There’s an old phrase that goes “be careful what you wish for because you just might get it”. It’s been over a decade since Full Metal Panic aired and we got a new season at our hands. However, reviving old franchises isn’t something new these days. Just ask series like D. Gray Man and Dragon Ball. The real question is if Full Metal Panic Invisible Victory can be welcomed back like a hero.
With a new director and studio, the series felt like a breath of fresh air. Honestly, it almost felt like the series never left us despite the 13 year gap. I also confess
that Full Metal Panic: The Second Raid is among one of my favorite mecha series so expectations coming into this for me were high. If you haven’t watched that season, do yourself a favor and do it now. Invisible Victory isn’t going to spoonfeed you information especially since this season takes right off without absurd recaps.
For starters, the first episode made it clear that there’s a quiet and looming threat. It felt like an atmospheric episode that brings back Sousuke and Kaname together but not in the happy-go-around way that some fans may expect. This didn’t come as a surprise to me as the franchise is known for its psychological elements. Sousuke and Kaname deals with a terrorist threat that puts their friends at risk. It also didn’t take long for Kaname to realize she is in trouble. Remember Amalgam? Well, they are back this season in full force and stops nothing to capture her. It shouldn’t take fans long to realize what they are in stored for. Up to this point, Sousuke and Kaname has been through a lot together but there’s always the curiosity of what may happen do they if they’re not careful. Invisible Victory carries an unpredictable suspenseful plot that shows how the pair deals with their own personal demons. Neither character has changed much as their personalities will be familiar with fans. However, it’s their raw emotions that surfaces at times which highlights their personas.
In addition, this season also introduces a new girl named Nami. Now, I’m not a big fan of new major characters being introduced in this franchise especially when one seems like a potential love interest. There’s already characters like Tessa to fill that role from previous seasons. However, I will say that Nami is a character to keep an eye on especially for her tomboyish personality and courage. The season spends a decent amount of screen time for her and Sousuke to bond during Kaname’s absence. It almost feels refreshing as Sousuke is able to interact with someone who is different than others he’s met before. In later episodes, the show really puts Sousuke’s emotions at stake when dangerous enemies like Kurama enter the story.
I have mentioned Tessa before but in this season, she does get a meaningful role. I’ve never been a big fan of Tessa and she still maintains a strained relationship with her brother, Leonard. Yet, Tessa is valuable in the conflict against Amalagam. In the later episodes, she provides key information that proves to be imperative for Sousuke and his allies. Similarly, Sousuke continues to fight the good fight and maintain his image as a soldier. At this point, the conflict against Amalgam has become much more personal for him and the show capitalizes on the stakes.
Adapted by Xebec, I was initially optimistic about this adaptation. Sure, the animation quality looks familiar to the previous seasons. However, they produced some questionable anime in the past like Tokyo ESP and Triage X. Luckily, Invisible Victory is safe from broken animation and mostly remains intact with the quality that I expected. The CG may take some time to get used but not too distracting once you get used to it. The battle choreography remains sharp to capture the vivid details of the violence. There’s minimal censorship so watching close up duels between Sousuke and others is a gift to the fans. Furthermore, character designs still remains generally the same as previous seasons. There’s some minor fan service in the case with Kaname and Nami but nothing really too distracting. The real fan service is the psychology in the character emotions shown their expressions. The music and OST sometimes reflects this too through their clever timing. As this is perhaps one of the more serious seasons, the theme songs even shows a bit of their colors.
Invisible Victory is a 12 episode series that give the fans what they wanted and that’s a new season of surprises. It’s been a long time since the franchise aired on TV and I feared that the time gap may have done its damage. However, this season lived up to its expectations while raising the stakes it needed to. While the plot may not be too refreshing, it still captures the essence of the franchise that I loved all those years ago. To me, the revival of Full Metal Panic is a victory in itself.
The love Full Metal Panic gets has always fascinated me. It's widely acknowledged among its fans that the characters deserve to be in a better series. The writing for the first 2 seasons was such a miss that you can ask any fan what their favorite episode from those were and they will name a you a filler. You know this series is peculiar when things like this can occur.
Kyoani realized --after the first cour-- that Gonzo's route is not what the fans really want, and gave us the comedic masterpiece that Fumoffu was. And now, it would seem like that will be the
pinnacle of the franchise, as this 4h season - by Xebec this time around - is not very different from the first 2. For that reason, those who liked and those who disliked them, will most likely have very similar opinions of Invisible Victory for the given reason.
Our plot resolves around mind-numbingly dull mecha fights, gun sounds and random explosions caused by disagreement. I do not recall witnessing such tension-lacking battles in any anime since the first 2 seasons. The whole military side of the story is once again a joke that I either do not get or just won't laugh at because it's not very funny. The driving motion from random kidnapping incidents (yes, plural) to evil men planting bombs and murdering women, all feel so forced and mainly just bad excuses for the story to go somewhere. It's truly interesting how the main content feels more like filler than the actual fillers do.
The romance is going somewhere at least. 16 years and some month it took, but now Chidori and Sousuke are finally holding hands and not feeling blushy blush baka every time they realize some feelings stuff. This is all good, but mainly reminds me how most amazing stories (such as Chrno Crusade (also by Gonzo)) are always filled with gigazillion tons worth of shit. Even this time around, we are talking 1:10 ratio of good shit to bad.
Some good decisions have still been made. For one, Tessa is not constantly pushing herself to get a role in the harem - which is great because she is the opposite of great. Her brother, on the other hand, is but a random plot device. Kurz and Mao of course still exists to make the series more boring than it would otherwise be. And naturally, the best friend Kyouko is there to hold the important role of being tied to ropes half of the run time, making annoying anime sounds.
Xebec did decent job by making the series seem like FMP. Some obvious problems still exist. The mecha fights would probably be less boring if some music was used during those scenes. Weird decisions here. The art is super inconsistent. The series suffered from production issues which caused things like 3fps climbing scenes to exist, as well character design so sloppily drawn that the faces are occasionally nearly unrecognizable. Some better choices could have been made, especially with voice actors who only make their archetype characters seem even more generic presentations of their character types. Otherwise I can't say the production is the reason why I am not very pleased with the show, but it surely didn't make it seem any better either.
Enjoyment-wise, I wouldn't mind most of the problems and the questionable stuff the show has if I had been at least able to not get bored while watching it. The show didn't exactly make is as easy as other similar series, such as Black Lagoon, Jormungand, Gundamn Vietnam, Break Blade, Kaze no Stigma and even Canaan.
*The last 2 episodes were rescheduled due production issues, I saw the finale and pre-finale via atx. I am mentioning this in case moderators think this review was posted too early*
After finishing the two previous seasons of Full Metal Panic! about 1,5 year ago, my hopes for a continuation was very low since the last season aired back in 2005. But surprise, surprise, here are we now 13 years later with a new fresh season and I was one of the people who got really excited about it. Actually, Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory (FMPIV) was THE show of spring 2018 I was looking forward to.
Full Metal Panic! Invincible Victory is a direct continuation of Full Metal Panic! Second Raid, and it does assume that your memory is fresh. So, I would recommend you
to re-watch the other seasons if it was a while ago since you watched them (or read the manga or novel). That will probably make the experience of FMPIV better and more coherent.
After finishing the second season I was on the manga in an instant. It´s still one of my favourite manga to date, and I´m not even that in to mecha (or damsel in distress leads). But the clean and intense art, and the interesting battle plot kept me at the edge of my seat until I had binged it in no time at all. But what you probably wondering now is how Studio Xebec did a good adaptation or not, or if it’s worth the watch.
From what I recall from the manga, they are following the story very closely, so cred for that. Just as in the manga, the turbulent but at times peaceful moments in Japan is over for Chidori and Sousuke. Amalgam is making a serious advancement and are no longer satisfied to just work from the shadows, which sets our main characters on different paths around the world. Here the story takes a bit more of a serious tone as well with bloodier battles, betrayal and cruel deaths (plus in my book), and less relieving comedy. Worth to note is that isn´t a full adaptation of the source material, so don´t expect a conclusion to the story here, its is at least 12 episodes of source material left. So, questions about the whispered and Amalgams end game is still highly unanswered.
Chidori is still the damsel in distress, and Souskue her loyal protector. Events leads up to that they sperate, and Sousuke goes to the furthest length to correct that, because at this stage either he or Chidori denies their mutual feelings for each other. Tessa is really put to the test this season, which focuses more on her as leader instead as potential love interest for Sousuke. Of all the characters, her development feels the freshest and most relevant. The rest of the crew do what they always been doing, my girl Melissa is still there to give people a good ass kicking, and Weber to snipe badies in the head. No major character developments occur in this season though, its more like a build up phase to the grand finale, where the characters have to move along the board to their final destination.
It seems like the art and animation suffer from production issues along the way. Which was one of the biggest disappointments of FMPIV for me. Initially, the art looks good, they do a fairly good job of recreating the manga´s art, even if the animation can a bit lacklustre. The quality unfortunately drops along the way and at the end of the show it´s hard to ignore, it gets that sloppy. The CG looks ok I guess, but the intensity the battles had in the manga is heavily reduced. And if uncoloured still frames can evoke more feelings than an animation, that says something, and it’s not good. The animation started out absolutely decent, but along the way it suffers as much as the art work. The motions of moving characters and objects gets jerky and non-coherent, to a point where you are wondering if the crew where all hangover and lazy at work for the last couple of episodes.
Another disappointment was the soundtrack. If Studio Xebec wanted to learn anything from the prequels it was that 90´s cartoonish soundtrack wasn´t a hit (at least not for me). The second season made a lift in that department but now its back to the 90´s cartoon inspired music again. If a good soundtrack can make a show appear better then it really is, the opposite is true as well, which unfortunately is the case here. Intense or emotional scenes fell a bit flat when accompanied with music that could been from a child approved Batman movie from the 90´s. In some shows that could´ve worked but for an action-mecha-drama story produced in 2018, it didn´t work well at all, and just undermined what was happening on the screen. Besides one track, the ED was the only music that actually highlighted the show. To bad. The VA´s was good to okish (both English and Japanese), but aren´t worth any Oscars.
Despite the let-down of the depletion of the art and animation, and underwhelming soundtrack, I´m still very glad that someone took up the task of trying to finish of the Full Metal Panic! story. I still enjoyed it, they had cut few corners regarding the story and characters, which kept the original feeling intact. To many source materials gets a season or two but are left unfinished. Hopefully, the last part gets a go as well, even under these conditions the show was still enjoyable.
In these opening weeks of the Spring 2018 anime season, Steins;Gate 0 starts off as the by far highest rated anime, although Megalo Box is the new heavy hitter if we look past sequels. This and more in the opening edition of The Seasonal Quarterly.