Posted on 3 July 2018 with categories: Currently Watching:, Full Metal Panic Invisible Victory

Oh no. Well I suppose this was coming with all the news of this series troubles but it is disheartening to see it come to worst case scenario with the quality of this episode. This is the episode that announces without a doubt that this team is at the breaking point. Characters go off model several times, the animation get to levels of absurd with Sousuke running an obstacle course and his animation missing frames, audio errors like Sousuke kicking away a canister for it to make no noise whatsoever from the sound of the sergeants pockets being patted despite his hand currently lighting a cigar. Tessa eating a sandwich without even opening her mouth. Boy of boy, I don’t know if this episode was outsourced or what but you can just see the tremendous drop in quality. I don’t blame the animation team as it does feel like they were going above and beyond for this series and that finally broke them. I previously wished for a second cour but at this rate I should consider it lucky if we get to the end of this cour with respectable quality. Well after this episode there will be a three week break until the next one so I hope that would remedy some of the problems with production.

Despite this the story still holds up as we have Sousuke manage to fend off an attacker, Tessa dealing with insomnia and guilt of over the the stress and guilt of the situation and Chidori finding out Sousuke is still searching for her and finding herself wishing to disappear due to the trouble she’s causing others. Not to mention Kalinin revealing that he was a traitor to Mythril and a Amalgam spy. If this last revela felt a bit out of nowhere that would be because it was supposed to be revealed at the end of the Dancing very Merry Christmas volume which was skipped over by this adaption. So indeed the reveal here feels rather abrupt due to the fact that the audience should already know about it at this point but I kinda wish they gave the reveal a bit more gravitas. He wasn’t a major character but he did play an important role in the series, not to mention being a mentor for Sousuke so him being a traitor is sort of a big deal. Still they set him up well as a villain here what with him shooting a man and telling him that he will die in 30 minutes if not given first aid. Remarkably cold that upon being refused he just left him there to bleed out, not even asking him to reconsider.

It is rather funny that the fanservice moments of this episode were downplayed by the situation what with Tessa stripping down to rest only to be unable to eat, sleep and being racked with guilt all the while lying to her officers and pretending she’s fine. She’s still a teenager after all so no doubt this hits her hard and when Kalinin’s betrayal is revealed to her that’s gonna be devastating. Chidoris situation by contrast isn’t quite as dire and her scene felt a little more gratuitous with her jumping into a pool and swimming lengths in her underwear. Which gave her motivation because…hmm…I don’t quite remember her being on the swim team. I guess cause it reminded her of swimming class at school or that she just felt she needed to do something? Truth be told I don’t quite grasp the logic but whatever it was got her pumped to do something at least. I just hope her little angst moments are few and far between. Other than that we got some good comedy with Sousuke’s old sergeant who was drilling in a personal philosophy of being a soldier into him only fr Sousuke to literally get knocked out and the sergeant goes “Well I guess that happens” Also saying shit in Japanese is fine yet saying fucking in English needs to be beeped out? These censors need some fucking guts. Well we won’t be getting the next episodes for another three weeks so it will be quite the wait till I can close this one off. I am still waiting on SHaft to get those final Fate/Extra episodes out as well come to think of it. Hopefully they don’t all hit during a bad time.

Posted on 26 June 2018 with categories: Currently Watching:, Full Metal Panic Invisible Victory

My hopes for a second cour of this series grow all the more fainter as I see the clear production issues that the animation studio are having. Bless them as this series is still provided to be excellent quality and a proud representative of the source despite all these woes but I really do wish they would continue for just one more cour. As one more cour would be enough to cover the last of the novels and after all these years it would really suck to leave Full Metal Panic unfinished yet again, perhaps at a worse ending point than second raid many years before. Which would be a great shame on many levels for I have seen many anime beginnings but very few true ends.

This episode was mainly focused on Tessa whom after the events of five episodes ago is left wandering the streets and brought into a hospital. She seems traumatised by the whole affair and puts forth a tale of the mithral staff turning against her in mutiny. It is rather interesting as we seen suggestions of mutiny before though those were given a cold reception. But when you aren’t getting your pay and supplies run short then loyalty can waver. Considering the dark turn this series has taken as of late this development actually fits which makes it pretty believable despite the fact that it was all a clever ruse. Got to say that if I didn’t know the story from the novels then i might have fell for this hook, line and sinker. Amalgam took the bait hard and proceeded to kidnap her though before that we had Tessa talking to a psychiatrist who took her talk of mythril as delusional ramblings. So it was immensely satisfying for Tessa to reveal it all a bluff to lure out amalgam and the ensuing action was pretty great as always. Also Tessa cursing like a sailor telling the man to pass on the message that she hates fucking pieces of shit like her brother, as well as mythrils reaction to hearing her, was pure gold.

Indeed this was another Tessa moment of badass that cements her status as best girl while Chidori makes omelettes. Speaking of her though she briefly shows up and seems to be treated well at Amalgam then certainly a lot colder than before. It’s nice to see she isn’t balling her eyes out and has enough backbone to give Leonard snide comments but it would certainly be a shame if this was the last position we see her in by series end. Sousukes still alive of course though it seems he suffered hard by his last encounter and now he’s in an even more dire situation as Amalgam are attacking the base and he can barely move. Lemon does show a bit more character her as he lets him know that he truly cared for Nami and even going as far to say that he might have loved her. He says he doesn’t hold a grudge but also says that the only reason they won’t torture him is because he wouldn’t survive it so perhaps there is some misgivings. But even he might be next up on the chopping block to join her if the end of this episode hints right. I am quite interested in seeing just how the hell Sousuke is going to defend himself with his body bedridden. One thing I haven’t really mentioned is that the anime is cutting out details a bit. For one the girl who was programing ALs core is in fact the girl sousuke rescued in episode 1, who I mistakenly thought died. But one detail I thought was a shame was that when Sousuke woke up he quoted the name of the painting on the wall in the book, which was “Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?” and Al quoted that exact same thing when he first woke up. Which is certainly an interesting connection these two have.

Posted on 12 June 2018 with categories: Currently Watching:, Full Metal Panic Invisible Victory

Well…shit. Sadly having read the Full Metal Panic novels quite a while back I was prepared for this particular development and thus wasn’t quite as effected by it as I would have been. bUt I am certain to anyone who is watching this unspoiled that the way this episode started would have caught them completely off guard. But yes indeed, the girl who helped out our protag for the past few episodes and acted as surrogate female lead has been gunned down and is dead. I find myself in two minds over this particular twist as it has its positives and negatives. For one Nami’s death was unexpected as hell and this may be the very first time I seen someone get taken hostage and actually followed through on killing them. Think back to any other time you see this situation and without doubt you would imagine the girl getting out alive with absolute certainty. Yet nope, the countdown happens and just right before it ends at which you think something is going to save her, the villain decides to throw her forward and shoot her in the back. Shouting that the same fate awaits Chidori once he returns to headquarters.

It helps establish our villain in this arc and give Sousuke cause to throw away his recent no killing policy and just go full Rambo. But on the other hand, it is a very “women in refrigerator” twist. RIght from the start Nami was raised to be a sacrificial lamb, simply because killing off the actual main cast would have been far too cold. Her entire purpose is to give Sousuke motivation, development and drive with her death. That’s rather…hmmm. In the previous episode where Kyouko go hit by shrapnel that at least served a purpose in destroying the safe haven of the school and showing the danger that Sousuke and Kaname present by remaining. Nami on the other hand, she was literally tossed in there to die. I normally don’t tend to take matters of gender roles in fiction jinto account as it is fairly murky waters that depends on the opinion of the observer but if I was challenged on this plot point being somewhat sexist I fear I might not have a rebuttal.

But that aside, the previous episodes may have been lacking with the downtime from the main plot but this episode was an action extravaganza. I mean truly the choreography of these fights was exceptional with the pure calculated moves of Sousuke just tearing through every opponent he faced. I have been praising the hell out of the mecha animators and they truly went all out for this. The action was fast and furious, never slowing do a moment to have the protagonist monologue in his head, as a matter of fact that may be the best aspect of this episode. The final confrontation between Sousuke and Kurama was sublime, barely a word of dialogue yet plans unfolding on screen through pure animation. Sousuke shooting the ground to raise smoke to cover himself while he moved position, Kurama dropping a grenade on the stairs as he ran, Sousuke quite literally casually kicking aside the grenade and even the mind games with the door and Sousuke’s bloodtrail. I loved it, may be the best action sequence i seen in quite a while. I even like this villain even though he’s mid boss level at best. While a bit of a gimmick I like the detail that he quit smoking and has taken to chewing carrot sticks to get over his addiction. I also like his high degree of professionalism with his job and knowing that the police chief would be worthless.

But I really like that he fully admits that he hated killing Nami but it was just an effective means to ensure that Sousuke would hunt him to the ends of the earth first and give him time to plan an ambush. Any other villain I can see getting practical orgasmic over killing defenseless women but this guy was at least decent enough to hate having to resort to it. Even at the end when Sousuke won and he was going to die without giving him a thing, he tell Sousuke what he knows after Sousuke reveals that he did it all out of love for Chidori. Which he finds stupid but is moved enough to let him know where to look. Oddly enough I can’t seem to hate this guy. Anyway with another volume covered we won’t be getting a episode next friday as the animation team takes a well deserved break. I get the feeling this series is pushing Xebec to it’s limits and they truly are bringing their full A game to this. My hope is they can make it to covering the last of the FMP novels as to leave FMP unfinished again after all these years would be a serious shame. Though I am worried that this series may not be doing as well as it should due to a lot not watching it thanks to the need to watch all previous seasons, not to mention the really strong lineup this season of competitors with lower bars of entry. I hope in Japan this series is getting the attention it deserves and i know I sure as hell will be buying the blu-ray.

Posted on 7 June 2018 with categories: Currently Watching:, Full Metal Panic Invisible Victory

Forgive my lack up posts recently as work has gotten rather burdensome which has left me little time to blog. But it seems the past two episodes of Full Metal Panic have bee rather subdued when compared to the first four episodes. WIth Mythril on the run and Amalgam having taken Chidori Sousuke is left without any of the military resources he has had up till this point. So we find him in the middle east fighting in a robot tournament with a new heroine and a odd change of focus. I understand to a degree why this arc exists, after all it wouldn’t really make sense for Sousuke to burst into Amalgam headquarters straight away but this is admittedly a rather lackluster arc that could easily be mistaken for filler. In particular I am not fond of this new girl and if there is one thing I truly hate in a series it’s when they introduce a new girl to fall for the main protagonist when the main romance has been decided.

If this arc is good for anything though it’s showing how Sousuke has changed, for one he seems to have adopted a no killing policy for the moment but he’s still pretty brutal seeing as he stabbed a knife into a guys neck and used that as a threat. It’s nice to see his reactions upon being probed about the past. But Sousuke is the one carrying the show at the moment as the newly introduced characters just feel throwaway and second tier. Things will pick up and signs of doing so are here with Sousuke revealing his agenda to get into the illegal fights of the robot tournament. I also must admit there was some smart advertisement sponsorship going on as the robots now have brands pasted on them making a clever way to integrate product placement without it being intrusive. If it means more funds for this anime then I approve as it does feel like real effort and passion is being put into this anime. The mecha CGI animation remains fairly impressive and the fights are quite good.

As lacking as this arc is, at least we got a good fight out of it as Sousuke takes on a M9 in a illegal fight. It makes for an good twist of fate for Sousuke to fight the machine he used to make use of. Almost a reversal of his previous position where in the enemy would have the less advance tech while Sousuke was riding with the state of the art. The fight itself was good and even outside of it were getting rather dark as Sousukes teammates were almost shot and made into pig feed. Though Lemon jumps into with the utterly unsurprising reveal that he is not a photographer but instead some sort of French intelligence agent. We also learn that our new girl here is also whispered which has the weird aspect that all the girls who fell for Sousuke happened to be whispered and a rather foreboding image of Sousuke looking at her through his robots camera and seeing her as bloodied corpse. Possibly a reminder of his failed attempt to rescue a whispered in the first episode all those years ago or just him acknowledging that the girl will be hunted till the end of her days if her abilities ever got out. New episode looks to be a rather tough situation for SOusuke, one that could have him determine just how much this new girl means to him.

Posted on 10 May 2018 with categories: Currently Watching:, Full Metal Panic Invisible Victory

Damn. I mean damn. You would think bringing back an old series like this would begin to show its age but Full Metal Panic looks to have aged like fine wine. This episode really pulled off the desperate struggle Sousuke was going through and hit hard with action and the new serious tone it’s been going for. WIth this episode we finish animating the seventh volume of the series and it ended with quite a bang. The last few episodes have been a pure destruction of the school setting and lighthearted antics of Full Metal Panic. Nothing quite makes that hit home more that seeing Kyouko, almost the symbol of that side of the series, pierced through the stomach with debri. It looks very much like she will live but the moment she turned around and seeing that wound caused an emotional reaction in me I can’t quite explain. I wouldn’t even consider her to be a character I particular cared for in the original series but seeing that was akin to seeing a child mascot get mowed down in a hail of gunfire.

It most likely is a product of the nostalgia gathered after 12 years but that moment made you feel the exact same way as Sousuke did. Almost a desecration of something sacred. Though we did get one small callback to funnier times when the student council president references the dangerous gas of Fumofu’s last episode to get the school to evacuate. In the novel the villain actually remarks that it would be impossible to evacuate a school that fast and for any other school this would be true. But this school knows Sousuke and therefore when they say he’s done something insane then it’s time to run.

This episode was a confirmation that this series will completely abandon the lighthearted tone of old as Sousuke leaves the school to chase down Chidori. It’s admittedly a bit of a cliche for Chidori to give herself up to the enemy in order to save Sousuke but in this case I allow it as we got to see Sousuke lose badly for the first time in the series. This was him battered to the brink, with Arbalest destroyed and left down to nothing but a pistol, but still firing it in vain. On that note, the mecha CGI was beautiful, Belials animation makes look remarkably cool and you can truly feel the weight of these machines in their movement. Also in this episode we got the reveal of Wraith whom, to be blunt, I completely forgot about. It’s not that unbelievable to do so seeing as Wraith never really showed up until second raid and there she didn’t reveal herself and mainly fought on the sidelines. But I certainly did a double take seeing her disguise herself as a the teacher and suddenly kick all kinds of ass. I was half believing that the teacher was an undercover operative this whole time. The Tuatha de Danaan ramming a behemoth was also superb. Overall I am very satisfied with how Xebec has handled the adaption and I hope they can keep this up.

Posted on 1 May 2018 with categories: Currently Watching:, Full Metal Panic Invisible Victory

We got nearly a full episode of mecha combat so time for those CGI animators to show us what they can do. Now I gave this series a lot of grief last episode over CGI, so it’s only fitting to commend the CGI this episode as that was some excellent mecha CGI. not quite seamless enough to not be recognised as CGI but the movement of the mechs made it very easy to forgive that. Three quarters of the episode was pretty much mecha combat and it didn’t feel janky while also conveying the weight of these mechs. 2D mecha would still be preferred obviously but as an alternative I am fine with this as well. I loved the scene were the behemoth jammed the barrel of it’s cannon into a mecha, swung the mech upward and shot it in midair. Admittedly it was supposed to be a rather grim death scene but I saw that and immediately thought “Damn that was cool.” Speaking of which we did have some death scenes, though none of characters that were all that well known.

Seems they may have gotten more attention in the novels but right here and now all I scene was background character cannon fodder. Though one of which was Speck, who was the soldier that was joking about mutiny one episode back. Now sacrificing his life to give Kurtz a shot at taking down a behemoth. Again it does feel a bit trite but I find myself willing to forgive it. Another argument I have heard is in why Kurtz pretty much watched Speck die without doing anything and only after it finished killing him. But someone brought up that he couldn’t get a clear shot because the composite armour was all he could see and once the mech turned it’s head, he had a clear shot at the exposed head. Makes sense as firing beforehand would cause him to lose the surprise factor, which when fighting Behemoths is integral to taking them down. One detail I really love is that upon Kurtz taking out the main control of the behemoth, the mech was crushed under its own weight. Ultimately black technology is what keeps these robots bipedal and if you take that out then the robot quite literally destroys itself.

Other than that we got a really nice scene with Sousuke and Chidori where in the do a thing that a majority of couples need to do in anime. Actually communicate with each other. You could call it an anticlimactic resolution to their individual problems but it certainly is good to see characters actually deal with their problems instead of letting them bottle up their emotions until the appropriate climatic moment for maximum dramatic effect. Like episode 14 of a certain show about Darlings. The fact of the matter is that these two have been through a lot so actually seeing them talk things out is excellent development for them. Chidori admits to being both in love and scared of Sousuke with Sousuke admitting the same thing about her. You would think it would take an entire episode for Chidori to push Sousuke to rescue her classmates over protecting her and yet Sousuke cuts that right off by stating that he wants to protect Chidori and the school life that she cares for. Admittedly in the novel there was a bit more Angst with Chidori suddenly talking furious technobabble to explain the situation being hopeless and the manga goes even further than that. So I actually prefer how it was handled in the anime, less dramatic, more sensible. Cause those things are precious to him too. Actually makes me wish I could have given the entire series a rewatch up until this point cause this really does feel like a development the series has been building towards for a long time.

Posted on 25 April 2018 with categories: Currently Watching:, Full Metal Panic Invisible Victory

A long awaited return of an old favorite is quite enough to make me smile but this episode makes it clear that this will not be the same happy go lucky FMP of the past. The light hearted shenanigans of the old series are pretty much gone now with Kaname coming to grips with several things that she has been ignoring to this point. That her status as whispered puts everyone around her in danger, that her normal life has officially ended and that the boy that she smacked on the head with a paper fan is in fact a killer. This new direction could be a turn off for some but I personally welcome it, even though it wasn’t clearly planned to be as such, it’s like FMP matured with the audience that watched it so long ago thus it decided to push for a more mature tone. Seeing Kaname get freaked out over Sousuke ignoring injured pedestrians and even smiling over enemy soldiers getting mowed down with gunfire felt like something a long time coming. Because Sousuke’s military nature was always played for laughs and she got desensitized to it but now that she’s right in the thick of it she truly understands that for all his eccentricity, Sousuke truly has killed a lot of people, some of which being innocent people.

Naturally I will have to bring up that rather awkward chase scene. Xebec so far has been doing a pretty good job, not KyoAni level but they do at least seem to be aiming for that level of quality. Naturally compromises have to be made like the CGI mecha but I personally don’t mind that as the mecha have looked pretty good for the most part. I understand that this series is likely a demanding one as far as action goes and this will be action heavy season yet. But that chase scene was just…terrible looking. Like on the level of PS2 gameplay. The cars felt floaty and the background was full CGI that didn’t feel convincing in the slightest. It’s my hope they fix this for the Blu-Ray release because the scene itself was fine, great even. But it just didn’t look right as all, nearly on the level of the CGI Bears of Golden Kamuy.

Tessa also has her moments here as the series goes to lengths to show us that she is the leader of Mythril for a reason. I will say the means of doing so was rather contrived, namely through a random soldier suddenly proposing mutiny against her and Tessa conventently showing up to put him in his place. Indeed it was a forced circumstance but nonetheless it achieved the goal of making Tessa look good. Basically with her declaring that she would kill any traitor without hesitation personally and reminding them that this isn’t some Tessa fan club but a military organisation. You can argue her methods are extreme and the threat was an empty one at best but it still is a badass moment for Tessa. She even reenacted the “Say my name” scene from Breaking Bad…about eight years before Breaking Bad did it. Huh…wonder if this is were they got the idea…likely not. So shit has hit the fan for Mythril and now it looks like even Sousukes classmates may come to know the truth about him. With the fun and games behind us, where will FMP go?

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