Hey, remember The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi? The story in that show sucked, but goddamn was it a well told story. It didn’t matter that almost half the series was crap because of the ludicrous amount of narrative gimmicks they used more than made up for it. From the very first seconds into the show to the anachronistic broadcast order, Haruhi knew how to cover up what is actually a pretty crappy series. Don’t get me wrong, Haruhi was NOT a crappy series, because a show isn’t just about the events that happen, but how those events are presented to the viewer. In point of fact, Haruhi was a great series because it knew how to present itself.
So, let’s talk about the show this post is actually about. Muv Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse. The first ep was quite honestly, meh. It presented an interesting world, but despite promising that it was going to “go there”, we the viewer still had doubt that it would. There’s been far too many series that promised to “cross the line”, only to wuss out. We all knew that most of the cast SHOULD die, but experience told us not to hold our collective breaths.
Then episode 2 happened, and lo and behold, the promises were kept. Stuff happened. Shit got real yo. It was like Ga Rei Zero episode 1 all over again, only instead of 3 minutes of awesomeness, we got a full episode of it. Episode 1 of Muv Luv was forgiven, faith had been created in the show’s creators. Faith that was immediately put to the test in episode 3.
See, here’s the thing… technically, episode 3 was bleh, but given what happened in the last two eps, we got faith in the animators. And you know, in a normal series, the main girl is just your generic tsundere commander who talks the talk but ends up having a pussy traumatic back story where she only ALMOST lost her friend to aliens. But that’s where the narrative tricks that were prevalent in Haruhi come in. Because we saw shit go down in ep 2, we can excuse her attitude in ep 3. Because we know it ain’t a lame back story she’s got. And we think that maybe the main guy has a legitimate traumatic past as well.
But then, episode 4 happened. Yeah, episode 4’s a smelly pile of crap where we get the cop-out and generic and wussy story that most anime adhere to. The scene where the main girl berates the main guy was cool because we knew she went through actual hell and thus, we could accept her credibility. But otherwise, episode 4 has pretty much used up all the good will that the second ep created. I mean, jeezy pete, the main guy’s beef is that he’s half Japanese? I can sorta accept that in the Muv Luv world, the Japanese have a reputation of being “cowards” because they employ hit and run tactics or guerilla warfare, but c’mon!
Grandpa: The Japs are cowards!
Mom: No! They are polite and diligent and humble!
That scene was barfilicious.
The only good bit in the entire episode? The only scene that didn’t leach onto the bike riding the coattails of episode 2?
When that Italian guy snuck in to the women’s shower for a, well, a shower. Italian guy is sorta awesome because he was totally there just to shower.
But yeah, narrative tricks are only going to get you so far per narrative trick. Haruhi (heavily) peppered the gimmicks throughout the series, that kept it fresh. Muv Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse’s run outta “narrative preservatives”. It needs to pull something spectacular off by the next ep or two. If it continues to be mindnumbingly generic and below par, I’ll probably drop it after that. As far as I’m concerned, this show’s back on square one right now.