FULL METAL PANIC! Invisible Victory – Anime Preview
Synopsis: Kaname’s a popular girl at her high school, but it’s her popularity off campus that’s the problem. Unbeknownst to Kaname, terrorists are plotting her abduction, believing she possesses the abilities of the “Whispered.” That’s where Sousuke enters the picture. He’s a soldier from Mithril, a secret counter-terrorist unit—and he’s going undercover at Kaname’s school to try and keep her safe. (Official Funimation Synopsis)
1st Episode Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
It’s been twelve years since the last Full Metal Panic! animation project (namely a short OVA for some slice of life shenanigans). The story, only partially adapted, halted with Full Metal Panic! Second Raid in 2005. Now, in an attempt to adapt the remainder of the Light Novel series, Invisible Victory picks up right where we left off, putting Kaname in immediate danger, with only Sousuke at her disposal to save her from the evil organization, Amalgam.
Fans have nothing to fear with this new adaptation, boasting animation that seems comparable to Second Raid, which had taken the series from something that was visually passable, to visually excellent. There’s also been some fear with the transition to 3D animation used to depict the AS mecha of the series. However what’s here, while obviously 3D, offers a fluid and detailed depiction of the series powerful mobile suits that works as well as it did for Gundam The Origin. By all accounts this first episode appears promising as a first step towards finishing the Full Metal Panic! story.
However, long time fans will note that Invisible Victory is decidedly more serious, seemingly jettisoning all comedy the premise once held. Gone from this episode are gags about Sousuke’s military only mindset and its clash with a normal high schooler’s life. This, according to my understanding, matches with the shift in tone for the Light Novels, choosing to focus on the grander story, and the more serious tone that held. Personally I found this to be a pleasant surprise. Full Metal Panic!’s plot, while not completely outrageous, contains a number of elements that require suspension of disbelief, such as Captain Testarossa, barely 16 years of age, acting as commander of a classified military submarine. By removing the more comedic tone, which acted as a reminder to how ‘anime’ the premise could be, it’s easier to overlook the potentially silly notion of a 16 year old, no matter how talented, becoming the captain of a ship given the utmost important of combat missions.
As characters go, there isn’t too much to say, save that all your favorites are back. Sousuke and Kaname are center stage, and it looks like everyone else plays a role to varying degrees. We’re also treated to a new center stage villain (who did appear in Second Raid previously), one who already feels like a stronger foe, compared with past baddies, standing in our heroes way.
Like with the revival of Steins;Gate this season, Invisible Victory isn’t a good jumping on point for new viewers. The series makes a very, very minimal effort to even remind its long time fans what happened before in the first two seasons, and even then anyone who hasn’t done a recent rewatch is likely to find themselves googling furiously to keep up. That’s maybe where I might say Invisible Victory falters a bit. The original season of Full Metal Panic! is decidedly weak, and many fans agree that the anime doesn’t really come into its own until the Fumoffu spin off series, and subsequent Second Raid adaptation where for both a different studio and team took over, helping to elevate what was originally a ho-hum adaptation. Asking new viewers to go back to that 20+ episode series, and wade through what is largely mediocre is a tall ask, but one that seems potentially required if the uninitiated wish to dive into Invisible Victory.
Overall though, ignoring approachability for a new audience, which is admittedly a tall order, what’s here is a stellar continuation of the series. If you enjoyed the more comedic elements which were already dwindling throughout Second Raid, the 2nd season of the anime, you might find Invisible Victory too stern for your tastes. But if you don’t mind a more focused, serious approach to Full Metal Panic!, Invisible Victory comes out of the gate strong and has me believing it’ll be a highlight for the Spring 2018 Season.