‘Full Metal Panic!’ Returns After 13 Years

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On Friday the 13th, 2018, after a thirteen-year wait, Full Metal Panic! returned. Fans of the franchise erupted in glee as the first episode of Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory hit the net. The fourth offering of this popular series dove right back into the action picking up where Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid left us hanging. While this strong start went over well with franchise fans, it dropped newcomers to the series right in to the middle of the story with nothing more than a few flashbacks.

To be fair, the past seasons weren’t rife with explicit details, especially on things like the Whispered. I’ll certainly be binge-watching the previous season as a refresher. The story then and now managed to maintain a natural feel without a lot of clutter and backstory details. The fun of speculation was always a part of the charm of the originals, and they did drop three full compilation movies prior to this premiere. Still, after thirteen years, a five-minute recap wouldn’t have stolen much thunder.

Mine Is Bigger Than Yours!

Speaking of thunder, this episode could go toe-to-toe with Thor. The saga of Sousuke Sagara, a member of the covert anti-terrorist organization known as Mithril, and Kaname Chidori, a spirited Japanese high school girl with strange abilities, doesn’t pull any punches in the long-awaited continuation of the light novels by the same name.  The battle between Mithril and Amalgam, a terrorist organization focused on securing Kaname and using her powers, jumped in to high gear immediately.

Opening with a sibling stand-off over the graves of Tessa and Leonard’s parents that involved Arm Slaves, it’s clear that this season is going to be serious, dark, and action packed. I mean, do you really need to bring an eighteen-meter mecha to place flowers on their parents’ grave? Well, if you are a Whispered, and a high-ranking member of Amalgam with a Whispered sibling who sided with Mithril, you do.

Leonard’s reintroduction in this episode has a lot of people speculating exactly what his role will be give that his loyalties to Amalgam are in question. When last we saw him, he was being pursued by Sousuke, and Mithril, as well as an anti-Leonard faction of Amalgam, for traitorous actions that we still haven’t gotten all the details on yet. A brusk gentleman channeling Leon: The Professional makes it clear that Leonard’s past actions are still being held against him. Maybe this season we will find out the full story.

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Sorry, Tessa!

The new relationship development that we saw between Sousuke and Kaname (no spoilers—go watch it) was the closest thing to a light moment in this episode. If you’re one who ships Sousuke with Kaname rather than Tessa then you were probably tense with anticipation.

The break from action didn’t last long. Leonard’s waiting for the couple in Kaname’s apartment. This guy is a hell of a multi-tasker—he ruins the romantic moment, delivers a threat, shows off his new mini Arm Slaves, declares his love for Kaname, brushes off a brutal rejection, and “accidentally” mentions the number of people Sousuke killed, all in one shot. Leonard, you might be pretty to look at but you’re jerk and you’ve got bad timing. Also, I’d hate to be this guy once Sousuke finds out that he kissed Kaname against her will. I wonder why she hasn’t told him yet…

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Twenty-four hours later, Amalgam’s Zero-hour plan takes effect. Worldwide communications are disrupted, surprise attacks are made on Mithril bases, and Sousuke’s strategic wisdom all have our cute couple on the run and desperate for an extraction. Just as it looked like we’d get a clean ending to this episode, the story throws you to the edge of a cliff and leave you hanging.

From start to finish, there were no boring moments in this episode. The art was good, the CGI held up well, the story was engaging, and the music was perfect. This is certainly looking like it will follow the manga more closely. That means we’ll be saying good-bye to the light-hearted comedy and high-school hi-jinks, but it also means we are looking at a roller coaster ride of action and adventure. After a premier like this, you can bet I’ll be watching every week. Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory is simulcast on Crunchyroll every Friday at 9:00 AM EDT.