Muv-Luv Alternative Episode 4, “Comrades,” seemed to go at a steadier pace than last week’s episode, which felt like it rushed through a few parts. I’m still feeling some pretty strong Evangelion vibes while watching this, so it’s going to be interesting to see if anything resolves in an Evangelion-type of way. I also felt pretty validated when one of the characters admitted that people are almost reverent in how they respond to Shirogane Takeru. I was beginning to think it was unintentional, but maybe it’s not.
Friendly reminder: 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 4 review. It will have spoilers for the episode, but since it’s anime-focused only, it contains no visual novel spoilers.
The Episode Kicks Off with Attack on Titan Vibes
This latest episode didn’t move quite as fast as last week’s, but there were still a few moments that I had to go back and contemplate a bit to truly understand what happened. The episode begins right where last week’s left off, with the gang getting some well-deserved r&r at the ocean after passing their big test. That scene, along with Shirogane staring at the seashell in his hand, reminded me of Attack on Titan. This show has payed homage to the series before and I couldn’t help but wonder if this was another moment. (And yes, Attack on Titan’s manga was originally inspired by Muv-Luv’s visual novel. I just think that maybe Muv-Luv acknowledges that sometimes in certain anime scenes.)
After the intro, we’re back to a training session and, no surprise, Shirogane is outshining everyone else and breaking records left and right. In fact, they’re jumping ahead to training them on real TSFs (in this case, Type 94 Fubukis) early, which means that his plan to speed up their timeline a bit is working out well.
Kasumi Might Be My Favorite Character
My favorite scenes right now are the ones with Shirogane and Yashiro Kasumi (and the ones with him and Kouzuki.) So I’m glad when they bring Kasumi into the episode early when Shirogane gives her the seashell he found. She’s living a pretty sheltered life and isn’t even allowed to go outside for some reason. She just spends all day with that brain in a jar, which is really, really weird. (And also gives me strong “Rei from Evangelion” vibes.)
Meiya Has a Mysterious Background
In the next scene, the TSFs arrive along with a Takemikazuchi, which is an exclusive unit used by the Royal Guard. In this case, it’s for Meiya, who is apparently royalty herself. A few members of the royal guard, led by the green-haired Lt. Tsukoyomi Mana, are here to watch out for Meiya and make sure she has full access to her personal TSF. They’re all secretive about it, hinting about the “intentions” of a mysterious woman who called for Meiya to have the special TSF. (Later it’s indicated that it’s the shogun herself who wanted Meiya to have the TSF. I’m guessing Meiya is her daughter perhaps.)
These Royal Guard members are not to be trifled with. Tsukoyomi quickly lets Shirogane know that he’s using the name of a dead man. (Which must explain why Kouzuki said something in Episode 2 about wondering if Shirogane would think that “saying his name” to her would mean something to her.) Apparently, however, this was said to him in his last world too, leading Shirogane to believe that he only came to this world because he was able to replace a version of himself who already died.
There’s a really fast scene after that with some UN pilots demanding to know why the Royal Guard’s TSF is at their base. This is one of those scenes that I feel like the anime rushed through, since it’s not entirely clear why Shirogane is SO mad by what feels like an understandable question. Apparently there’s more tension with these UN personnel than I’m quite aware of. One of the UN personnel hits Shirogane, who wisely doesn’t fight back.
Marimo Says People Are ‘Drawn’ to Shirogane
After this, there’s an interesting scene with Shirogane and Jinguuji Marimo, who tells him that she’s decided to overlook the entire incident with the UN. She says his squad played a role in her decision, and then we have some weird flashes of scenes that don’t really mean much to me. I guess it’s showing the squad trying to convince her to not punish Shirogane?
I’m not even sure. It looks like Meiya is threatening her in one of those flashes. 🤷♀️
She then goes on to remind Shirogane that it takes groups to win fights, not individuals. But when she touches the bandage on his face, he has a flash of a memory with her from his previous world. (I’m just not sure if it was his last world or his original one.) They are obviously hinting that he had a romantic connection to her in a previous universe by the way she’s touching his face. But I feel like at this point like they’ve hinted that he’s had romantic connections with four or more women in this series. 🤷♀️ I mean, I don’t know, maybe there were five different parallel dimensions and he dated a different woman each time. 🤷♀️ But isn’t Marimo too old for him? I’m a little confused.
She tells him: “Something about you seems to draw people in, Shirogane.” And I finally feel vindicated. In last week’s review, I wrote: “Shirogane tries to motivate his team, but just like last week, he says something pretty mundane that — for some reason — is taken as being profound…” This happens all the time and someone is finally acknowledging that it’s unusual. There is more to Shirogane than just traveling parallel universe, I’m telling you.
Yashiro’s Drawing Was the Most Interesting Part of the Video Game Storyline
Then there’s a whole side story about Shirogane deciding that he wants the TSFs to operate more like video games, with cancels and combo moves. That part wasn’t super interesting to me (even though they spent a lot of time on it.) My husband says that he might have thought the same if he were operating a TSF, so there you go. It’ll definitely appeal to some people. 🙂
The most interesting part of that whole side plot was the flashback of him playing a game with Kagami Sumika. Yashiro Kasumi later wakes him up with a picture she’s drawn of his Game Guy, which is tech that most definitely does not exist in this world, but did exist in Kagami’s world. There’s definitely a connection between Kagami and Yashiro. Maybe Kagami did live on this military base, but she was killed when the BETA took over and her brain was one of the ones found beneath the base when it was finally freed again. 👀
It Looks Like the Timeline Is Changing
Shirogane isn’t often surprised, but he’s surprised again the next day when he learns the UN Undersecretary is visiting “tomorrow” for an inspection of the base. Instead of visiting after combat exercises start, he’s visiting before, which means the future is already changing. This means the “HSST is going to fall.” The animation makes it look like maybe a cloaked shuttle belonging to the military? Whatever it is, it could wipe out the entire base if it’s not dealt with, he warns. Kouzuki says it’s probably just “Alternative V advocates running out of patience with how things never seem to improve. I wonder if they want to bet it all on a suicide attack against Kaxgar or something?”
I’ll be honest. I’m not totally tracking what’s going on at this point. It seems like the HSST might be used to attack the very first BETA hive in an attempt to move Alternative V’s timeline up? It’s a little confusing, and I’m guessing this is where an anime-only is at a disadvantage.
Just in case it would help me, I searched “HSST” online and found that it can sometimes stand for “High Speed Surface Transport,” which isn’t the case here and didn’t help me at all. 🤦♀️
At the end of the episode, Shirogane learns that the base he’s at (Yokohama) was once a BETA hive that was later retaken. We actually learned that last week, but apparently Shirogane was unaware of that fact and he really loses his mind over it.
Get it? “Loses his mind?” On a show with brains in jars? Maybe his original self’s brain is in a jar somewhere on base after being killed by BETA. Now that would be interesting.
All in all, this was a pretty entertaining episode. I wonder how wrong all my theories are?