DEVELOP AS A TEST PILOT. Instead, he’s a disgrace to the Japanese race because he doesn’t behave like a Japanese person would, which of course fails to take into account that concepts such as “race” mean progressively less and less in the States, especially in the advent of an Alien invasion 30 years prior to our story. Just look at how Yuuya more or less gets along with the oh-so-cuuuuuuuute Nepali girl. They’re probably gonna end up screwing because that’s just what happens to tsundere shawties. She likes him already. Also, he seems to get on fine with the Russian loli (where’s Char when you need him?).

    Here’s what a wiser man said on the subject:
    “The other day I was introduced to an American who said he was a fan of mine, and I was surprised to learn that people in many countries have read the Japanese version of ‘Five Star Stories’. I am not only flattered, but have also been made aware that even authors of comic books [or other media - emphasis mine] should be careful not to hurt or insult, intentionally or otherwise, the feelings and sensibilities of others, whether they be readers [or viewers] or not.”
    - Mamoru Nagano, author of “Five Star Stories”

    What separates Nagano from offensive jerks like the creators of this show is that he actually lives up the “good stereotype” about Japanese folks. No, he’s just a decent human being.

    I’m sure Yuuya will become an ace pilot in the new Type-94 Shiranui when he gets over how friggin’ white he is…-_-

    • Reid says:

      And let’s not even forget these gems:
      1. Swedish big-bossomed blonde bombshell
      2. Italian carefree womanizer
      3. “other Asian” [Nepali] portrayed as childlike, immature
      4. The Russians use child soldiers and immediately resort to torture

      • Can we stop all this butthurt YO THIS IS RACIST bullshit especially from the super-marginalized American?

        1. I DO NOT CONDONE RACISM, BUT I DO NOT CARE ABOUT IT AS A TOPIC IN THIS SHOW…

        2. THE SAME WAY I DO NOT CARE THAT IT IS PORNOGRAPHIC…

        3. BECAUSE I ONLY CARE ABOUT THE MECHA ANIME ASPECT.

        I am not interesting in denying any of these factors, in the show, especially in that I am not interested in elevating this show as some kind of literary masterpiece. But I am supremely uninterested in butthurtological complaints about pornography and racism. I’ll leave that to the politicians and religious agenda mongers.

        • Reid says:

          Yes, having finally said exactly what I’ve been meaning to say on the subject, I will stop. Sorry if I got out of line, but the whole thing put me in a really bad mood all day. I’m just here for the mecha anime aspect too.

      • Mitleser says:

        It is better to use cloned child soldiers than wasting the (female) youth.

      • Reid says:

        Those are good finds indeed. That’s where I first got “exposed” to this unfortunate phenomenon in certain anime productions.

      • Turambar says:

        Yep. Watching the first two episodes of Muv Luv immediately reminded me of that amazing piece.

        • Reid says:

          Here’s a telling quote from one of AK’s great articles:

          “In her article ‘Intellectuals, Cartoons, and Nationalism During the Russo-Japanese War’, Yulia Mikhailova notes the instrumentality of the 1904-5 Russo-Japanese War in the development of Japanese political cartoons (ancestors of anime). She states:

          “In the Japanese case political cartoons were essential for defining ‘us’ against ‘them’ and constructing a sense of Japaneseness. They visually identified the foreign ‘other’ against which the Japanese defined themselves, Japanese nationhood, and nationalism by the end of Meiji […] They were instrumental in two important ways. First, they incited passion among their readers, effectively antagonizing them against Russia. Second, they peddled a self-serving positive image of Japan, successfully instilling in Japanese a powerful sense of national pride as citizens (kokumin) of the new nation-state.”

          I’m not trying to put Muv-Luv on the same level of awesome as Gunbuster, but there’s no doubt that similar sentiment is at work here in the show thus far. We need more robot v. alien killing to wash this bad taste out of my mouth.

          • Turambar says:

            Eh, like Ghosty said, we’re all ultimately in it for the mecha action. I have a more direct and personal hatred of the World War II era Imperial Japan than most (family comes from Shanghai, you can connect the rest of the dots), but he who enjoys wins, and I intend to enjoy this show, jingoism be damned.

          • Reid says:

            That was truly one of the most awful parts of a war filled with awful times. It truly was one of the dark times in human history. Just you having said that is enough for me to realize how bigoted I myself may have come across and I apologize. I in no way want to trivialize the suffering real people suffered by blowing a fictional story about robots and aliens out of proportion. Thanks for keeping a level head as it’s a good example for how I ought to behave – I’m prone to fly off the handle sometimes.

    • jonas says:

      Yui is a war veteran, Yuuya is a test pilot, it´s pretty obvious that she is going to look down on him, add the whole “our countrymen are being eaten alive by aliens, while you are playing glorified videogames” mentality, and you have a non racist reason for Yui to dislike Yuuya.

  8. Well one thing is for sure… We’d get to see some mecha action in the next episode… Yui VS Yuuya.

    First thing, I love on how Yui burns Yuuya so much. Since test pilots we’re only able to see a little action and Yui who piloted during her school lives got to see so much shitload of action, drama and death all rolled up in one package.

    And we get to see typical stereotypes in usual anime sense:
    Russia -> Insta-action before asking and stuff.
    America -> [Those sneaky Japs and shick <- Still reminded of WWII and the "Sneak Attack" on Pearl Harbor] And typical bullying as seen in school and stuff.

    Can't wait for the next episode to unfold…

  9. megaroad1 says:

    I don’t think that Yuuya is that much of a bad pilot. He’s ok while obviously not to be confused with Maximilian Jenus. He’s just so damn tense about piloting a unit alien to him (and a japanese one at that which he obviously has huge and unresolved issues with) that he cannot relax and get a feel for the unit and it’s capabilities. Having said, I agree with you in that it was refreshing that they didn’t have to manufacture drama by going through the classic ‘someone dies, my fault, I’ll try harder’ card.
    This show is immensely entertaining and value for my popcorn so I hope they soon drop the nationalism crap and get on with kicking alien butt.
    BTW, does the russian loli have some kind of psychic powers? Or did I just dream that her teddy bear was speaking?

  10. I think the problem lies with Yuuya, if you are given a new unit that is completely different and your combat style isn’t working, change your combat style. He bitches about how crappy the machine is. Even in video games the same logic applies.
    Yui saying that he has no talent is, I guess, too extreme since he has some issues with Japanese-made stuff(And we are talking about aliens attacking, who cares about who manufactured the giant robot?), it’s more of him being inflexible and not willing to change himself to suit the machine.

  11. jpmeyer says:

    1) The racism and completely unabashed imperialism in this show are so blatantly over the top that they make me laugh, even though this is the exact opposite of what the show wants you to do. I mean, there are much more subtle versions of WW2/Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere tropes, like the “We’re the middle position that you all must fall in line behind” of stuff like Silent Service or Gundam Seed, or the primitive “other” Asians in Macross Zero (and that’s from hippie dippie Kawamori!). But here I’m 99% sure that the “Japan keeps its militarized government” aspect of the alternate history in Muv-Luv is entirely to pander to uyoku.

    Then again, the list of anime that actually critique that perspective consists of what, just Patlabor 2 and Nadesico?

    2) Sooooooooo, how many episodes until Yuuya colonizes the shit out of Yui’s exotic, Oriental vagina with his imperial, Western penis?

    • jpmeyer says:

      Also, I loooooooooove all the kinds of weird/amusing/hilarious sexual subtexts can come up in harem shows with Japanese leads and multiethnic harems.

    • 2) I don’t think I care enough to pursue that topic in any anime, but then again I’m less concerned about the thing in itself as “good” but rather my own experience of it being such (which probably necessitates some ignorance to stay positive LOL).

      3) 1 ep before finale.

    • Nanoarchery says:

      But laugh is probably what the show wants you to do. The main character of Alternative spends most of chapter 6 wondering why the Imperial Japanese are such shortsighted nutcases when it comes to how much they prioritize their national sovereignty over the BETA war, and by the end of the chapter his opinion hasn’t really changed beyond “well I can’t comprehend their Klingon thought processes since this isn’t my culture, though I’m sure it makes sense to them”

  12. squaresphere says:

    So really the lesson that should have been learned here is, “Don’t follow the moeblob (with augmented boobs) that wants you to follow her to introduce you to her friend.”

    IT’S A TRAP! (could be literally :-/ )

    The one part that’s been kind of over looked is, why would Yuuya need to get familiar with Japanese design in the first place? (we were only told his suit wasn’t ready and that Yui thought it was a good idea) Was it because the Japanese design philosophy showed more promise than the others? It’s not like the Americans don’t have real war data (ep2 had them launching TFs in support).

    • Turambar says:

      The suit that he was going to be piloting is also of Japanese design isn’t it? Yui wanted to see what he could do with a practice type first.

    • Mitleser says:

      To follow cute Inia was not a mistake, him not asking her who she is, how she knows his name, and most importantly what the cyrillic signs mean were his big mistakes.

    • I don’t know this yet.

    • Nanoarchery says:

      He had to get familiar with Japanese design because unlike his favorite Strike Eagle that can change directions and jink all over the place mostly just by pointing its thrusters, Japanese TSFs have comparatively poor weight to thrust ratio so piloting them require the pilot to finely manipulate the the various control surfaces eg ailerons, fins, flaps, head antennae, forearm sheaths etc. to manipulate the yaw and pitch of the machine to help maneuver. Unfortunately he’s not quite getting it yet so he’s trying to maneuver on primarily thruster power vectoring like he’s been doing all this time and blaming the thrusters for being too weak and the controls for being too sensitive.

      He has to get used to doing this stuff now so that he’s ready for when he has to actually test drive the XFJ-01 which will be requiring similarly tight control over all the aerodynamic control surfaces for quick tight directional changes. It’s not about which design philosophy shows more promise, he just needs to get used to what he’ll be having to do from now on.

  13. Vendredi says:

    One thing that’s particularly interesting watching Muv-Luv is how obviously self-conscious it is of the fact that mecha are really just a pastiche of the jet fighter genre; there was the whole emphasis on the risk involved on low altitude flying, and why low altitude flying is an important skill back in the first episode, pictures of a HUD very similar to a fighter jet, the whole “ace pilot” conceit – even the TSFs themselves, I was surprised to learn from the wiki, have the same name as jets in our timeline (presumably McDonnell-Douglas went into the mecha business rather than the fighter business in 1968 and built the F-4 Phantom as a TSF). In a lot of ways Muv-Luv represents the strange intersection of moe (bishoujo?) and military otaku (other examples that come to mind are Strike Witches, or Upotte!: all sort of very finicky database animal shows).

    • Vendredi says:

      Wait right, it’s McDaell Doglam in this parallel universe who got absorbed by Boening. Even their logos are the same down to the detail.

      • Sober!man says:

        you should go read these. http://archive.foolz.us/m/thread/8028111/
        its basically translated TSFIA articles. Side story in the Muvluv universe regarding TSF combat, history and development. Namely the the story regarding the YF22 versus YF23 development. i believe deserves special attention. since it mirrors the real world ATF(advanced tactical fighter) project which is called without any surprise ATSF(advanced tactical surface fighter) in the Muvluv verse

        • jonas says:

          Do the A-10 Warthog, and the Rafale exist in their universe? I imagine the A-10 (or the MiG 31) would be better suited for horde fighting. And the Rafale would be the equivalent of the Gundam Physalis.

  14. Pingback: Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse 4 – Racism Is Funny | The Cart Driver

  15. Pingback: Continuing to Look at Total Eclipse – Episode 5 « Ideas Without End

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