Let me remind you that I am not a closet mecha fan. Despite over the years I have been watching a handful of mecha themed series, this doesn’t mean that I am a mecha fan. The reason why I watched Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse is because I read despite having mecha elements, it has some romance elements. Besides, it is based on a visual novel and with adult elements. You can see where this is going, right? It is only later that I realized that this anime adaption isn’t really of the original Muv-Luv works but one of its sequels or alternate worlds. A big misconception I had about this being a romance or harem series was my experience with Infinite Stratos. Instead of kids in an academy with mecha for sports, we have young adults from all over the world fighting real menacing aliens with their lives on the line. Amidst the chaos and disorder, romance can still blossom. And so I thought. Romance, yes there is. But it’s not what I hope for it would develop like in Infinite Stratos.

A race of dangerous aliens has drove mankind to the near brink of extinction. To counter these alien threats, giant armed mecha robots have been developed as man’s final defence against them. Of course it isn’t as easy as it seems since you need trained pilots, supplies and lots of other preparations just to go into war. This series focuses on a group of test pilots in a new development project to create the most effective mecha and weapon against the aliens. Their bonds and relationship tested through testing times. Of course the aliens won’t be just the enemy. We all know too well the biggest enemy is our own kind. It’s tough being human…

Episode 1
As narrated, mankind’s first contact with extra-terrestrial beings started in 1967. However they were hostile. Termed as BETA (Being of Extra Terrestrial origin which is an Adversary of the human race), mankind used all they had against BETA but that did not stop them from reaching Earth. Fast forward to 1997 and in the imperial capital of Japan, Kyoto, high school girl Yui Takahashi and her friends are budding pilots of Tactical Surface Fighters (TSF) who will one day help defend their nation and the world against the charge of BETA. As students of the Imperial Guard Training Academy, life seems pretty normal for these high school girls. Yui has an uncle in the Imperial Army whom she respects and he has returned shortly for a visit. Eiji Iwaya gives her some advice since she will soon start her live training and to be patient. They need all the good TSF fighters they can get if they are to prevent BETA from overwhelming their beautiful nation. Yui and her friends start practising on how to pilot TSF and she even had a rival-turned-friend. A fatal accident soon demoralizes some of them. Reports come in that BETA have invaded the Korean Peninsula and are on the verge of advancing to the Japanese islets. In a blink of an eye, they came. One of Yui’s friends become devastated when her boyfriend is killed in action. A big evacuation is ordered as Kyoto becomes the final defence line. Yui and her other trainee friends may have no combat experience so they are tasked to defend the temporary supply base. However the BETA scout group are advancing fast and closing in on the base so it’s time to scramble.

Episode 2
The trainees employ what they learn in training but reality is often a different case. You don’t learn it in classes. So when one by one Yui’s friends gradually gets taken out, the situation becomes crazier. They become desperate. Attacks become too great. The base has fallen. It’s no use trying to hold BETA back as their numbers are increasing. As they make a run, they are still not safe because Laser type BETAs are firing at them and they need to hover as close to the ground. The artillery support from the battleships gives them some reprieve. But when their base instructor is taken out, Yui is left to assume control and leadership on what’s left of her teammates. Kyoto has fallen and overrun by BETA. Yui and friends continue their run when their training instructor shows up in response to their SOS signal. He makes his last stand against BETA so that the girls can escape. However they crash into a giant BETA. When Yui regains consciousness, she gets out of her cockpit to see one of her friends being devoured by Soldier type BETAs. Another friend is trapped in a cockpit and the BETAs are trying to pry it open. She yells to Yui to shoot her but she can’t and misses all her shots. Unfortunately her friend got eaten alive. She is about to share the same fate when a Takemikazuchi type TSF flies in to easily destroy all the BETAs around her. She passes out. When she wakes up in a makeshift hospital, the entire surrounding is decimated. She wonders when the living stopped counting the dead. Is the world walking to the path of extinction? But when she sees a newborn baby amidst the countless corpses, she emotionally breaks down and perhaps there is still hope. Three years later, Yui has hardened up and now the rank of lieutenant in the Imperial Army. She is on her way to Alaska and vows to reject extinction, never to cry like that again.

Episode 3
Americans Yuuya Bridges and Vincent Lowell are on their way to Yukon base in Alaska. Along the way, their plane got caught in a mock battle between hot headed TSF pilots. Yuuya’s quick thinking saves the plane from collision. Yuuya meets his other fellow test pilots of Argos Flight. Swedish Stella Bremer, Nepalese Tarisa Manandal and Italian Valerio “VG” Giacosa. Also on this XFJ Project are Yui, Captain Ibrahim Dogulu from Turkey and Professor Frank Heinemann, the technical advisor of Boening Corp. This project is to help improve the Japanese military’s type 94. Yuuya notices the nations involved in this project are all those who had their country lost to BETA. Their first test to get to know each other is a mock combat. Hot headed Tarisa didn’t like Yuuya as the unit’s leader as he has never been in the front lines like the rest. You can see her clashing with him very often. It’s like she has a big problem. Little girl got a set of big egos, I guess. The mock combat begins with Yuuya-Stellar against Tarisa-VG. Tarisa is so bent on teaching Yuuya a lesson that she forgot all about teamwork and her team lost. The test pilots become good friends at the end of the simulation. Yuuya bumps into Yui and he thought she was amazed by his skill. However to his surprise, she calls him a disappointment.

Episode 4
Yuuya has a hard time controlling his Japanese TSF because of the different philosophies between their countries. So it’s like Yuuya and Yui are on an eternal warpath of arguing. In a simulation fighting BETA, Yuuya is still unable to get used to the controls and slows everyone down and even had them come to cover him. Yuuya complains about the toughness to handle the TSF so Yui shoots him down he lacks talent. On his way back, he meets a little Russian girl, Inia Sestina who seems happy to meet him. She brings him back to her base to meet her family member. It’s Misha. Her teddy bear. However Inia’s partner, Cryska Barchenowa and other Russian personal apprehend Yuuya, thinking he is a spy. Yuuya remembers how his maternal grandpa accusing his mom for marrying a Japanese. He believed he used and threw her away but mommy insisted there Japanese have their good points too. Because Yuuya has half Japanese blood, he is shunned by other kids. Yuuya is on the verge of undergoing Russian style interrogation when some higher ups pulled some strings to get him out of his predicament (think Yui). His test pilots friends (since when is Tarisa so friendly with Yuuya?) come to retrieve him. Once again, Yuuya and Yui are in another argument. Yui explains from his painful past about the unpredictability of BETA and thanks to them, they get to ‘play in training exercises’. Meanwhile Inia takes a bath with Cryska who tells her never to meet Yuuya again. Because they both are the only family they need.

Episode 5
Yuuya still isn’t getting much improvement. On another training simulation, Yuuya chances upon Idar Flight’s Scarlet Twins who are made up of Inia and Cryska. Inia is happy to see him though Cryska doesn’t want him to intrude into their practice zone. More clashes between Yuuya and Yui. He brands the Japanese TSF a piece of junk. He accuses her of ignoring the test pilot and refuses to let anyone die in the TSF he tested. Yui advises him with a Japanese saying that a man and his horse should be one. But since anything she says won’t matter to him, she just walks away. The test pilots chill out at a diner. Tarisa is close friends with the waitress Natalie Duclert from France. Natalie forces Tarisa to dress in a cat maid outfit. Yuuya learns everyone here hates BETA because they lost their country or family to those aliens. Who doesn’t? Yuuya thinks harder as Vincent imparts his advice of the differently built TSF from both America and Japan. Vincent also hints Yuuya to hit on Yui. In another mock battle against BETA, Yuuya this time lets his TSF take control instead of forcing to control it. Then a Takemikazuchi type TSF from the Imperial Army appears. They think Yui wants to hog to spotlight. She easily takes everyone out and Yuuya challenges her to a fight if she hates him that much. Then he pulls off a movement that he himself is surprised. Is this what being one with the machine is all about? Yuuya defeats Yui. He now seems to understand his TSF as his partner and feels they can go to greater heights. Yui is also pleased with the outcome.

Episode 6
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. So it seems in addition to performing tests in tropical environment, they also have R&R to boost crew morale. Yeah, swimsuit beach episode. Anyway VG wants to go peep on the ladies. Yuuya declines his invitation. Instead, he ‘warns’ the ladies about somebody suspicious. Wise move. VG got busted. Tarisa starts arguing with Inia when the latter comments she is weak. So the instructor decides to settle this fight via competition. Initially Inia and Tarisa got paired together in a boat race. Since Inia is too scared of the ocean (clinging onto a coconut tree?), Cryska agrees to take her place. Similarly, Yui volunteers so Tarisa leaves it to her. What the hell? While paddling, Yuuya spots Cryska unconscious and jumps to their boat. As a storm is approaching, they paddle to the nearest remote island. If Cryska is out cold is already a handful to carry, Yui’s leg is injured but decides to play heroine and suck it up like as though it is nothing. Eventually Yui orders Yuuya to take Cryska to a cave on higher ground and will catch up later. She falls asleep and has a nightmare of her old friends getting devoured by BETA. Yuuya makes it back to pick up Yui (who made no progress in advancing). She continues to put up a tough façade and chides him for abandoning someone unconscious. Just shut up and let him carry you! Maybe it’s just me or do I sense some jealousy when Yui asks why Yuuya calls Cryska by her first name. When he was captured, her comrades addressed her by that name and naturally he calls her that. Yuuya thought she suspects him of leaking info to the Soviets but she denies and declines to further elaborate. When Yuuya goes to check the boat, Cryska wakes up she wants to ask Yui a question. She wants to know about Yuuya because he interests her. Cat fight coming up?

Episode 7
I guess Yui manages to avoid answering by telling Cryska to ask him herself. Yuuya returns to relay the bad news that their boat has been washed away. Yuuya wants to go gather woods and allows Cryska to accompany him thinking this is a chance for her to ask Yuuya privately. She asks about his opinion on Inia because this has never happened before as Inia thinks a lot about him. Cryska couldn’t understand why Yuuya always fights with Yui since they’re both Japanese but Yuuya disagrees and asserts he is American. When Cryska starts to feel pain and collapses, Yuuya catches her. Cryska reveals she is afraid of the sea. Just like Inia, they have never seen a real one up close and it scares them. Ironically when she is piloting inside a TSF, she is fine. Guess what? Yui comes to check on them and sees this ambiguous scene. Not good. Back in the cave, Yuuya is clueless why there is such high tension between the women. After Yui pretends to go to sleep, Yuuya reveals his father left the family before he was born. That’s why his maternal grandpa has a strong distrust for Japanese. Cryska thinks he is lucky to have parents because she herself doesn’t know hers. They are saved when the search party finds them. As penalty, the ladies are to parade in their swimsuit. I don’t know why Inia got it too but the Scarlet Twins are already flaunting in it. Get ready your cameras and camcorders! Yui finally unveils hers. While Yuuya’s teammates wonder if anything happened between them, Inia wonders if Cryska would like to be Yuuya’s friend. Not interested. Maybe lover? Just kidding.

Episode 8
After the sun and sandy beaches, the project now shifts to the cold and icy frontiers of Kamchatka. No fun. The goal of this joint exercise is to test Type 94 and Active Eagle TSFs and also a new prototype weapon developed by Japan called Type 99 EM Radiation Cannon. Later Yui brings Yuuya to see the railgun that he will be testing. Guaranteed to pack enough power. She reveals some dispute before the scheduling exercise. Some international deal being made backdoor and with no chance the trials to be called off, all they can do is make sure the people sent out come back alive. She adds if he thinks the weapon is slowing him down, feel free to discard it. Yuuya notes how she was pressured to reveal her country’s top secret weapon. But if it’s successful and approved, it will be mass produced and standard equipment worldwide. She doesn’t want to lose Type 94 and more importantly him (as a talented test pilot, that is). He assures he trusts her combat data and will bring it back without a scratch. Cryska and Inia are being bullied by their fellow comrades. Cryska doesn’t understand why they are doing this since they are the same. They dismiss that because there is a difference between Soviet and Russians. While Scarlet Twins are the elite of Russia, these kids are from the other conquered nations of Soviet and are usually the ones sent to the front lines of the battlefield. They are going to rape them when Yuuya happens to be nearby and heard the commotion. He comes to their rescue but the kids now resort to weapons. Till their commander Fikatsia Latrova and her adjutant, Nastassja Ivanova enters to tell them to return and do maintenance check. She even tells off Yuuya to know his place. The next wave of BETA is arriving as everyone sits in the briefing for their next mission. Argos Flight will be paired with some aces of Soviet’s Zhar Battalion. Guess who that ace is? Yup. Lieutenant Colonel Latrova.

Episode 9
After Latrova briefs them, she tells the Argos Flight they can do all the live fire they want from the rear as long as they don’t get in their way. Later, the Soviet kids once more surround Cryska and Inia. This time Cryska isn’t weak and is able to turn the tables on them. Because Yuuya happen to pass by again, the kids put off their bullying and run away. Yuuya is surprised with Cryska’s cold behaviour especially when she tells him she doesn’t want his blood to stain their motherland’s soil. All units are on standby to engage the incoming BETA. Yuuya seems to be nervous. This is his first battle. The Soviet kids continue to mock him. When the first wave of BETA hits shore, they realize there aren’t enough tanks in the frontlines. At this rate, too many BETAS will pass through. Yui wants this operation to be called off but Lieutenant Jerzy Sandek refuses viewing that this is their best chance to test their prototype. Even if it means many will die. Latrova and her aces get into the fray and strut their stuff but this isn’t enough as the BETA numbers are increasing and making ground. Yui wants to call from reinforcements but Sandek also refuses. Flashback reveals the Soviet higher ups plan to fail the railgun testing and also sacrifice Latrova’s battalion while at it. Yuuya wants to fire the railgun but notes the friendlies will get hit too. Noticing a BETA wave flanking the mechanized infantry and in danger of getting wiped out, he wants Latrova to fall back. However there is no retreat order. You’re not going to wait for that, aren’t you? Latrova trusts Yuuya’s confidence that he is going to save them and orders her troops to pull out. Once the coast is clear, Yuuya powers up his railgun and that single shot blows every single BETA to smithereens!!! WOAH!!! FANTASTIC!!! It’s a sea of blood!!! No BETA survivors! Super cool!

Episode 10
Yuuya returns to a hero’s welcome but the Soviet kids can still run their mouth despite their TSFs are in bad condition. Yuuya realizes they are right because all he did was fired a shot while they did the fighting upfront. As Yui commends him, Yuuya wants to test Type 94’s melee combat. He wants to improve this TSF and can only do so when he feels his life is on the line. Later Latrova meets Yuuya to give her thanks. Despite Yuuya being humble, Latrova says his immaturity is clouding his eyes from the bigger picture. Yuuya admits he wasn’t a hero and can’t see the big picture but what about her? Had she delayed her decision and wait for orders that will never come, that’s no different, right? She lets him off with an advice: If he can’t take it all, decide what to abandon. That is his fight. Yuuya asks about the discrimination between Soviets and Russians. She explains Cryska and Inia’s position as the privileged so the conquered nations won’t be happy if they just walk around the base like their own. Don’t Americans have their own discrimination too? On a side note, Latrova is Russian. Yui ponders if she had made the right decision of taking Japan’s top secret to Russia and in the end just slowed down Yuuya. Another wave of BETA is coming. However Type 99 TSFs are somehow offline and can’t be rebooted. Others are under maintenance (including the railgun). There is a debate whether to send Yuuya out to test Type 94’s melee combat effectiveness. Yui decides to take over Yuuya in this next battle but since Heinemann is the one sponsoring this and his company building the TSFs, he has the final say and has Yuuya and the rest of Argos Flight get close range data. Latrova is in a briefing with her crew as she worries about her missing son, hoping somebody is training him to keep death away. All units engage in the next wave of BETA and surprisingly this wave, remnants of the previous battle is easier to deal with. Yui gets permission to go do her job so she leaves for the hangar. Suddenly the ground shakes and a large number of BETAs is detected approaching the base via underground.

Episode 11
The other battalions are surprised to receive command from the Soviet counterparts to cease their test and remain on standby. During the standby, the Argos Flight members take a swipe back at Ivanova. Something about the last time BETA attacked this place, they drilled through the ground. So the reason why they suddenly popped up without being detected is because they’ve been using the same holes. Yup. The underground tunnels are not sealed and why was that? Did they screw up or was it left alone deliberately? Sandek agrees for everyone to evacuate and that his Soviet battalion will buy them time. Seems they are going to abandon this base. Because there are no Laser type BETAs this time, they can use the bombers to bomb the large group of BETA once they get deep into the land. Ibrahim wants to save the railgun but Sandek says they have no means to carry something that big out of the base. He reasons once the war is over, he can come back and salvage it. Ibrahim knows something is fishy. Could it be that the Soviet wants to obtain the railgun? Anyhow he orders all the personnel working on the XFJ Project (the railgun) to evacuate and hides a secret code in his order. Yui is on her way to the hangar and picks up Vincent along the way. All communications from the base are cut. Based on Ibrahim’s order via loudspeaker, they also feel something is suspicious. They deduce the Soviets want the railgun because this way, they won’t make enemies out of the UN and how they wanted to send Yuuya away so badly (so he can’t take the railgun with him). So Yui is on her way to make it self destruct as she only knows the code. She drops Vincent off with the classified data.

Several Soviet officers are waiting to escort Yui out. She quickly enters her self destruct code but it was rejected. She tells the officers the self destruction will have a wide 2km radius and it’s best to get away as far as possible. As the helicopter lifts off, Yui jumps off giving excuse she forgot something. I guess she lied. She sees a mechanic, Yamamoto hiding in the place and managed to escape from being evacuated. They work on destroying the railgun manually. Latrova questions the orders of defending an empty base so a higher up commander confirms it as a true order. Of course she also senses something amiss since she knows the BETA is using the same path in their attack. Like as though the Soviets didn’t learn a thing from that battle which took a heavy toll on them. Latrova’s battalion leaves for their coordinates with Argos Flight staying put. Tarisa had the liberty looking through Ivanova’s log and discovered something important that wasn’t briefed during the mission. Stella thinks this entire situation was a setup and was deliberately kept hidden from them. A couple of evacuation helicopters head their way and on board one of them is Vincent as he manages to get through to Yuuya. He tells him everyone has evacuated except for Yui who is still back at the base trying to destroy the railgun before the communications break off. Yui and Yamamoto are still trying to destroy the railgun when a Tank class BETA has arrived at the doorstep.

Episode 12
Yui thinks she can outrun the BETA? Better than standing there and get eaten. Yamamoto rams it with the forklift and Yui finishes it off with a heavy rifle. After making the necessary preparations, Yamamoto continues to work his way to unlock the railgun’s safe so that its core module would be accessible. Yui wants to use the BETA to destroy the railgun and she will be the bait to lure them into the core module. Yamamoto wants to do it instead because of his pride as a man to protect a woman. The Soviet commanders are discussing that their plan is progressing smoothly. As expected, they’re the ones jamming the waves to prevent others from communicating. They put their trust in Zhar Battalion to destroy the BETA and recover the railgun left behind. Yamamoto hears sounds from beneath so he checks it out to see BETAs coming. I bet he has never run and climb back up that fast in his life. Yui has just finished taking out several BETAs prying open the hangar door. She is too late to save Yamamoto as he is surrounded by BETA. This frightening scene brings back haunting memories to her. But she’s not going to make the same mistake and shoots Yamamoto dead before the BETA tears him apart. Then she shoots the explosives to take them all out. Yamamoto has unlocked the safe prior to his demise so Yui tries to climb into the railgun before the other BETA comes. However she is too weak and falls out. She gets injured by the debris the BETA tore the hangar apart. It’s like déjà vu. She’s staring at the face of death (BETA, actually). She regrets that she is unable to finish her mission and can only think about Yuuya. Speaking of which, here he comes to her rescue and take out the BETA. Like déjà vu, eh? Stella takes out other BETAs that come too close to their location. Yuuya lectures her about trying to be a heroine and die. He won’t abandon her and gives her first aid. Yuuya wants to take the railgun with him but Yui says she is adamant to destroy it to minimise the risk and keep him alive. Stella detects all the BETAs are heading towards this hangar.

Episode 13
Flashback to when Yui was part of the Imperial Guard. The battalion is swarmed with incoming BETA. She knew how it’s going to turn out even from what her senior Kyouko said. So when Kyouko died in the front lines, Yui became angered and slaughtered the retreating BETA. Back in present, Yui tells Yuuya how to destroy the railgun. However he purposely misses. Although the railgun is destroyed, the core module is intact. The armour was too thick? At least now he can carry it in his palm. No time for budding romance because BETAs are heading their way. Yuuya accidentally loses the core module and seems the BETAs are attracted to it. Forget it. Let’s ditch this joint. Meanwhile, Soviet’s Sandek wants to send in reinforcements for Zhar Battalion but his commander tells him to send in the bombers and bomb everything and eliminate all traces. Leave NO trace at all… What about the railgun they’ve sacrificed so much for? He thinks they must know when to give up. His plan failed and he doesn’t want his position jeopardized. Yuuya gets knocked out from the sky by a Fort class BETA. Stella snipes it dead. As his 94 Second is badly damaged, Yuuya transfers Yui over to Stella’s TSF. They try to make their escape but the BETAs are increasing. Stella notices the runway clear and could use this chance to jump out. However Yuuya’s engine is malfunctioning and is falling behind. To give Stella a chance to escape, he uses his ammo to shoot off the legs of the Destroyer class BETAs. Stella reluctantly flies out and over the mountains. When Yui sees what Yuuya is doing, she almost becomes emotionally unstable. She had seen so many people died before her while she could only watch. She promised never to cry again but couldn’t help break them. Yuuya tests his melee combat. There are only so many BETAs he can kill. Now he loses his other hand. Look ma. No hands left! His TSF has taken so much damage that it could explode anytime. Is he going to eject? What are you? Crazy? There are more BETAs coming! Not a chance! He’s going to keep his promise to bring back 94 Second with him.

Episode 14
Yuuya makes a last ditch attempt to escape BETA but his engine gives way. If not for Latrova’s Battalion entering the fray, he could’ve been toast. Because she destroyed the jamming tower along the way, communications become clear. BETAs are gathering around the core module when the bomber planes arrive. Everyone thought the backup has arrived but realize something is wrong when the bombs are dropped to early. Suddenly Laser type BETA blasts the bombers out of the sky! Ironically they’re saved by BETA. The Soviet commander rues his plan falling apart and wants Sandek to give the orders to Zhar Battalion to retreat. However since this is his plan, he disagrees and is going to have to stick through it. Right now, USSR needs a hero. Latrova orders a couple of her men to bring Yuuya away while the rest make it priority to wipe out the Laser class. There is an unknown signal detected. It is wiping out BETAs at lightning speed. Latrova will stay behind and deal with this. Once Yuuya is at the safe zone, the Soviet counterparts decide to head back to where Latrova is instead of rendezvous with another Battalion. Disobeying orders? They say what they are protecting is not USSR but their family. Sandek orders Latrova to fight with the intention of killing. Otherwise she will meet her deceased husband soon. The unknown TSF is too fast for Latrova to react. Everyone at the base is worried about Yuuya. It’s getting late and he hasn’t come back yet. Will waiting for him bring him back? Well, it’s not stopping Yui. Suddenly over the horizon, a familiar thumping sound. It’s Yuuya limping in! Later in a joint ceremony by Japan and America, they unveil a new TSF of XFJ-01A, Shiranui Second Phase 2. As Vincent puts it, a reborn and enhanced version of 94 Second. He is surprised Yuuya admired something Japanese. He has begun to realize how naïve he was, seeing only what was convenient to him and the reason he exists now. Seems the Zhar Battalion was wiped out although they managed to destroy the Laser class with supporting fire wiping out the rest of the advancing BETA. The Soviet bestowed the title of hero to everyone in Zhar Battalion. Yuuya vows to protect someone like Latrova did.

Episode 15
Cui Yifei from United Front of China’s Bao Feng Test Flight excels in her simulation fight against her opponents. Seems as part of UN’s plan to test each other’s mettle (they believe closed environments would stifle their development as some countries have been taken over by BETA), Blue Flag Exercise is some sort of mock combat tournament between TSFs. Really. How would this development and data help fight against BETA? Yui talks to her uncle and it seems that the test results this time may cause XFJ Project to be scaled down or worse, cancelled. Yui still can’t fathom why Russia wanted the railgun so bad that they sacrificed a lot. Or is she just getting paranoid. Everyone gathers at the bar to celebrate their safe homecoming party. Yuuya is surprised when Yui serves him nikujaga, a dish he thought his own mother created (I suppose it was a lie). Everyone teases how close Yuuya and Yui are. That is cut short when Cui storms in looking for Yuuya. She may sound intimidating asking his nationality and race, though she is impressed he hasn’t been cocky since setting the record of the most BETA kills without hitting a friendly. Yuuya replies he is Japanese-American. Though Cui and Tarisa can’t get along, she thinks she will with Yuuya because she will get to play with him in their next match. He looks forward to it. Later Yuuya bumps into Cryska looking for Inia. She is surprised he knows what she is thinking? Can he read her mind? Is she trying to make a fool out of him? I don’t know if it’s funny because she says he has been a fool to begin with. Of course she’s always with Cryska so he can tell she’s looking for her when she’s not around, right? Yuuya is surprised to see her smile. Cryska mentions he was her best bet to find her since Inia likes him. He decides to help her find Inia. He is doing it because he wants to. He wants to give back what was given to him. Night fall and they still can’t find her. It’ll be bad if it’s past her curfew. Then Yuuya meets a couple of familiar faces. His old buddies from his previous squad, the 65th Combat Training Battalion, Leon Kuze (also a Japanese-American like him) and Sharon Heim. You can tell Yuuya and Leon hate each other’s guts.

Episode 16
Cui addresses her troops in taking down Argos as their next opponent. They are also to gather as much information from the battle. Meanwhile Leon hints that the Americans are here to show their more superior TSF and make everyone remember play time is over (as in lots of time and money are being put into the research). After they leave, ironically it is Inia who has found them. Inia wonders if Yuuya is going away. Vincent is surprised to see Leon and Sharon at the bar. He notices they’ve been promoted. Vincent explains how Yuuya has changed for the better. He no longer hates the Japs and loves his TSF. Sharon mistakes his ‘girlfriend’ as Cryska but Vincent thought she was talking about Yui. Anyway Leon still doesn’t like one bit of this as he hasn’t forgotten what he did. The current Blue Flag match puts Idar Flight against Slechtvalk Flight of EU’s Benelux Army. Scarlet Twins go in alone and slaughter the enemy singlehandedly in less than 10 minutes. After the match, Sandek notes there was a very miniscule drop in reaction and accuracy. The scientist didn’t find anything wrong. Next up is Argos Flight against Bao Feng Flight. Sandek gets suspicious what may be affecting Cryska when she sees her react as Yuuya and his team go into action. The match begins and it seems Bao Feng is toying around with Argos. Because they could have easily finished them off. Then Cui faces off one on one with Yuuya in a sword duel. Yuuya is confused because Cui is hitting hard from all angles but yet she doesn’t finish him off. Yuuya guesses she might be setting him up to use his ultimate move. He then proceeds to make a comeback move by turning around his blade faster and slashes her TSF in half. After the match as Argos celebrates, Yui commends him and Yuuya sings full praises of the sword. He now understands the sword’s centre of gravity which makes it perfect for multiple attacks and glorifies the genius Japanese engineer who designed this. Just when he was about to ask Yui for a favour, Cui comes in (did she use Tarisa’s head as a launching pad?!). She comes in between Yui and Yuuya and gives Yuuya permission to fall in love with her. WTF?! Meanwhile the scientist still can’t find anything wrong with the TSF so there is only one other possibility on Sandek’s suspicions.

Episode 17
Cryska dreams of her past. The one whereby she was in a research facility alone till she met Inia before Sandek scouted them. Yuuya is eating together with Yui. She’s embarrassed trying to ask him about that favour when Cui butts in trying to kiss her ‘husband’!!! Yui not happy… Oh yeah. That’s what I’ve been waiting for. Yuuya wants her to concentrate on her match against Infinities (Leon’s group) but she is confident she’ll beat them in no time and is looking forward to their honeymoon after her victory. On match day, Cui is running for her life and cornered. She and her team never had a fighting chance and were taken out in 4 minutes! So much for being confident. There goes her honeymoon. Later Cryska and Inia meet Yuuya and they want to talk. At the park, Cryska is giving a long winded round about explanation about this prickly feeling she has in her heart. You know. The kind where she can’t concentrate whenever she looks at him. She thinks it’s the same phenomenon that Inia has is happening to her. She wants Yuuya to tell her what it is. Can we viewers guess it? Instead of telling her that four letter “L” word, Yuuya believes it stems from pressure of her higher up. He relates his experience with Yui once tried to pressure him as a test pilot and believes Sandek is also doing the same to outperform him. He understands that’s why she is being impatient and irritated. Man… That’s not what we wanted to hear… Anyhow Cryska feels relieved of his answer. He then buys a bouquet of flowers each for Scarlet Twins. Not because he is doing it for them. But because he wants to. What’s the difference?

Guess what? Cui is there. She’s not happy her ‘husband’ is ‘cheating’ on her and punches him in the gut! She doesn’t want him to think about other woman (tells a lot about her possessive nature, eh?) though she is sorry she couldn’t keep their promise. I think Yuuya would be glad about it. Guess what? Yui is hiding behind a tree, stalking them like a jealous high school girl! Then she runs away. Oh yeah. I really love where this is going… Yui drowns her sorrows… With orange juice. Then here comes Yuuya. About the favour he asked of her, it is actually she wants him to teach him Japanese sword fighting which he feels can have a big effect on the indirect thought control systems of a TSF. Then Leon butts in. Yui commends his splendid performance today. Leon looks forward to fighting the TSF she developed but notes of some handicap. Yuuya wants to leave but Leon won’t let him and mocks him he is trying to play the nice guy when everybody doesn’t know about his past. The guys ended up in a fist fight. Isn’t anybody going to stop them? Well, let the boys flush all their temper out of their system this way. Sharon introduces herself to Yui and the latter is concerned what is her relationship with Yuuya. With the military police busting in (how the heck did they arrive so fast?), everyone makes a run (including Yui). Leon and Yuuya agree to settle this during Blue Flag. Cryska couldn’t sleep. She’s thinking of Yuuya…

Episode 18
When Yuuya was in his old regiment, he was pushing the limits of his TSF while testing with his team. His pals think he is crazy but Lieutenant Rick Sven agrees with his tenacity and continues to chase him. Sadly, Sven was killed and Leon blames Yuuya for his death. The tribunal cleared Yuuya of any wrongdoings because records showed Sven made a piloting error. Leon however will still never forgive Sven’s killer. What happened was when Yuuya even broke some record, he continued to push further. His tremendous speed almost crashed him into the canyon’s wall but is able to swerve away in the nick of time. However the powerful thrust means the rocks around the canyon got loosen and it fell on Sven who unfortunately passed through that exact spot at the wrong time. In present time, Yuuya tells this story to Cryska. Because of people looking down on him, he wanted to prove to others he was a good American citizen and the only way to shut others up who criticized his mom was to rise up in the military. The faster the better. He wasted no time in becoming the nation’s best test pilot when suddenly his mom died. All he had left was his military position. And then that accident happened. Cryska is baffled why he would blame himself for that accident. Because like any other test pilot, they have prepared to lay their lives for their country. She is sure Sven have done the same. Yuuya finally understands Latrova’s words. When they part, it seems Sandek has ordered his men to spy and gather data on them.

Vincent is one happy man. So happy he is buying everyone drinks. That’s because he won a fortune during Argos and Bao Feng’s Blue Flag match. Bao Feng was the favourites to win so you can say he made a killing there. Natalie keeps Yuuya company while the rest get drunk. Natalie tells him though she is from France, she moved to Canada and can’t remember about her original homeland. She hints about moving forward just short of explaining the miserly conditions she was in just to survive. Cui calls out Yui to talk privately about Yuuya. What else? Well, it doesn’t sound like a love rival declaration. Or something like “Stay away from my man, you b*tch!” like I hoped. Cui feels it is impossible for Yui to understand Yuuya. Remember the time Yui first chided him and told him off with harsh words? Was that supposed to make him better? Cui believes the first thing one in love needs to do is accept the other person for who he is. Can’t say anything back, can’t she? Sandek confronts returning Cryska and Inia. Seems he has realized the source of Scarlet Twins’ falling performance. But he isn’t pushing the panic button yet and needs to ‘set another stage for him’.

Episode 19
Lieutenant Orson is addressing his comrades that this Blue Flag exercise has been nations more nationalistic and at each other’s throat, blah, blah, blah. To put an end to these violent impulses, he has Yui leads this next mission. Seems teams are to hike up to Point Alpha in the snowy mountains and woods of Alaska. As Argos team make their way, they think a wild animal has followed them. They receive permission to fire warning shots (no killings are allowed) and eventually bump into Leon’s team. Then they hear eerie giggles. Checking it out, turns out to be Bao Feng frolicking in the hotspring! Here comes Scarlet Twins too. So this is Point Alpha? So this mission is just some fun in the hotspring? I can see where this is going. Fanservice cue! Cui punches Yuuya in the gut for being too friendly with other women. She still thinks he is her husband, eh? Yui lets Yuuya try her nikujaga but Cui wants him to taste her mapo tofu. Everybody loves it so much that they passed out! I think she got the wrong idea… This is lethal weapon! Since jealous Yui gives him permission to try it out (or was it an order), unfortunately Yuuya became a statistic victim. When it’s time to soak in the hotspring, Yui realizes everybody else had brought along swimsuits except herself. Isn’t it natural to soak naked in the hotspring? Cui thought she was getting desperate and strips naked too so as not to lose out. Meanwhile, there are screams coming from the men’s side. VG and Vincent are left standing after a bunch of men have been defeated by muscular Gairos standing between them and paradise (read: women’s section of the hotspring). They lost anyway. You could be forgiven for thinking Yuuya and Leon to be gay because they’re not interested in peeping. A strange sense of ‘peace’ between them as they soak together. Then Inia and Cryska come to join Yuuya. Naked. Cryska felt envy Inia’s naked skin is too close to Yuuya so she gets close to him before realizing what she’s doing and take Inia away to the women’s section. And Cui never thought about doing this, eh? In the end, it seems all this is an elaborate plan to film every inch of the women in the hotspring. Orson must be enjoying the recorded skin time. Ibrahim hopes he will never have to be part of this ‘mission’ again.

Episode 20
This is some sort of a recap episode although they termed it as a pre-climax special. They claim it will make us enjoy the final few episodes 10 times more! Wow! Of course we won’t be seeing cut and paste scenes though they will be jumbled up as part of this show’s presentation. There will be a main narration voicing over the clips and 90% of what the narration says is displayed on screen. It’s like putting up the important points, huh? Of course we learn a new thing or two like how BETA devastated Eurasia and this caused America to share half of Alaska with Russia to operate their base. Others are basically a summary with the first half pertaining to Yuuya’s arrival, his stubbornness with Yui’s ideology, how he changes along the way as he interacts with the rest and yes, the women interested in him. The second half proclaims 2 major points why we will enjoy it 10 times. First: Sandek. He has been secretly moving in the shadows putting his plan forth that has come a long way ever since enlisting Cryska and Inia from the research facility. Like Polnoe Zatmeniya (basically, Scarlet Twins) and the mysterious phenomenon of Prafka that gave Scarlet Twins unmatched abilities but with side effects that mess with their memories and emotions (maybe why Inia could read minds too). Second: The arrival of BETA has ironically destroyed humanity’s unity and bonds. The case of discriminations between Russians and other Soviet nations. There are also refugees from BETA infected countries and this number is growing every day while other countries enjoy economic boom due to the war against BETA. The gap between rich and poor is growing. Those discriminated and feeling unfair and dissatisfied have reached their limit. To top this episode up, the new opening and ending songs are also introduced. So are we really 10 times more excited for the finale?

Episode 21
Argos contemplates their next match against Infinities for Blue Flag. Cui barges in and offers to help them out. But with one condition: Yuuya must date her. I guess Yui is trying hard not to be upset and jealous. Her body reaction seems so obvious. Due to the Blue Flag exercise, there has been an increase in supplies so Coeurl Express is making their deliveries to the base. Seems awful lot of them today, isn’t it? Inside the base, a bunch of test pilots are talking about the terrorist organisation called RLF (Refugee Liberation Front). Because of UN depriving refugees of the basic necessities and prioritizing military units over the refugees’ well-being, the movement was established to improve refugees’ living conditions. Some Coeurl Express men barge in and shoot them dead. Yup. RLF members. One of the test pilots is their commander, Giselle Adjani. RLF begins their operations by gradually taking over the base and killing all the unsuspecting officers. Meanwhile Ibrahim and Sandek meet. The latter points out that Yuuya and Cryska have been seen together too often. Ibrahim gets a call from Yui before the telephone lines are cut off. In fact, all communications are down thanks to RLF. They have also infiltrated a secret laboratory whereby scientists are conducting experiments on BETA bodies preserve in large tanks. Mariem Zerner and her men storm into the base’s main room and hold the higher ups hostage. They claim their goal is true freedom and equality.

Yui senses something wrong when the military police moves in. Her guts tell her to run and she barely escapes by the skin of her teeth before the building is locked down. She could hear people being gunned down. RLF forces are pursuing her till she crashes her jeep. She hides but also encounters Cryska. Yuuya, Cui and Tarisa are driving along when they realize communications are cut. They almost crashed into a Coeurl Express truck and notice Natalie driving in one of them. They turn back but before reaching the base, Natalie and the RLF force shoot their vehicle and turn it turtle. Tarisa confronts Natalie the meaning of this. Natalie tells them they have taken over the base. RLF is going to fix the world and save their comrades in Eurasia since UN is choosing who to save and abandoning the weak. She wants Tarisa to join them. However she can’t. She promised her dead siblings she will avenge them. That’s why she can’t fight humans. I guess negotiations have failed. Yuuya realizes Natalie is being more talkative than usual. It’s like she is trying to hint them their plans. Especially about destroying all the prototype TSFs that costs too much and some top secret American research facility. Before she could divulge further, her own colleague puts a bullet to her brain to stop the leak. Tarisa becomes distraught. Yuuya explodes the vehicle as distraction for them to flee.

Episode 22
Yui reaches the hangar and tells Vincent to start up all the TSFs. Shortly, Yuuya and co arrive. Cui and Cryska request to ride a TSF too despite the ones in the hangar are American property. Yui allows it and will take responsibility. Tarisa is still reeling from Natalie’s death but has no choice but to get over it quick and accept reality. At least she died trying to tell them something. The heroes move out and take out all the autopilot enemy TSFs. They see Sandek in a jeep coming their way and Cryska picks him up. Mariem and Major Christopher take over the communications centre and connect to their master. They detect several issues like Idar Flight fleeing, Infinities going missing and Argos Flight taking out their autopilot TSFs. Mariem knows somebody in this base is sending out communications despite it being cut and goes to track him down. She comes into Ibrahim and realizes he is the hero of Rhodes, the one who defied several orders to save the Turkish refugees. She is among the survivors. She wants to talk to him as there is no reason for them to fight. As Argos Flight and the rest move out, Sandek suggests heading to the USSR base instead of the American Anchorage base. He suspects Americans are behind this attack because for a country that greatly protects itself to let something this big happen, it sounds fishy, right? If they land at Anchorage, they might get arrested and their TSFs confiscated. Inia is running scared and piloting her TSF alone. The enemies chasing her suddenly get destroyed. Unknown to her Leon and his team shot them down. Yui has VG and Stella head to Anchorage to tell somebody about what is happening here and to bring reinforcements since the enemy may have controlled several TSFs. The rest will stay and gather more information. This way, she is betting on both sides. Christopher orders Giselle and her team to engage their enemy counterparts from a distance and slowly tear them apart.

Episode 23
Enemy TSFs are closing and they can’t shake off that many since they are armed with guided rounds. Sandek suggests splitting their group. One to stay back to fight and the rest head to B01 to resupply with live ammo. Yuuya offers to stay back since this is the best chance to demonstrate Shiranui’s abilities. Yui gives him permission. Mariem continues to persuade Ibrahim to join her cause. He won’t negotiate with terrorists and views that even though there is something wrong with the world’s system, it doesn’t give them the right to kill. He once made his men die to save the refugees. Yuuya fights back the enemies but they are just too many. Inia joins the fight and is delighted to reunite with Yuuya. Yui and the rest return to lend a hand. Seems that when they found Inia’s TSF and requested to meet her, they need someone to lead them into USSR territory otherwise they can’t get in. Giselle starts to panic when her men are losing despite all the guided rounds. They ran out of ammo too. Giselle tells them to let her take control of the autopilot TSFs. She’s going to do a suicide mission. She charges at Cui and crashes into the building. She feigns dead so when Cui gets close enough to take her weapon, she grabs her and activates the burner to the max to take them out. Christopher communicates with Mariem that her sister Giselle is dead.  Mariem tells Ibrahim she has found the answer he never got. She is going to avenge her sister by destroying this world. Her men launch a smoke attack but Ibrahim escapes through a nearby hatch. A group of American bombers are on their way to bomb the Yukon base but they are taken out by Laser type BETAs. VG and Stella are shock to see this. Stella heard rumours of a secret research facility here and that the terrorists might have released BETA.

While Inia happily reunites with Cryska and becomes a whole again (Sandek suits up and takes over a TSF), Yui tends to Cui’s wounds. She manages to eject before the explosion and ended up with minimal injuries. Mariem then transmits a video to the entire world. She claims the refugee aid groups are nothing but sloth, corruption and embezzlement. Listing down the atrocities they have made, their demands are simple. Wipe out corruption and guarantee protection for the refugees. She lets everyone know moments ago Americans sent their bombers to wipe them out with neutron bombs. To protect the lives of civilians remaining at the base (seriously? They just slaughtered many a couple of episodes ago), they released Laser type BETAs. However they learn something from a high ranking Soviet officer that there is more to this. America has a defence system that protects itself from BETA invasion, Red Shift. Once a certain number of BETA crosses this line, a series of hydrogen bomb will detonate simultaneously and create an artificial straight as a new line of defence.  This would also mean the slaughter of every Soviet citizen. Maybe that’s why they allowed Russia to station in half of Alaska, eh? Although they did not know this, but the truth is now unmistakable. Cui plans to ride Sandek’s jeep to get her Bao Feng. Yui has her hands full as they need to eliminate BETA in addition to stopping RLF. Sandek says that they have no time to resupply and refuel if they respond immediately. They don’t have enough ammo now. Yuuya suggests doing so at Soviet Patrol hangar. Even though it is enemy ground, that is the reason why they won’t expect them to attack in this situation. Christopher gets ready to launch in his Berkut TSF.

Episode 24
Yuuya and co finish resupplying while Sandek communicates with his Soviet special forces to storm the communications centre. The higher up hostages try to convince Mariem to stop this madness because once Red Shift is activated, millions of lives will be lost and many of those affected will be the poor whom RLF are trying to protect. She is not moved. Sandek explains his plan of the storming into the communications centre before their attempt to delay the BETA attack. The first wave will soon run through the Lilifort city and though there are many civilians there, it is better to sacrifice a few than the whole of Alaska. The team split into groups. Christopher knows this is a feint and orders his men to play along. Christopher tests Yuuya and they’re both evenly matched although Christopher has more experience than him. Once the special forces take over the facility, Yui and Tarisa head off to finish as much BETA they can. Their load is lessen with the arrival of Scarlet Twins. Yui becomes engrossed in eliminating the BETA that she didn’t see the enemy TSFs flanking her side. Her head could have been sliced off if not for Leon and Sharon to the rescue. Previously they were taking out Laser class BETAs and are now joining them. Mariem is in a dilemma over what she has done. She contacts Christopher to call for a ceasefire and to engage the BETA but he claims he is from Allegiance and considers BETA as God’s creatures and won’t kill them. Mariem then tries to contact her master but couldn’t get through. Her team’s morale is running low after realizing they’ve been used and abandoned. Knowing they have failed and to avoid RLF being blamed for mass murder, she wants to show RLF has been used and orders to stop fighting and surrender. However she was shot dead by her comrade who views her actions as treason. Then they start killing each other. The remaining ones claim victory and commit suicide with a bullet through their mouth. Sandek and Scarlet Twins make haste to the border and he plans to activate Prafka and destroy BETA there. Inia asks Cryska what she wants to protect. The party, the country and Inia of course. Anything else? Sure she can’t leave out Yuuya, right? Right. They want to protect the world he lives in. At the border, Sandek wants Scarlet Twins to annihilate the BETA but they request permission to release the Prafka limiters despite knowing the consequences. Sandek gives them permission as long as they prevent Red Shift from all costs. Scarlet Twins power up and probably it’s turning them into crazy demons!

Episode 25
Christopher tries to take control of Scarlet Twins and destroy the world. But their minds go crazy just thinking about Yuuya. They crush Christopher in his cockpit like a tin can! After that, they steal some power in his TSF to power up like crazy and go on a killing spree. Sandek is thrilled that the Nastroyka Effect is taking shape and he was right that Yuuya was the catalyst. However he didn’t see it coming when Scarlet Twins attack him. Leon and his team leave to take out Heavy Laser Class BETA so Yui, Tarisa and Yuuya are stuck with the smaller fries. Scarlet Twins take out every BETA in their way with ease. They have completely lost control of themselves and view everything as their foe. Tarisa got taken out by them. Sandek is still breathing so he is able to communicate to Yuuya and Yui the condition of Scarlet Twins. He guesses that a super drug called MK Ultra is brainwashing them under a powerful hypnosis. Yuuya knows that drug is American. Sandek tells Yuuya he is the only one who can snap them out of it because past observations show that they respond to what he says. Yuuya fights Scarlet Twins and at the same time tries to talk them to their senses. Yui is more pessimistic but Yuuya doesn’t give up. Sandek thinks the shock of killing Yuuya will wake them up. By the time they snap out of it, it is too late as they have stabbed through his TSF. Don’t worry, Yuuya the man is alright. Cryska emotionally breaks down when Inia becomes unconscious and pleads for Yuuya to save her. When American bombers arrive on scene, it is a sign that the world is once more saved because with no more Laser Class, the bombs destroy all the remaining BETA. Ibrahim and the others regain control of the communications centre. Life gradually gets back on track and picking up the pieces. Heinemann and a Russian higher up view this as good advertisement to continue producing TSF. Tarisa and Cui recuperate in hospital but the saddest part is that they heard Yui will be sent back to Japan since this project is scrapped. Ibrahim talks to Yui about it and it seems she’s heading back to give details on the terrorist attack and a public hearing why XFJ Project must continue. She isn’t saying goodbye yet because she will be back. She will fight to keep this project no matter what. Yuuya too is confident she will come back because he is here with her Shiranui. After such a long time hesitating if they should go see each other or talk, Yui and Yuuya just gave each other a final salute. On her way out, she passes Cryska who needs to tell her something. I can guess what that is. Cryska views them as enemies now but Yui considers their position more difficult than an enemy: Love rivals. I guess this is clear now.

War Of The Worlds!
And so the battle at all fronts continues. The battle against BETA. The battle against human terrorists. The political battle. And now battle of the love rivalry has just begun. Wow. So many fights. When will it all end? You don’t expect the anime to have a happy ending by defeating all the BETAs in the universe, right? It would have felt so cheap… Besides, seeing that the fight on those fronts didn’t end, it also means it never got anywhere, right? Anyway, not being a mecha fan I would say that this series is rather okay. There are lots of things still unresolved at the end but like I said, the fight continues. Thank goodness it’s only anime so it ends here. Haha. I don’t know if the mecha fights are what mecha fans would call good or just average but in terms of the action, there is sufficient guns totting and sword slashing from the robots to retain the interest of action junkies (though there are much better action genre animes out there). Lots of blood, gore and deaths too. If you really want to follow this series, there are a bunch of other cool robots, terms and plots going on in this universe that you can get to know but that is it for me. I can’t even tell one mecha from another and to me all the TSFs here look the same. Just put a different paint job. Their names also confuse the hell out of me despite some of them simple enough and do not give you tongue spasms. But that’s just me. My aversion for the mecha genre has got my attitude to end up like that. I don’t think I hate this genre very much otherwise I wouldn’t even watch this. So with the good and the bad, this show won’t end up in my top 100 list but at the same time not the kind of anime that would end up in my have-high-hopes-but-end-up-a-big-disappointment list. Those who have watched mainstream mecha animes like Gundam or Macross would definitely put this one down.

But I have to admit that the ‘exciting’ part for me while watching this series is when the BETA start swarming and attacking the hapless humans. It may look bad on my part that I crave for humanity’s demise but that’s not it. Especially the first couple of episodes as we are introduced to how menacing BETAs are and how useless and fragile we humans are. It is just scary and heart pounding and heart wrenching whenever a human gets devoured by BETA. I still can’t forget that scene Yui’s friend got eaten alive due to her inability to put her friend out of her misery. That was very terrifying. Very sad. One thing about BETA that makes them scary is that we do not know much about them. The fact that there is a lot of mystery to these menacing aliens contributes very much to our fear. They are large in numbers. They are insanely strong (although none of the types I noticed or appear could fly). They do not fear death. So when they swarm you, you know you’ll be meeting your maker very soon. They are like bugs, countless of them and no matter how many you get rid, there is always more to come. It never stops. But unlike bugs whom you can squish, you can’t do that with these giants. Then again, in real life you can squish one or two bugs. See if you have the guts to do so when there are millions of them! Yikes! I hope I don’t have to face that kind of situation. The design of the BETA creatures is also scary to that extent (at least to me). They look quite creepy especially with some of the classes that have those jaws ready to take a bite off you. Yeesh. Stare too long at them and I may have nightmares…

As if BETA wasn’t posing enough problems already, there are opposing humans to content with. In a time when humans should stand unite against such unknown entities, here we are still bickering and divided among each other. I understand what RLF wants but if you think about it that if RLF emerges victorious by eliminating the pilots and whoever they consider as atrocious, who is left to defend humanity at the end? Might as well readily surrender yourself to BETA and get eaten up. So to me RLF doesn’t really see the big overall picture. Yes, there are unfortunate people around the world being mistreated and abused. There are people in better nations taking advantage of this and enjoying things in life at their expense. But does that give them the right to take lives of others? Doing so, they are no different than BETA. In fact, worse because they are of the same species as homo sapiens. Even BETA does not do this to each other. BETA does not even sacrifice others for themselves (although they act very much like mindless creatures). Everyone has their sad and tragic past. Who doesn’t after BETA’s invasion? So deal with it! Even there are people on the same side who aren’t united. Especially being a Russian and a Soviet. There’s a big difference as far as this anime is concerned. Apparently I’m not one so I don’t really understand…

Certainly if you look at it this way, there is more ‘unity’ in BETA as compared to humans, no? What about sick humans who worship BETA? Why not just let themselves be devoured by BETA then? Saves lots of trouble. Then there is of course human politicking. Eurasia has been devastated by BETA. Higher ups and the government are still concerned over the state of their own country. Shouldn’t they be sharing resources and information to defeat BETA? Yuuya showed us how effective the railgun was in eliminating an entire BETA wave with a single shot. So why not use it again? Afraid of other countries stealing their secret? That’s one messed up priority. Instead helping one another, they have laws and other rules to safeguard their interests, which makes life difficult for the pilots of different nations. Breach them and you’ll be persecuted as a spy whatsoever. Maybe humans have this thought that they can defeat BETA so the thought of maintaining their country (politically) all the way led to such. I mean, if the world became one, no more countries and borders, once BETA is defeated, how are we going to govern properly again, right? We’ll be fighting over territorial disputes again. It’s like yesterday once more.

So on to the main characters of the series which is mainly Yuuya and Yui. They both started out as loggerheads always at each other’s throat and disagreeing at almost every idea they had. And then they start to change for the better. Yuuya who doesn’t accept anything Japanese is now more rationale and cool headed. He now knows what to protect and is not as naive as before. That is a very big change for a guy. It’s a good thing since he’s counting his blessings. Yui was once a cold and very strict person but she changes along with Yuuya. She becomes more outgoing and as we know warms up very much to Yuuya. As for the other characters, I would say that they just play enough supporting role to the main duo. Like Argos Flight team of Tarisa, Stella and VG, they don’t really make much impact in the series. They’re just there because they are Yuuya’s teammates. It’s like Yuuya is overshadowing them. Why not? He is the hero of this series. Even Cui and Leon’s American team making their late debut in the anime, I felt that it was just some side distraction. Believe me, if you needed a guy to kick BETA as or in the main action, why not use Yuuya? The rest are given a little spotlight so that it won’t seem the halfie is hogging everything. You got to leave some bits and pieces to your buddies too. Ibrahim is a good captain while Sandek seems to be having two faces. He has his plan of his own and the kind who will cross to any side as long as his plans take shape.

Romance is the biggest anticipation I had for this series and though it does have some of its moments, since it didn’t turn out into some harem catfight thingy like I hoped for (at least based on my experience with Infinite Stratos), in a way it contributed to my disappointment. We’ve got a few ladies from different nations taking interest in Yuuya as he becomes a household name in the military. At the rate it was going, to turn it into a catfight showdown would dissolve the quality of the show. I mean as I have already said, they’re here to fight BETA. With terrorists heaping problems do they really want to add more misery to that? Maybe when everything is peaceful, then they could go for it. For now, the main contenders would be Yui, Cryska and Cui. Many would believe it would be Yuuya x Yui (I don’t know, maybe it’s the gut feeling). You want to scream out for them to just confess and end up together but it did not happen at all. Cui might have been the first to admit and declare Yuuya as her husband but that was before Yui and Cryska realize they had become love rivals. It was pretty obvious that the duo would end up having some sort of feelings. Cryska was such a snob but maybe it was because of her treatment that confused her feelings. Yuuya gradually became Yui’s most concerned thought so much so I could have passed her on as a tsundere if she maintained her cold outlook. As for the rest of the ladies, Inia’s love for Yuuya seems to lean towards admiration since her mentality and personality is still that of a kid. But there is always a chance that this will change, right? So don’t write her off yet. What about Sharon? As I read, she was Yuuya’s ex-girlfriend. Despite going out with Leon now, there is always that little chance your ex-flame can return back into your life. And there is slight indication from her body reaction she still may harbour feelings for Yuuya. Tarisa and Stella don’t seem likely as they are just his teammates but you never know. Noisy little kid may be rowdy but that can be her way of showing her love. The calm blonde doesn’t say much but you know what they say about still waters running deep. So you see, amidst the chaos of everything, love can still blossom, albeit to slow for any progress romance lovers would hope for.

There are many unresolved things or matters that raised questions. For instance, the Destroyer class BETA’s has got armour so thick and tough that it would take an insane amount of ammunition to just destroy it. Or you can take the easy way out by shooting at its unprotected flesh at the back, but that’s not the point. The point is, if that armour is said to have regenerating abilities, shouldn’t they use that to armour up all TSFs? Or even if you can’t coat the entire TSF with it, at least use them as shield when confronting BETA. I know it won’t look cool but that’s not what we’re after, right? Besides, I read that BETAs have this proud record of never hitting a friendly fire. So why not use the corpses of dead BETA as some sort of shield to fool them when charging into battle? You know, like wolf in sheep’s clothing. Other unresolved issues boggling my mind include the TSF that saved Yui after her friends got slaughtered. I kept wondering the identity of that person and perhaps that person would show up somewhere later in the series. Guess not. Just some random pilot who was just lucky to pass by. Who was the mysterious TSF that Latrova faced before her death? Was there some conspiracy to it? The mysterious master of the terrorist isn’t done yet and it seems he too has his own plans. Whatever they are, it is yet to be seen but I’m sure it will be something to throw spanner in the works of our heroes.

The art and drawing are okay with the characters having this bishie look. Almost everybody looks good here despite the irony of the ugly world that we live in. I know, life is already so ugly with all the ugly politicking and ugly dark side of humans. Now you have ugly aliens who just want to tear off our limbs and eat us alive and raw. So that’s why I thought in the midst of all the ugliness, some sort of beauty must shine. Unfortunately, it isn’t the beauty of trust and friendship. It might be so for Yuuya and the few others but in general, those words seem to fail humanity time and time again. The mechas use CGI so their movements look smoother and of course very robotic-like. Then there is some fanservice to give your little worth in addition to violence and mecha action. Why do people who pilot mechas must wear very tight body hugging suits? It is so tight but ironically the women’s boobs can bounce so easily like jelly. Is that the only ‘soft’ part? Then you have that beach episode and even a hotspring episode to see the girls in their bikinis and show some skin. After all, you won’t look so good if you get ripped by BETA. Oops… As for the comedy, there are very few funny moments like Tarisa’s short temper makes her a funny watch. Little girl can really blow her top. Playboy VG might seem like the joker of the group but I suppose he fails in that. Then there’s Yuuya’s penchant for giving others nicknames in the beginning. Okay, maybe not that funny. And then there’s this love rival showdown like the one between Yui and Cryska on the deserted island. It’s funny because they both do not admit they have a thing for Yuuya and yet they’re going the roundabout way on this matter. Yeah, real funny.

In the voice acting department, Mai Nakahara heads the cast as Yui. Her character may be the serious and no-nonsense type but sometimes during those scenes when it concerns about the matters of the heart, I had this impression she might sound like Juvia from Fairy Tail. Didn’t. Daisuke Ono as Yuuya initially sounds like he has got lots of unreleased angst. A bit like Saizou from Brave 10. But he’s not into his gentleman role either like he did as Sebastian from Kuroshitsuji. One little motivation for me to watch this series is Mamiko Noto as Inia. It might be odd for a petite girl to have such a voice but almost anything with Mamiko Noto always sounds good (you’re hearing this from a fan’s biasness). Other casts include Sakura Nogawa as Tarisa (Nemu in Da Capo), Sayaka Ohara as Stella (Erza in Fairy Tail), Kenji Hamada as VG (Jouji in Paradise Kiss), Hitomi Nabatame as Cryska (Margery Daw in Shakugan No Shana), Kaori Ishihara as Cui (Konoe in Kono Naka Ni Hitori Inouto Ga Iru), Rikiya Komiya as Ibrahim (Kiritsugu in Fate/Zero), Tomokazu Sugita as Vincent (Gintoki in Gintama), Atsushi Ono as Sandek (Giriko in Bleach), Wataru Hatano as Leon (Gajeel in Fairy Tail), Rie Tanaka as Sharon (Suigin Tou in Rozen Maiden), Ryoko Yuzuki as Natalie (Ino in Naruto), Takako Honda as Latrova (Hone Onna in Jigoku Shoujo), Harumi Sakurai as Mariem (Hayami in H2O ~Footprints In The Sand~) and Tetsu Inada as Christopher (Ioryogi in Kobato).

The first opening theme is Go To The Top by Kumi Koda. At first I thought this hip hop song wasn’t suitable for an action mecha genre since a rock type of music would fare better. After hearing it for some time I soon realized that it is quite apt too. Sometimes it wants to make you get up and do a little jiggy and shuffling with your feet. Or maybe some breakdance move. I didn’t because I wasn’t that fit to twist and turn. The rock theme finally arrives in the second opening theme, Doubt The World by Minami Kuribayashi. By this time, I somehow still prefer the hip hop one because I’ve been so used to listening to it. Besides, the second piece was introduced after 4/5 of the series. Talk about late debut. Perhaps the change of theme was to signify the climax that the series is reaching. Even so, I feel it’s too late. The pop-like first ending theme is Signs – Saku Tsukiichi Yoru by Minami Kuribayashi while the second ending Revise The World by Ayami plays to a slower beat like a pop ballad and the lyrics as hinted is filled with keywords that foretells the future developments of this series. Snow Maiden by Aki Misato is the special ending theme for episode 17. I thought it was rather odd for a slow ballad to be played seeing this episode is one that features Yuuya’s love interests and its potential developments. There are various insert songs especially in the early episodes and as I noticed they are rock based to suit the mecha action.

It’s hard to imagine if menacing aliens would one day threaten our Earth like that. This series just reminded me of Hollywood’s Starship Troopers. Ferocious aliens coming to our planet to wipe everybody out and we have to defend ourselves with cool high technology weaponry. If this is what it means to survive, what would be the meaning of existence then? Despite the dark and grim nature of everything, it tries to tell us that amidst the darkest hour there is still light and hope. That is what made us humans persevere throughout history. We’ve got a long bloody tainted history of bloodshed and fighting so I don’t think this one would be any difference. Just that it will last longer than any other wars and the possibility it will end when humans are totally extinct. It takes us so long to nurture and grow a baby into a proper adult and then in a blink of an eye, he just dies like that. Depressing, isn’t it? So before any aliens can wipe us out, might as well we eliminate ourselves first, eh? I don’t see it as impossible at the rate we are going. Maybe that’s what this series did to itself… How can you have faith in humanity when many of us didn’t have faith in this anime already?

N/B: At least the BETAs are doing a fine job invading humanity compared to a certain frog alien and squid girl…