Series Recommendation: Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse

There is hope that can only be born in the depths of despair, and a future that only hope can create
If Gundam 0083 is the Top Gun of Gundam , then Total Eclipse is the Top Gun for Muv-Luv, a spin-off in the ever-expansive universe of the BETAverse where humanity is struggling with an alien invasion, but we humans can’t still get along and plot against ourselves. With the imminent release of the Visual Novel on Steam this year (and hopefully this season), it’s a good idea to catch up on the first half of the story.

Total Eclipse is a story about the Maverick…uhhh Yuuya Bridges – a U.S TSF test pilot assigned to Argos Flight as part of Project Prominence – a project to develop and enhance TSF capabilities by various countries, including Japan. There, Yuuya met a strict instructor from the Japanese Imperial Guard – Yui Takamura, as well as the white-haired Russian duos “Scarlet Twin”. The obstacles that await them aren’t just the alien invader BETA, but also the deep greed and schemes of their own kind.

+ Plot: Well, this is quite a standard “troublesome ace” story where Yuuya is a skilled pilot but isn’t too skilled at sticking to the rules, and then he soon meet his match in the field. The story focuses on the Argos Flight and their rocky relationships and military project. Quite dramatic, but full of action as well. There’s a lot of political tension and character drama involve (sounds familiar) alongside the technical development stuff. The series juggle between romance and action quite well, and although there are only a few characters that receive development, they are pretty well done. Compared to the novel, there are less details but it’s still enough to form a coherent dynamic between the main cast.

+ Animation: Satelight of Macross and Symphogear fame handled the series. Although, it was early 2010s Satelight so the quality aren’t as rock solid as some of their later works like Macross Frontier. The TV broadcast was okay, with many frames looking quite…off. But the action and camera work are still really decent. With the BD, they fixed everything and make it looks absolutely gorgeous. The amount of improvement in the BD release is crazy, almost every scenes that looked off were redrawn with high quality details. The TSF action is probably where the focus are as usual, and those look really, really nice.

+ Mecha Design: The prominent units appear in the series is the Shiranui, Su-37UB Terminator, Su-27 Zhuravlik and the poster mech of the franchise – the Takemikazuchi. Most of the mechs aside from the Japanese ones are based on their real life counterpart such as the Su-27, F-22 and F-15 Eagle, etc… They are conceptualized by Kouki Yoshimune and designed by Ni0 – quite a famous mecha designer known for Nitro+ works such as Demonbane and Muramasa. The Tactical Surface Fighter, while possessing distinct difference, all share the same design concept (which are also their in-universe rule), which are big, bulky shoulders, with their crotch resemble the canopy of the irl plane, as well as the Jump Units essentially being miniature version of the planes itself. One can think they are “What if Macross VF but cannot transform instead?”. The sleek design chocked full of real-life cues will satisfy many real robot and military fans.

+ Music: Well, Muv-Luv has always been famous for having some really lit tracks, especially in content that are related to the BETAverse, and TE anime is no exception. With some really huge names such as Minami Kuribayashi, Koda Kumi, GRANRODEO and Aki Misato, Total Eclipse has an impressive discography with very energetic song mixed with some really dark undertone (pretty classic for a Betaverse tracks). The openings are super pumped, the endings are more somber and emotional. The BGM are also well done (and some tracks are taken from the VNs as well).

+ Conclusion: Total Eclipse is a nice spin-off to add to the really well-established Muv-Luv Alternative world. It’s pretty impressive that even while made after the main trilogy, the series still manage to be entirely coherent with the in-universe history. Rather than a pure anti-BETA series, TE still focuses a lot on human vs human conflict with BETA as the side dish (similar to Schwarzesmarken). This further reinforces the author idea of “humanity is its own greatest enemy”. And if you want to enjoy some military romance/drama mixed with beautiful mecha action and awesome soundtrack, or if you’re interested in the Muv-Luv universe, this is a good watch. Furthermore, the Visual Novel is dropping this year soon, so catching up on the anime isn’t a bad idea.