Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory is based on the Full Metal Panic! light novel series written by Shoji Gatoh. The anime was directed by Katsuichi Nakayama and was produced by Xebec. The series aired on Japanese television from April 13-July 18, 2018. As of this writing, FUNimation Entertainment holds the North American distribution rights for Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory.
Even though there was a nearly 13-year gap between Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid and Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory, the series jumps right into the story without providing anything to remind viewers of what led up to where this series starts.
The first episode opens with Tessa Testarossa, the captain of Mithril’s submarine Tuatha de Danaan, and her brother Leonard, confronting each other at their parents’ graves. Leonard, who is part of an organization called Amalgam, goes to see Chidori and Sousuke to warn them that Amalgam will begin to take more aggressive measures to obtain Chidori. Leonard gives Chidori a chance to come with him, but she refuses.
This sets the stage for the first four episodes of Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory. As Leonard warned, Amalgam becomes more aggressive in their pursuit of Chidori. The organization also launches an attack on Mithril. Unfortunately, Mithril is overwhelmed by Amalgam, with the survivors having to flee in the submarine. Chidori, meanwhile, starts seeing that more and more people are being put in danger as Amalgam tries to acquire her. After her friend Kyoko is kidnapped and the rest of the school is under a threat because of bombs placed by Amalgam, Chidori surrenders herself to Leonard in order to save her friends and to keep any more innocent people from being hurt. Sousuke, of course, doesn’t want to accept this, so he goes on a mission to find where Leonard has Chidori.
Chidori’s surrender takes place at the end of Episode Four and ends the first story arc in Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory. The next four episodes, which make up the second story arc in the series, focuses on Sousuke and his mission to locate Chidori. These episodes introduce a girl named Nami, a teenager who is part of the local AS League in a small country called NAMSAC. She saves a photographer named Lemon from some thugs, and the thugs later kill the pilot for Nami’s AS. Sousuke comes along at this point and convinces Nami to let him pilot her AS. Sousuke wins the first battle he’s in, and he keeps winning battle after battle.
Unfortunately, the fights in the AS League are supposed to be rigged, and Sousuke is throwing off the system… which gains him the attention of the local authorities (who are affiliated with Amalgam). It turns out the police chief has connections to the underground AS battles, which are a battle to the death that the wealthy place bets on. This works in Sousuke’s favor, because he wants to participate in this underground league in the hopes of getting answers on Chidori. The battle Sousuke finds himself in is supposed to be a trap to kill him, but Sousuke surprises everyone by getting the upper hand.
Unfortunately, Amalgam is unhappy with this development, and Nami (who had been kidnapped by the organization) is murdered by Kurama (the leader of the operation in NAMSAC) in front of Sousuke’s eyes. It’s also revealed that Lemon isn’t really a photographer, and that he’s actually part of a French organization that’s also after Amalgam. After Sousuke defeats Kurama and is wounded, he ends up joining forces with Lemon and his group in order to find Chidori.
The remaining four episodes show the audience what’s happened to Chidori and focuses on her thoughts and actions. This section also shows what’s happened to the survivors of the attack on Mithril and how they end up rejoining with Sousuke.
Near the end of the series, Sousuke finds Chidori, and this leads to the climax of the series. However, it should be noted that the story does not wrap up at the end of the final episode. In fact, there’s a cliffhanger ending for the episode. As of this writing, it has been almost four years since Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory finished airing, and there is no indication that another season of the series in on the way. With the way this series ended, there’s obviously still more to the story, so it’s a little frustrating that after all this time, there’s still no new anime to continue it. Hopefully there won’t be another 13-year gap between series.
When it comes to the story in Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory, it overall has a more serious tone than the previous series in the franchise. Throughout these episodes, there are a lot of losses and despair for our protagonists. To be honest, the tone of most of the series is on a downer, but it had to be that way in order to make the story work. The main hope the audience gets is right near the end of the final episode. But the character motivations throughout this series make sense, and I think the choice of having the three arcs of four episodes worked well to tell the story. There were also two “recap” episodes, one that fell between the first and second arc, and one that fell between the second and third arc. While these may have been nice for viewers who may have had to miss a week or so for a arc, they don’t truly add anything new for viewers who had been watching each week.
When it comes to the animation, the main thing that stuck out to me was the fact that the CG used for the mecha really stood out a lot in comparison with the rest of the animation. To be honest, if I hadn’t known that Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory had come out in 2018, I would have assumed it was earlier than that because of the CG. While there is going to be some kind of a noticeable difference between the CG and traditional animation, it seems like in more recent years that anime studios have found ways to make the differences feel less noticeable. So it was a little disappointing just how much the CG stands out, because there were times when the CG just stood out like a sore thumb.
For the most part, though, I did enjoy Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory. I was riveted by the storyline, and I wanted to go on to the next episode in order to find out what happens next. The main disappointment for me is the fact that the story doesn’t finish in this series, and as of this writing, there hasn’t been another season announced for the anime.
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