Anime Rewatch 2021: Total Eclipse 20-22

Original Post

Now we’re into the first part of the terrorist arc that will close out this show, and we’re starting off with the amazing episode 20. This is almost entirely an anime-original episode – in the original novels (as well as the Total Eclipse Rising manga, which generally hews closer to the novels than the anime), all of Argos Flight, as well as Yui, Cryska, and Yifei, were already at the Argos hangar, preparing for Argos’ upcoming match with the Infinities. The anime version gives most of our heroes a thrilling race to get back to the Argos hangar, as well as new scenes depicting the major terrorist characters as they begin to take over the base. This is probably the biggest, most engaging material the anime added to the storyline, with the (arguable) exception of the first two episodes.

Like most anime-original scenes, the final game version of Total Eclipse includes the events of episode 20, but to be honest, it kind of struggles with adapting it. They’re very good at depicting TSF fights in AGES, but action scenes involving humans has never been their forte, and the events of episode 20 are chock full of them. The anime actually winds up being the better watch for this sequence, because the entire episode, being anime-original, is tailor-made to an anime’s strong suits.

Natalie is, of course, the highlight of episode 20. She brings a real emotional component to the terrorist attack, since she’s a character that we actually know. I know I’ve been on this a lot, but I just love the idea that they took this silly throwaway anime-original character and actually built in a cool twist that ties into the existing storyline from the novels. If it was planned from the beginning, it’s one of the most awesome fakeouts I’ve ever seen. And if they simply made a silly fanservice character first and only later decided to write her into the terrorist storyline, it’s one of the greatest redemption arcs a character has ever had.

When everybody is suiting up in episode 21, there’s a nice story beat in the novels that doesn’t quite make it into the anime. When Yifei and Cryska ask to be allowed to pilot the spare Strike Eagles, Vincent replies that those are American machines. This isn’t just a territorial dispute – the fact is that nobody on the base has yet been able to verify exactly who is attacking, so it’s difficult for them to trust outsiders at the moment. This is especially a problem with Cryska – as far as the American soldiers (including Vincent) are concerned, by far the people most likely to be responsible for the attack are the Soviet soldiers stationed on base. So by allowing Yifei and Cryska to take the Strike Eagles, the others are taking a pretty big leap of faith that these two are who they say they are. That’s a big ask, especially in the anime where they just learned that another person they were close to really did turn out to be a terrorist spy.

I mentioned before that the anime seems to want to cut down on the number of characters in the upper brass. There are actually a number of those upper brass characters whose whereabouts are touched upon in some way during this arc in the novels and game, but the anime reduces it to pretty much just Rogofsky, the Soviet superior officer who appeared briefly in the Soviet arc. Again, this has the effect of cutting down on the world-building aspects of the show, but doesn’t actually affect the story all that much.

If you’ve seen Schwarzesmarken, then coming back to this arc and seeing the Master behind the terrorist attack might bring up some complicated feelings. For me, it’s a reminder that the Master’s story is still yet unfinished. His story was supposed to cross over from Total Eclipse to Schwarzesmarken, and finally conclude in Duty: Lost Arcadia. His brief appearance in Total Eclipse doesn’t offer any explanations for why he’s doing what he’s doing – or, for that matter, what it is he’s doing in the first place. Those questions were supposed to be answered in Duty, but that project seems to be dead now. The art boards created for the upcoming Muv-Luv Integrate seem to suggest that they still intend to pick up where Duty left off, so it seems to me that they are still going to have to tell the story of Duty somewhere, in some form. Hopefully full closure on this character is still coming at some point.


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