Recap: Major Christopher takes control of the Scarlet Twins and tries to use them to stop Yui and Yuuya. After the dust settles from the final battle, the Shiranui project is finished and changes loom for Argos Test.
Jel’s Thoughts: I had this one wrong as I thought we were going the full 26 with Total Eclipse, not that I’m complaining we got this over with a week earlier than expected. Naturally the final episode was a little underwhelming, but I suppose I will take “not terrible” as a win with this series.
The episode was basically broken into two parts, the first wrapping up the battle to prevent Red Shift followed by a little bit of epilogue. The last battle with the Scarlet Twins looked cool for as short as it was, but ended with some of the thickest Plot Armor the show has ever used. Even now I’m not entirely clear who stabbed who, I guess it was Inia who got hit? Either way, if a huge blade on a giant robot draws blood, SOMEONE should be dead, but that is pretty much on par with how Total Eclipse has worked until now.
Even more troublesome than that is the epilogue, which leaves things dangerously open for the story to continue. Our Mysterious Big Bad Guy is left unidentified and completely off the hook, meaning nothing was ultimately resolved. And of course the final scene ends with our two heroines FINALLY admitting they both have feelings for Yuuya, leaving the romance aspect open ended as well. Would Satelight go another round with a series that already got 25 episodes and a reception that’s been mixed at best? Rumor has it that this was basically a set up to get us ready for the real Muv Luv universe which would probably make more sense. For now we are just left with an inconclusive ending to a mediocre series.
Jel: If you’ve been reading my weekly coverage you can probably tell what I’m going to say here. Total Eclipse has a lot of great pieces to work with. Even knowing nothing about the Muv Luv universe, I was totally on board with their alternate version of history. The idea of a world socially stunted (but technologically evolved) by a massive alien invasion left plenty of room for intense action, political intrigue and human drama. Even at a base, lowest common denominator level of entertainment, Total Eclipse is full of hot women and robots. It was pretty much impossible to get this one wrong and yet, somehow, they did.
Of all those elements it’s the action episodes that fare better than the rest, the main problem not being execution but the fact that they’re way too few and far between. Total Eclipse opens with an intense flashback of Yui’s final days in Japan, depicting the great loss and horrors of war that would go on to shape her destiny. After that, there’s really only two major battles dotted in between the flat, drawn out attempts at character building. Each battle plays out well with some cool action scenes and a real sense of dread, that is until you realize the aliens they’re fighting look like ET design rejects and the cast is completely invincible. Still, building up for intense battles and some cool action scenes were Total Eclipse’s high points.
Beyond that, the series fails in all the other categories. The new Geo-political makeup of the world is pretty interesting, with intriguing shifts of power like the remains of the U.S.S.R. being pushed into Alaska. Rather than explore the ramifications of such a move however, we barely even know it happens until it is briefly mentioned in the recap episode of all places. You could chalk up much of the racial tension and stereotyping of the multinational cast to the setting, but it’s so poorly written it’s hard to say when it’s intentional or not. And as far as human drama, I could barely remember anyone’s name let alone care about what happens to them. Any attempts at looking at their motivations or ambitions are told with the most clinical, dull dialogue that it’s impossible to take them seriously.
Which brings me to the so called “romance” aspects of the story. For about 80% of the series, Total Eclipse demands to be taken very seriously. Yet somehow, they still find a way to try and become a harem comedy by the final third of the series. I would be OK with this so long as the main triangle of Yuuya, Yui and Cryska had some weigh to it, but that is far from the case. Other than being attractive adults of the opposite sex, there’s absolutely no relationship established between any of them, and yet the show tries to sell you on it as some great, sweeping romance. All they can do is turn Yui and Cryska, who are established as strong, authoritative women, into quivering messes at the mere thought of Yuuya looking at them. Even if you just want to throw the girls in there for eye candy they still ruin that somehow, making the fan service moments as awkward and creepy as possible. I’m not afraid of flashing some skin, but the few times they do it’s usually a result of men in authority abusing their power. I imagine some people might be into that, but it didn’t sit well with me at all.
I’d love to share more positives with you but to be honest I don’t have anything else I can say. Total Eclipse totally squanders an intriguing setting that should have been a slam dunk. Instead we got mediocre writing, poor direction and a complete dearth of the few things it did right. Despite all that, there are signs we could end up with more, whether it’s a continuation of this story or the main body of the Muv Luv universe. And I will probably watch it, not because I like the abuse, but because I know the elements are there to make something worthwhile. For now though, I’m happy I can be done with this series and hope whoever does continue on will learn from its mistakes.