Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory
by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 11 of
Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory ?
How would you rate episode 12 of
Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory ?
After a three week break, Invisible Victory is finally back with its concluding two episodes. Let's hope that we won't have to wait long for the next season; while this one doesn't end on a cliffhanger, it is decidedly more a halfway point than the completion of a story, more of a stepping stone to the final act than a good stopping point.
Still, at least it brings together many long-awaited story developments. If I had to pick my favorite, it would be Kaname finally finding her resolve in the middle of the final episode. She's shown flashes of her classic stubbornness and determination before this season, but she's also spent too much time mired in despair after what happened to Kyoko. That's what makes her scene in the middle of the episode, where she finally demands a rescue at any cost, all the more glorious and fulfilling. Her words are the height of selfishness, but they're also tantamount to granting Sousuke permission to do whatever it takes to bring them back together, making for a grander statement of commitment than following up with “I love you” and a promise to kiss when they're finally reunited. Of course, I can also hardly trivialize the importance of those three words finally being exchanged, an event that fans have been waiting for since the early stages of the first series. Choosing “Karenai Hana,” the closing theme of the first series, as the background music for that scene was an inspired choice in a pair of episodes that otherwise underwhelm with their music.
The other key development was (almost) everyone finally coming back together over the course of these two episodes after being scattered since the beginning of the series. Some of it seemed a little forced or improbable, but it's worth it to see Sousuke finally back with the Mithril crew on the Tuatha de Danaan. It could be interesting to see what Mr. Lemon will contribute to the mix, not to mention his amusing infatuation with Tessa. I'm also curious about how the old U.S. military guys know Tessa – and she seems to know them too. Perhaps most impressively, Al is back as Sousuke's AI, and he has quite the attitude now! That should be fun to watch going forward.
Of course, that brings up the debut of the ARX-8 Laevatein. (For those curious about the name, it's a reference to a magic weapon from a poem about Norse mythology.) Sousuke was in desperate need of something awesome after using ramshackle equipment for the whole season, and he certainly got it. The auxiliary arms, the new heavy long-range firepower – this was the power upgrade that he's long needed. It is weird that he's suddenly so proficient with the Lambda Driver when he's always struggled with it or underused it in the past, and I'm not as willing to let the series off the hook on that just because it's cool. At least Leonard finally takes the head shot from Kaname that he's long deserved, even if it was accidental and only a graze.
There are still plenty of loose ends remaining, such as the nature of Project Calliope, why Kalinin betrayed his team, and was that really a decoy that was sent out in Alaska? Kalinin's mouthed words to Sousuke – “try to stop me” – were also an interesting choice. Taunts aren't Kalinin's style, so is that meant to indicate that he's being compelled to do this or that he really is deep undercover, as some viewers have suspected? Tossing out a new foe and new mecha in the final episode of the season is also a tacky ploy.
On the production front, the animation has barely improved from the low points of the previous episodes, and the CG for the mecha scenes is fine enough, but there are still plenty of awkward scenes, especially the one around the 7-minute mark of episode 12 where the guys holding Sousuke prisoner get gunned down. In general, episode 11 didn't have the verve that would be expected for such a battle-heavy episode, and I place the fault there at least partly on the tepid music selections. Episode 12 recovers some on that, with the value of its many major climactic scenes, so I would rate it a couple of steps higher. However, outside of the scenes where the ARX-8 is showing off and Sousuke is talking to Kaname, this climax mostly feels ordinary. So while the finale did cover a lot of important bases, these last two episodes together don't represent Full Metal Panic! at its best.
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