Check-in Station: Muv-Luv eps1-7: and the point of this was?

Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever get to see a show that cuts through the mess and gives me the pure mecha action I want. Then I come across a new show, and think that I’ve gotten what I wanted. Then the show starts having beach episodes and making love geometry and I realize that I can’t escape. I can’t escape an anime being an anime. Generally, it’s appeal will always be broad, and very Japanese. And I realize that I can’t have that show that is just 90% serious action and suspense, and 10% bull to alleviate all that tension and stress. Often enough it’s a 50-50 affair, and for Muv-Luv that seems to be the case. But I am wondering if that 50% is spectacular enough to make me live with the other half that I’m not fond of.

I’m not going to wax romantically about this show, because it’s only seven weeks old. I’ll just say that I had a hell of a lot of fun with the atmosphere, pacing, and general ruthlessness of the show during the first two episodes. I was fond of the next three because of the whole intensely competitive test pilot atmosphere, though I was a bit weary of the trend I was seeing in regards to the show getting more silly and …I guess you would call it sexist. Then again, the females in this show have been sexual objections from the beginning. And the xenophobia and racism is pretty rampant in this show, but I take that all in stride as part of the overall plan for the show. My main gripe has been with the last two episodes, which worked out as half swimsuit contest, and half convenient excuse to get the three most conflicted characters in the show to get together and hash out their issues. It all seems to be getting farther and farther away from what I most enjoyed about the show. And there was a lot, which shows you how much of a problem I’m having at the moment.

I’ve always been a “film noire” type of anime fan. I like my anime dark, somewhat realistic (for anime anyway), and I’ve always been apprehensive about moral dilemmas or plot points being cleanly resolved without collateral damage or sacrifice. If the bad guy gets way, then it’s fine if it works for the story. If innocent people and/or main characters die, then so be it. Not everyone is, nor should be blessed to have plot armor or the luck of a lottery winner. It’s just extra special for me if it comes with some good mecha combat. And I feel that a show’s production team and writing staff look more impressive for being able to carry a show without some of its linchpins. So seeing the first two episodes of this series was a treat for me. I got some interesting mecha action, with good production values (the computer graphics in this show are passable), and a very dark plot. And unstoppable alien force forcefully and methodically invading Earth. Murdering and devouring anything in its wake. There’s even the added bonus of tactics being needed for the different alien monsters. And to top it all off, there’s (mostly) ruthless indiscriminate death among the human casualties. How then-cadet Yui Takamura survived is blind, dumb luck. Everything else was wiped away. Sure some viewed it as a cheap Gai-Rei Zero style of early storytelling to get the audience more involved, but I think it set an important tone for how the series would eventually play out in the future. The message was that characters you get to know and maybe care about in the future will die horrible deaths. And I believed it to be good world building as well. It ended up being all one big extended flashback, but it was entertaining and did it’s job of helping us understand the world.

After that, the series starts to center around a half Japanese American test pilot named Yuuya Bridges (a dead ringer for Kira Yamato). It quickly lets the viewer know that the world may have a united enemy, but it is not united against it. While the xenophobia is pretty strong, and the racism is pretty childish, it’s nice to know that for the most part the pilots become friends and do more than tolerate each other. The exceptions being Yui, Yuuya and one half of the Scarlet Twins from the Soviet Union, Cryska. Sure the female midgets Tarisa and Inia don’t get along, but I blame that on Tarisa being intensely annoying on her own. Those annoyances were tolerated though, because I enjoyed the human versus human mock combat, and the intense training and test exercises the team performed regularly. As long as there was good mecha action peppered about, I was all right. And then we get to these last two beach episodes.

When we get to these beach episodes, there’s this joint event going on to help mend the tensions between the Russians and the rest of the test teams. It’s mostly a failure both of the Soviet pilots seem to be terrified of water. And just ends up as mostly a swimsuit exhibition for the female cast. The only things resembling plot movement were the conversations that Yui, Yuuya and Cryska had when they got separated from the rest of the group and stranded on a deserted island. For me, this silliness could have been compressed into one episode. And to make matters worse, they topped it off with a swimsuit exhibition, a literal one for Yui, Cryska and Inia. I just don’t get that. I really don’t. I’m not asking for it, but Yuuya got lost as well and he didn’t have to strut around half naked while anyone took pics. He didn’t get punished or embarrassed at all. And why is everyone excited about one piece Japanese-style school swimsuits, and most of them probably aren’t even Japanese? Sheesh. This show has fallen hard. My lingering hope is that now that the show has had its fun, we can start focusing on why they’re doing this massive joint project and on the aliens that are still currently ravaging the world. I don’t know if it’s more appropriate to tell this series to take its head out of the sand, or out of its ass?

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32 Responses to Check-in Station: Muv-Luv eps1-7: and the point of this was?

  1. DarkFireBlade25 says:

    I suppose they have 1 more episode to redeem themselves or else you’re outta here, yeah? I’d do the same but I’m the type to not drop stuff this far in. I hope they do redeem themselves as they have a lot of material to work from.

    • I don’t know if I’m ready to drop it, but I have more than enough cause to. But I’ve stuck it out through worse. I don’t believe this is a long series. Sometimes it’s just fun to have a series to bitch about.

  2. MarigoldRan says:

    Read Bakker’s Second Apocalypse series. It’s worth your time. It has all of the gory parts of Muv Luv, with none of the sappy parts.

    • I’ve never big a big fan of light novels or mecha focused manga, despite my love of mecha and action manga. So I can’t say I’ll get around to it. But if this leads to a adaptation of the more depressing and violent mainline story, then I’m all for it.

      • MarigoldRan says:

        No, no, this is not manga or a light novel. In fact, it’s not Japanese at all.

        But it’s gory, and it’s dark, and it’s set in the Middle Ages. It’s similar to the Game of Thrones, except it’s much much darker and edgier.

        • MarigoldRan says:

          If you ever want to know what it’s like to live during an era of genocidal apocalypse, this is the book for you!

      • MarigoldRan says:

        “He stood shackled, one among the gloom of many…

        A line of captives, wrist chained to wrist, ankle to ankle, wretched for abuse….

        Standing encase in horror and ignorance, a file running the length of a shadowy tunnel…

        His eyes rolled in equine panic. What now? What-what now?

        Gagging shrieks filtered down the hall, ringing as though across iron shields.

        Something blared, a sound too engulfing, too guttural to be a mere horn. WIthout warning the chains yanked him and the shadowy procession forward, one stumbling step towards the light…. the clearing.

        And though all the world’s terror loomed before him, the brutalized stranger thought, Please…

        Let this be the end.

  3. vendredi says:

    I’m not sure if the series ever will go back to the “main” story, if it ever will. The novel series is based on is already a side-story to the main plot of the visual novel (which is where all the BETA battles are at). The entire point *is* the TSF development project behind the lines, not the BETA war – that’s stuff gets covered in the VN already.

    It’s like asking “Where are all the Zentraedi in Macross Plus?” – and that’s essentially what Total Eclipse is in the context of the Muv Luv franchise; colour me surprised if we actually see any further real all-out BETA battles.

    Rumour has it that this project was meant more to test the waters for an anime adaptation of the “proper” main-line Muv-Luv story of the war against the BETA, which would be a much bigger commitment.

    Whether or not that was the best of decisions is up for debate though; Macross Plus still works pretty well when watched without any knowledge of the Macross series, but that’s precisely because the meat of the story is more interesting than the short 3 minute introduction we get of Isamu fighting generic Zentraedi mooks. For Total Eclipse, I feel things turn out completely opposite – I do agree that the brutal and involved two-episode introduction just leaves you wanting more of that, rather than the story Total Eclipse actually does offer.

    • Nanoarchery says:

      -“colour me surprised if we actually see any further real all-out BETA battles.”
      There was that next episode preview for episode 8 and all…

    • If the series is fine with focusing on the Macross Plus side of things, then I’m still happy about it. I loved Macross Plus. But these bimbo moments that I’ve gotten so much of in the past two and a half episodes have got to stop. It’s a cruel tease for us hungry mecha fans. I can live with episode after episode of human douchebaggery.

  4. rockmanshii says:

    I think you should watch Mouretsu Pirates, read Break Blade and play Infinite Space.

  5. Reblogged this on the Check-in Station and commented:

    Since my fellow blogger, Ghostlightning is somewhat out of commission with the flooding, I decided to help old dude out and give him one of my posts. I am still a member of WRL afterall. But hopefully things will dry out over the in the Phillipines eventually and he’ll get back on his feet. Stop by his blog and wish him well. This is my post on WRL for Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse.

  6. Suffoni says:

    Next ep is russian hate fuck. Prepare for more glorious mig-35 in blue camo.

  7. Lokey says:

    Well at least the next episode seems to be about a battle of some kind. This could seriously help it pick back up, especially if some of the characters don’t come back from it.

  8. Justin says:

    I’m just going to say, “Aw yeah these five eps of Muv-Luv were solid” But tell everyone to skip 6 & 7 since they serve absolutely no purpose :(

  9. Anonymous says:

    Concerning the whole romance and fanservice thing:The original Muv Luv game was a hentai/eroge

  10. Pingback: Episode 8 of Total Eclipse – A Return (Somewhat) To Form « Ideas Without End

  11. ServantOfPriss says:

    Hivemind: the blog.

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