My review of Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory

Mr L

School Idol
NOTE: MINOR SPOILERS, no major plot developments will be mentioned in the review itself but all posts below are free for all. I will even post some spoiler thoughts in a post afterwards.

Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory review (English d.ub)

Well this season was a long time coming, I myself was still midway tnrough secondary school when its last one ended. Now, thirteen years later (but only six months in show!) we have a fourth season and I feel it’s the strongest and most focused one yet (of the ‘story’ seasons at least).

Previously, the first entry in this light novel adaptation came in 2002 with iFull Metal Panic! And was followed in 2004 with the comedy focused filler season Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu before seeing the plot continued in 2005’s Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid.

In this season, the mercenary group Mythril must face full retaliation from their rivals Amalgam who aaccelerate and redouble efforts to capture series heroine Kaname Chidori. Protagonist Souske Sagura’s emotions are are put to the test as he is goes to great lengths to ensure her safety, with or without his comrades.

The plot of this season really ramps up right from the first episode in stark contrast to the slower build of its predecessors. By the end of episode 4 we see much of the series’ status quo drastically up-ended thus communicating to us that things are going to be a little different this time around.

It is notable that Souske occupies far more screen time in Invisible Victory than other series regulars with his quest across the globe truly being the driving force of the story. If you're a big fan of Kurtz, Melissa and Tessa, you may feel underserved though each of them still get great moments throughout. Several new characters are introduced such as the perky and spirited Nami, the all-round friendly Mr Lemon and the weary but deadly Karamer. All are well defined and memorable contributors to proceedings.

Additionalky I appreciate the amped up sense of danger the anime now has. You really feel more than ever that most of the characters have no shields, everyone is vulnerable and it leads to some really painful outcomes.

I find it interesting to note that the world of Full Metal Panic remains in the mid-2000s due to how little time has passed in-show. So what was once our contemporary world with the addition of Mechs could effectively be viewed as ‘retro’ now. The time gap also highlights the issue that the series is a little hard for new viewers to get into. The story takes place very soon after The Second Raid and doesn’t attempt to inform newcomers as to the situation. Not that this is an issue given the 12-episode limit however it would have been benefitual to have the previous seasons made available to stream (though I can only speak for the UK).

What makes this issue even more frustrating is how Invisible Victory features not one but two recap episodes with each covering the previous four broadcasts. This has to be one of the most aggreges examples of this practice I’ve ever seen from this medium. What happened here? Did the broadcaster require a 14-episode minimum? These could have been the perfect opportunity to catch people up with the over-a-decade old prior entries. Perhaps it was because it would require the use of animation from two different studios? Or did they really not want to show anything in 4:3?

If you are someone who enjoyed the comedy of the franchise, then you’ll be let down here. Comedic levity is few and far between and I would say to an even lesser extent than The Ssecond Raid. My own pipe dream would for us to see another Fumoffu season to compensate but I know I need to be grateful with what we have here.

The ending of the series also may feel unsatisfying as it stil doesn’t definitively end the story with certain plot point clearly unresolved. Rather worrying when you consider it took so long to get this season commissioned. Despite this, the show’s closing moments end on an optimistic note for the future with a new sense of resolve in the main cast.

Xebec succeeds studios Gonzo and Kyoto Animation in making the series and its for the most part comparable to its forebearers. They put in more effort on this show compared with their average harem series and all characters look as they should. The most notable change compared with previous effortsc is the use of CGI, particularly for vehicles and Mechs. While the computer generated Arm Slaves do stand out compared to the rest of their surroundings, I find that their smooth animations compensate and made it easier for me to absorb some of the faster paced Mech action within the show.

The music is perfectly in keeping with the series, underscoring the action and drama well. The opening sequencd and song ‘Even If’ are a departure from the more laid-back title sequences of the past. This is far more energetic and dynamic which matches the flow of Invisible Victory appropriately. There is even an English version of the track used through the second half of the series.

The dub for the previous seasons was handled by ADV and were some of the company’s best work in all their years of running. So naturally this show’s dub was done by… Funimation (sorry Sentai). All the major characters see their original actors return with only a few minor roles replaced. Chris Patton as Soiuske is arguably the actor’s best role and this season allows him to demonstrate an even wider range of emotion in the mercenary than ever before. Luci Christian as Kaname is as good as she ever was though sadly lacks the screen time to really explore her every quality. Christopher Sabat stands out to me as the best of the newcomers as I feel his voice lends a feeling of tiredness to Karamer, a man who is effective abd committed to his work but doesn’t receive much pleasure from it. Although a brief role, it was nice to hear Chris Ayres (a man a who nearly died recently and is still lacking most of his lung capacity) reprising his role as the student council president from Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu. The script and direction also remain consistent with ADV and makes the transition seedless.

Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory was a sequel I never saw happening and it is something that would only make sense in this industry. If it can refuse to make sequels to popular shows out of nowhere then why not produce a direct follow up to a dead one years later? I highly recommend it to anyone who has seen the previous seasons and would recommend the franchise to anyone who can enjoy Mech battles with a little romance on Th e side. I can only hope another generation doesn’t make it out of school before a continuation.



One last note:

The return of the student council president from Fumoffu does seem to confirm that yes, that season really is canon and all its wacky events really did happen.

So in a world where two mercenary groups battle it out for the fate of the world, characters are psychologically tested and death can crop at any point, we also have…

- A soldier kidnapping several women without serious repercussions?
- A world class sniper leading a group of schoolboys to peak in on a girl’s bath?
- And a submarine Captain who took leave, travelled thousands of miles and went undercover all to in order to sexualky harass her subordinate?

I love this series.
 

Mr L

School Idol
SPOILER THOUGHTS


- I found Nami’s death very effective and it was about time we had a likable good character killed. It really helped sell the danger ijn the series.
- Tessa’s tirade and f-bomb against Leonard was gold. She really starting to redeem her character' in my mind.
- I knew Leonard’s smugness would get the better of him.
- Using the first season theme song at the end was perfect. So glad they still had the rights to even use it. Because if there's any industry that can match anime for licensing shenanigans, it’s the music industry.
 
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