- Animation is done by studio Satelight. Besides Noein I didn’t like any of their other numerous shows. Their budgets are average to good but they never try too much to create quality shows and anything they do is usually nothing more than dumb fun.
- Directing is done by Inagaki Takayuki, who is a bit known for his work in Desert Punk and Rosario + Vampire. You can easily tell he likes fan service and shits on plot, so you can pretty much guess right away what the show is going to be about.
- Based on the Total Eclipse light novels. Which in turn are side stories in the setting of the action/war/mecha visual novel titled Muv-Luv Alternative. Which in turn again is an alternative setting of the plain titled Muv-Luv visual novels, which were typical school romcoms. Amongst the visual novel fandom Muv-Luv Alternative is considered to be the best of what science fiction and action can offer in the genre. I have watched a few scenes of it and I must say it does a fine job for a show based on static pictures and pseudo-motion. Now before you get too excited by reading all that and have thoughts of running to play and read everything in this franchise, let me warn you that they include a lot of erotic foreplay, dating, and occasional sex, plus some really gross rape scenes. But hey, how would it be so famous if it wasn’t like that? This is Japan we are talking about; being deviant is a must.
Although it appears at first to be an exciting war drama / mecha action / alien invasion tale, in practice the story is as generic as it gets. In fact it is more about girls in sexy uniforms and cool robots doing silly stuff with a harem lead than trying to save the planet from total eradication by aliens. The presentation lacks a lot in terms of pacing, as way too many things happen in the first two episodes, followed by very little happening thereafter. Even storytelling is sloppy and exposition occurs in most lazy and amateurish ways.
For example, it has this explanatory documentary of how the war began and boy, it felt like it was written by a little kid. I mean the aliens attack during the 60’s and mankind supposed tried to fend them off for the first time on the moon. HOW THE DEVIL DOES THAT WORK??? Back then we barely had the technology to send a rocket fuelled contraption with an 80% of failure and now all of a sudden we have a whole army of space mechas? Skip that, why the hell would we waste countless resources to create and send a whole army on the moon, just so to fight on an environment that is not native to ours? And what exactly would we defend there, the rocks? And damn, if the aliens can travel through planets do you think they will give a rat’s ass about the moon? Their goal is to destroy humanity so they would obviously attack the planet directly. And how come there are sounds in space? And why the hell does the show begin by revealing all the backdrop story with a dull monologue instead of gradually showing it through the plot?
You know what, it would all feel a lot more natural if this was taking place in a fictional planet and not Earth. And sure, it obviously is fictional to begin with but they keep mentioning dates and places to constantly tell us this is Earth. Plus they never attempt to explain how in this reality mankind had mechas since the 60’s or why you can hear sounds in space. This totally ruins the plausibility.
So anyways, just like the stereotype dictates all high schoolers in Japan need to learn how to pilot huge robots while still studying history and algebra. Yeah, that is exactly what you are supposed to be doing if mankind is one step away from extinction; we wouldn’t want to survive without being able to solve complicating equations and theorems, right? It would look bad if later on we need to find a proper desk job in those completely devastated cities.
In a similar fashion the whole first episode is spent on getting familiar with the setting by having every single line of dialogue being used to lazily break the fourth wall and explain stuff to us in the dumb style of “Oh you mean Jason of the Tomson family who have their own line of factories and who lives in the northwest of the city, and whose favorite color is blue?” PEOPLE DON’T TALK LIKE THAT!
Also, only the first two episodes and the last ones are actually following the theme of the series, while all the rest are just slice of life with military officers where nothing much happens. Besides the fan service that is.
On a basic level the show looks good. The mecha are cool, their motions are rather fluent and the girls are cute. And let’s not forget the most vivid detail; CHECK OUT THOSE BATTLE UNIFORMS! Are they really used for piloting robots or for cosplay orgy parties? I mean DAMN SON I would gladly fail all my tests if I would get to spend my life in high school protecting humanity and peeping at girls that look like a walking wet dream. A very motivational show for all students out there. Other than that, there is nothing out of the ordinary in terms of animations or artwork. In fact, the whole thing is just a flashier rehash of Sakura Wars.
It occasionally makes some use of its setting and offers cool mecha action. The organic aliens look rather lame but the way the metallic robots fight is close to great. It even has a few hints of battle tactics, although it still boils down to random laser shots and last moment saves by super robots. Plus the pilots constantly forget that their robots can fly, something that leads to them being surrounded by aliens who don’t fly.
As far as voice acting and soundtrack goes, the show is just ok. Nothing amazing in overall, since it never tries to be too serious or deep.
The show doesn’t hold back in the death count, as it kills many characters in a usually violent and gorish manner. You kinda feel the dread of what is going on to the world and the sadness of having your country and relatives shred to pieces. And I say “kinda” because it’s still not doing it in a great way as earlier titles I know of. Just look at the first five seconds after we see the first characters; they immediately try not to show their pantsu by a gust of wind. Yeah, the first thing they do in order to make us get attached to them is telling us to pull out your peckers. And there is no reason to expect character development by any of them because they are killed off pretty fast.
But then we are introduced to the second cast, which don’t die right away and most of the show is about them training in mecha action so they can defend the planet. There are a lot of scenes where they interact and show various facades of themselves. On a basic level they are all fleshed out. Sadly the characterization is very thin and eventually pointless, since you are never made to believe this is a war setting. They all behave like they are in high-school, worried about their next test instead of having the serious composure of veteran military officers. They are hardly acting like their world is in the brink of destruction. Even later on when mankind starts having internal conflicts, it still feels stupid since you have absolutely no reason to like a bunch of idiots who kill each other instead of teaming up in order to defeat such a major crisis.
Sadly, the show took the route of so many others before it (Gunparade, Regios, Freezing, and Lagrange) and uses some generic alien invasion just to flavor a boring date sim. You get your usual blunt male pilot surrounded by chicks and they constantly find excuses to do dumb things. Just try to count how many bath and beach scenes are crammed in each episode just for the sake of fan service.
Although the first two episodes make you think it’s going to be amazing, it quickly loses steam and turns to another forgettable mediocrity with cheap character fleshing out and lots of tired ecchi plots. It was the action people liked and after a good second episode the whole thing turned into a harem with some aliens and robots in the background.
As boring as Blue Gender may have been as an anime, it still did a fine job at showing what true dread and hopelessness are all about when monsters are taking over the world. And no freaking schools on sight! Also who can forget the amazing complexity of games like Xenosaga? Or the emotional attachment with the characters inGunbuster? You barely get all that in a show that is mostly about schoolgirls with revealing outfits and miniskirts.
Disappointing! It is impossible to take it seriously and I never watch non-hentai anime to jerk off. So, it’s a failure of a show.
And now for some excused scorings.
ART SECTION: 6/10
General Artwork 1/2 (generic)
Character Figures 1/2 (generic)
Backgrounds 2/2 (basic but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Animation 1/2 (basic)
Visual Effects 1/2 (basic)
SOUND SECTION: 7/10
Voice Acting 2/3 (corny but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Music Themes 3/4 (not great but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Sound Effects 2/3 (ok I guess)
STORY SECTION: 1/10
Premise 1/2 (typical)
Pacing 0/2 (loose)
Complexity 0/2 (none that matters)
Plausibility 0/2 (none)
Conclusion 0/2 (dull and open)
CHARACTER SECTION: 3/10
Presence 1/2 (hentai cardboards)
Personality 1/2 (hentai stereotypes)
Backdrop 1/2 (generic and simplistic but it’s there)
Development 0/2 (random bullshit)
Catharsis 0/2 (random bullshit)
VALUE SECTION: 1/10
Historical Value 0/3 (none)
Rewatchability 0/3 (no reason to rewatch)
Memorability 1/4 (generic alien invasion theme)
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 1/10
Art 0/1 (looks typical)
Sound 1/2 (nice songs)
Story 0/3 (an alien invasion that turns to eroge, lol)
Characters 0/4 (I only remember the sexy uniforms, lol)
Ok, i'll start off by saying that this is probably going to be more of a rant than an actual review and to get into the depths of the things that really pissed me off about this abysmal anime i'm probably going to have to go into spoiler territory so with that in mind and that this may go on for a bit the tl;dr: Watch episodes 1 & 2 of this anime and then throw the rest in the bin, DO NOT WATCH THE REST! (unless, that is, you crave disappointment.)
Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse, imo, is a failure of an anime! This is not necessarily due to bad sound, art, voice acting, soundtrack, characters, plot or any of the other parts that you would normally attribute to such a failure. In fact, in many cases thruout many of these qualitities could even be thought of as good. It's just they've all been thrown together in an almighty mess that not only doesn't work at all together but the anime as a whole suffers from a complete idenity crisis. Ultimately tho there's an even greater crime this anime commits and that is to completely fail to live up to what it shows you it could have been.
*SPOILERS START HERE*
Episodes 1 & 2 open this anime with exceptional promise. A dark world where earth is being invaded by a vast horde of huge flesh-eating aliens, the BETA, humanity is on the verge of extinction as little can slow down their relentless swarm and around about two 3rds of the world is already lost by the opening of the series. We're introduced to a group of girls undergoing heavy training to become Tactical Surface Fighter Eishi (pilots), you think you're in for your bog standard schoolgirls and Mecha anime but instead the training is largely passed over in a sort of montage. The main character thruout this is Takamura Yui, we follow her as she shows off her skill, befriends a rival, helps her friends with their training and discuss their views on current events. One of the key things learned during this part of the story is of the "8 minutes of death", which is that in battle with the BETA the average life expectancy of an Eishi is only 8 minutes. Once the training is done (again this is over very quickly largely covered as it is by a series of montages) we see her say her goodbyes to her family and sent off to duty. From that point it is not long before Yui and her friends are thrown right into the action as defensive lines a broken by the BETA. This proves to be action packed but also grim as you see friend after friend of Yui killed by various means, often quite grusome. It gets to the point where the girls are so overwhelmed they must retreat and they begin a fast pace and high tension run as they fly incredibly fast and low in an effort to avoid being shot down by the BETA. Unfortunately more of the girls are shot down until it is just Yui and 2 others left eventually even the three of them are knocked down as well. After Yui crashes we see her emerge from her TSF and descend down some stairs, into what i assume is an underground system of some sort, armed with only a pistol. Here we see our first look at the Solider Type BETA (the smallest of the BETA but still roughly twice the size of a human) and they are devouring one of Yui's friends (we see this in quite graphic detail), Yui descends further to find the last of her friends still trapped in her TSF. The Soldiers come and start ripping apart the TSF to get to her and Yui's friend begs her to shoot her but Yui can't do it and so she is torn apart in front of Yui, the last we see of her is her head catapulted out and it rolls across the floor towards Yui. The Soldiers turn towards Yui and she is saved just in the nick of time by a TSF. In one of the final scenes we see Yui recovering in a medical tent with some pretty serious injuries and struck silent by the horror of what she has witnessed and the remorse of being the only survivor out of all of her friends.
Now you may be wondering why i went into so much detail about what happened during those two episodes, well i wanted to make it quite clear that there was a serious tone thruout, i also wanted to point out how horrific some of the imagery was. Having watched those two episodes my expectations where high, i was vastly impressed by the way that had handled this dark story and how they had maintained the serious tone without giving in to moeness, comic relief or fan service (there's one scene in those two episodes that could be considered true fan service but it's over so quick that you could blink and miss the fan service... and i think i did), i was happy to lay all the concerns i had had about the series to rest and settle down to a action packed and seriously dark sci-fi anime (lord knows it often seems that there's too few of them out there these days) following Yui as she devotes herself to fighting the BETA to find both redemption and salvation for herself and the world... little did i know that what i was in fact going to get was the complete mess that suffers from an complete identity crisis and pretty much dumps all over what it could have been.
Let's tackle the problems one at a time.
First off Yui: She's not the main character. You might be mistaken thinking that she's the main character seeing how we had spent two whole episodes setting up her backstory but she's not. She barely even qualifies as a secondary character as little she has to do with the plot most of the time. Instead we get Yuuya Bridges, whom i might have been more inclined to have liked if i hadn't gone thru the jarring experience of having the main character switched on me after only 2 episodes! Also his backstory is more of a kind of whiny "i'll do whatever i want cause i was bullied as a child" which kinda pales in comparison to Yui's "I failed to protect all of my friends and watched as they were torn apart and eaten before my eyes and stared death in the face myself" in trying to garner our sympathy, he's never even fought against the BETA in combat so knows nothing of the horrors of the war, or it would if Yui wasn't a completely broken character. She displays none of the psychological issues one would expect from someone who had gone thru such a trauma as she had. During the first few episodes she's rather harsh on Yuuya and the team, so you think that she's keeping every body at a distance so she doesn't have to go thru seeing another friend die, but no, it disappears incredibly quickly (almost as if the writer forgot about it) and Yui pretty much becomes the lamest example of a Tsundere i've ever come across (this is also due to the result of her falling in Love with Yuuya in a ridiclously short amount of time). We only see 2 examples of her struggling with the memories of what had happened to her and her friends but as soon as they're over there's no sign that she's even upset or shaken by these memories she just gets on with what she's doing. Yui's completely broken personality, a personality which would be appropriate in your bog standard slice of life harem anime but doesn't fit this character and her backstory at all, is a constant issue which prevented me from enjoying any of the scenes she appears in.
The tone: It takes a dive! Not straight away admittedly, for the first few episodes it still maintains some seriousness tho things are much much lighter than the first two episodes none-the-less, however when you get to episode 6 (an episode that should live in infamy for anyone who's watched this series) it takes a dive right off the deep end, so much so in fact that you will have a hard time taking anything the anime does seriously from that point onwards! It's your bog standard fan service beach episode which is presented to us on the most flimsy and ludicrous of basis, not just in real life (i seriously doubt any military anywhere would set up such a situation let alone the events that happen during it could happen) but also in their world where humanity (as i remind you) IS FACING EXTINCTION!!! And it is largely after this point that you just get the sense that the whole anime is taking a much more light hearted approach to the theme that the first two episodes lead you to believe it would. So much so that even when it's being serious you kinda feel that there's a levity to it that feels wholly inappropraite from everything that you've learnt about this world. Now this may not actually be the case but this is how badly it colours your perceptions but dumping in comedic sketches and fan service epsodes in something that started off on as similarly a dark and gory scale as bloody Elfen Lied!
The Story/Plot: Now essentially it's good, the basis at least is interesting and it provides a lot of action and conflict, the problem is with the implementation. This is an anime where i honestly believe the writers/producers/whoever didn't know what they wanted to do, just just knew they wanted it to be popular and so they went and took a look around at what else was popular at the time and just tossed as many of their elements as possible into the mix. I'll lay a few down for you: There's, tsunderes, fan service, mecha, harem, a Big F*ckin' Lazer Canon, cloned psychics, government conspiracies, competition between squads, a tournament, a hot springs episode (even more fan service), more conspiracies, terrorists, and a big bad villain whom either wants to rule the world at the expense of it's defence (so a retard) or wants to destroy the world by compromising it's defence (still quite a retard). All of those were just the things i can remember months later, there's more and worse i remember thinking the same thought quite often thruout the series "Yet another new element that feels like it's from a different anime!". And while we're on this topic i want to point two things out that are pertinent to the overall story: 1. The tournament - THIS WOULD NEVER HAPPEN!!! "This world is facing extinction so lets all throw on a TSF vs TSF competition to inspire unity and improve moral as well as test these weapons!" WHAT?!! Two 3rds of the world is gone to the BETA, you can barely hold your front lines and you want to throw a sports day?! The best place to test weapons and pilots skills against the BETA would be out on the field against the BETA! Also it obviously fails to inspire unity as every squad is competing with each other to win! (to the point where several of them start actively sabotaging one another) No unity inspired there! 2. The conspiracies - Now i'm not so optimistic to think that when humanity's on the edge there won't be people out for themselves or government agencies putting their own interests above everyone else, but what i can't accept is that ANY human (aside from the completely insane) would ACTIVELY sabotage one of humanity's defensive lines just to get their grubby hands on a piece of tech a rival "ally" is developing! They try to justify it by saying over and over that once the BETA are dealt with whomever has the technical advantage will rule the world, but seriously! The BETA are a serious threat now! I can't over state this: TWO THIRDS OF THE WORLD GONE! I think the priorities would be a little more kill the BETA than try to fuck over the competition, at least until you've started to push them back a bit.
And that's it basically... well it is right now cause i've gone on for so long i've kinda forgotten if i had any other points... . -.-
Anyway, the facts are that this series shows you, it SHOWS you, in the first two episodes everything it could be and then from episode 3 onwards it not only consistently fails to live up to that but it also constantly tries to add in new and unnecessary components that don't quite fit, don't really make sense and just mess with the anime further turning it all into a huge mess that doesn't know quite what it wants to be. It's at it's best during the 20% when it's focus is on fighting the BETA, which is where it's focus should have always been from start to end (tho even then it never recaptures the dark thrill of the first two episodes), and it's at it's worst the other 80% of the time when it's doing anything but... oh and Yui, whenever she's on screen after episode 2 that's when it's truly at it's worst.
gotta defend this one, maybe it was the slight harem they implemented or the U.S, stealth mechs but this anime was watchable and never bored me. What got me is in the beggining the characters that where supposed to be the main ones get killed off, from there i got hooked. needed tp know what happened next. this anime aint no grounbreaker but i would buy the dvds and wouldnt regret it(this is from someone who buys clothes at the salvation army).
So at the start it seemed good, weird Aliens, called the BETA killing of Humans without reason or mercy.
Then as it drags on, it becomes nothing more then a bunch of girls falling for some hardass and a bunch of drama and useless crap with the BETA barely getting anymore action for most of the series.
THEN, to top it off, the anime just ENDS leaving a BUNCH of cliffhangers. Summer 2012, nearly 4 years later and NOTHING anime related to explain the cliffhangers.
What was the Ensign going to say at the end that was so important? Who was the Master behind the RLF and the attack on the base? Who did Yuuya end up banging? Did the BETA keep winning or did humantity fight back? Did the EM Cannon that Takamura's entire life work was about ACTUALLY get made?
NOPE. We're just gonna end the anime RIGHT here and NEVER do anything with it again.
BUT WAIT! Let's make a SUPER Prequal BACK WHEN EUROPE wasn't basically all BETA food and talk about East and West Germany. BEST. IDEA. EVER.
10/10 wish I had never watched this so I wouldn't be so mad.
Absolute worst thing you can do with an Anime is bring important, ACTUAL plot driving elements in then not only never mention them again, but drop the ENTIRE anime down a flight of stairs like an unwanted baby seal, never to remember it or speak of it again.