First of all let me make it clear that I loved this episode. I’ve been asking for a show that’s similar to Macross Plus and Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory, particularly in how they evoke the film Top Gun. Testing prototypes, fighter-jock posturing and rivalry, peak performance measured meticulously, commentary from the developers and the military personnel overseeing the thing; all that possibility; I mean, what’s not to like?! I start the post this way to remind readers, or warn new visitors not to read the posts in WRL as reviews. I don’t review anime.
That said, Muv Luv did a good job of starting off the show by showing the alien apocalypse before going straight into the robot/pilot proving grounds. It’s far more dedicated that was Macross Plus, or even Stardust Memory who had the wealth of A Baoa Qu to draw from. The show started off heavy with the moeblobbery which played with our expectations, pinning them to the floor. Then it activated the minefield with episode two. Now we slow down with having to tell more of a story with a new set of characters, but we know what they’re dealing with. It’s a thing that’ll always be present, informing their actions and our perception of the narrative.
Now, onto my essay.
In this episode we are introduced to a small group of jacked-up ultra-competitive ace pilots. They are remnants of the nations that are already overrun by the BETA. They are to assist in the development of new TSFs. Being ultracompetitive, they are immediately portrayed as people imposing rank, status, pecking orders. The exciting thing is that these things are settled in the practice field, where we’re treated to very fast-paced ace combat.
This is very interesting to me, because this is the kind of thing that’s really quite unnecessary, or even counterproductive in the current situation. Sure, ace pilots are worth a lot of enemy kills, but given how the BETA fight (tightly packed formations), a large bomb can produce equal or better results without the military having to invest as much, and spend as much maintenance.
Sure, given the growing scarcity of both human and material resources, the kill ratio per pilot and TSF must be ever higher. But again, given the combat behavior of the BETA, each combat unit will score a high kill ratio if deployed properly (one TSF vs. many Soldier, Warrior, or even Tank class units for example). The best way to do this is to organize good fighting squads. Aces aren’t even required, as long as the squad is adaptive and acts like a cohesive unit. Larger groups of multiple squads are the same. Tactics should be scalable. Individual heroics are less effective and/or even desirable. Aces are rare, and their benefits aren’t scalable and therefore they’re not strategically integral.
This is why the one-upmanship in fancy piloting as shown in this episode, while entertaining if not thrilling for me to watch, is really just masturbation – funny, it’s H in an eerily barely metaphorical sense. It’s autoerotic, no real consummation; indulgent with imaginative tricks and moves that rare or impractical to pull off in real sex, I mean combat, against BETA at least.
This isn’t the Zentraedi swarm, where a Maximilian Jenius may meet a Millya Fallnya – not that Max was particularly interested in ace vs. ace rivalries (it was Millya who was more into it, way more). It’s more like the Vajra, but the Vajra were highly maneuverable fliers which allowed ace pilots to truly distinguish themselves. The BETA are really more like the STMC (Space Terrible Monster Crowd), only ground-based.
If ace pilots are to make that big a difference, then the TSF isn’t the ideal weapon for them. Instead, they should be piloting giant robots like the Topless in their Buster Machines. Those things are designed to be decisive weapons against masses of adversaries. If not those, they should be piloting them God-like AU Gundams. I bet the Gundam 00 QanT can even turn the BETA into flowers.
[Feel free to complain about the stock anime character types, the cliches, the fanservice, and whatever things you puristfags whinge about in the comments, or you can engage the idea(s) above].