Written by Dan Barnett on 11 Mar 2016
Distributor Crunchyroll • Certificate N/A • Price N/A
Every show deserves a second chance. Even the direst of shows can sometimes pull something special out of the bag once the remake/spin-off/begin a new season, so when it was announced that this winter would see a spin-off of the Muv-Luv franchise I thought I'd give it a try. It might be pretty good and if nothing else it can’t possibly be as bad as Total Eclipse. Allow me to explain to you just how wrong I was....
The premise of Schwarzes Marken is criminally good. In this version of Earth's timeline the Berlin Wall never fell, and even in the face of a colossal alien invasion East and West Germany are at war with each other to gain power and control. The Stasi comb the military for those who might prove "troublesome", and all the while on the front line soldiers die trying to stop the advance of the deadly invaders. Foremost amongst the East German forces is the 666th squadron who...
Y’know, I can’t help but feel that my description of this show's concept is only going to make people want to watch the series when that’s the last thing they should do. Thankfully everything interesting about the show stops here as the characters that we’re introduced to are essentially just various sized breasts in skin-tight outfits that have some blandly designed heads on top of them. Oh, and they come along with a guy. The minimal back-story we get is that one of them is a Stasi informant (but maybe not) and the sole male, Theodore, knows a newcomer pilot who’s infiltrated the unit from the west via their shared past. Frankly this is all delivered in such dull, bland, lifeless scenes that you’ll likely cease to care before this has all been explained.
Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse if nothing else had two episodes of awesome sci-fi action at the front end to fool you into thinking the series was going to be awesome, but this show decided to skip that step and after five minutes of reasonable mecha action decides to give up and tries instead to pretend to be a character-driven drama whilst occasionally waving the mecha stick vaguely in front of the audience. What action sequences remain are heavily truncated and tend to cut away whenever anything interesting might be about to happen. Even visually the show has little to do with cheap CG, dull character design and average animation.
The result is that everything about this show is so sub-par that even current Gundam effort Iron-Blooded Orphans is better. I have searched high and low to find something laudable to mention about this show but there’s just nothing that you could grab onto and suggest as a positive. At the end of the day if you want to watch the show that the Muv-Luv franchise presents itself as then you’re much better off tracking down a copy of something like Blue Gender which - even, as a show from 1999 - looks better, has a great soundtrack and does everything this series wants to do but for some unfathomable reason can’t.
You can currently watch Schwarzes Marken in streaming form on Crunchyroll.
Japanese audio with English subtitles. Video is available in SD, 480p, 720p and 1080p resolutions.
Dan first encountered anime at the ripe old age of six with a VHS copy of Laputa. Ten years later he re-discovered it in Robotech and overnight a DVD collection was born.
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