Muv-Luv Alternative: The Animation 08

This episode wastes no time in taking us deep into our first truly serious storyline of the show, a full-on coup d’etat by a rogue military faction within the Japanese imperial forces. And I really mean it wastes no time – it launches straight into the story without any lead-in from the previous episodes. At the same time, though, it also pulls together many of the strands of foreshadowing that have been laid throughout the series. It brings back into the foreground the hints of dissatisfaction with the way the civilians have been treated by the government, which had been seeded in several episodes. It also brings back both Undersecretary Tamase and Chief Yoroi, and pays off the shady hints involving Kei over the last few episodes. Indeed, as Yoroi notes, all five of Takeru’s teammates are now deeply connected to this incident. That all gives this episode an extremely dark feel, in contrast with the relatively more lighthearted feel of the series so far, especially the last few episodes which have focused heavily on Takeru’s return to his original world.

But then, that’s the entire point of doing the episode this way, to shock Takeru – and the viewer – with a sudden, darker shift in tone. That’s how the story has always depicted Takeru’s growth – each time Takeru has matured as much as he can in his current status quo, the story exposes him to an even darker truth hiding beneath the surface. That’s what happened when Takeru was originally transported from his original world to this world, a world under attack by the BETA. And it happened again at the start of Alternative, when he was brought back to the beginning of this timeline, this time with the knowledge that the world was operating under a strict timeline, counting down to December 25 and the end of Alternative IV, which he had no idea about his first time around. And the launch of this coup d’etat is the next step in that process, as Takeru is exposed for the first time to the deep political divisions that govern this world, as well as the fact that his interventions in the timeline can have negative repercussions as well as positive.

Longtime readers of this blog will know that the complex political conflicts of this world are one of this franchise’s biggest draws for me, so it’s no surprise that this is exactly the kind of episode that I love. However, while Total Eclipse focused more on international relations, and Schwarzesmarken on the state of Cold War Germany, Alternative is set in Japan, and this political arc centers on Japanese domestic politics. Perhaps what’s most surprising to me is the extent to which the anime is being allowed to portray this storyline at all. Age has suggested before that the heavily political nature of this arc had scared off some of the previous potential sponsors for an Alternative anime. Just the very concept of a modern-day Japanese Empire is already fertile ground for potential controversy. So when the story also adds in a Japanese nationalistic coup d’etat attempt clearly inspired by similar real-life Japanese nationalistic coup d’etat attempts, you can see how people might get squeamish.

In that context, what is most important to this arc is Takeru’s position in the story. This particular episode, despite featuring a bloody coup, is actually really light on action. Instead, this is a very talky episode, dedicated mostly to laying out some of the philosophies of the various factions. You of course have Naoya Sagiri’s faction, the people responsible for the coup. The story also brings in Lieutenant Tsukuyomi, representing the Imperial Royal Guard, part of the upper echelon of the Japanese forces, which opposes the coup but is also fiercely loyal to the Empire and opposes outside intervention in the conflict. And you have the UN forces, who are not part of the Imperial forces and whose objectives may differ.

But Takeru stands apart from all of them, as he is not a true member of this country. Even the UN forces of Yokohama Base are largely Japanese. Meiya, of course, is the one who expresses the most sympathy for the rebels’ stated grievances. But even someone like Yuuko, who is supposed to be working for the greater good of the entire planet, can’t help but express her opinion in this episode as a Japanese citizen. Only Takeru is different. As Tsukuyomi notes, it’s inconceivable to her that a Japanese person could be so indifferent to outside intervention after seeing what America has done to Japan. But Takeru wasn’t around to experience any of that, so he’s incapable of seeing things from that perspective. Takeru is only concerned with saving the entire world from the BETA. He doesn’t understand or care about the political implications involved. When dealing with such a sensitive topic, it’s crucial that the audience come into this conflict through Takeru’s more neutral viewpoint. This will become even more important as the political arguments develop over the course of this arc.

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One Response to Muv-Luv Alternative: The Animation 08

  1. Some random stranger says:

    Been a while seen your last post, hope you’re well!

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