You have no idea.You have no idea.

 Okay, I was going to start off with a review of the UGEE M708 tablet, but seeing as how that got pushed back by a little bit (Thanks, Obama! Amazon!), I think I'll just start off by reviewing an anime that I've started watching:Total Eclipse.  After watching the first episode, I'm really wondering what I got myself into.

Granted, it caught my attention for two reasons: it was a mech show (good for those of us writing novels about such) and it had an interesting premise, as I will copy from Der Wiki:

[A]liens called BETA (an acronym for "Beings of the Extra Terrestrial origin which is Adversary of human race") have invaded and mankind fights back against the alien aggressors with giant robots called Tactical Surface Fighters (戦術歩行戦闘機 Senjutsuhokōsentōki, usually referred to as simply Senjutsuki 戦術機).

The BETA first arrived on Earth in 1973 (in China and Canada) after arriving on the Moon in 1967 and being spotted on Mars in 1958.  By 2001, the world population has been reduced to 2.4 billion people, and most of Europe and Asia have been wiped out.  The Soviet Union and USA have a joint base operating out of Alaska.  When the BETA first arrived in Japan in 1998, 6 million people were dead within a week.

What the above doesn't make clear: Total Eclipse is an alternate universe in the Muv-Luv game franchise, an eroge ("pornographic dating sim", for those who don't want the subtle nuance), which like so many others that have made the bowdlerization leap from the game to the screen, try to trade a bra size for a plot.  Some of these have made the jump effortlessly (see: Fate/Zero, Kanon) while others...er, haven't.

So with that, let's get this out of the way: yes, there is Gainaxing.  Yes, the bodysuits leave nothing to the imagination, and in fact look like tramp stamps and Brazilians (if you have to ask what either of those are, you may want to skip this review.)  Many of the characters in the show are depicted in such was that would give Anita Sarkeesian an aneurysm.

The TSFs, the front-line combat units of the series.The TSFs, the front-line combat units of the series.

The series itself is about First Liuetenant Yui Takamura, a member of the Japanese Imperial Royal Guard (spoiler alert: alternate universe!) and her efforts through training and eventually combat against the BETA forces.  If you've noticed a total lack of booty call mentioned in that sentence, it's because that's exactly the case.  Total Eclipse is a war story, told in the contemprary Japanese way (i.e., "the world's nearly conquered by aliens, so let's throw high school students at the problem until we win, yay go Japan!"), and yet it works because they stick to tried-and-true themes; you can see the last salad days of halcyon innocence, something that will soon be obliterated by the brutality of war.  Platoon and Full Metal Jacket told much the same story (albeit without the panty shots and cameltoes.)  The story is gripping at moments and can even put you at the edge of your seat at times.

As for the technical stuff, the design is great (the TSFs almost have the feel of what would be real-world mecha) and the animation so far is blessedly B- or C-Team free.  The voice acting is superb, and you get the feeling that these actresses are playing girls on the cusp of losing their innocence, not girls on the cusp of losing their innocence (and yes, there's a difference there.)  So far I'll stick with it, and while I won't cover the full series here, I'll give you a half-way review and then a final verdict.

PRO: Great designs, tried-and-true storytelling, solid acting
CONS: Couldn't get away from its roots in entirety, the flightsuits are pr0ntastic!
INITIAL VERDICT: Worth a spin