(This interview came out shortly after the second episode aired.)
– That was a difficult first two episodes. What were your impressions when you first read the script?
Nakahara: I had never imagined that kind of development, so honestly I was worried. It was a very different Yui from the one I knew from the original novels and the radio program, even in her manner of speech. I was also surprised to see her talking with her friends. The contents were painful, but as the recording sessions have continued, I feel now that it was good to have those first two episodes. I think people will feel the same way as they continue watching the story of TE.
– What was the intent in placing such a hard development in the prologue?
Yoshimune: The original novel was serialized in a gaming magazine, so we assumed that the reader already knew the Muv-Luv game series and didn’t include many detailed explanations about it. But for people who are first experiencing Muv-Luv through the anime, we thought that we have to convey the setting in an easy-to-understand way. We were worried that unless we made the characters’ situations and feelings understandable, Yui would just come off as an eccentric and unsympathetic character.
Nakahara: I’ve been doing the radio show and Yoshimune-san has explained things to me before, so I understood Yui’s thoughts to a certain extent, but these first two episodes make it much easier for me to grasp what she is feeling.
Yoshimune: In that sense, I really remember you saying, after the recording for the second episode, “I don’t think I can interact normally with Ono-san (Daisuke Ono, voice of Yuuya) anymore” (laughs).
Nakahara: I may have said something like that (laughs).
Yoshimune: Having experienced that kind of battlefield in the first two episodes, Yui can’t help but be strict towards Yuuya (laughs). When I see you gradually growing closer to Yui’s feelings, I feel how amazing being an actor is.
Nakahara: As a character’s feelings flow into me, I sometimes get so pulled along by them that I can’t tell anymore whether they are the character’s feelings or my own. The characters and settings in TE are so well made that I may just be getting pulled along by Yui.
– Yui has a tough past, but she’s also awkward. You really want to root for that kind of character.
Nakahara: If I was just playing her without knowing anything, I might have thought she was just a hateful character who looks down on others (laughs). But when I think about how Yui went through the kinds of things we saw in the first two episodes to get to where she is now, I actually think it’s very adorable how she tries to put on a brave front.
Yoshimune: It’s an important part of her that she’s a young girl struggling to be a soldier. Although she normally only shows the face of a soldier, if someone suddenly calls out to her, she might go “Huh!?” and forget her soldier-like attitude for an instant. That’s part of what makes her charming to me (laughs).
Nakahara: Since she’s normally so cold, when she unconsciously shows a cute side, I get a little excited myself (laughs). Yui will gradually show a little more of that cuteness as we move forward.
Yoshimune: There will be more developments for the fans who want more of that Yui (laughs). Please look forward to it.
– What do you think of Yuuya?
Nakahara: He’s such a child (laughs). He looks like he has it together and is able to get along with people, but from an adult point of view there’s a lot to be concerned about (laughs). Yui herself is too busy with her own things, so she doesn’t have the strength to deal with that yet though.
Yoshimune: That’s your own personal view, not Yui’s, right? How very elder sister-ish of you (laughs). Yuuya always fights against his surroundings, and because he wasn’t raised properly like a child he can’t yet become an adult. Yui is somewhat similar, but in her case what shows on the surface is her soldier side, or her family status – her “public” face is what draws attention so she comes off as imposing.
Nakahara: It’s true that if Yui were really as mature as she appears on the surface, she might be able to deal with Yuuya better. They’re both such children (laughs).
– Please share the scene from the first two episodes that left the strongest impression on you.
Nakahara: I would have to say the fall of Kyoto . . . the flow of the story strongly affected me. The process itself of losing your friends one by one surprised me. On the other hand, what really raised the tension was the first appearance of the Takemikazuchi. That was so cool I screamed out loud without thinking!
Yoshimune: That scene was so good even the staff working on it were screaming out loud. What really left an impression on me was the scene where Yui was screaming her lungs out. When you have a “screaming” scene, I think it normally just comes out as “crying”, but this one really was “screaming” – it was very intense.
– What can we look forward to in the future?
Nakahara: In the beginning I was always with Yuuya, but in the future I will also have scenes with Cryska. Two girls and one boy usually means a love triangle, but this won’t be such a simple story. Please look forward to seeing the different characters’ relationships.
Yoshimune: For me, I’m happy seeing every scene. Just seeing everything moving is very touching, and makes every scene seem new and interesting. The Yui service scenes that everybody has been waiting for made my heart pound too (laughs). Still, of course I think the dialogue between Yui and Yuuya is the biggest draw. In the beginning there are a lot of disagreements, but that clumsy feeling comes across very well, and even the adlibbed parts are interesting, so please look forward to that.
Nakahara: I think fans of the Muv-Luv series have been waiting a long time for this anime, but we have really been waiting a long time as well, so each week we’re very happy to record our lines. For people who have come in through the anime, the first two episodes will help them understand Yui’s emotions, so I hope we can enjoy the series together.
Yoshimune: We are creating something that can be enjoyed by new and old fans alike. I myself look forward to each TV broadcast, so I hope we can all get excited together . . . for things like Yui’s bashfulness (laughs).
Total Eclipse 06-07August 17, 2012
When Total Eclipse was first launched, it was intended to be a 12-chapter side story meant mostly to advertise Volks’ A3 line of TSF figures. A fairly modest storyline was conceived for it – after all, there’s not a whole lot one can do in 12 chapters, and anyway, it wasn’t at all clear back then that there was even an audience for a Muv-Luv spinoff. The creators obviously haven’t gone into detail about their discarded plans, but I would imagine the characters remained on Yukon Base the whole series, and to the extent there was a story at all it mostly revolved around Yuuya and Yui coming to understand each other.
But plans change. The series was a smash hit. The serialization was extended indefinitely. Suddenly, a small story about test pilots on an obscure base wasn’t going to cut it. The creators now saw the opportunity to expand the story of Total Eclipse, to go bigger and feature larger conflicts that were not possible in a 12-chapter story. But these kinds of changes don’t come about immediately. They need time to plan out their more ambitious storylines, and in the meantime, new chapters have to come out every month, which can’t launch any new plotlines while they’re still laying out their new direction.
They’ve never said so directly, but it’s abundantly clear to me that this change happened during these beach episodes. During serialization, these chapters were even blatantly labeled “Intermission #01” and “Intermission #02”. The idea is simple – having wrapped up their first major arc, they can pack the characters off somewhere on an standalone adventure for a couple of months while they figure out where to go next. The characters themselves are interesting and well-defined, and good conflict can come from simply allowing them to bounce off each other, without the need to get bogged down in plot. Afterwards, the characters return in time to embark on a new, bigger story.
As for the anime episodes themselves, there’s not a lot to say. Given the state of anime today and the sheer number of episodes they have to throw around, it was obvious to me that they would expand this section to two episodes. I will say that I keep expecting the worst from this adaptation and they keep surprising me with how relatively restrained they can be. Two episodes is a bit long for this amount of material, and it would be easy for them to pad it out with typical fanservice scenes. Instead the fluff is kept to a bare minimum, and most of the show’s running time – particularly in the second episode – is devoted to replicating the more serious conversations between characters basically word-for-word.
And that’s pretty much it. There’s not much in these episodes to talk about, because they were intended mostly as a bridge between the first, rather subdued arc, and the much larger, more ambitious arcs to follow. It was here that the creators first began to see the potential of Total Eclipse, that there was enough fan interest in the larger universe to support another major franchise, rather than a small-scale side story.
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