Muv-Luv Alternative ep 2: Hero’s return

With episode 1 of Alternative being an ice breaker for newbies and fan-service for the veterans, episode 2 get started on the main storyline with our true protagonist: Takeru Shirogane. Awakened in a familiar room, Takeru thought he had finally returned to his world. But as it turned out, it was “that” world instead…

Trying to deceive himself, yet when he set one foot outside his door, the scenery that once haunted him was there again: a devastated neighborhood and a broken mech right next to his house. And that’s when it all comes flooding back into his memory, Takeru Shirogane – supposedly an “average” high school student – found himself in another world where human was on the verge of extinction caused by an alien race called BETA.. He has gone through military training and TSF pilot training in order to find a way to go back to his peaceful life. However, he was killed at some point in the future, and now has gone back in time, at the very moment he was transferred to this universe (which made him both isekai and time travel protagonist). With the experience from his previous life time, he now set forth to make this one right, once and for all.

The scene where he stroll around town, “reminiscing” about his past life’s experience serve as an ambiguous infodump for the viewers. During the super fast flashback scene, if you go through it frame by frame, you can see a lot of new characters that haven’t popped up yet (except in the OP). Those characters are very familiar with the franchise’s followers since they already went through 2 Visual Novels worth dozens of hours with those very same characters. However, for the new people joining in, you’ll get a crash course on how things work and who they are in this world.

The episode is the character introduction episode, in which we will have first contact with the main casts and also a bit information dump. I’m sure quite a chunk of world building information has been cut in favour of adaptation, so those who are new to the anime will definitely feel overwhelm. I hope that in future episodes they will at least add in more crucial formation. Aside from that, well the anime staff had done a decent job to let the fans know who is who. And of course, we get more emphasis on one of the girls – Meiya Mitsurugi. And if you’re attentive, you can see a very obvious hint about the relationship between Takeru and Meiya inhis flashback.

First we got Yuuko Kouzuki – the Yokohama Base’s Executive Commander (basically 2nd in command) – who he called “Sensei”. It’s quite clear that she was, well, his teacher in his “peaceful world”. Then we got introduced to his squadmates, who he told Yuuko that they were his classmates back in the other world. Following that logic, it’s not hard to figure out who Instructor Marimo is either. Basically, the females around him are all people he knows from the non-BETA world.

We also got a history “briefing” from Takeru that directly lead to his motivation to save the world this time around. He was only a Cadet in the last world and Yuuko couldn’t complete Alternative IV so Alternative V was enacted. Humanity abandoned the Earth but the majority of the population was left on Earth to struggle in desperation, which ultimately result in his death. And we all know what happened after, he looped back to the past. So now he had to try and change the future. In the original VN, Takeru’s voice wasn’t heard for the majority of the time. So in the anime, his voice sounding extremely emotional and desperate, with a bit of anger in it, really helps to portray his feelings and determination. That is one thing the VN couldn’t do for Takeru, but the anime can and that’s a plus. Also the other VAs did a very good job. Their voices are almost identical to their VN counterpart, except for Meiya, which is kinda impossible from the start since her voice is extremely distinct. However the VA tried her best and is very commendable.

The animation though, was kinda rough. The first episode was too good that I guess they had cut the animation budget from the 2nd and probably 3rd episode for the 1st. They also removed the chin protector and reduce the transparency on the Fortified Suit. A reasonable (but undesirable) compensation, I would say, at least the brief TSF section was beautiful as always. The characters faces are… questionable in some frames, but overall the staff did what they could. I do hope that in future episodes the anime will be done better.

Last but not least, the music. You might have thought: “The hell is this? A cute OP with pop ED? I want some bloody tragic, epic songs, not prince and princess pop.” Welp, all I can say is that if you know moon runes a.k.a Japanese, you might want to translate the lyrics of the OP. That song has quite a deep meaning that is indeed suitable for the series. This is a bit spoiler but I think that at least 2-3 upcoming episodes will be quite peaceful and serve as dumping more character building and world building so to me, the ending is fine.

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