Muv-Luv Alternative Episode 7, “Promise,” continued last week’s faster-paced, higher quality storytelling. We learned a lot about the Alternative programs this week, but quite a few questions were still left unanswered.
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 7 review. It will have spoilers for the episode, but since it’s anime-focused only, it contains no visual novel spoilers.
I Hope We See More of Shirogane’s First World
This week spent a little more time in Shirogane’s original world, which I was really glad to see. It was just a taste of what his world was like, but I’m truly interested in seeing more. In this brief scene, he got to see Sumika again. Thanks to a commenter on last week’s review, I’ve learned that I wasn’t missing something huge when I thought that Shirogane had viewed Sumika as a little sister, and I was surprised to learn they were in love. The anime really hadn’t fleshed that out as well as the visual novels, so my surprise was understandable. (Thank you for the comment!)
Shirogane stumbles into a moment in history where he and Sumika had planned to have dinner together at his place. He’s revisiting his past, and jumping back into his past-self, falling right into what was happening in his universe before he left. That’s one reason why Kouzuki had told him to only talk to her and no one else — she didn’t want him changing his world very much from how he left it. Yet, it’s understandable that he can’t resist just a moment of talking with Sumika. What isn’t understandable is why he starts rambling about his real-life mission instead of just playing along. But I guess he’s just really flustered and shaken up to see her again after all these years of being apart.
When he returns to his BETA world, he’s more determined than ever to save it so he can go back home for good. But once again, Yashiro Kasumi passes out from how much his trips drain her. Kouzuki tells Shirogane that she’s critical to Alternative IV, whatever exactly that is. And that’s when we get a beautiful info dump cluing us in a little more about what all of that means.
We Finally Get the Background on the Alternative Plans
Kouzuki explains that the original Alternative Plan was meant to help humans learn to communicate with the BETAs (which makes perfect sense.) In 1958, extraterrestrial life with the ability for interplanetary travel was discovered on Mars. Earth put together a group of zoologists, linguists, mathematicians, and cryptographers to figure out how to communicate with it. They came up short — not even able to prove the aliens used any kind of language at all — so their plan was ended.
In 1967, the Sacrobosco Incident happened. They encountered the BETA on the moon! (I have a feeling there was more to this than they shared in the anime.)
At this point, as an anime-only, I am a little confused as to why the BETA aliens on Mars all look the same, and the BETA aliens on the moon all look the same too, but also different. In contrast, the BETA on Earth all have different appearances. Were the BETA originally steering clear of Earth because it was inhabited and they didn’t decide to invade until they were captured?
The very next year in 1968, Alternative II was launched, which also had the goal of communicating with the BETA. But they tried to achieve this by capturing the BETA and studying their physiology. They learned the BETA were adapted to any hostile environment and had no digestive or reproductive systems.
In 1973, the BETA invasion of Earth began.
Alternative III was designed to artificially create humans who could read BETA’s thoughts through ESP. The Soviets found people with the most psychic power and intermarried them so they could create people with even stronger ESP abilities. Those with the best abilities were mass-produced and enhanced, Kouzuki says. They can perceive thoughts as images and emotions as colors.
We learn that Yashiro Kasumi is one of these artificial beings. (So many shades of Evangelion here — I’m just saying.) Her race can translate these images into words, but they could only read BETA if they were close to them, which led to many being transferred to Hive-breaching missions, where the majority died. BETA were discovered to be sentient, but don’t believe humans are a form of life at all. That’s literally all they could learn.
We Finally Talk About that Brain-in-a-Jar Again
They also tried to send a message of peace to the BETA. So far, the BETA have not responded in any way. So Alternative IV’s goal is to complete the 00 Unit, Kouzuki explains. (This is literally the most we’ve heard about the whole thing yet in the anime.) Supposedly it’s going to help humanity win against the BETA, but Kouzuki refuses to explain to Shirogane what it is. (Ugh.) Shirogane finally asks what the deal is with the brain (which I’ve been wanting to know this entire time), and she won’t tell him that either. 🙁
I have three theories about this brain. The darkest theory is that it’s Sumika’s brain from this universe and that’s why she doesn’t exist around here. Another super dark theory is that it’s Shirogane’s brain from this universe. Either way, that would explain (maybe) why Kasumi knows so much about Shirogane.
If neither of those, then maybe it’s a BETA brain that she’s trying to communicate with.
It could be any of the above and Unit 00 is going to end up housing that brain. (!)
I think whatever the truth is about that brain, it’s going to be dark.
Kasumi wakes up and see Shirogane leafing through her notebook, so she runs away in embarrassment. Then Kouzuki has an odd conversation with Shirogane telling him that he needs to go after Kasumi and spend time with her on his days off. It’s almost like she’s telling him to go flirt with her, which I find weird, but OK. 🤷♀️ We still don’t know why she’s so similar to Sumika, except that she’s been reading Shirogane’s thoughts and modeling her behavior after the girl he’s in love with. Which is creepy, but … yeah…
There’s a weird scene next where a bunch of people in suits are talking about how the preparations are complete, but some think they should wait. Earthquakes have been tied to volcanic activity in the Chubu region, and they imperial government is debating how to respond. They’re likely going to force another evacuation, and the people will continue to suffer.
One person says, “It only underlines the righteousness of our cause,” while the animation focuses in on a man with glasses holding a sword. He announces that “they” are “beyond redemption at this point.” I’m not exactly sure who this man is. I don’t think this is Mikoto’s dad, Yoroi, because he wasn’t wearing glasses last week. I’m guessing maybe this is the anti-Alternative faction?
After this odd scene, Kasumi and Shirogane hang out the next day. Shirogane has to tell her that she doesn’t have to do the same actions she saw Sumika doing in his memories (he doesn’t outright say this, but it’s what he’s addressing.) He takes her outside to play some games, build their friendship, and show her the ocean. He basically has to teach her about basic human interactions and what things like nostalgia mean, which once again reminds me so much of Rei from Evangelion. Even though they keep hinting at it, I really don’t think there’s anything romantic between these two. I think he’s just building his bond with her so that he has lifeline back whenever he visits his homeworld. (And she elicits a bit of nostalgia in him for Sumika.)
In the next scene, we see the group watching a news report about a disaster relief squadron being sent to help after major earthquake and volcano activity. In his previous timeline, he was part of the group sent to render aid, but that didn’t happen this time. Meiya takes issue with how pleased Shirogane seems about the news. She reminds him that the evacuation is just going to cause the people to lose their source of livelihood and, thus, isn’t going to do much good in the end anyway.
“The only people a forced evacuation benefits are the government and military,” she tells Shirogane.
But Shirogane disagrees. He thinks the soldiers are endangering themselves too. But Meiya won’t have it. She says they aren’t using their power justly. But Shirogane believes she shouldn’t be focused on this right now when they’re focused on trying to stop humanity from being wiped out.
Ayamine Kei walks in on their argument and seems completely stunned by it. She turns and runs away. This is another part that was confusing to me. I’m not surprised that random political debates are breaking out right now (and Meiya and Shirogane’s reminded me of some pandemic debates I’ve been hearing over the last couple of years.) But Ayamine’s reaction really confused me. I think this is another visual novel thing that I’m missing out on.
Shirogane finds that she dropped a litter marked “inspected” as she ran away, and she has a whole bunch of them in her room. That’s when he discovers (and she confirms) that she’s a member of the Anti-Alternative faction.
The episode ends with us seeing that guy in glasses marching somewhere with a group of similarly dressed people with him.
So, at this point I can tell that I’m missing a few things due to not reading the visual novels. I have no idea who this man in glasses is (or maybe he was introduced in an earlier episode and I forgot about him.) So I’m guessing there was a bigger impact that last scene should have had, but I missed it. Also, I imagine if you were really invested in the visual novels, then the unveiling of Ayamine’s true loyalty would have been shocking. However, since Shirogane’s gang wasn’t deeply fleshed out in the anime, I’m not feeling a lot of emotion about this revelation.
Despite all this, however, I’m still really enjoying this anime. I think it’s definitely more interesting over the last couple of episodes, and it’s picking up the pace. I’ll still be watching next week to see what happens next.