Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory
Episode 10

by Theron Martin,

How would you rate episode 10 of
Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory ?

A lot of stuff is going on in this episode, but it will be remembered for exactly one scene with potentially devastating consequences: the long-awaited reappearance of Kalinin. The shocker is that Kalinin is now apparently in league with Amalgam.

Or at least it should be a shocker, anyway. I've known this since the beginning of the season due to some novel spoilers that I accidentally saw, but it was definitely an unexpected turn. Yes, Kalinin's behavior back during Amalgam's attack on the Merida Island facility was fishy, and he had quite the storied career before joining Mithril, but I find it hard to believe that he would be so easily swayed to the Dark Side. The scene where he shoots the Mithril guy from Hong Kong and essentially leaves him to die suggests that he isn't just infiltrating the organization, either – if so, he's taken “deep cover” to new extremes. It also raises the possibility that he was always a deep cover plant by Mithril, sent to keep an eye on Tessa, but I have a hard time believing that. Whatever his game, I hope we won't have to wait too long to get some explanation for his new allegiances.

The apparent theft of the ARX-08 composes most of the Alaska scene, while the rest of the episode distributes its time similarly to episode 9. On the San Francisco front, we learn that not all of what Tessa said last episode was a bluff; she really isn't paying the crew at this point, but they've stuck with her anyway. We also get the first real inkling of Amalgam's structure; it's more like a web than a pyramid, with no one person actually in charge. Such a decentralized structure would have great advantages defensively, but it makes accomplishing any collective goal rather difficult, which might explain why Amalgam hasn't had more success against Mithril before now. Meanwhile, Sousuke finds a clever way to thwart an attacker and eventually winds up with a foul-mouthed former Marine in Florida, where he is training himself back to health under Mr. Lemon's watchful eye. In Mexico, Kaname is vacillating between feeling helpless and feeling empowered, while Leonard drops the first real hint we've had about an ultimate goal: something about traveling “past the moon.” How all of this will converge is utterly unclear at this point, as despite some references being tossed out to other events, all of these threads are currently operating independently.

As crisp as the writing has generally been, it bogs down this episode in the scenes with the ex-military guy, who comes off like an old-school mecha coaches, and the effort to insert the F word into every other sentence he speaks seemed strained. This episode is also the first this season to engage in blatant fan service, with Tessa getting a strip-down in a scene where she's futilely trying to get some sleep and Kaname getting similar treatment in a swimming scene. There is some purpose to both these scenes; one effectively conveyed Tessa's state of mind behind the outward cool she projects, while Kaname's scene is about her collecting herself out of her fatalistic funk. Unlike with Tessa's scene, the musical theme for Kaname's turns into a sexier jazz version of a recurring FMP theme, which emphasizes its lurid focus.

The animation in this episode also deserves particular comment. Character movements in most action scenes seemed more awkward and stiff than normal, with the exception of Kaname's swimming scene, which was executed in a slightly different style. I'd be curious to know who is responsible for that particular scene.

Overall, “Onward, Onward” is definitely an appropriate title for the episode, as it pushes the story forward on many fronts.

Rating: B

Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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