Muv-Luv Alternative Episode 2 is the first real episode of this new anime. While last week was technically Episode 1, it served more as a prologue to introduce us to the harsh and cruel world that the storyline takes place in. Episode 2, meanwhile, served as a way to catch up anime-only viewers so they could understand a bit about Shirogane Takeru’s background without having to read the first two visual novels in the series. I was intrigued when I learned that the visual novel had inspired the Attack on Titan manga, since Attack on Titan‘s anime is pretty much my favorite TV show of all time.
I’m an anime-only viewer, so I’m sharing these reviews from the perspective of someone who hasn’t read the visual novels (but has done a little background research.)
This is a Muv-Luv Alternative Episode 2 review. It will have spoilers for the episode, but since it’s anime-focused only, it contains no visual novel spoilers.
The Episode Smoothly Introduced Us to Takeru’s Crazy World
After reading reviews from Episode 1, I noticed that some visual novel readers were concerned that anime-onlies would come into the series thoroughly confused and not able to follow the storyline. As an anime-only viewer, I felt like the episode did a good job of introducing us to Takeru’s world. While it’s going to take me quite some time to grasp all the characters and their names, I feel like I have a pretty good grasp of the storyline basics.
Much of the information was shared to us through inner monologues and “info dumps,” as Takeru came to grips with yet another world shift. He woke up two months in the past, just before “Alternative V” was implemented. Alternative V is a government plan that involves giving up on the Earth and surrendering it to the BETA aliens. A few hundred thousand leave to start a colony on a different world outside the solar system, with the hope that BETA don’t invade there too. But they leave more than a billion people behind to die.
It’s a pragmatically dark solution when the last-ditch effort is simply to ensure humanity isn’t completely wiped out.
Takeru was one of the people left behind. His new goal is to ensure Alternative IV, whatever it is, succeeds so they never have to implement Alternative V. For now, he only has some of his memories and a lot of memory gaps. He knows that the person who will become his “Yuuko-sensei,” Professor Kouzuki, is involved with Alternative IV and is the person he needs to get in contact with. He’s able to get her attention by simply having knowledge of Alternative IV and V, which no one is supposed to know about by name, apparently. So while she’s not sure if she believes him entirely, she knows that his goal aligns with hers, so he’s going to be useful.
We learn that Takeru was originally in a world where the BETA never invaded. He attended Hakuryo Hiiragi Preparatory Academy and had some close friends there. (As far as he can remember.) But then one morning, he woke up in a parallel dimension that had been fighting the BETA for 30 years and humanity was losing. His school was now the United Nations 11th Force Pacific Theater Yokohama Base — a military base. (The transition the anime showed from a happy school to a stark military base was a nice touch to illustrate just how much everything had changed.) He also notes that the people he knew were still there, but they were all different. With no other choice, he became a cadet to try to save the new world that he found himself in. But then Alternative V was implemented, humanity lost, and he was one of the people left behind on December 24, 2001.
He Finds a Mission for Himself While Navigating All His Memory Gaps
There are some odd moments in his conversation with Kouzuki. At one point he blurts out that “there’s no time left” and one of the things she has to do is “find a way to fit 15 billion semiconducting parallel computing circuits into the palm of a hand!” This strange interjection is basically ignored after he says it, and I’m left wondering just what he was talking about.
He also still has a lot of memory gaps. When talking to Kouzuki about stopping Alternative V, he starts crying as if he lost something very important to him, but he has no idea why. On a subconscious level he remembers more than he consciously can realize yet.
Kouzuki decides that Takeru is going to enlist in the 207th TSF pilot training squadron, where he will now be known as Cadet Shirogane. His cover story is that he was exempt from conscription (unlike most men), which is why he can be part of this squadron.
The people in his training squadron are Mitsurugi Meiya, their instructor Jinguuji Marimo, squad commander Sakaki Chizuru, Ayamine Kei, and Tamase Miki with the pink hair. (She looks a lot younger than everyone else!) There’s also another member, Yoroi Mikoto, whom we don’t meet because they’re hospitalized. Apparently this was also the case in Takeru’s last world too, so he doesn’t seem surprised. Here are their pictures in case you need a refresher:
There are a few moments that remind me of the movie “Edge of Tomorrow,” such as when Takeru realizes that he has maintained the same fitness level he had on December 24, instead of going back to how he started two months ago the first time around. He also remembers a lot of intricacies and battle plans that make him excel in class — something that must also be a holdover from his last go-around.
After training, Takeru meets up with Kouzuki again. He tells her that he intends to become base commander as quickly as possible, so he can be in a better position to help her make Alternative IV succeed. It seems that a lot of what Takeru is doing is based on instinct and following how his subconscious is leading him, since he hasn’t even been told yet what Alternative IV is. Kouzuki points out that even though this isn’t his original world, at some point he seems to have adopted it as his own and become intent on saving it. I have to wonder if his “previous self” just gave up all hope of ever returning to his original universe?
The Episode Ends on a Peaceful Note with a Compelling Flashback
At the end of the episode, he and Meiya have a one-on-one conversation where she tells him her philosophical viewpoint on nations. She talks about what she’s trying to protect, which gives him a flashback to an identical conversation that he had with her during the last timeline.
She wants to protect “this planet, the people of this land, and the country of Japan.” She said she wants to “protect the people, their hearts, their souls…” and she wants to defend their way of life. It’s her belief that these are the things that truly make up a country.
He has a flashback to some very dark moments, where he’s seeing people being torn away from their homes, a volcano erupting, and mechs standing by as people appear to be loaded onto some type of cargo ship. I think those are flashbacks to Alternative V being implemented, and perhaps quite a few of the people taken were children.
That’s when he tells Meiya that he plans to protect “Earth, and the entire human race.” It seems like a natural thing to say given the circumstances, but she acts like it’s profound. This also seemed to happen during his last conversation with Kouzuki. Some people have an almost reverent attitude toward him which doesn’t fully fit what we’ve seen so far.
All in all, I enjoyed the anime and felt like it painted an intriguing premise over the backdrop of a devastating apocalyptic invasion. While the animation isn’t on par with my favorite anime (Attack on Titan), it was nice enough to not be distracting. Attack on Titan left me expecting “big moments” at the end of episodes, but this episode ended in a nice, quiet way that served as a peaceful conclusion to an information-packed 22 minutes.