I will admit that i am easily biased by what i see at the beginning of an anime. Sure, i have enough patience to give each and every anime (most actually, there are some genres i just can’t stand) that i come across the benefit of doubt before deciding that it is crap, but how an anime starts will decide when i see it. There are anime that i have been planning to watch for a year now but which i haven’t gotten to because of how unappealingly they began. I think anime needs to put its best foot forward in the very first episode; and then once we the viewers are hooked, it can do what it wants.
MUV LUV, despite the strange name, is one of those anime series that i will most likely never forget, because of a heart stopping first 3-5 episodes ( i am not sure). This is how anime should start. And besides Dead man wonderland and Guilty crown, no anime has ever captured my attention the way this did. Maybe dead man and guilty crown don’t even count, seeing as they put their best foot forward in the first episode and then mellowed out after that.
MUV LUV began slowly but then built up at a hurtling pace, not over one episode but over five. And that mattes because those five episodes were essentially the first episode, introducing to us the state of the world before we got down to the story. This wasn’t even the main story or the main protagonist, and most anime would have covered it all in the first episode and it would have been good. But MUV LUV did it better by making it a mini story before we got down to the main story. While this show was far from perfect, this beginning was indeed perfect and it gave the series a different light in my eyes, with the way it seemed to morph after the first five episodes. THIS IS HOW ANIME SHOULD START.
In 1973, earth is invaded by BETA, a vicious race of aliens discovered on the moon.and which display an intent to completely exterminate the human race.
Humanity falls back on the TSF, Tactical
Surface Fighters, mechs designed to defeat the belligerent force. However even with this great advancement
humanity is unable to defeat the BETA, only
managing to keep the monsters at bay while they conjure new strategies and weaponry. Thirty years later, the BTA threat has forced humanity to abandon several major continents and nations and the so called front line is ever shrinking as the BETA continue to push humanity to the brink of destruction.
Yui Takamura, a young girl, is a descendant of a long line of imperial guards; she enters the academy with an optimism to make a difference, give her all to protect the lives of her new teammates and finds time to go out, do some shopping and have fun in between training for that one moment, when class will end and she will finally be called into action at the front line, where no teacher or classmate will stand between her and the vicious monsters that are the BETA.
Yuuya Bridges is a half Japanese half American Elite TSF pilot for the USA. Despite his nationality he harbors a deep grudge and bias against all things Japanese and those weaklings that hail from the ancient nation. AS such he is enraged when ordered to partake in an elite United Nations research program under the
supervision of Elite Japanese pilot Yui Takamura.
Three years after the brutal war to defend the Eastern front lines, Yui Takamura was tasked to lead a special UN program in which the most brilliant TSF pilots would be gathered from all around the world to partake in a special program to develop next generation TSF weapons. Humanity is failing in its mission to defeat the BETA and it will take a new kind of TSF to turn the tide of battle and the program hopes that the elite pilots and scientists will overcome their differences to save mankind. But things are far from simple; beyond Yuuya’s utter distaste for Yui, his commanding officer and the counter productive consequences that result, are the underlying resentments that are brewing beneath the various strings that are moving the pieces that are the elite pilots gathered by the UN. Not everyone has mankind’s best interests at heart. Even if Yuuya can overcome his hate, he will have to swim against the current of political machinations that are manipulating events on the base.
The one criticism i have read about this show is how all over the place it is. You can’t really pin it down. One moment it is horror, then sci-fi, then romance and
several other genres mixed in. I don’t get the criticism though, because i believe this is what makes it so good, at least initially. ON the surface it doesn’t make sense why this would be worth watching. After all it is basically one long 24
episode training session. What i described above is exactly what happens. Pilots come to the base, try out new TSFs, help the researchers make adjustment and try to master the workings of the
new machines while trying to reveal more weaknesses and failings. The purpose is perfection and for that to happen, you have 6 or 8 pilots flying around aimlessly, fighting holographic aliens or simply trying to get the giant machines to walk.
It shouldn’t be that interesting yet it is, because you can’t really predict what will happen next. It keeps you on your feet, wondering what the next episode might be about. And that is because of how ‘all over the place' as they say, it is. Even the mini arcs that focus on telling the stories behind the pilots, their dark pasts and demons, somehow manage to keep things interesting. I am not really sure why, but it works. Nothing is ever too much. The gore is always just right, and the romance is never too much that it gets in the way and that is a pit many anime fall into.
They inundate the story with too much drama and romance and love triangles that it all ends up getting in the way. With MUV LUV there was never too much drama or romance or back story or aliens or unnecessary detail regarding the operation of the mechs. It is a perfect balance.
Another element of this series that impressed me was the antagonist, the BETA. It is rare to come across a series involving invading aliens or monsters that
have actually presented the level of threat that the BETA did in MUV LUV. An example is the angels in evangelion. Sure they were powerful and sure they could destroy the world. But i simply couldn’t feel the urgency or threat involved because events were always skewed against the heroes. First, the evas have always seemed so weak to me, probably the weakest mechs in all of anime. secondly ever time i watched Shinji getting his ass kicked, i couldn’t help but remember how untrained a pilot and useless as a human he was. As such in my mind it was always a matter of an average alien threat attacking an ill prepared victim.
The BETA in MUV LUV are clearly monsters. The TSFs are armed with canons, machines guns, rockets and an assortment of other weapons of mass destruction, but it was always so mindboggling how outclassed the human force was; the sheer numbers of the BETA was simply frightening. Swinging your eyes away from the shiny, fully armed giants robots, you would look over the horizon as the thousands upon thousands of armored ‘things’ poured over the land, and you couldn't help but feel that fear revealed in the trembling of the pilots. It was a threat that made every battle exhilarating and frightening. I have mentioned that the reason i love claymore is that it feels like the battle field is leveled and at any time anyone, both good and evil could drop dead without bias. The heroes are not magically immune as is always the case in most anime, which only raises the stakes.
MUV LUV brings this to their fights; even tucked away within powerful mechs, anyone can die at any time, because no matter how advanced the TSFs are, they can be ripped apart in mere moments,
and the death will be gruesome gruesome. Most shows of this nature will have their fights focus in on the difficulties of keeping the enemy at bay, especially when a new hybrid alien enters the fray. With MUV LUV, it comes down to how fast you can get away, because survival is as good a victory as winning. Because the BETA come like water and they wash everything away. Finding yourself flanked or behind enemy lines and chances are you are already dead. There is a tension that as added to each fight as a result and as such I loved the action in this show. This is how an alien human battle should be, this is how aliens intending on wiping humanity away should act; not hiding away in their fortresses making plans but charging continuously and tirelessly, wearing down the human spirit.
The characters will keep the show going when things get slow. They each have a story to tell and a reasons they are fighting as well as the struggles they encounter with their new positions in the program. After all they trained for years to become, not competent pilots, but the best of the very best so as to annihilate BETA and protect their homes. Yet the best of the best are safe at a UN base, spending their days eating good food, sleeping on warm beds and fighting holographic aliens while their less skilled brethren struggle at the front lines. It is a conundrum that baffles many, the point of being so strong yet living a good life far from the war while others die. The anime has many of them question their privileges and the rights they have. More disturbing is the antagonistic attitudes of those soldiers they meet or have to assist on rare occasions at the front lines, soldiers that reject their assistance, despite them and debase their roles as true soldiers, instead dubbing them cowards that hide while they fight. It is more that wounded pride that haunts them, that prevents them from
fighting back against the sometimes physical abuse; that they believe they deserve it.
What baffles me sometimes is the politics behind the curtain that will sometimes creep into the primary characters’ lives. It is obvious that humanity is facing a great threat, yet so many characters fight not for the world but their own nations. All nations fight to defeat the BETA. But some nations are thinking further ahead and seek not to defeat the BETA, but to defeat them in a way that will see to it that they benefit and gain power. They will lie cheat and even sabotage anything and everything, be it human or technological, that might possess an opportunity to turn the tide and defeat the BETA if it credits any other nation other than their own, especially if they consider it an enemy,
Which is another baffling thing, that some of these nations would consider other nations enemies, fighting silent and secret wars against them, in the face of a threat that could wipe out all of humanity. It probably baffled me because it isn’t that ludicrous, that persons out their would choose their own selfish ends over humanity. I could see it happening now, that, if an alien invasion occurred, their would be those that would prioritize their own nations over the world. Humanity is that crazy. While infuriating in some cases (basically sabotaging themselves) it makes for good drama among some of the main characters, who would prioritize their mother nations over the world and the group and would not swear fealty to anything, not the UN, not their comrades, not the world, that doesn’t align its interests with theirs. It is fascinating madness.
MY RATING:> 3/5; only guilty crown infuriates me more than MUV LUV. With guilty crown i thought it lied to me with its first episode, promising greatness but giving me the very opposite. Actually i probably hate guilty crown because it had the potential to be great but was so unfortunately predicable and clichéd in its plot. With MUV LUV, i was disappointed with how events turned out in the second half. I absolutely loved the first 12-14 episodes of this show. They were everything i wanted in an anime, not perfect but really really really good. The second part was however very
disappointing. I am not even sure why. And i spent a good 3 months anticipating the second part after wrapping up the first. But it was nothing like i remembered it. This show had a bombastic premier, it should have been great; Yuuya was irritating yet understandable and likable, Yui was mysterious and awesome as an elite pilot in her golden samurai type TSF, the white haired sisters were both creepy and appealing, Russia and its insidious plans kept things rolling, the BETA were menacing; everything was as it should be. Then the second part came around and it simply…wasn’t.
That doesn’t infuriate me the way guilty crown did. I have a special kind of dislike for that anime. But none the less it is an anime i would recommend for all mecha fans. The story is intriguing, the characters are a fun bunch and the action is intense. And the second part wasn’t bad. I only voice disappointment because i wanted the show to be perfect and it failed at the halfway mark. At least it will be an anime i will remember and that’s saying something. At times i will flip threw the anime i am in possession of and so many of the titles that i come across will sound foreign to me, so much so that i will have to check them out to remind myself of what they are. I am still trying to remember what an anime titled soul link is about, yet i am quite sure i watched. MUV LUV i will definitely remember