Episode Review: Muv-Luv Alternative ep 20 & 21: Humanity’s Ray of Hope

This is the start of humanity’s counterattack!
Episode 20 and 21 bring us the Sadogashima offensive in its full glory. We get to see first hand how humanity goes on the offensive. So far in most Muv-Luv animes we’ve seen us being on the back foot, being on the receiving end every single time, as well as internal conflict between ourselves. Operation 21st is one of the rare times we see human bringing the fight to our invaders. And this is one of the BIGGEST operation in the history of Muv-Luv!

Operation 21st goes through many phases, just like a real military op, very meticulous in terms of steps. Sometimes mecha shows lump many steps together as one phase, but Muv-Luv have a very clear cut plan and each phase are clearly defined. We start with the orbital bombardment of the UN Space Fleet – which is dropping Anti-Laser warhead so that the Laser-class will attack them and spread the heavy metal cloud over the battlefield. Once the Laser-class is weakened, the Japan’s Combined Fleet 2nd Squadron will bombard the BETA on the shore with artillery, then the A-6J Wadatsumi – amphibious Tactical Surface Attacker – will launch from submarines and secure the beach head. Seeing the Operation going through these meticulous steps – and those aren’t even the ones involving the main cast, but just ordinary soldiers fighting. We see the full capability of humanity’s strategies and weapon that have kept us from going extinct for the past 30 years and it is amazing.

Bombastic artillery and great military strategies aside, we can’t forget about the main actors of this play: the Valkyries. There are some great additional dialogues added to the animation that the Visual Novel didn’t have. The “Alpha Strike Ready” was super badass. And the Valkyries took flight into the battlefield. Not gonna lie, their sortie wasn’t as glorious as the opening cuts, but very reminiscent of the other Muv-Luv entry: Schwarzesmarken. In episode 20, the Valkyries are basically supporting characters for the operation as a whole, because their time to shine hasn’t come yet. And most of the members are displaying adequate piloting skills anyway. We don’t get much focus on any one person, even Takeru. However, that also attest to the Valkyries’ skills as an elite task force.

Another cool sequence that the anime definitely remember is the Orbital Diver’s entry. We’ve seen it in the Visual Novel, we’ve seen it in the manga, but the anime is the medium that deliver the actual visual goodness. Although very brief, the Orbital Diver’s arrival was amazing and super badass. Although our boy Henri didn’t have any line, but we know he is there with the Aquilla squadron, and the Orbital Diver is an attestation to humanity’s prowess: an almost-suicide squad dropped from Earth’s low orbit – how awesome is that!

Then we come to episode 21, and the moment we’ve been waiting for is here: Takeru beasts 100000 BETAs and everyone was like who is this god.avi. If you understand that, then you’re certainly a long-term fan! Takeru reminded us why he is called a prodigy and once again display the potential of XM3 – so much so that Admiral Ozawa can’t help but gasp at his piloting. Even the Valkyries were taken aback, which is understandable since this is Takeru’s actual first time versus the BETA, and immediately taking on such a dangerous diversionary mission alone amidst hundreds of BETA nonetheless. It is unfortunate we didn’t get Storm Vanguard, but the animation is great. Graphinica definitely was saving all of their budget and directing effort into these 2 episodes. They even include a wide shot showing Takeru’s Shiranui jumping around in a field full of BETA for a better view of the scale of the conflict. During the VN, we see his POV so we might not get the field of the surrounding. Of course, Isumi’s save also show us that not even Takeru is infallible and perfect. Good as he is, he is only human and can have blind spot.

As an extra, we also see the 16th Battalion of the Royal Guard. Well, aside from doing nothing until now (very limited showing in the Coup), we can see a glimpse of the Royal Guard’s authority and how they conduct themselves in battle: fearless and elite. Well, with a name like Imperial Royal Guard, they couldn’t be any closer to a prestigious army full of noble descendants that have honed their skills their entire lives. Noblesse Oblige – so to speak.

But Takeru isn’t humanity’s ray of hope. But he is the one that created it. The Susano-O – with Sumika/00-Unit on board – a giant flying fortress that can nullify the BETA’s strongest attack like it’s nothing. The Susano-O embodies the hope and dreams of Alternative IV as well as humanity. And it does put on an amazing show of force – the Charged Particle Cannon blew away the Monument of a Hive with just two shot, also killing off thousands of BETA. This is the first time since the BETA War that humanity has managed to damage a Hive without the use of G-Bomb. The scene where everywhere cheered and cried was great and emotional, but I do think the slow camera sequence in the Visual Novel is much more impactful since it allow more time for the feeling to soak in. Never the less, it was a very moving scene. As mecha fans, we’re used to giant mobile armor with humongous beam weapons, but in the world of Muv-Luv – where the robots are still using conventional ammo and solid blades and not a single beam weapon in sight, the Susano-O is definitely like a god that has descended to save the Earth from its invader.

But alas (and I feel this has been said many times), this is Mabu Rabu. Where each miracles or happy events must be accompanied by an omen or a disaster, and this is no exception. Almost immediately after the second shot, the Susano-O malfunctioned and Sumika was shown to be “unconscious”. While the cause is unknown (if you finished the VN you’ll know), it did cause the Susano-O to crash and the Operation – which was on the heights of victory – to turn into a complete disaster. Everyone’s literally on full retreat because while the door of victory was wrenched open, it quickly shut before humanity can put another foot through. Now, for our experienced viewer, you can probably guess what’s coming next, as the flags have already been raised and the focus was all over the important people before and during the operation. Still, we march on, as there are no other Alternative than this world.

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