Ok, i'll start off by saying that this has been a long time coming! I first watched the series back in, i think it was, November and i've been meaning to write up a review (lol yeah right, it's gonna be a total rant) for ages now but never had the time to fully go into it.
WARNING: This is gonna have spoilers, it's going to be a rant and it's probably going to be LONG!
Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse, imo, is a failure of an anime! This is not 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 these are all good, it's just they've all been thrown together in an almighty mess that just doesn't work together, but 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 be.
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 and Yui's friend begs her to shoot her but Yui can't do it and so she is torn apart in front of us, 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 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 pact and serious dark sci-fi anime (lord knows there's too few of them out there!) following Yui as she devotes herself to fighting the BETA to find both justice and redemption... little did i know that what i was in fact going to get was the complete mess that 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 back story 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 only after 2 episodes! Also his back story 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 watched all of my friends 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 by these memories she just gets on with what she's doing. Yui's completely broken personality, a personality would be appropriate in your bog standard slice of life harem anime but doesn't fit this character and her back story at all 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!!!
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 popular animes 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! No unity inspired there! 2. The conspiracies - Now i'm not so optimistic to think that when humanities 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.
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 rather big 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, 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!
tl;dr - Watch episode 1 & 2 of this anime and then throw the rest in the bin, DO NOT WATCH THE REST! (unless you crave disappointment)
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