One of the biggest surprises of the summer season has been Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse. A name as bad as that is enough to scare away most, but that this is both a mecha anime and a bloody brutal one at that is stranger still. Whether it can live up to the intensity of these first two episodes is another question entirely, but right now, it’s just nice to reflect on a job well massacred! The root cause of it all? Aliens, of course! Earth’s invaded, humanity’s out-matched and Japan’s moe legions are our first line of defence. Would you feel confident?
Most will have been waiting for the Gundam influence to show itself once a surprise attack throws the cutest of our new recruits into the thick of the action. You’d expect them to somehow pull through and counter-attack, but that doesn’t happen at all: this time, the kids get eaten alive.
If this is all sounding a little cheap, that’s probably because it is. There’s nothing big and clever about such things, but it’s still exciting to me. There’s nothing like a good dose of cynicism every now and then. I’ve always enjoyed survival horror anyway, and if your appetite was whetted by this, you really need to see Blue Gender and Bokurano, too.
In Blue Gender, a guy wakes up from his decades-long coma to find Earth overrun by giant insects. The first-half of the series follows him and a band of soldiers as they search for a way off the planet, all along the way fending off attacks from the creepy-crawlies and watching their numbers gradually dwindle. It’s a notably bleak affair and well worth tracking down if you’re up for some harsh, adult anime.
Bokurano is the bleakest of them all, though, with a premise about as cruel as they come. Piloting mecha in this series is a once-in-a-life-time kind of deal, given that if you lose, your planet is destroyed, and if you win, it’s only you that dies. Once you’ve agreed to be a pilot in this story, there’s no turning back. A bunch of kids are tricked into signing up because it sounds like fun, but the reality is obviously different.
It’ll be fun to see how Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse sews itself back together again. A fan it has made of me.