Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory
by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 8 of
Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory ?
Two episodes ago, I expressed fear for Nami's long-term well-being, and within the first couple of minutes of this episode, my fears prove all-too-well-founded. Even though the episode pulled its punches a bit by not showing the effects of Kurama's second and third shots, that was still a harsh and stunning way to take her out; especially after the hints last episode that she might be special, I didn't expect her to be killed this quickly or meaninglessly. This is one case where I actually hope the series pulls something out of its ass to reveal that she's not dead, but given the finality of the episode's end and the way it slams the door on the Namsac story arc, I'll be shocked if they do.
Actually, her death isn't quite meaningless, since it certainly had the effect Kurama intended: to egg Sousuke into coming after him directly. I did find it curious that he considered it “terrible” that he had to kill her, as that seems incongruous with his wicked smile over how her death served his purpose; perhaps like his comments about putting the bomb on Kyoko a few episodes back, this is meant to reinforce his character as a man who doesn't let ethics stand in the way of practicality. We'll never know, I guess, because even more shockingly, Kurama doesn't survive this episode either. Apparently being more practical than either Gauron or Gates also means that he stays practical in dying.
The path to that point packs in plenty of thrills. We finally find out that Mr. Lemon is with French Special Forces and they were also investigating Amalgam, but his desire to coordinate efforts isn't going to stop a Sousuke who's about as pissed off as he's ever been. That means a lot of early gunfire before he goes all-out against the rival arena mecha the police chief finagles into trying to stop Sousuke. The urban setting makes for a satisfyingly dynamic fight, where Sousuke can prove his skill while also proving that he isn't untouchable. As good as that sequence was, it was followed by an impressively intense gun battle on foot between Sousuke and Kurama, with the stadium as their battlefield. They were both convincing as professionals at the top of their game, with every burst of gunfire being strategic and multiple fake-outs and misdirections in play. Even Sousuke casually kicking a grenade aside didn't warrant special dramatic attention because it was such a small part of the whole battle. Nothing unsatisfying about the way it ended, either; Sousuke should have been at death's door after that kind of battle, and his particular use of “what's wrong with that?” in response to Kurama's jab about rescuing Kaname for love is one of the franchise's best lines outside of Fumoffu! I was just as impressed that Kurama actually accepted this answer.
Then a great episode wraps up with a great epilogue: Wraith resurfaces, and she's gotten possession of the ARX-8, the successor to Sousuke's Arbalest (which was ARX-7). That and the possible locations where Kaname could be offer up exciting possibilities for the next arc. I'm a little concerned from the way things played out that Nami might be forgotten too easily once the hunt for Kaname proceeds in earnest, but that's only a tiny negative in an episode that otherwise does everything right.
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