Total Eclipse 11-14

October 13, 2012

At a whopping four episodes, this second half of the Soviet arc went on longer than I had expected.  As a result, they had more than enough time to cover everything in the novel, so there pretty much won’t be any pointing out of things that were skipped.  Instead, let’s look at things they added.

Much of the extra runtime was given over to a new character, Corporal Yamamoto.  In the novel, the hanger was completely deserted when Yui arrived.  Yamamoto’s storyline serves as an epilogue to the first two episodes, as Yui demonstrates her resolve by delivering the final relief that she failed to give Yamashiro.  Although Yui had claimed before that she had matured as a soldier following the second episode, this was an unexpected but welcome opportunity to show it in action rather than words.

Yamamoto’s presence serves a practical purpose, too.  In the novel, Yui’s predicament is described in text.  By putting Yamamoto there, Yui gets someone to talk to, so that what’s going on can be spelled out through dialogue, rather than forcing Yui to monologue the whole thing (or even worse, spending a whole episode listening to Yui’s thoughts).

We also get a brief flashback to more of Yui’s past, introducing a brand-new character, Kyoko Takatsukasa, a member of the five regent houses.  More interesting than her appearance here, though, is the possibility that she is the pilot of the Takemikazuchi we saw in episode 2.  After all, while the evidence for Yuuhi or Ikaruga is circumstantial (and basically consists of “Who else could it be?”), here we have a character who is flat-out piloting the same TSF model we saw in that episode.  Want more evidence?  Well, Yoshimune has said before how interesting it would be to write a novelization of the first two episodes, given how much had to be cut out.  And now one of the bonuses for buying all the BD/DVDs is the chance to get an original novel by him.  Although they haven’t announced yet what the novel will be about, from the instant they announced it I thought it would likely be a novelization of the first two episodes.  And recently, Yoshimune has said that this character, Kyoko Takatsukasa, will likely play a role in that bonus novel.  Hmmm . . .

As for arguments against . . . well, it would kind of suck that Yui’s savior is already dead, huh?

In that same flashback, we also get to see Yui’s subordinate, Amamiya, who appeared in the first chapter of the novel (this chapter was replaced in the anime with the first two episodes).  They even went through the trouble of bringing back the actress who played her in the visual novel adaptation of the first two chapters.  Amamiya isn’t an important character, but it’s still nice that she got to be in the anime in some way.

The final major addition to the anime is episode 14, which is heavily expanded from the novel.  This section of the novel wraps up very suddenly, as if they had simply run out of pages or time for that month’s release – this seems to be a common problem with this entire arc, which Yoshimune will go to astonishing lengths to “fix” for the next arc (more on that next time).  No problem, though – the anime simply extends this section out, giving it the time it deserves.  I especially liked the final pre-credits scene of Yuuya returning to the other members of Argos Flight in his beat-up Shiranui Second – a nice piece of catharsis that was sorely missing from the novel.

In the novel, Latrova’s final order to her battalion is to take out the Laser-class BETA so that allied forces can move in.  However, between the original novel’s publication and the anime, a special term had been created for just such an operation – “Laserjagd”.  And so, as an easter egg to Muv-Luv fans, Latrova actually uses that term in the anime.  Why does Latrova use a German term for the operation, though?  Is it because East Germany invented the operation?  Or was the operation simply popularized by, and thus highly associated with, East German forces such as the Schwarzesmarken?  The third volume of Schwarzesmarken provides powerful evidence that it may be the latter.

I was very curious how the anime would handle Latrova’s final encounter.  In the novel, the voice speaking to her is simply described as “a male voice she doesn’t recognize”, while the TSF sent to fight her is simply “a unit she is shocked to see”.  Of course, in the anime, you have to have an actual voice saying the lines, and the TSF has to have an actual model.  While it was fairly clear from context that the “male voice” was probably Sandek, the anime confirms that for the first time.  Similarly, although the anime does a pretty good job of maintaining the mysterious atmosphere of the novel, the unknown TSF does indeed look to be a Terminator.  Is it Cryska and Inia?  The novel avoids saying.  Latrova’s last moments are deliberately shrouded in mystery, and the anime follows that example.


What Comes Next

October 1, 2012

While I compile my post on the second half of the Soviet arc, let’s look at what’s coming down the pike.

Next week is a recap special.  Note that terminology – it is not a recap “episode”, meaning it does not count towards the show’s 26 episodes.  In other words, after next week, there will still be 12 episodes left in the series.  If you look at the calendar, there are actually 13 Sundays left in the year, meaning one of those weeks will go without a TE episode no matter what.  I suppose it was possible to run through the remaining 12 episodes immediately and let that last week be the empty one, but I think it makes a lot of sense to take a break here since the opportunity presented itself.

In addition to recapping the story, the special will cover some of the background information of the world setting.  And, according to Yoshimune’s Twitter, something “embarassing” is going to happen to Mai Nakahara (Yui) and Hitomi Nabatame (Cryska), who are presumably going to host the special.  Yoshimune himself is also going to appear.  They may also include the real-life Laser-class costume, which has been popping up in recent TE-related events and just yesterday made its TV debut in a commercial for the BD/DVD release.  They really seem to like that thing.

For those who might not be interested in such things, the special is also going to offer a sneak peak at the new OP and ED.  The 2nd OP is by Minami Kuribayashi, and the 2nd ED is by ayami.  The new OP and ED will make their debut on the actual show sometime in November, presumably to coincide with the show’s final arc.

On a personal note, the upcoming arc happens to be my favorite of the Total Eclipse storylines published so far.  I know there are going to be people (quite likely a lot of people) who will find the final arc to be by far the best, and will find this upcoming arc to be slow and lacking in tension by comparison, but I don’t care.  I’m a sucker for the setup of this next arc, and I love the new characters that are introduced and the relationships between them and our existing characters.