Anime Rewatch 2021: Total Eclipse 17-19

Original Post

What really stands out, in rewatching these episodes, is how much was pulled forward from the game, which was still in development at the time the anime aired. None of the flashbacks and new backstory were in the original novels, meaning this anime was the first time we got to see much of this new material.

For episode 17, the new material revolves around Cryska and Inia’s flashback sequence. We also get to hear the song “Snow Maiden” here for the first time – the Twins have been shown humming it a little in the previous episode, but in this episode we get to hear Cryska hum a much longer version, and we hear Aki Misato’s full version playing over the end credits. This song is heavily associated with Cryska, and both the song, as well as BGM tracks based on it, will go on to be played during important Cryska scenes for the rest of the anime and into the game.

Cryska’s question to Yuuya, about why she seems so concerned about Yuuya without knowing why, appears at first glance to be a typical “girl loves boy without realizing it” trope, with Cryska’s obvious lack of experience in worldly matters helping to drive it. Although this scene is content to leave viewers with that impression for the moment, later developments in the second half of the game will return here to expand on the concept. For now, it’s just worth noting that there is more to this idea than there initially appears.

The fight between Yuuya and Leon at the end of the episode is one of my favorite moments in the story. I think what I love is the familiarity between the characters, the fact that Sharon automatically knows that Yuuya and Leon are both ready to bolt when the MPs arrive, and the fact that Yui doesn’t quite know Yuuya on that level yet.

For episode 18, the new material revolves around Yuuya’s backstory. As I mentioned before, the game wound up moving this backstory to the very start of the story, allowing us to see Yuuya’s background in real time before he is transferred to Yukon Base. At first, I found this kind of an odd choice, since I was so used to the old version of the story, where we meet Yuuya at Yukon Base and only dig into his background with Leon and Sharon later on. However, as I mentioned earlier, I’ve come around to it – I can see now how presenting this information early on balances out Yui’s prologue and and helps the player see both characters as equally important. Introducing Leon and Sharon so early on changes the dynamic of their Blue Flag introduction as well, making them more familiar to the player.

The talk between Yuuya and Natalie is also new. This part I find interesting because it introduces concepts that the game didn’t introduce until the second half of the story, which takes place after the anime ends. The basic thrust of the conversation is that all of the people who have helped Yuuya grow throughout the story are only doing for him what other people have done for them in the past. As Yuuya comes to understand this, he begins to feel the need to do the same, to help someone who needs the same sort of help that he did, and eventually he decides that Cryska is the person he wants to help. Again, in the game, this all happens after the upcoming terrorist arc is finished. But the conversation in this episode deliberately brings this idea into the show early. Yuuya is also spending a lot more time with Cryska in these two episodes than he does in the game, which also seems to be setting up the idea of him wanted to help her much earlier as well. I can’t help but feel like maybe the anime staff (and/or original writer Kouki Yoshimune, who consulted on the anime) felt that they may not get a second season, so they wanted to bring these ideas into the first season because they’re so important to the overall theme of Total Eclipse.

So much of episode 18 is new material to the anime that I think the only major scene in the episode that comes from the original novels is the talk between Yui and Yifei at the end. As I mentioned in my original post, this is Yifei at her most interesting and effective, as she challenges Yui’s fitness for Yuuya on a more serious level. In my old post, I mentioned that I hoped Yifei would have more scenes like this in the second half of the game, but I’m sad to say she really doesn’t. This remains her most powerful scene in the story.

Natalie is put in an interesting position in this episode. She hints at a background as a French refugee who lived in squalor as a kid, which is a huge red flag since the upcoming storyline is all about terrorists who despise the current world order for allowing such conditions. Even then, I had a hard time believing she would actually turn out to be a member of the RLF, simply because that’s a serious role to push on an anime-original character who, up to this point, was largely used for silly fanservice. I would be very curious to know if this twist was planned from the beginning, or if the anime staff was simply trying to salvage a character who, bluntly, was very out of place on this show. (It’s worth noting that in the past few episodes, she’s stopped wearing that stupid cowgirl waitress getup and is instead presented in a classy bartender outfit.) Either way, this is a very successful turnaround for the character. Seeing the hints in this episode, and imagining that she might actually play a role in the upcoming terrorist arc, remains one of my favorite memories of watching the anime as it aired.

Speaking of hints, the anime adds a lot of shots of conspicuous Coeurl Express trucks driving around. I feel like there’s so many that they get a little heavy-handed, but maybe that’s just because I knew what was coming. Maybe for newer viewers, they’re a welcome clue that something really bad is about to go down.

… Do we have to talk about episode 19? It’s a complete filler episode, totally unrelated to the rest of the story. I’ve seen comparisons to the beach storyline in episodes 6-7, but they’re completely different. The earlier beach episodes still pushed the story forward by focusing heavily on developing the relationships between Yuuya, Yui, and Cryska. Even though they’re set at the beach for fanservice purposes, they’re still reasonably close to the tone of the rest of the series. This episode is just utter nonsense. The tone is dreadfully off – this is blatantly just a typical anime hot springs episode that has been dropped into a completely different show. It’s silly that all of these characters would go on this trip in the middle of the Blue Flag program, and the fact that the episode itself ridicules this logic doesn’t make it any better. What’s particularly sad is that it comes between episodes 18 and 20, which are both top-level episodes of the series.

When thinking back on this series, I often think of episode 18 as leading directly into the terrorist arc, forgetting this episode even exists. I advise everyone to do the same.


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