Black marks the adaptation

Schwarzesmarken has been and will be compared to Total Eclipse no matter what. The two currently represents the only animated pieces that Muv-Luv currently has, and both are based a light novel source to an extent. The major difference the two have when it comes to the animation staff is that Total Eclipse was reported to have a team consisting of newcomers, mostly. Schwarzesmarken on the other hand seemed to have a team that already had a working history, and the director had his hands in Kimi ga Nozomu Eien adaptation, a thing that shows through if you know where to look from.

Type-94 wrote a worthy post on Schwarzesmarken, and I don’t personally feel a need to repeat too much what he said. You should read his piece as well, if you haven’t by this point.

The largest difference between Muv-Luv Alternative Total Eclipse is that it was a character piece, but the way it portrayed its characters and how directly it adapted scenes that made sense in text form just looked awful on television, and largely were not fun to watch. To some this was an element that could be overlooked as the characters provided the main interest point, and Total Eclipse has a fanbase of its own. Certain sections felt too rushed compared to the rest of the series, and similar thing has been echoed with Schwarzesmarken.

The TSFs 3D models will always look a bit weird on telly, mostly because there are subtle changes here and there that 2D illustrations don't convey
The TSFs 3D models will always look a bit weird on telly, mostly because there are subtle changes here and there that 2D illustrations don’t convey

With Schwarzesmarken there’s not much you can do. You have twelve episodes to go through seven books of story and then some. Tetsuya Watanabe, the director, already had experience in adapting Kimi ga Nozomu Eien’s story into tighter package and it shows. Whereas KGNE played out the strengths of the characters better than Total Eclipse, Schwarzesmarken is aired between the first and second visual novels. A reasoning has been made that this has allowed Watanabe to portray the events in a documentary-like fashion, where the events are more worth than the characters. They play out beat by beat, leaving less time for the characters to grow out. After all, Schwarzesmarken’s strengths are laid in the events and in its politics. Not to downplay the characters, but the whole setting Schwarzesmarken trumps over the characters in interest.

The 3D in Schwarzesmarken is better than in TE, and the BETA are portrayed better in the series than in the VN. In the VN they look like paperdolls
The 3D in Schwarzesmarken is better than in TE, and the BETA are portrayed better in the series than in the VN. In the VN they look like paper dolls

Total Eclipse’s first two episodes should’ve been a standalone television movie. It’s an excellent action piece with honest moments that resonate with the viewer. It not only explained the world, but also the themes and atmosphere the series would have, perhaps even franchise wide. Schwarzesmarken’s intro to the world is short and to the point; these events happened, this is the situation. It doesn’t waste in showcasing too much how people live or why things are like they are, the exact opposite Total Eclipse did. Granted, Muv-Luv has become far more mainstream, and Alternative’s setting has become somewhat known when it comes to niche franchise, and thus Schwarzesmarken didn’t need to have any sort of expanded introduction.

Total Eclipse eased watchers into the show, and then kicked in with whatever it had. Schwarzesmarken on the other hand just kicked in.

Schwarzesmarken being a sort of documentary piece that rolls onwards, it keeps things tight and fast. Some may call it rushed, but that is giving it too little credit. Yes, it is fast paced and each episode seems to be packed to the brim to give as much important events to the viewer in the allotted time as possible. I feel that this is not a show to marathon, as its pace is tiring to some extent, and the constant advanced beat of the show may just irritate in one go. One the other hand, Total Eclipse has ruts that look like nothing’s happening because they’re not shown, tiring the watcher with Yuuya’s near constant catchphrase.

Visually speaking, Schwarzesmarken looks pretty for a budget show. It clearly has a higher budget and the designs are pretty, ranging from almost classical Muv-Luv hair to very down to earth look. I have to especially mention the eyes, as they have slightly too thick look in the series compared to the illustrations, but they give each character a lot of personality and soul, something that’s lacking in many other modern shows. I may be a nostalgia goggles wearing 80’s-loving guy, but I do admit that current Japanese animation looks superbly beautiful, even at its lowest point. That’s the CG magic working for you.

Generally speaking, thus far during these six episodes Schwarzesmarken has looked better than Total Eclipse in general, but we’re still halfway through. A review on the series at this point would be largely meaningless, unless it was done episode-by-episode basis.

Still, some scenes look jarring when detailed TSFs act next to less detailed objects
Still, some scenes look jarring when detailed TSFs act next to less detailed objects

Discussion whether or not Schwarzesmarken is a good adaptation will come up like with it did with Total Eclipse. However, I do feel that Total Eclipse was the bad end of the stick on the long run, and it should be allowed to stand on its own legs more. Because of how Total Eclipse was received, I made a conscious decision not to read on Schwarzesmarken to the same extent. I was intending to read the first visual novel with the series, but that idea got scrapped a bit too fast due to issues. I’m still intending to stream it one of these days. I do believe each product should be taken as their own piece, be it book, movie or a television adaptation. Comparing each of them between each other and how they handle their characters can’t be directly compared without some allowances, and it’s not uncommon to prefer the first version you go through. Each version most likely changes things around, and under Watanabe’s direction Schwarzesmarken has combined some events into a smaller package, forgoing some events altogether and giving emphasize to others. To some changes like this is irksome, they expect a direct adaptation without any changes. Others expect adaptations to change to fit whatever medium they and allotted time they are given, and yours truly expects this approach.

Schwarzesmarken is all about the setting and the events, much like how Gundam W is more about the music and political struggle rather than about the Gundam pilots. Whether or its somewhat unconventional approach will be good enough to carry the series to good ratings is an open question at this point. Of course, the home release and merchandise sales will ultimately tell whether or not the show was successful. Generally, the current reception has been generally good.

I’ve enjoyed Schwarzesmarken thus far, but for different reasons than with Total Eclipse. Total Eclipse was more or less a show that had possibly good character moments and there a lot of those, but they’re mucked down. The writing is not the best, and it’s chock full of anime references that most people are not aware of, ranging from Gundam 0083 Stardust Memory to Ranma ½, from Saint Seiya to Macross. In that sense, it’s more traditional Muv-Luv than Schwarzesmarken, which has less otaku filling references and more about the history, which to some gives it more legitimacy as a standalone series.

sdfdsf
Schwarzesmarken has discussion scenes like TE…
trtyu
…combined with scenes of the hangars, though with more dynamic camera movements. However…
...on the field discussion are more often showcased during the action with this sort of cut-ins that Gundam used a lot at some point
…on the field discussion are more often showcased during the action with this sort of cut-ins that Gundam used a lot at some point

I had a bias for Total Eclipse when it aired, but for some reason I’m lacking one for Schwarzesmarken. Buying the TE Blu-Ray’s Japanese release was a political decision on my part at the time, but with current atmosphere I may not need to do that. I think I’ve been rambling a bit too much without anything solid to say, outside It’s an adaptation, don’t expect it to play the same instruments as the original piece. This doesn’t even apply to Muv-Luv, as the light novels served more a basis or as a first draft for the final product that are the visual novels. The animations more or less work as a driving force to get people into the series and spread awareness of the franchise until… well, that’s for another time. Total Eclipse’s animation had a bullshit ending, I think we all can agree on that, but as long as Schwarzesmarken keeps itself tight as it has, it will have a proper ending that will close the series with a satisfying result. Of course, the second visual novel will have an extended ending.

I’ll be putting a similar sort-of review for Schwarzesmarken when the series is over in similar fashion what I did with Total Eclipse. In the meanwhile, I need to pick up some TSF for as comparison sometime soon.

Plane elements in Tactical Surface Fighters; F-22A

Time for some FREEDOM.

F-22A Raptor_2
Original here and here’s the image board version

There’s some few interesting points overall with the Raptor. The knees’ sides for one carry a similar V-cut than what the YF-23 had. Another is that much like the Berkut, the Raptor is far more inspired by the plane than outright transformation. This can be seen in the frequent use of diamonds, triangles, hexagons and saw edges all around the body. This seems to be a thing with the 3rd Generation TSFs.  Another is that it tends to be surprisingly smooth and jagged at the same time, and this juxtaposition is not the easiest one to design.

Another thing is that a lot of the plane’s elements are sharpened, whereas the thrusters on the shoulders get a hexagon shape instead. The shoulder units can be understood very well, as it needs to go with the rest of the design of the unit. The Jump units are the best example how things have made sharper, best seen in the wings and fins.

The fighter itself has become iconic to large extend because of this, and that it poisons its crew due to materials used in it. The TSF similarly has become somewhat infamous in the Muv-Luv fandom for being designed to fight other TSFs with properly functioning stealth and heavy emphasize on ranged fighting as opposed to the general TSF battle doctrine, where ranged and close quarters combat are balanced to a large extend. Japan is somewhat an exception with its emphasize on direct sword fighting, and as a special case of the SU-47 Berkut’s knife dance. As such, the TSF fails is to deliver the idea of stealth. While it doesn’t have too much bulk in TSF terms, it has far too much grooves and protruding surfaces to give the visual cues of a vanishing trooper.

I admit that some bits are a bit far fetched. The fighter’s nose is practically nowhere to be found in the TSF without allowing some loose reading. The nose could be seen on the groin guard, but it’s far too flat nature to be the nose. The chest on the other hand can be seen using the overall shape of the nose, just with far more harder lines and changed tip. The change can be understood, as the whole TSF is more about angles than sleek sleek surfaces.

Because of all the aforementioned, the Raptor doesn’t have any clear hardpoints to poke the BETA with. The knee is clearly a one, but those knee points also house the battle knives.

The page 95 of Integral Works has some other stuff too, but this is where we need to turn our eyes on for now
The page 95 of Integral Works has some other stuff too, but this is where we need to turn our eyes on for now

The knees could work on piledriver principle. However, as the tip is rather flat, I doubt it would as a hardpoint. Then again, blunt damage is still damage. Unlike most of its contemporaries, the Raptor’s arms are completely free of any weapons. The guards are there to protect from the TSF close quarters weapons, not to add more lethality of the unit. The knife itself reflects this with its switchblade nature. The CIWS-1B is without any doubt the worst TSF combat knife,  CIWS-1A and Type-65 PB Knife being far superior in design and form. Switchblades are mostly good for generic working as replacement tools when you don’t have an access to a proper blade, which seems to again reflect the ranged fighting the US army favours.

Ultimately, there’s not much to the Raptor. It follow similar ideology with the Su-47 Berkut in that only a number of elements to inspire their looks rather than actually adapting the plane itself. As such, neither of them are actually good examples of TSF core idea. Next time we’re going to go full baguette with the Dass-Ault’s Rafale with all of its curves.

Plane elements in Tactical Surface Fighters; SU-47 Berkut

A personal favourite; the Russian Golden Eagle.

Print
Here’s the first one and the original

The SU-47 Berkut is a bit peculiar Tactical Surface Fighter in that it lacks most of the normal TSF/plane element crossover. It can almost be said, that the only thing taken from the plane itself are the Forward Swept Wings (FSW). However, unlike the plane, the TSF itself is rather busy and filled with more or less useless visuals. For example, what the hell are those red boxy things on its shoulders? Why does it have an angry looking glowing duck bill as its chest? It’s also funny to notice that the Jump Units basically cut the nose and cockpit off, giving them slightly evil look. Overall, it should be said that the TSF SU-47’s most common points with the plane are the wings colour. The overall impression is removed from the actual plane’s smooth surface. The bottom of the plane went more or less unused in making the TSF, not even the intakes were used anywhere.

It has to be said, that the Berkut does seemingly use parts and sections from past Soviet TSFs, similarly how the real life SU-47 had a forward fuselage,  landing gear and vertical tails from SU-27 and its derivatives. The asymmetrical tail booms are also mirrored in the Jump Units.

Anyways, I’m a fan of the real life SU-47. While the plane itself was/is just a testbed plane and only one was produced as far as I know, it was a pretty little thing. The FSW, canards and twin outward-canted vertical stabilisers create a nice tandem triplane configuration. While some people diss the FSW design overall as weak and useless, the Berkut would’ve been a beast of a machine in a straight up dogfight with its higher angles of attack in post-stall maneouvres. This was because the FSW allowed the machine to gain better lift closer to the fuselage, which also made the ailerons have more control. The inboard lift that the configuration wasn’t restricted by wingtip stall, or at least to the same extent than the other wing configurations. The thing what made the Berkut a nightmare to design and produce was that the FSW is a geometry that causes wing twisting under load, thus putting more stress on the wings. This was countered with a solution where the wings twist when they bend. The SU-47 had some level of stealth with the surface being coated with radar absorbing material. The downside in all this is that scratches, loose screws and slightly misaligned panels cause the RAM coating’s effectiveness. Knowing Russian industries and their lacking quality control in places, combined with their economy, the Berkut was a plane that was too expensive and hard to produce in any sensible way.

Still, the SU-47 Berkut would’ve been one helluva machine in dogfighting. The TSF reflects this with chainsaws stored in its arms, multiple hardpoints all over its body and KNIVES in its legs. Why knives, you ask? Well, modern fighter pilots have described dogfighting akin to a knife fight in a tight space. The Berkut was made to fight close and fight mean. Total Eclipse TV showcased some of this, but most of it was Newtype power crap. Hell, you have a scene where the Berkut crosses its chainsaw blade with a Type-74 PB Blade. The chainsaw would’ve been unusable after that, but I’m sure the dead psychic ghost in the back prevented it. While the SU-47 would carry the standard TSF armament otherwise, it’s speciality is to get close and personal with either the enemy TSF or BETA, and then enact the goddamn tropak with knives glued to your legs while wielding two mini-chainsaws. It can even poke your eyes out with the hardpoints in its fingers. Hell, it’ll headbutt your skull in two with its horn.

This, of course goes against the ideology of FREEDOM!, where you’re free to shoot every living target behind stealth and far, far away. The F-22A Raptor, both in real life and in TSF form, are all about fighting the ranged fight at Beyond Visual Range. In real life, the Berkut would have a hard time getting close to something that’s already shooting it beyond the horizon, but I’d imagine it would give the Raptor one helluva ride for its money if it ever got to close in.

The SU-47 isn’t dead and forgotten. Colonel General Viktor Bondarev claims that the research and development on the Berkut or similar FSW fighters is still ongoing, and we might just see new prototypes of its nature. Fingers crossed. Then again, perhaps that money could be used to develop Russian industry and help to build a better society to live in.

What does Muv-Luv mean?

Mabu-dachi (マブダチ) in older Japanese slang that stands for good friends, best friends or real friends. Mabu (マブ) is a peculiar way of saying true or real, dachi coming from tomodachi (友達, ともだち or トモダチ.) Thus it’s easy to take that and give it a slight change into Mabu-Love, which would then stand true love. Corrupting terms, words or even sentences is nothing new to Japanese, or other languages in general, to make new terms or giving them usages. Seeing how staff at âge are bunch of fanboys from the days mabu-dachi saw most popular use, from the 80’s and 90’s respectively, it’s easy to see this then popular slang being used. Mabu-dachi is used in various other products as well, like a 2001 movie using it as its title.

The title is reflected in the catchphrase Save in the name of true love, which can be seen in the franchise’s official logo to this day.

I’m sure I can find an asset from the VNs that has only that relevant bit
That's better
That’s more like it.

The final nail in this question, for those who are still not convinced, comes from Kimi ga Nozomu Muv-Luv.

The True Love you Desired
The True Love you Desire

The furigana for 真愛 is Muv-Luv, and these two stand for True and Love respectively. There’s no doubt about the meaning of Muv-Luv any further.

What does True Love in regards of Muv-Luv stands for? There are as many different arguments as there are people reading the visual novels, and so I can’t really say anything for sure, but I’ll list a few of them.

Perhaps most divisive argument that the title refers to Sumika. She is arguably Takeru’s true love. We can also argue that because mabu-dachi is slang for true friends, we can see connection between their friendship and their romantic love. Alternative is also all about finding that one thing that can break the loop and send Takeru home. We know that is his true love that can do that, but she needs to be saved, in a sense.

Argument can be made for Meiya as well, as she is one of the two characters whose route needs to be completed in order to unlock Unlimited. Her childhood promise with Takeru can also be seen as a pact made in true love. Such love would survive through times in romantic sense, after all.

The rest of the girls, whether or not they fit the bill is an open question, one which can be turned a bit around.  What if the one true love here is Takeru? It could be seen so that as long as Sumika is present, Takeru is locked with her by his own volition and feelings towards her. With all the alternative worlds’ Takerus being one being in BETAverse, all the options are more or less Unlimited. Of course Extra has routes for all the female characters, but even then this take would hold water as we can assume each route representing one parallel world with different outcomes for whatever reason. Nevertheless, it would seem that Takeru is destined to end up with Sumika, but it’s always nice to see âge leaving such things absolutely and completely open for debate, which fans have made into certain level of warfare.

Me, using images from previous posts?
Me, using images from previous posts?

Nevertheless, Takeru being the true love would stand in Alternative too. While I’ve seen the subtitle standing for the alternative route the story takes to prevent The Day After events, which does, it can be said that it refers to the girls taking action in order to save Takeru. He being their true love, he is the one who needs to be saved at the very end. Even if it costs their lives.

____________

[8.1.2016 addition]

I was supposed to modify this post earlier, but you know my memory. Yoshimune Koki has confirmed the meaning of the title few times around, but perhaps most recent was during Kickstarter, when he mentioned that Muv-Luv stands for true love. In addition, in one of the Kouhou no Houkou, or Roar of Publicity he mentioned that Sumika is indeed the titular true love.

_____________

I’m not interested in discussing who is the best girl or anything like that. That’s completely up one’s own opinion. What the visual novels say is another thing altogether, and how we interpret them is a whole ‘nother can of worms. Still, I can imagine we all can make our own mind to what the title refers to.

One thing I’d still want to put into the spotlight; how does the title hold up with the later instalments of the franchise?

HEXAGONS, SHAPE OF THE FUTURE TODAY
HEXAGON, SHAPE OF THE FUTURE TODAY
This style seemed to be somewhat popular for a short period of time
This style seemed to be somewhat popular for a short period of time. It’s kinda rare to see a product family sharing two so distinct logos

In reality, Muv-Luv after the original visual novels is just the name of the franchise. While both of the two more important spin-offs of the original stories, Total Eclipse and the upcoming Schwarzesmarken, have romance as one of their major themes, it’s more about carrying the theme of Muv-Luv in general than being about one true love. Then again, in Total Eclipse we do see Yuuya ending up with Cryska, and it’s mutual by all means.  The animation doesn’t go that far, so in that we see Yuuya wanting to bone Shiranui Second Phase 2.

I should remember to use my own library for materials rather than spend thirty minutes trying to find a decent sized Schwarzesmarken logo

The most interesting thing with this is that Schwarzesmarken has no Muv-Luv in it. It’s just Schwarzesmarken. It’s almost like they want to make a clear distinction with it, which isn’t all too uncommon, but always a bit surprising. I know from second hand information what Schwarzesmarken is all about, but seeing how I haven’t read the actual thing myself, I’m leaving this bit open until the visual novel is released sometime in the near future. Knowing âge, it’ll be pushed back at least two times and sees the daylight sometime in 2016 rather than this year. Nevertheless, I’m sure I’m going to have some fun discussing it with a friend who is pretty well versed with events and stuff that went on between the split Germans.

As a side note, Schwarzesmarken is Engrish. It should be something like Die Schwarz Marks, The Black Marks. Essentially, âge fucked this one up, like Valkylies, but this time gave it an in-universe explanation later on; it was a Russian who gave them the name, screwing it up. Eh, it works.

I wanted to make some kind of jokes about True Love and Muv-Luv, but there’s very little one can make jokes out of. Perhaps the one thing the two have in common is that outside the whole romance thing is that we don’t have one true love, unless we so choose and decide to grasp it. In love stories this is different. My own take is that Mabu-Love is, at its core, a story about love and loss between Takeru and Sumika. That’s just me, and whatever you hold true is just as valid, unless somebody at âge decides to make definitive statements about things.

Looks always Eclipse the quality issues


YO BRO I’M A FAIRY LET ME IN

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…

Introducing viewers into an Alternative world, Part 1

Spoilers ensued.

Muv-Luv Alternative Total Eclipse aired yesterday. Koda Kumi’s song is awful. Now that we got that away, let’s discuss the episode proper (but short.)


DESPERATION TOWN, POPULATION; ALL OF US

We begin the series with nice introduction to the BETA and the alternate history the BETA-verse has. The newcoming viewers are able to see the first fight that humanity waged against the BETA, and lost; the First Lunar War. We who come from the main trilogy and the light novels already know all this, but like the newcomers this is the first time we see the Lunar War. It’s quick and rather painless, but for a moment you can see that the humanity has nothing against the BETA.

After “taking” over the Moon, the BETA land to Kashgar, and the viewers are given a chart of rapid BETA expansion, as well as the coda what the story is.

Fast forward to 1997, Kyoto.

This is a nice way to convey hints towards the genre shift Muv-Luv has. Soon after this scene we are met few Type-82 Zuikakus flying and landing, telling the viewer that yes; this is the world where hope burns with a dim light.

The school scenes are well thought out; we get nice exposition on surface pilots and the war against BETA in general while we get to know the current main characters. The daily bickering, playing and all is there, and we have very little hints towards what’s going on. The following scene starts with some mechanics working on Zuikaku’s head, but we pan out for some more character interaction. The news in the background give background exposition of the current world situation. There are things that are not right, the newcomer thinks. We Chickens know better, and as we wait for upcoming desperation we can enjoy the relatively happy life Yui is having.

Yui’s meeting with her uncle, and the pictures in the wall all give further hints that this is Imperial Japan, but the evidence is not yet concrete.

She is unnamed, and never called as such, but then we meet certain someone who shall become the Grand Shogun.


In war, let your objective be victory, not lengthy campaigns

Then we change for some fanservice.

While this scene is fanservice, it also provides somewhat important information how a fortified suit is put on. This is something that has not been shown before. Next minutes are spent on your normal TSF training, where we see that controlling a TSF isn’t the easiest, and the pilots are under constant stress while piloting.


Gunbuster~

These training sequences are not only service for the fans and newcomers, but also provide information how the visual information works with TSFs. The swords have the covering, but the pilots do not see them. We can deduce that the visuals given are most likely boosted to certain extent to give proper feedback to the pilot.

Cue for some more slice of life.

It’s a grim slice of life.

Fast forward 1998, when the BETA reach Japan’s shores at Kyushu. We see ships, tanks and artillery shooting towards the BETA with no effect, and the scene where the Destroyer Class charges forwards makes newcomers see the futility, and reminds the chickens of what the BETA are. The news in the following scene give a bit more exposition, and we are shown people fleeing from their homes due to government issued command. It’s a glimpse of their life, a glimpse that makes me gnaw my teeth.


Hear the earth thumping and the screech which cuts the air

It’s a defence battle. The BETA have advanced near Kyoto, and it’s our main heroines’ job as surface pilots to fight the BETA.

A glimpse but that’s enough for PTSD to kick in, and give the newcomers an uneasy feeling. Then we see two TSFs shot down by the Laser Class. Then it hits our heroine; the brutality of the war they have been born into.

I wonder when did we stop trying to count our dead? When indeed. This is the moment where Yui is face to face with the war, perhaps the first time in her life. She has seen two surface pilots shot down just like that. She knows that the fight she will most likely be her last.

And then the BETA arrive.

And Yui has becomes stern. She is filled with fighting spirit. For her country, for her friends, for those she loves. And so they go, the pilots of tomorrow to fight the battle of today.

The first episode lays a solid base for the second episode’s fight. The slice of life may be something that a hardcore mecha fan doesn’t want to see, but appreciating these scenes is important to fully enjoy what is to come. We are given a look at the normal day of a higher class citizen, and a glimpse to a commoner’s. It’s not a pretty sight after you’ve absorbed it all, as the newcomers might remember that most of Eurasia has been lost, and now Kyoto’s under attack. We’ve seen what the BETA do and how easily, be without anything special but their teeth but also what the Laser Class does. The training we’ve seen has been against another TSF, so one might wonder how is this training going to help with aliens from another world?

The newcomers might find the world a bit confusing, but the world is laid bare before them. The staff have worked within the limits they have and came out rather well. Perhaps a two episode premier would’ve been better, but at the moment it’s difficult to say. We’ll see in about a week what kind desperation await.