Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse returns, roughly two months after the first installment appeared in UK retail stores, courtesy of a DVD set containing the show’s remaining twelve episodes. MVM Entertainment’s release coincides with news that the visual novels, which the anime is based on, are finally getting a western localization thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign. The project secured the necessary funding after a mere eight hours and at the time of writing has accrued over $780k worth of pledges (the developers originally only asked for $250k.) Great news for readers who love romance and mechs, but is this sort of thing really within the spirit of Kickstarter? The service was concocted to bring niche products to life, these days however established companies are exploiting the site to generate capital and produce popular games with zero financial risk.
Part two of Muv-Luv Alternative begins by wrapping up the last DVD’s cliffhanger. Test pilot Yuuya Bridges flies off to a military base, which is being assaulted by alien invaders, with the aims of rescuing love interest Yui Takamura. After saving Yui and successfully securing a top-secret weapon that the Ruskies wanted to nab, Yuuya is treated to some well deserved leisure time. Despite being nicknamed Top Gun, Yuuya uses the break to visit a local hot springs rather than engage in homoerotic volleyball at the beach. Perverts who were left unsatisfied by part one’s obligatory swimsuit episode are sure to enjoy the trip to the springs. It delivers several topless shots of the female cast (and the blokes too if you are into that sort of thing.)
The remainder of the series features test pilots of various nations partaking in a robot-fighting tournament, to determine which country produces the finest mechs. Holding a sporting competition during times of war seems a bit frivolous, but I can sort of understand why the studio would want to focus more on bot versus bot battles. The visual effects used for the mechanical Tactical Surface Fighters are decent whilst the CG aliens look hideous. Alas the contest is interrupted when terrorists attack the base hosting the event. The surprise assault leads to a chaotic finale were Yuuya finds himself squaring off against religious fanatics and a swarm of BETA invaders who could potentially destroy the North American continent.
My rating for Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse (Part 2) is three stars. It’s not a series I would emphatically recommend, but if you were entertained by part one there is no harm in checking out this second collection. Back when I watched the first part I commented that the series had some cool ideas, which were let down by disjointed storytelling. Part two is sadly more of the same. Rather than build upon what has previously been established the anime continues to introduce more and more plot threads into the mix, oblivious to the fact that the series is rapidly running out of episodes. Perhaps the writers were under the assumption that they had more time to play with? Episode twenty’s change in opening credits seems to suggest that a second season may have been planned, but was subsequently aborted.
I think Muv-Luv would have worked better had it stuck to one genre. The series skirts between political skulduggery, visceral action and comedic harem moments akin to what Code Geass does. Muv-Luv is however no Code Geass – heck it’s not even on the level of Cross Ange. The script is particularly weak when it comes to romance. None of the relationships develop significantly, so all we get are skits showing the female support cast go weak at the knees whenever Yuuya appears onscreen. In his presence, a trio of ice queens inexplicably transform into a bashful brunette, an emotionless beauty who questions the meaning of love and a psychotic wannabe fiancée. Who Yuuya will end up with is left up in the air, as is mankind’s conflict with the BETA. What happens next? We shall never know… unless someone starts a Kickstarter to make more episodes.