Tuesday 17 April 2018

First Impressions: Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory

Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory
Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory is available in streaming form on Crunchyroll

After 12 years even the most dedicated fan could give up hope of their favourite show ever returning. However for Full Metal Panic! fans 2018 is already looking to be a pretty fantastic year, as the franchise finally returns for its first new anime instalment since 2006. Better still, Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory has been confirmed by its creator Shoji Gatoh to not only be a continuation but also "not contain any expository episodes" and "be full throttle from the get-go". Animation is now handled by Xebec, and all of the original cast have returned to reprise their roles. Could you ask for much more than that?

Taking place some time after The Second Raid, the fight between Mythril and Amalgam is heating up as Tessa Testarossa and her brother Leonard confront each other over their parents' graves. After warning that Amalgam will take more aggressive measures to take Kaname Chidori, Leonard pays a visit to her and Sousuke - offering the chance for her to go with him as well as showing off his powerful human-sized Arm Slaves.

The fight truly begins as Amalgam take communications across the world, surrounding Sousuke and Chidori as he attempts to take her to Mythril's agreed extraction point.

Full Metal Panic! is a franchise that is beloved by many, but one that's never really fully clicked with me - at least not to the point I was clamouring for more even if I enjoyed The Second Raid the most out of the first three seasons. However true to Gatoh's word Invisible Victory wastes no time with summarising the story so far - so if you haven't touched the show in those 12 years of absence you might want to do a little bit of refreshing first. This episode really throws the viewer back into the thick of it, with the sense of the higher stakes coming across beautifully in the opening exchange between Tessa and Leonard. Leonard might not have had much time to shine in the previous season, but his presence feels very known after this one episode alone.

But in amongst all the terrorist threat that holds this episode together, it's getting back to the relationship between Sousuke and Kaname where it really shines. By this point the pair have gone through so much together, with Kaname becoming a much stronger person and Sousuke learning to become a bit more human (though there's still plenty of moments featuring his trademark cluelessness of how to act outside the military). The scene of them awkwardly agreeing to hold hands is adorable, and only bettered by the one later where they then have to let go so Chidori can open the door to her apartment. Their relationship has always been one of the strongest aspects of the show, and like the military side of things this portrayal of their ever-growing closeness gives the sense of just how much higher the stakes are all of a sudden.

Time has also been extremely kind to this series in terms of visuals as well. Full Metal Panic! has never been a bad looking show by any means, but the original seasons are particularly evocative of the 00s anime aesthetic. Invisible Victory not only manages to carry that look over but also improves upon it, with sharper designs and considerable improvement to the CGI. Of course this could change once the show really amps up the action (early episode budgets and all that), but it's a very promising start.

Full Metal Panic! as an anime franchise that only really began to hit its full potential in its final season, so it'll be very exciting to see where Full Metal Panic! The Invisible Victory takes things next. Despite the lengthy absence the show isn't wasting any time slipping back into it's comfort zone, and visually it's looking sharper than ever. The last few years have been awash with anime reboots looking to capitalise on nostalgia, offering up just as many misses as they have hits. However The Invisible Victory is the real deal, and even as the most casual of Full Metal Panic! fans I can't help but be excited at its return.

1 comment:

Artriven said...

I never watch the original FMP but I want to give this a try, do I have to watch the original first?thank you