Episode Review: Muv-Luv Alternative ep 23: The Sakura Blooms

What does one think about on the verge of death?
Operation 21st draws to a close, and it’s heading towards some very unfavorable result for the UN and Japan Force. Spanning across 3 episodes, the Sadogashima Hive offensive was dubbed “the longest day” in the history of Muv-Luv, and it’s definitely not an exaggeration. We follow the last few events of the operation in this episode. And of course, as indicated in the last episode, we’re losing some people this ep.

The tide is ever turning against Takeru and A-01, with their escape route now being blocked off by BETA’s laser. You’ve seen in the last ep that just one millisecond later, Chizuru and Ayamine would have been roasted. Furthermore, the TSF force are also slowly being cornered. Everything seems lost if it continues this way.

And the solution actually came at a cost. Haruko was valiant and skillful, but not enough against thousands of BETA. Her last stand was done very well and the facial expression on her face is very well done, really showed her struggle in her last moments. Although I would have preferred it if they showed a flashback of her brothers that she mentioned before hand. You can check out the manga for the flashback, and that add a very nice touch to her character.

It’s ironic and it was Haruko’s death that prompt Isumi to pick the solution that saved everyone. She decided to restarted the Moorcock-Lechte Engine and attract all the BETA towards her, while activating the self-destruct program while remaining on the Susano-O. It’s interesting how Admiral Ozawa insisted on sending a team to rescue her, claiming that “she can’t choose the easy way out” because he knew other encouraging words would probably not convince her. Only the shackle of duty can compel her to live. However, Isumi’s plan is the most effective and logical in that situation, so there was nothing he could do.

Then we come to Captain Abe, what a chad he was! He led his fleet charging straight into the shore, shouldering BETA’s laser fire for the TSF force to retreat. Abe essentially steal the spotlight whenever he’s on-screen, whether in Alternative or Total Eclipse. He truly doesn’t care if the fleet’s shredded if he could save one more pilot. And in the VN and manga, it was implied that the Shinano went down with him. But we actually see him surviving the onslaught, which is really really nice. The future has more need for him – maybe as Admiral of the Combined Fleet.

Then we come to the farewells. Takeru reacting when hearing the news that Haruko’s been KIA and Isumi is still stuck on the Susano-O is understandable. Even though he has grown, he hasn’t been able to adopted the cold demeanor of a true soldier. And will still last out when someone close to him is in danger. Yuuko trying to pass it off as non-chalantly as possible is also understandable as well. Yuuko’s also hurting, but she couldn’t show it and had to hold it in for the sake of the whole team. Yuuko’s farewell to Isumi also show her care, mentioning that Isumi couldn’t reveal her circumstances and achievements to anyone, not even hre family, and that she will die as a nobody to everyone else. Such is the fate of a Valkyrie.

Isumi’s farewell words with Takeru is very emotional, and Takeru was even crying during the scene, but we can see that he will grow even more after her words. He knew that he actually conquered his fear and there’s no hypnosis involved. He will now treasure Sumika even more and take his Captain’s word to heart. Isumi’s word to the rest of the team is also nice, but it’s unfortunate that we have to skip all of Squad 207’s member except for Meiya. In the visual novel, she passed valuable advices to every single Valkyrie. In her last moment, seeing her remember her own dreams and loved ones really drive the last nail in the coffin. Even though she only got formally introduced this season, Isumi was definitely one of the most fleshed out characters in the series, excluding Takeru. The explosion of the Susano-O sealed the deal on Operation 21st, wiping Sadogashima off the map along with every single BETA on it. Next episode is the conclusion of the season, let’s see how they will treat the aftermath and hopefully there will be a continuation announcement.

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