Muv-Luv Alternative ‒ Episode 5 by Global Anime

AbraxasNovember 5, 2021



It only took roughly a month, but the Muv-Luv Alternative anime has at last produced an episode that’s about what I had hoped for from this adaptation. Now I don’t want to make a blanket congratulations that the series overall has course-corrected with this one, broken clocks and all that. But this week’s episode at least shows that balancing all the appealing points of the series in presenting an entertaining half-hour story arc entry is possible. They even did so while maintaining the previous elements I knew I was on-board for! Look alive, established Muv-Luv fans, as this one has me that much closer to feeling like I Get It with this series.

Like under normal circumstances, I might shrug off this episode’s opening segment about Tamase’s dad coming to visit and the rest of the crew having to pretend she’s their Flight Commander as the stock sitcom story it is. And to be sure, its presentation runs into its own specific issues at the outset, the main of those being that this is the most focus Tamase has ever gotten, so trying to predicate a plot on what we know about her and the other characters’ established relationships with her really doesn’t work in this context. The initial overall effect is kind of like when you fire up a new mobile game and you’re going through the latest event stories, but you still have all the original character stories either locked or unread, so you feel like you’re not caught up on all the context. And maybe that metaphor was too obtuse for folks not immersed in that particular fandom, but hey, that’s basically the experience I’ve had watching Muv-Luv the past four weeks!

The actual good news is that the Muv-Luv anime does swivel around to using this segment to its advantage, providing a few funny little character interactions that at least let us spend a little time learning about the girls. There’s some personality here, which is the bare minimum I was asking for this far in. Sure, some of the odd asides make us wonder about the exact content of Tamase’s letters to her dad, but if all we manage to glean is that she’s a pathological liar, that’s something. That is more than we had. It would have been easy for the show to turn this incident into yet another glossed-over montage, but presenting it as a fully-scripted skit makes it feel more focal to the characters, while limiting it to only part of the episode means this kind of distraction which would otherwise be filler doesn’t overstay its welcome.

That’s a positive across this whole episode, really: That Muv-Luv, at least this go-around, seems to have figured out a solid rhythm to serving up the sequential story cutlets that form its broad, overarching narrative. Some of the sections work as bridges connecting previous parts of episodes with new story entries, while still being entertaining on their own. For instance, there’s a segment that’s ostensibly just Takeru having another conversation with Yuuko in her office about where the plot is at this moment. But the presentation really hones in on the toll the pressures of timeline-specific knowledge are starting to take on Yuuko’s scientifically-assured mind. Things are coming to a head for her in ways I’d almost like to see concretely from her perspective, even as Takeru’s reassurances of his faith in her continues to make effective use of him as a viewpoint character. His realization that he’s not much help for Yuuko in these efforts, as with what we get on the flight girls this week, proves more interesting character work than what we’ve been given in the past couple episodes.

Similarly, the vague background mystery involving Kasumi gets inched forward in ways I mostly appreciate for communicating the charms of the character and series more than Muv-Luv had previously. The sitcom stylings of the beginning of this one allow for setups of some actually-amusing quirky jokes, like Kasumi accidentally being ordered to clean the bathrooms, only for us to see she’s still dutifully doing so a couple scenes later. Kasumi has a fun little habit of just popping in and out of scenes this episode, letting her line up with one of Takeru’s surprisingly-poignant flashbacks of Sumika. I had found it pretty easy to guess earlier that Kasumi had something to do with the mysteriously-absent Sumika, by the way, but this episode did make me kick myself for not realizing sooner that their names were actually acronyms of each other.

So we’ve got fun segments and dramatic segments that economically cover story content without just glossing over it in ineffectual montage format, and this episode ends with a big mecha-battle scene that also includes a little character work? It’s not even my birthday! Granted, at this point it becomes apparent just why that intro segment trying to give us a baseline understanding of the girls’ personalities was necessary, since a showcase of their dynamics is a main point of this mock battle. As well, after all the time dumped into telling us about it last week, being shown the effectiveness of Takeru’s new OS in action is significantly more effective at selling us not just on its cool factor, but on how enjoyable the mecha element of Muv-Luv can be overall. There’s a real sense of dynamism brought on by the way the TSFs get to go all Red Comet here, including a cool continuous tracking shot of a multi-mecha melee, or glimpsing the action from first-person via a panicked Tamase’s perspective. Guess her teammates weren’t kidding when they said they’d get her back for the beginning of this episode! So yeah, I have no idea how it took the anime team this long to figure it out, but this week’s episode proved that a Muv-Luv adaptation as an episodic anime could work. Next week? Who knows!

Rating:




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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