The Muv-Luv Alternative anime had a special pre-screening of the first two episodes for fans today, and a lot of information came out during the event, so let’s talk about it real quick.
For me, the most important information I wanted from the pre-screening is a sense of how many episodes the anime will have and what kind of pacing it will follow. We actually already know that this anime will run for 1 cour, meaning it will end in December after 12 or so episodes. +Ultra, the block that the anime runs in, has already announced that The Heike Story will run in the block in January. The anime’s Blu-ray release has yet to be announced, and that’s usually how we determine exactly how many episodes the anime will run, but it’s probably fair to assume for the purposes of this discussion that it will be 12 episodes.
So, the question then is, will this anime cover the first half of the game and leave the second half to a second season, or could it possibly be aiming to cover the entire game? It seems insane to think it might cover the entire story – I’ve tried to game it out multiple times but it seems impossible even from a logistical standpoint, let alone whether the end result would actually be any good – but it wouldn’t be the first time a franchise that deserved better has been treated that way instead. If it were trying to cover the entire game, it would need to absolutely blaze through the game’s events to fit it all in 12 episodes. So that’s what I wanted to hear most from the event – how much material the first two episodes try to cover.
After the event, the actual synopsis of the first episode has been publicly announced, including on the website itself, in official news reports of the event, and even in an interview with the director. That said, for people who want to go into the anime without any spoilers, I’ll split off detailed discussion of the episodes into its own spoiler section below.
Without spoilers, then, what I can say is that from all the available information, it seems that the anime is very much taking its time to go through the story of Alternative properly. This is absolutely not the kind of pacing I would expect from a show that was trying to cover the entire game in only 12 episodes. After hearing the news from the event, I am pretty confident in predicting that the anime will end in the middle of the story, and then presumably a second season somewhere down the line will finish it up.
As for why it’s being done this way, anime that run for 2 consecutive cours have in general been on the decline, and I assume this one just follows that trend. Mecha anime is also notoriously difficult to animate, and the production committee may have decided from the beginning that it’s beyond them to make one that runs for 2 cours without collapsing. It’s worth noting that Total Eclipse, which ran for 2 consecutive cours, did indeed wind up having its animation suffer heavily, especially during its second half. So perhaps this is just them being realistic about what they can accomplish on their budget in today’s conditions.
I will also say this: the anime’s director, Yukio Nishimoto, has been posting about the anime (mostly about the state of the production) on his Twitter account, and he seems pretty enthusiastic about the anime. Obviously a director working on an upcoming project will hype his project up publicly, but his tweets seem to go beyond mere publicity, at least in my reading of them. A lot of directors don’t necessarily talk a lot about their job on Twitter, and I feel like someone who was simply working on a hack job would probably keep quiet about it. I definitely get the feeling that he, at least, thinks he’s actually doing good work and making something worthwhile, instead of just doing what he was paid to do. That is, of course, a separate question from whether or not it is actually good, which we’ll just have to judge this fall.
Other news to come out after the event is the announcement of new cast members:
Yuuko – Ruriko Aoki
Marimo – Sayumi Watabe
Kasumi – Kanon Takao
Radhabinod – Norio Wakamoto
The big news is, of course, that Wakamoto has been retained as Radhabinod. That opens the door to the possibility that other voices might be retained as well. I probably wouldn’t get my hopes up, though – I have a feeling that the more screentime a character has, the more likely it is that they’ll be recast. Wakamoto might well be a special case. Certainly I wouldn’t have looked forward to hearing someone try to replace him.
They also announced that they’re going to be doing a radio show with Kouichi Kamiki (Takeru) and Karin Nanami (Meiya). This is probably not going to mean much for most people (certainly for most people who can’t speak Japanese), but a large part of my experience with Age has been tied up in their radio programs, starting with KimiNozo Radio and continuing on with its various spin-offs and successors. I also wound up listening to a lot of Radio Total Eclipse. I regret that I didn’t manage to catch much of Radio Schwarzesmarken, so for me it’s been quite a while since I’ve listened to a weekly radio program. I’ll check this one out and see if I have it in me to follow it every week.
All in all, I am much more optimistic about the anime after hearing that the first two episodes don’t feel rushed. I’m looking forward to watching the series this fall, and hopefully they’ve already got a second season planned.
OK, let’s get into spoilers:
As I said, the official website itself announced the synopsis for the first episode, so I don’t feel particularly bad about spoiling it. It’s an anime-original story set on Sadogashima in 1998, and depicts its fall to the BETA. Much like with the Imperial Capital Burns storyline in the Total Eclipse anime, it’s meant to show off a huge battle between TSFs and the BETA from the very beginning to catch new viewers’ attention, rather than start the show off with the slower, more talky process of following Takeru as a trainee.
Needless to say, if the anime intended to cover the entire Alternative storyline in only one cour, it would not be throwing away one of its precious limited episodes to do a completely original story. That same logic was true for Total Eclipse, which did run for 2 cours and wound up having time to add quite a lot of anime-original material. Alternative doesn’t have quite that much time to spare, so spending even one episode on this new material is kind of an extravagance.
Attendees to the event were told not to spoil the episodes beyond that synopsis, but some were bad boys and leaked more information anyway. I won’t repeat exactly what they said, except to say that episode 2 apparently takes its time developing the story of Alternative and doesn’t seem to be in a big rush either. That’s why I’m feeling pretty confident that the anime is going to go through the story properly and not rush through things.