The Impracticality of Ace Pilots Vs. The Alien Apocalypse: Muv Luv Alternative Total Eclipse Episode 03

[HorribleSubs] Muv-Luv Alternative - Total Eclipse - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_14.43_[2012.07.17_21.37.34]

[Muv Luv Alternative Total Eclipse Episode 02]

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.

[HorribleSubs] Muv-Luv Alternative - Total Eclipse - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_13.26_[2012.07.17_21.36.56]

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.

[HorribleSubs] Muv-Luv Alternative - Total Eclipse - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_01.47_[2012.07.17_21.24.24]

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].

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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51 Responses to The Impracticality of Ace Pilots Vs. The Alien Apocalypse: Muv Luv Alternative Total Eclipse Episode 03

  1. Richard says:

    >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.
    That may be the main reason why Yui treated Yuuya like a mature mistress being unimpressed at an arrogant virgin who thinks he knows how to sex… or pilot a TSF.

  2. Cratex says:

    yea, I was with them when, for instance, the heavy guns of the capitol ships were able to make an “impact” on the BETA swarm in episode 2. In episode 3…they lost me.

    • I’m betting that this ace pilot thing, given that its wasted on the BETA, will be more about the pilots’ own interpersonal rivalries that is projected on a geopolitical scale.

      • bumphgb says:

        It does seem that this episode was showing that ace pilots help improve TSF’s so front line troops can feel the benefits.
        I’m not really up on my fighter planes but the european Tornado jet (irl) are fighter bombers so they at could be very effective against ground based enemy.
        I do agree though that being highly maneuverable and flight capable does feel a little pointless given the enemies tactics.

  3. Reid says:

    The American ones are F-18s, right? What is the other one, the one with the fins on its head?

    • byronicasian says:

      The American Fighters in dark green are F-15E Strike Eagles (single seaters as opposed to being 2 seater fighter IRL). The gray/light khaki ones are the F-15 Active, which in IRL is a NASA prototype experimental modifcation of the F-15.

      • Reid says:

        I appreciate the help, sir. However, I spent the last hour or so pouring over the Muv-Luv wiki pages reading up on All the World’s Tactical Surface Fighters! Having your mechs be “anime robot versions” of real world fighter aircraft is probably one of the cooler real robot ideas in a long time, though I still can’t quite get into the look of the robots themselves. Nevertheless, the aviation geek in me eats it all up. I wonder what the Swedish JAS-39 TSF looks like?

        • Sgt. NoOb says:

          The JAS-39 appears alongside a Tornado ADV when Yuuya’s partner is talking about the wonders of Yukon Base after landing.

          • Reid says:

            That’s the trouble with these robots – you can’t tell them apart. Even a Gouf and a Zaku look different enough to figure out which is which at a glance. Even real world airplanes look different enough to tell apart at a glance.

  4. Ratatosk says:

    ..never mind that from the first seconds when it became clear how overpowered the aliens were, they should have been concentrating on guerilla warfare and living underground Yamato-style instead of anything resembling ace pilots. But yeah. Even though for some reason this episode I suddenly noticed everyone had Gundam-Seed plastic doll faces, and it was far more jarring than the ridiculous shiny boob-physics.. this is great. It seemed like the plot of an entire visual novel or something was crammed into each episode, but research suggests otherwise.
    Mild curiosity over whether the original ‘adult’ game is torture-porn or just standard girls-with-big-tits fighting aliens who happen to have tentacles.. but finding out would spoil the surprise when the genre changes every episode. And damn the fights are fast…

    Anyway this is the 2nd time that lurking here for the Gundam commentary has led me to unexpectedly good shows with awful names (1st was Break Blade).. so thanks 😀

    • mytokyobox says:

      unfortunately they cannot live underground and attack them guerrilla style. The reason being is that the BETA launch “Hives” from the moon that impact earth then grow like an antfarm. That premise was explored int he game Muvluv: Alternative ( Not total eclipse which started as a light novel. )

      • MarigoldRan says:


        • MarigoldRan says:

          I’m pretty sure that if the US military tried really REALLY hard for 30 years they’ll find a way to blow up the moon. So any complaints about the impracticality of this option is wrong.

    • Nice of you to jump into the discussion.

      I’m not able to start the VN yet and I’m not really willing to spoil myself by reading the wikis, but you can rely on conscientious commenters in this thread to give good context to answer our questions re strategy and tactics.

  5. mytokyobox says:

    The TSF’s are used in squads just like you say. In fact, that’s how they typicaly fight. The TSF’s engage and attack the Laser BETA’s and then they take to the air and annihalate them from above. The real issue is that the BETA reproduce and adapt quickly like a virus. In MUVLUV Ace’s aren’t really a big thing because as you said, acting as a squad is more important. But even beyond that, ACE’s are less likely to be produced simply because of the high mortality rate of being in a TSF. The only reason they are in engagements in episode 03 is because they are testing out the new TSF to compete with both the U.S. and the BETA. The U.S. is I believe the only country to not have a BETA Hive within it’s area hence why they have the most up-to-date and advanced weaponry the Raptor and FA-18. However, they practice isolationism in a bid to save whatever they can for the eventual BETA attack on their shores.

    I’d post more, but then it’s going into spoiler territory. Most of the info is taken from the Muv-Luv Unlimited and Alternative game.

    • So the idea is to make a quick strike to take out the Laser Class units, which then exposes the vulnerability of the BETA attack columns to aerial strikes. This is cool.

      I won’t get into the rest so as not to spoil myself. I really appreciate your restraint and I’m sure other readers do as well.

  6. sadakups says:

    I like this episode except for that annoying bitch who keeps on getting on Top Gun’s ass.

    God, just shut the fuck up, woman.

  7. Pingback: A Look at Total Eclipse Episode 3 « Ideas Without End

  8. Mitleser says:

    >The best way to do this is to organize good fighting squads.<

    They are test pilots, not front-line fighter whose lives depends on it.
    Still, note that how Tarisa's aggressive individualism was not rewarded in this episode (the duel at the beginning of the episode was provoked by her).

  9. r042 says:

    This was a good shift in tone and really I wonder what the endpoint of the development will be – bigger or more guns perhaps. I notice the TSFs don’t use missiles or explosives for one.

    • What I don’t want to see are godawful overpowered cheap-ass beam weapons. That’s the quickest way to ruin this show.

      • r042 says:

        A “proper” laser or ultrasound weapon would be logical, in some way.

        • Yes, but mecha anime does not have those. Instead it has beams that basically hose the massed enemies, or in Wing Zero Gundam’s case, a sprinkler. Then these beams miraculously lose their effectiveness depending on who they’re targeted on — based on plot needs, &c.

          • r042 says:

            Fair. I must admit, as a hopeful sf author wannabe that was something I thought about – making sure the weapons worked the same “right” way for everyone. Mostly because I was sick of stuff doing that badly.

      • DarkFireBlade25 says:

        mfw scientists suddenly figure out how to replicate LASER class BETA lasers.

        • Raven says:

          we can’t, the reason the laser class beta can fire beam that is overt powerful is because it use G-element to make the power to fire that sort of laser. other wise it would not able to do it.

      • r042 says:

        I’d have to rewatch episode 1 but I’m sure in the bit with Yui’s father (?) iirc he had some kind of dossier with weapon plans in it.

        I want to say they were some kind of energy weapon or gauss gun. Can anyone confirm this?

        • Myssa Rei says:

          It’s apparently a graviton gun, based on the same sci-fi element of the series “G-Element” that the U.S. used to make it’s G Bombs. According to those in the know, it’s relevant to both Ultimate (and its follow-up the Day After) and Alternative, and likely won’t directly appear in Total Eclipse except as (possibly) a prototype.

          • Sober!man says:

            Its actually not the graviton gun you are thinking of. Its the rail gun that was featured in Alternative. Part of early Total eclipse plot is to combat field test it against the BETA.

  10. megaroad1 says:

    Finally caught up with this show on your recommendation and like you it ticks many of the right boxes for me. The first episode misleads you completely and then in the second one they let you know that they mean business. And then the third one feels very much like an introductory episode (at least when it comes to the characters). It worked for me, but I guess other anime would have taken the route of showing a mix of episode 1 and 2 as a flashback deeper into the show (like when inevitably Bridges and Takamura reach an understanding). But by doing things this way, we are as you say better informed hence knowing that this individual ace style of combat is not going to fly against an enemy like the BETA. Seeing them train this way makes me fear for their future.

    Only qualm with this episode was the national stereotypes. They were almost Hetalian in their thickness. The calm and self possessed japanese. The Italian ladies man. The American ‘maverick’. The Swede bombshell. I’ve never met a Nepali though, so I don’t know if they are feisty little stock tsunderes. I have a feeling they might not be…

    • Hahaha. I didn’t watch Hetalia beyond the first episode, which helps me not to raegquit based on the typing we see here.

      • megaroad1 says:

        Dropped it too after a while. Anyway, it was just picking at something because the show’s pretty good. I’m gonna start looking for death flags now. The little Russian girl looks like a probable first kill to me.

        • Mitleser says:

          I thought the same, but people on the imageboards claim that she and Yuuha are the ones whose survival is most likely.

          • Myssa Rei says:

            Well, the last LN apparently ends on a massive cliffhanger. However, the release date for the VN of Total Eclipse is pretty close so you might want to look into that.

  11. There is a Turkish liutenant on the team, as a leader no less! Go Ibrahim! 😀
    Now, I wonder for how many eps will he stay alive? O_o

  12. That map with the territory humanity lost comforted me. South East Asia is safe.

    Anyway, I can’t remember the character names and probably have to refer to them by their nicknames.

    • Myssa Rei says:

      To quote people in the know:

      “The surviving Chinese PLA(people’s liberation army-communist China mainland) navy and RCA(republic of china army-Taiwan) with the help of local forces, the Australian navy and the US marines have effectively Made the area around the Philippine a kill zone and routinely cleanse/cull the area of any BETA Presence. The seemingly all mighty US Navy and its numerous carrier fleets patrol the world’s oceans and can provide support to almost any hot spot around the world.”

  13. Pingback: Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse 3 – Top Guns | The Cart Driver

  14. Reid says:

    I finally found some time to watch this episode, and I have to say I liked it a lot…in places.
    1. Yuuya seems like he’ll be a cool protagonist – a little too cocky for his own good perhaps (how “typically American” or something), but skilled and good at teamwork (with his hawt Swedish wingmate). I really like his mixed parentage being such a major point of the narrative. Of course, I’m sure what this will end up meaning is that he’ll suddenly become the biggest lover of all things Japanese as soon as he “accepts his own Japaneseness.” More likely he’ll end up banging the ice queen Lieutenant and that’ll be that.
    2. The combat is fast, fast, fast, as befitting robots that are really airplanes.
    3. Knives are cool close-range weapons for giant robots. THANKS SO MUCH EVANGELION.
    4. My second-favorite aircraft of all time is featured so early in the show?! I must have died and gone to mecha heaven. F-15 S/MTD / ACTIVE is such an awesome plane, to see it get this kind of love goes a long way toward me appreciating Muv-Luv.
    5. The theme song and insert song (the one that played during the training battle) are righteous, with lots of good energy, adding excitement to the scenes.
    6. Promise of creepy Russian pilots is creepy and promising. However, someone needs to tell the Muv-Luv people that an Su-37 doesn’t have a tandem cockpit and that both the Strike Eagle and the ACTIVE Eagle DO have tandem cockpits. Oh well.
    7. The whole mise-en-scene of the Muv-Luv world is pretty fascinating and fully fleshed out in a way that lots of other anime shows aren’t. I like the extra effort that went into planning something like this and it frustrates me when we don’t get to see more of this world-building in other mecha franchises.

    That said, there are some things I don’t like, though mainly these are problems I have with Muv-Luv in general and less with this admittedly very well-done episode.
    1. I know I just applauded Yuuya Bridges based on my first impression of him, particularly in the area of his mixed ethnicity being a major plot point, but it still irks me that he’s already set up to be portrayed as someone who will never be at peace or live up to his potential or get the girl or whatever until he becomes “fully Japanese.” Kazuhisa Miller (aka Master Miller) in the Metal Gear Solid franchise was just the opposite of Yuuya, a bitter son of an American father and a Japanese mother and his solution was to break free of all constraints of nationality (and nationalism) to become his own person as a mercenary. Within the context of a sci-fi/action work, I like that approach better. In the face of a total alien takeover of the earth, I think Muv-Luv’s narrative approach is just a little too heavy handed.
    2. The design of the TSF is confusing. I can hardly tell them apart, especially when in motion. even the real-world aircraft these mechs are supposed to be based on look more distinctive than they do. It’s a shame, really, because the idea of having the real world’s fighter jets replaced with robots makes for interesting alternate history AND a cool justification for mecha in the first place. However, I once again return to my old soap box. If there were already jets in the works before the BETA invaded in the 70s…why didn’t they just slap some legs on fighter planes a la GERWALK? I still think Macross’ prolific status has made it so that no mechanical designers would feel right appropriating GERWALK-like giant robots for some future work, but that’s really a shame.
    3. As much as I love the set up for this story and the whole feel of the world and despite how much I’m getting into the fast-paced combat there is one glaring problem I have with this show and its source material. I have a hard time dealing with or justifying the really obvious fanservice elements of the show. It’s not like some of the pilots are attractive females (or guys or whatever) who wear tight-fitting pilot suits. They’re literally squeezing into bondage gear (with no helmets) in order to fly their robots. There isn’t even the explanation/hand-waving that goes along with G-Gundam’s Mobile Trace system requiring a form-fitting motion-capture suit or something along similar lines as Evangelion’s plugsuits (which still aren’t this fetishsized). The whole thing practically destroys most of my suspension of disbelief. As a longtime mecha fan I can go along with bipedal robots, but I don’t like the meshing of extreme fanservice (in this sense) with hardboiled military sci-fi. It just doesn’t work for me. I’m hoping that I can get past this so that I get to fully enjoy what I really came here to see – robots shooting stuff.

    • Raven says:

      “The design of the TSF is confusing. I can hardly tell them apart, especially when in motion. even the real-world aircraft these mechs are supposed to be based on look more distinctive than they do. It’s a shame, really, because the idea of having the real world’s fighter jets replaced with robots makes for interesting alternate history AND a cool justification for mecha in the first place. However, I once again return to my old soap box. If there were already jets in the works before the BETA invaded in the 70s…why didn’t they just slap some legs on fighter planes a la GERWALK? I still think Macross’ prolific status has made it so that no mechanical designers would feel right appropriating GERWALK-like giant robots for some future work, but that’s really a shame.”

      There are some TSF have same lineage. the j-10 only have mirror different from f-16 (as same in the realy world a develpment that base on part of f-16). the su-37 come from SU-27( which is build by having study F-14, not like in the real world i guess).
      as for reason why they don’t slap leg on a plane like macross there are two reason.
      1. Fly are secondly to walking and able to close combat. the beta laser class heavy and light have shut off all “fly while Combat” things and TSF fly as only a way travel from one place to another.( it need to be, as BETA travel in to battle fast than tank/ SP art and all kind of truck. about 170 km/hr). also it cose lot of more money to make a unit with more moving part, as one of the reason TSF F-18E/F were pick over F-14NA in the 90 were due to the swip wing that made F-14 expensive to keep opration. the Soviet have same problem with there swip wing TSF mig-23 as well. so it’s macross type fly unit would be uber costly to build and keep operation. Japanese Type-00 was not adopt by Japanese army and not even all of the Imperial guard unit for the same reason. it’s cost)
      2. the Combat TSF are mostly build for hive battle where fly ablity mean little. and number don’t count as much. To understand this you need to know couple things about laser class hive and hive battle.
      Laser BETA 3 Meter Tall Heavy laser BETA 20 Meter tall
      can be hit at .. away can be hit at .. away
      Target hight(human) 1.7M 11 km 21 km

      Target hight(tank) 3 M 12 km 22 km

      Target hight(TSF) 18m (on ground) 22 km 32 km

      Target hight(TSF) 40M (low fly) 28 km 38 km

      Target hight (Hel) 150m (low fly) 50km 60km

      Target Hight(plane) 500m (low fly) 86km 96km

      Target hight(plane) 3000m (nomal fly) 201km 211km

      BETA laser type always target anything which is most damaging, Fastest, Highest, in that order.
      the Laser type can hit up to 300 km if need. It could also intercept missile, rocket and art shell from 120 mm up if it need to be. it will never take more than 5 second to lock and fire at full power at any target it picks( even at 300km away…. 😦 ). and nothing human had can stand up to more than 10- 20 second (even with battle ship level armor which it self has been a Yamato class type of battle ship 65,000 ton dps)
      and TSF armor at best (3rd GEN unit) can only stop for 3-5 seconds.
      so you can’t fly realy….

      and than there the hive combat which is another thing all together…..
      you just need to know that a level 4 hive ( hive class from 1-6, on earth that is…) have a can build up to 5 division size of BETA 10000+x 5 a day(of all kind) if need be….
      as for ace qestion. there is a prefect logical reason why they need ace( relate to hive battle).

      But i will not type in any thing more now , if you want to know give me a question i will happen to be answer.( use reply will do)

      All information came from offical Reference Book: MUV-LUV ALTERNATIVE INTERGALWORKS
      ISBN-10: 4047262234
      ISBN-13: 978-4047262232
      Can be brought at

      • Reid says:

        Wow. Thanks for that in-depth information, sir. I really do appreciate it. I also appreciate the efforts of the creators of Muv-Luv Alternative for going above and beyond when it comes to world-building.

        However, I feel like I should have done a better job of explaining myself. When I referred to the “planes with legs” thing from Macross (Gerwalk) being, in my mind the best way to show a “fighter jet that is also a giant robot” what I meant was just that – even if it’s not in the context of this show. That is to say, if the foundation of any giant robot show is the explanation/reason for the existence of giant robots, then somebody needs to come up with a good story to fit around the idea that planes need to have fold-down legs, because that’s just simply the best lol.

  15. Vendredi says:

    “Aces are rare, and their benefits aren’t scalable and therefore they’re not strategically integral.”

    Well at the same time the military is putting their aces to a very logical use here: rotating their best and experienced soldiers away from the front line to help with R&D and training (though this is as you note probably more of a pastiche than how it happens in reality).

    The Top Gun/Macross Plus comparison is interesting – I’d originally written this show off (only really following Jinrui this season) but if that’s the setting then maybe it’s worth another look.

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

  17. what the hell says:


  18. squaresphere says:

    It doesn’t make sense to have ace pilots in most prototyping instances. Designing fighters/mecha for the highest common denominator that is pilot skill/preference is almost always not cost effective. The Gundam reference is why they have to strip down feature to make the GMs :p Macross example is that the YF19/21 both were outstanding fighters but never saw wide deployment hence the mass production and use of the VF-117 (MF).

    The ONLY time it makes sense (in anime) is if you’re designing a SUPER (ie most gundams, Gunbuster) because massed reals no longer can do the job. If one Super+Pilot can take out 1000+ reals, well doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to make reals other than to be fodder suits.

    MuLuv is showing us something interesting in that squads do to get high kill counts, but only if they work together. Honestly, in this universe being an ACE might be a negative title. Going back to Yu’s intro, we saw him getting into a fight with a teammate, something must have happened to break down the trust. Facing down man eating aliens SHOULD be a pretty good bonding experience. Yet here was a guy that would seems like he’d completely forgo working with an ACE because of some issue.

    Also, glad that some folks have stated that there are some areas were humans are able to stop the Beta advance.

  19. Pingback: Yuuya Isn’t Much of a Pilot, Which Is a Great Starting Point for This Arc of Muv Luv Alternative Total Eclipse (Episode 04) | We Remember Love

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

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