Looks always Eclipse the quality issues


When we start discussing Muv-Luv Alternative Total Eclipse’s anime adaptation, I feel that I need to start speaking about it’s quality. Previous post was supposed to be about Total Eclipse , but it began living its own life and things just started getting a bit out of hands.

My first animations were those of 60’s and 70’s. Jabberjaw, Scooby Doo, He-Man, Balatak and Caveboy Ryu are my early heroes overall. Balatak with Starzinger can be credited for leading me into the science-fiction genre, and thus to giantrobots. Granted, Balatak is pretty ballsinsane, but you gotta dig the robot design and the combining gimmick. 80’s OVA era was awesome with Iczer-1 and Patlabor, but I’ve talked enough of those already. As such, you can guess that I have a high regard on pen tip sharp lines and decent animation.

There were two shows that I was really interested in this season; Total Eclipse and JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. I have a rule of three; I’ll watch three episodes, and if the show doesn’t convince me, I can safely drop it. I’m thinking of dropping JoJo just after one. The reason for this is that JoJo doesn’t look right.

Total Eclipse suffers from various factors; low budget, inexperienced staff, director that didn’t really know what he was doing, somewhat weak source material and a horrible opening song. All of these led into another slew of problems from animation quality to some script problems, and we need to rememberthere’s also the pressure from the fans that’s mixed with everything. Still, the staff clearly is doing their best to bring in the best product they can muster up. What they’re doing is pretty respectable, even thou to general audience none of the problems are that apparent.

To me, I don’t mind them. For me Total Eclipse looks and sounds like your standard modern animation with it’s computer generated visuals and CG lines. I don’t even mind the 3D model mechas, even thou many deem them as an eyesore. They’re accurate and save money. 3D should be seen more like modern claymation than anything else and treated as such. In both forms you create a three-dimensional model and move it around to create a motion. The tools and methods are different, but the core idea is pretty much the same.

What is striking about Total Eclipse with me is that it looks right. Even thou the episodes do contain a large amount of lacklustre animation from scene to scene, everything looks right. The colours, the character designs, the setting and all that. It looks pretty accurate overall. I’m no apologist and I do agree that the animation models look pretty off in pretty much every scene that is not highly important or simple. Also, you can’t stay mad at ashow that shows a good amount of decent ass.

The only thing that bugs the hell out of me in Total Eclipse is how the Tactical Surface Fighters move.

How the TSFs have been depicted in the visual novels is pretty different from the bulk of animation works we’ve seen thus far, and I’m counting in YouTube: Muv-Luv Unlimited’s opening video. Still, even there the surface skimming seems to be used to gain more speed for a boost jump. Personally how I always regarded the TSF move is with running steps combined with ninja hops, short boost jumps to long range limited flight. Actually, the YouTube: second Unlimited’s opening shows the TSF sprites moving more with these jumping in, shooting and then jumping again for a very brief moment. This is how I always imagined them to move, even in the Visual Novels, which also supports the ninja-hopping techniques. That, and when a certain Childish Saviour turns his mind into steel and becomes the incarnation of BETA Death on the battlefield with his Virt– Valgern-On techniques he has honed in the arcades for years.

Video games teach you how to pilot a giant robot, so keep playing them!

Speaking of games, the upcoming fangame The TSF Forefront gets TSF’s movements right.

I do understand the overblown skimming and flying the animation has; it is cheap and usually looks pretty awesome. Armoured Troopers VOTOMS had skimming robots mostly because it was cheap, but the staff managed to pull awesome battles with that. I do recommend watching the show if you have the time (and you do.) I’m sure the TSFs are able to skim to some extent, but because of the feet structure they shouldn’t be able to skim to the extent shown in the series. Also, the TSF feet are not designed to skim on ground, and thus skimming would cause rather big damage and basically grind the bottom of the “shoes” pretty fast. Saying that the TSFs hover above ground just enough not to touch the ground is also load of bullshit, because then they’re hovering, and hovering all that time consumes loads of fuel.
Skimming or hovering, either makes they both make little to no sense in-universe, thou it certainly looks pretty cool.

There’s also the point that TSFs do not fly, and in the series they do. This is something that’s completely off, but can’t be fixed at this point. It’s in the writing, thou quickly checking the storyboard book that came with the Blu-Ray disc of Volume 1 of Total Eclipse doesn’t give out anything about flying. There has been slightly less flying in the series after the director changed, but you can read more of that from Type-94 site. The link can be found on the right for your pleasure.

Despite these two points, pretty much everything feels and looks right in Total Eclipse. It just happens to look just like any other animation series released.

Otherwise, Total Eclipse is a pretty decent side story. The source material itself was neveranything special, but at the time it was pretty much the only source for some new Muv-Luv outside âge’s own visual novels and similar products. Total Eclipse did start out as a commercial to Volks’ A3 Tactical Surface Fighter toys, and after the staff found out that there’s actually demand for more Muv-Luv stories in novel format, they needed to take the setting and characters more seriously and give them proper treatment.

Total Eclipse in itself is really just a generic test pilot story, which just happens to take place in the Alternative universe. If you’ve seen one test pilot story, you’ve seen them all. Top Gun also helps. Perhaps Days of Thunder as well, even thou it’s not a test pilot story. There’s the two sides pitting two machines against each other, then there’s political shenanigans, somebody gets killed, shit happens and pilots duke it out many times to show who is better and/or which machine is superior. All these elements are there. The light novels were pretty much tits and ass with loads of TSF info to the extent some call them as TSF manuals. The series does skip a lot of things over, mostly due to lack of time and other things (like budget) but overall it keeps the core in there. Some changes do make my head itch, and some omissions do drop major political elements altogether. Perhaps that’s for the best, as Total Eclipse is the most “light” Muv-Luv story out there. Schwarzesmarken is the story you want to read if you want something far more solid. First of all, it is written by a guy who has a humongous hard on towards World War II, and it shows in both good and bad. If you didn’t hate STASI before, you’ll hate them after Schwarzesmarken. 顔掌 Translations has started translating it, so keep your eyes on their blog for releases.

Overall, Total Eclipse is like the pink cotton candy; it looks tasty and is very sweet, but overall it’s not really worth it. Still, I do enjoy the presented story in the series. It could be better, but might as well enjoy it the best I can. We’re never going to get another Muv-Luv related animation ever again, unless somebody has enough money to support Kouki’s wishes for an OVA adaptation. Personally, I’d love to see some 15 episode adaptation of Muv-Luv EXTRA, 15 for Unlimited, 15 for Alternative up ‘til when shit gets real, and the rest in few movies. It’s a dream that will never be…

TE also has a live action Laser-Class. WHY OH GOD WHY

With this we can take that look at JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure and why I cringe every time I look at it. While JoJo does suffer from same thingsTotal Eclipse does, it suffers much less. As for what it suffers the most from is that it does not look right, and to make it look right the staff uses the cheapest tricks in the book.

We got an OVA adaptation of the third story arc, the Stardust Crusaders. It did a lot of things right, even thou purists dislike it quite a bit. The one thing it did right is that it looks right, just like an animation adaptation of a comic should look like. But this new TV animation just doesn’t cut it. Too many lines are soft and round, too many animation models look off from the comic counterpart. I do recognize that it would be an insane job to convert Araki’s comic directly into an animation, but it’s already been done successfully once. They can do it again; they have the technology.

However, just by going through the first two episodes one is able to tell that this show is an accurate and well done adaptation of the Phantom Blood arc. Still, I can’t get invested when it looks this far off from its mark. Even if this arguably looks better than Total Eclipse, it’s level of quality is lower in the visual department for yours truly. That, and they basically just throw redrawn panels in there just to make it look more like the comic.

Now, I have nothing against against adapting adapting a comic panel for panel, but when it’s done to the point where the traced panels look just like the comic, and the rest of the show doesn’t, it causes a stark contrast between the two versions and tells that the animation isn’t really following how the comic looks like even thou they have those exactly same panels. It’s cheap and infuriating. It wouldn’t matter that much, but they’re thrown straight in your face.

They took this scene directly from the comic, and it looks awful as hell. If I didn’t know better, I wouldn’t call this character Speedwagon

I do like JoJo’s ending theme and credits animation very much, because it does itsown thing all the way, but still feels just right for a JoJo series. It’s pretty sad when even the opening animation, which is 3D, is far superior in looks than the series itself.

Actually, it just might be that the thing that bothers me the most is that JoJo doesn’t really try to look like the comic, rather and instead it just takes the overall appearance in and mangles it into form that’s the most easiest to work with. It doesn’t work; you either go all the way or you start doing your own thing from the beginning.

Between these two shows the art direction and how’s it  was the deal breaker. JoJo doesn’t look like JoJo should, thus it really feel isn’t JoJo. Total Eclipse looks like Muv-Luv, and so it also feels like Muv-Luv.

I’ve seen and had a lot of discussion on the low level of quality in either series, moreso about Total Eclipse’s. How people look weird in the crowds how the eyes look completely off or how funny the hair looks. What I see there is that the staff actually made unique models for each one-shot character in there, gave them somewhat distinct characteristics whereas most shows would’ve recycled other models and copy/pasted them around. With what budget Total Eclipse’s staff has had, they have  have managed to pull out small miracles here and there.

Yui’s royal behind can be called as one of the most well rounded miracles in Total Eclipse

Today, the 21st of October, is also the first date that appears in Muv-Luv.  Time to wonder into it again…

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