by Christopher Farris,
How would you rate episode 9 of
Muv-Luv Alternative ?
Community score: 4.2
At least one pleasant side-effect of the massive mess of info dumped at our feet for this coup plot in last week's episode of Muv-Luv Alternative is that they can basically hit the ground running in this one. Okay there's still a little bit of setup left to go, as Yoroi uses his apparent power to suddenly materialize in any scene and assign Takeru and crew the next stage of their job. But once the Shogun (and mysterious Meiya doppelganger) Koubuin Yuuhi is securely strapped into Takeru's cockpit, it's off to the dang-near-literal races. This is one of those strategic situations where our heroes need only reach a certain point in their escape route where they're guaranteed to be home-free, with the anime exploiting the tension of crossing that finish line by running the episode's events even through the ending credits rolling. Admittedly the material covered in this episode is easier to play for action and excitement than last week's text crawl, but I'm hardly going to complain about having some fun watching Muv-Luv this week.
So first things first, about her majesty the Shogun there. Her presence and role for this episode lets Muv-Luv pick one of the many potential thematic through-lines from last week and run with it for this one. In this case, it's the idea that a government and its military should be more beholden to the will and good of the country's civilians. As expressed last week, this is technically the position the rebels are fighting for, but they re-establish in dialogue here that it's possible to hold that belief but disagree with their violent methods for enacting it. Yuuhi threads the needle in a particular way only someone of her standing can: Setting herself up as bait for the rebel forces in order to lure the fighting away from the capital city. This immediately establishes a baseline for the kind of leader and character she is, while also letting our main characters in the 207th Flight play for a sympathetic viewpoint while still being against those dang violent insurrectionists.
Yuuhi thus gets to act as an escorted plot-device while also providing us some more of that character context we're constantly catching up on in this cartoon. My usual snideness aside though, I do need to compliment the Muv-Luv anime on the actual deployment of what Yuuhi reveals here: For once Takeru and us in the audience are on the same page, being able to figure out that there is some sort of connection between Meiya and the Shogun, but not having been around long enough to catch onto specifically what it is. Yuuhi's able to reveal her and Meiya's twin-sisterhood in a situation that fits with the conversation the characters are having, dropping the plot twist in a way that lands as dramatic for everyone, and clearly sets up the political angles that such a relationship naturally induces. It's interesting, it has some funny asides as we hear about the Shogun's own mecha-piloting practice, and it immediately makes me question, in-context, how things are going to shake out as she apparently keels over at the very end of the episode. Escort missions, am I right?
The mission itself then gets to provide the entertainment value in the more standard "stuff blowing up" sort of way. Muv-Luv does need to try to show off, since it's actually got competition in the mecha department this season. And it provides, even as our main characters spend pretty much all of this episode running away from battle. They've got the built-in risk management of the Shogun's health, after all, and a surprise assistance in the form of the American forces that drop in to support them. Even though the rebels get the best moment of the episode (That being the I'm-told-is-iconic "English can eat shit" line), the coordination of the Americans against these guys, and the showing off of their wonderful toys makes their battle one of the highlights of an episode that's a high point in general. There's only a mild irony to the point that Muv-Luv had a vague undercurrent of Japanese nationalism to some elements of its earlier setup, only for it to happily portray cutting-edge war machines from the United States saving the day in dazzling style. USA! USA!
Seriously though, this really was an episode of the anime that pulled off the balancing act of communicating its story and showing off cool robot combat in ways an anime might be better-suited than a visual novel to do. I still have misgivings, with a minor one being that some of the scenes of those sweet robot rampages were a bit overshadowed and underlit than I'd have liked for watching. And my key complaint of informational issues does persist: The explanation of the team's race to outrun rebel forces felt a bit wordier and over-complex than it needed to be for what was actually going on. And there's a mild frustration to how much of this ongoing issue is based on a different historical path from a major event of Takeru's previous run-through that we haven't really gotten many details on. Plus it's only a little funny that Yuuhi's exposition in this one episode gives her maybe more lines of dialogue and character development than Meiya has had in the whole anime so far. But things move on from that setup quickly enough that we're able to gloss over it fine in the moment. And by the time I got to that shocking ending, I was so pleased with that action I'd seen and the developments I had been given, that I was nonplussed about what it took to get us here, and genuinely interested to see where we went next.
Muv-Luv Alternative is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Chris is a freelance writer who appreciates anime, action figures, and additional ancillary artistry. He can be found staying up way too late posting screencaps on his Twitter.
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