The Fall 2022 Preview Guide
Muv-Luv Alternative Season 2
How would you rate episode 13 of
Muv-Luv Alternative (TV 2) ?
Community score: 3.4
What is this?
In the wake of resolving the military coup, Takeru can continue with his and Yuuko's behind-the- scenes efforts to make Alternative IV succeed. A calculated trip to his home universe affords some nostalgic interactions for Takeru with the 'original' versions of his classmates, least of all childhood friend Sumika, whom he's still swearing to fully return to someday. It's important to hold onto that emotional anchor, as back over in the alternate universe, Takeru's situation is moving ever-forward. He and the rest of the Flight find themselves graduating to full military service, and the uncertain question of where their fight against the BETA will take them next.
How was the first episode?
In the most general sense, this episode is more of an epilogue to the first season than a premiere for the second. It's largely focused on tying up all the loose ends from the recent insurrection and getting the band back together before they take their first step into the world of adults by leaving school behind.
Yet despite this (or perhaps because of it), the episode works rather well as a start to the season. With the long break between seasons, we definitely need a refresher. After all, Muv-Luv Alternative is not a simple story—it is an alternative universe story and time travel story rolled into one. This is why the episode starts with Takeru returning to the world he's actually from. He meets the original (read: rom-com harem anime) versions of all his friends, including the single one not present in the war-torn alternate reality, and lives what was once his daily life. However, it's clear even to his friends that he doesn't belong there, not anymore. He's seen too much and has too much at stake in the other world to simply abandon it for his original one. His heart may be in this world but his soul is in the other.
Upon his return to the alternative world, we focus on reviewing the time travel aspect. He's seen this world end with the implementation of the Alternative V program. However, thanks to his hard work, not only has he ensured that Alternative IV won't be abandoned but his increased level of skill and upgraded mecha OS have led him down a path he was unable to take the first time around as well—becoming a pilot alongside his friends.
All this is to show us one thing: Takeru has changed the world—changed it so much that he can no longer reasonably predict what will happen. His knowledge of the future that has been his greatest weapon is now useless. From here on out, he can only do his best—and hope that Alternative IV will be enough to save this world so that, one day, he can truly return to his own.
The second part of the Muv-Luv Alternative anime kicks off with some signs that it is…still trying in the wake of its ultimately underwhelming first cour. It's pretty wild to see that they went so far as to grab JAM Project to do the opening theme for this stretch, certainly making some assertion that they understand that this adaptation of the storied visual novel franchise should be a big deal. To that end, we also begin with some raw novelty on this one: Takeru had traveled back to the original Muv-Luv Extra world previously in this anime, yes, but the beginning of this thirteenth episode really goes all-in on meticulously recreating beginning beats from that happier-times harem-genre-homage establishing entry. It's raw fanservice, and not just the kind we get from Takeru waking up to find Meiya sharing a bed with him.
So, in the intervening year between Muv-Luv Alternative's anime cours, I actually was able to make time to play through a few routes of Muv-Luv Extra. Apart from the establishing context it's intended to provide for progressing properly through the games themselves, that initial adventure does wonders for filling out all those characters the Alternative anime gleefully glossed over. So if you've got that familiarity, sure, this opening segment of this episode will be a real treat, communicating that element of 'nostalgia' that is the entire point of this narrative gimmick. They even throw in that iconic shot of Sumika talking with Takeru through the window; It is all, indeed, 'fun' if you're at least this brushed up your Muv-Luv.
But just because I have a little context now doesn't mean I can't evaluate this thing on behalf of the people who still don't. Truly, I am unto Takeru contrasting with his past self running through the Muv-Luv Unlimited timeline. And from that approach, Muv-Luv Alternative is still doing an obliviously lousy job of making any of these movements matter to the anime-only audience. The denser focus on Sumika in this little alternate-universe research trip seems to be setting up for the fact that this season may be bringing her in and focusing more on her in the overall story.
But apart from simply shoving her in our faces, the anime still hasn't seen fit to find a way to communicate why she's so important to Takeru apart from the obvious boxart-girl childhood- friend expected-romance angle. That's a limitation borne of not doing any prior adaptation for Muv-Luv Extra, and it portends a real kneecapping of Alternative's emotional efforts with the character moving forward, akin to, well, the anime's handling of just about every other character. That's apparent as Takeru wakes back up in the Alternative timeline and the story goes about setting up its status quo for the plot moving forward. We get to see all the members of the Flight milling about, making mild references to their experiences in that whole coup plot from the preceding cour, none of them having come out with much personality development apart from their baseline tropes this adaptation always barely managed to muster for us. It's only kind of hilarious to have Takeru comment on the supposed idiosyncratic differences between versions of a character like Chizuru, since this telling of the story has barely communicated to us what either version of her was like. That's to say nothing of this one continuing this adaptation's unintentional running gag of Meiya's sister Yuuhi delivering more character definition for Meiya than Meiya herself manages, in this case without even actually being there, only having her words from a letter read for Meiya to impart context.
All that's part of the 'Graduation' ceremony this episode is titled for, with the kids formally being inducted into the U.N. Military, Takeru chatting over the whole situation, explaining all the little bits of circumstances that led to this point. If you've been following Muv-Luv in this format already, you'll be used to this, but that still doesn't mitigate its always-exhausting speedrun stylings. It's exemplified in what's supposed to be the emotional climax of this major storytelling transition, with the graduated students thankfully sending themselves off from their teacher, Marimo. You know, Marimo, who had…so much to do so far in this anime. I get the sense that Muv-Luv Alternative was genuinely trying to energetically engage me in jumping back into its story, but it says a lot that all it really accomplished was reminding me that I ought to get around to playing the rest of the game.
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