「ゼロアワー」 (Zeroawaa)
“Zero Hour”

How long has it been? 12 years? More? Wow. It’s been long enough that I’m sure I’ve forgotten a lot about Full Metal Panic!. As far as plot goes, I can’t exactly remember what I was supposed to look forward to. But even without the details, just the visceral impact of the return of FMP is enough to rev the hype engine. Hearing all the old seiyuu reprise their roles and inhabit their characters again was frankly the most fulfilling part of this pilot for Invisible Victory. If we take off our nostalgia glasses for a moment, we may recall that FMP was certainly not an infallible series. It had its ups and down, changed hands between staff and studio, and had its own moments of strength and weakness. But its firmest constant of goodness was its cast, full of characters both colourful and flavourful, and they are for the most part the forces that drive the story. It didn’t hurt that FMP had very snappy comedy, which allowed the quirks of the cast to come to the fore nad build a strong dynamic within the cast.

It’s notable, then, that Invisible Victory starts by killing off the comedy immediately. I noted in the preview that Invisible Victory was going to be full of Serious Business, and evidently it is not going to hesitate in delivering that message itself. There is no setup, no preamble, no concessions for those who may not be familiar with the original series. FMP jumps back in more or less right where it left off, and its first task is to flag a changing of the guard. In the anime, most of the Sousuke and Kaname’s schoolmates only played significant roles in the comedy spinoff Fumoffu. They are representative of the high school setting in general, where all the fish-out-of-water humour and slice-of-life segments take place, and now they’re being put on a bus. In particular, a point is made of the departure of Hayashimizu. At the school, he was the rock. No matter what insane hijinks, nothing permanently bad ever happens because Hayashimizu is our fixer. He’s the hand-wave character. The wizard who sets thing right. So long as he was around one got the impression that things would more or less work out. The joke used to be that the ‘Big Good’ of FMP was not Mithril or anything like that, but Hayashimizu, if only because he was largely untouchable. Now, even any illusion of peace and safety the school might have had is gone.

But even for the least genre-savvy of us it should be obvious that FMP is escalating. Amalgam’s very own silver-haired smarmy bastard outright says so. In an anime with a slower start that kind of scene would be the calm before the storm but there’s no such luxury here. Instead, explosions! Dialogue is full of fluffy words, but nobody mistakes explosions. Considering that Invisible Victory comes to us after a lull of more than a decade I would have expected that it would want to ease us back into the story gently, but it seems like we’re going to pretend that there was no gap at all. Sousuke and Kaname’s relationship go into full development without fuss, furious blushing and all, war is declared with neither song nor dance, and their world collapses before it has scarcely begun. Normally I would raise some concerns about the pacing but Gatoh Shouji is handling the scripts himself and I trust that he knows what he wants. And what he wants is, apparently, shock and awe. I think we can work with that. It’s like we haven’t heard from FMP for a decade but now it suddenly shows up at our door again, kicks out of bed, and drags us outside. Go, go, go, no time to pack or get dressed, just like our protagonists.

That said, I don’t feel that FMP has truly started yet until the giant mecha start shooting at each other. This is just a prelude, a signal for what is to come, especially the hand holding scene. Invisible Victory may not have much action yet, but it sure has built up the thrills. While this pilot was a full escalation of the plot, we’re still in code yellow. I guess it’s saying that however excited this new beginning to Full Metal Panic! has gotten you, you’re not nearly excited enough. More panic is in order.


  1. For all it’s (many) faults, FMP The Second Raid at least opened with a slick combat scene that extends for almost the entirety of its first episode. Fuck, even the first season managed to begin with a five or so minutes of combat. Invisible Victory couldn’t even manage that, despite promises of “jumping straight back to the action.” Nope, let’s make an entire episode of talking heads, because dull exposition scenes just screams Epic Worldbuilding, amirite boys?

    This…is pretty much worse than I had feared. I had expected some decent action weighed down by a rushed plot (because they’re apparently aiming to finish the entire story even though there’s supposed to be a lot of material left). Turns out we don’t even get the former.

    The only reason I wasn’t more disappointed by this is because the Samurai Jack clusterfuck had greatly reduced my hype for long-awaited continuations of old series.

    1. These 12 episodes will only cover vol. 7-9. The last ones will be adapted at a later date, possibly a split cour. At that pace, they will cover them with the same length of TSR, which also gave 4-5 episodes to every volume it covered.

      Sad to hear it did not meet your expectations, I thoroughly enjoyed this first episode so I can’t say I share your sentiment.

      1. You’re right, the episode titles confirm Volumes 7-9 will be covered. Which as you say will leave the final three volumes. I think it’s clear Xebec will announce that wrap up season to cover 10-12 after the final episode airs. Split cour it is!

    2. Great first episode. Really pleased they didn’t jump into it with a pointless mecha battle and instead took time to reintroduce the main characters, put relationships front and center, say a “goodbye” to the school, and ramp up the tension. Series looks really good.

      I actually pity those few viewers who couldn’t enjoy this! Much better than I hoped.

    1. time has stood still for them, these twelve years the clock has been stopped at 6 (Volume 6) but now it has the clock has finally striked seven and time has started again. Wipe the sleep from your eyes as this journey finally continues.

  2. This episode, this is the build up, the calm before the storm, to bring us back into FMP before shit really hits the fan. Amalgam’s on the warpath and Mithril and the Whispered are their first targets. Amalgam didn’t put their cards on the table, they flipped it and shot Mithril in the head. Now that that everything is uprooted and on the move FMP can finally get going.

  3. https://randomc.net/image/Full%20Metal%20Panic%20Invisible%20Victory/Full%20Metal%20Panic%20Invisible%20Victory%20-%2001%20-%20Large%2001.jpg
    Tessa: “I know I haven’t been here in a long time. But I thought I should stop by. After all, it seems like things are going to get rough.”
    Me: “Better late than never, Tessa. Welcome back.”

    Yes, I know Tessa’s line was meant for her (and Leonard’s) deceased parents, but it can also be taken as leaning on the fourth wall since it’s really been a long wait for the fans of the Full Metal Panic! anime. Also, I’m happy that the first scene of Invisible Victory‘s first episode has Tessa in it. (*Squees*)

    Thank goodness I still (more or less) remember what happened from the first two seasons (and Fumoffu) all those years ago. That refresher course over at ANN also helped, though this episode does have a brief moment re-establishing what a “Whispered” is.

    The last time I was excited for next week’s episode was back when Diamond is Unbreakable was airing. I’m feeling that excitement once again.

    1. also i am impressed. They do have camouflage, and they also can move super silent while cloaked.. Imagine this Mechas do not make any sound at all while moving or put their feet on the ground.. Impressive

      Sames go for the Helicopter, too

      1. Actually it was the helicopter I had the most problem with. Maybe you could use some sort of optical camouflage to hide it and even do something to silence the rotor blades, but how do you stop the downdraft? It’s the displaced air that’s basically keeping the thing up, so if you get rid of that then it’s not going to stay airborne. And if you have some other means of keeping airborne then why even have the rotor blades in the first place?

        Apart from that (and the atrocious CGI at the start), I really enjoyed it.

      2. – alone the foot of the Mechas would bend some grass to the side…nothing. In Ghost in the Shell you would get fired because of that

        – yes alone the wind the helicopter created to stay afloat would create an strong wind on the ground

        But hey, this is Anime (and an one where we was waiting for so long).. lets not punish them to strong for this little physics “bending”

      3. @Angelus: IIRC from the first season of FMP, Sousuke returns from an away mission by having the stealth transport helicopter land on Jindai High’s softball field while Kaname and her clubmates are in the middle of a game. The helicopter remains stealthed (though light distortions could be seen), but the downdraft does kick up a lot of dust, which gives Sousuke a bit of cover before he emerges from the dust cloud.

        That being said, I’m pretty sure the answer to why incredibly advanced optical camouflage (a.k.a.: ECS), stealthy heavy-lift choppers, Arm Slaves, and the physics-defying Lambda Drive exists is:

        “A Whispered did it.”

        While it’s no longer a mystery for Light Novel readers how the Whispered came into being (including Kaname, Tessa, and Leonard), I can’t wait to see how it’s revealed in the anime–if it gets revealed this season.

  4. https://randomc.net/image/Full%20Metal%20Panic%20Invisible%20Victory/Full%20Metal%20Panic%20Invisible%20Victory%20-%2001%20-%20Large%2002.jpg
    Now that’s how you start a sequel in 13 years.

    This maybe a personal thought. When Second Raid came out, I didn’t know much about anime. Even I hadn’t even discovered Randomc yet. Yesterday, I checked out the Second Raid file on Randomc and I saw the date. October 19, 2005. Somehow I feel nostalgic even though I just discovered it on 2011.

    I’m impressed that Randomc has been doing great for years. Thank you for all the good work!

    One Pinch Man
    1. They should give the Main Actor and his “girl” and Anime Medal of Honor.. I bet Japan emissary in France can think of something 🙂 or the Director

      Is his face also appearing in Nioh? (PS4) Well, gaijin meets an other gaijin…

  5. I always go into something like this prepared to dislike it, prepared to be of the minority opinion, prepared to be attacked for loving whatever the exciting New and Shiny thing is. I get it. I’m old, I’m curmudgeonly, I can be a bit snobbish. But what can I say? Sorry, I think every Gundam anime series after Turn A was kind of bad (at best); Gurren-Lagann was boring; and Code Geass R2 is 100% worthless twaddle.

    So this season has been a bit unusual for me: the new Lupin series is really good, the Galactic Heroes remake isn’t terrible (it’s actually pretty okay!) and lo and behond, the new Full Metal Panic show is actually brilliant.

    My expectations for all three were *so* low. And I’m blown away. Invisible Victory is starting out strong–stronger, I’d say, than the first episodes of FMP, Fumoffu, or TSR. It’s incredible. I am a bit skeptical, however, at Leonard showing up so quickly. My memory of TSR is that it only vaguely hinted that Leonard was working for Mithril, so it feels like–even ignoring the 13-year gap–there’s some connective tissue missing between TSR and IV. Hopefully they’ll go back and animate DVMC somehow to fill in that gap… maybe as an OVA, maybe as a movie. Since DVMC was the last book to really focus heavily on the more comedic aspects of the series, you’d think there’d be an audience for it in the wake of IV’s super-serious stuff (and boy oh boy, things are gonna get dark).

    Also, random aside, is no one here blogging Lupin V? That’d be… a real shame. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the best show of the season so far. (Gets bonus points over IV for not being an adaptation of an existing work).

    1. “Also, random aside, is no one here blogging Lupin V? That’d be… a real shame. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the best show of the season so far. (Gets bonus points over IV for not being an adaptation of an existing work).”

      It is a damn shame, especially since Lupin part V is easily one of the best shows airing this season

      1. The thing is, we didn’t cover the previous Lupin either, and the franchise has been going on long enough that basically everyone has the general sense that it is good and if you like Lupin you’re probably watching Lupin already.

      2. @Passerby I can’t say I agree. Lupin V is a major breath of fresh air for the franchise, and I’ve encountered plenty of anime fans who don’t know the first thing about Lupin, don’t know where to start and are hesitant to jump into the franchise at this point.

        And also, that argument can be applied to *many* of the shows covered here, including Invisible Victory.

      3. @Arsene
        Well, Invisible Victory has new staff and direction, but I understand your general point and it’s fair. Unfortunately, we never have the manpower for 100% coverage of any anime season (nor do we really make that our goal) so there’s always a few holes here and there. For shows we don’t devote a full post to introduce, I hope that readers of this site will check out our preview, where we talk about all the shows of the season (and where I recommended new entrants to Lupin start with the 2015 season). Do feel free to continue telling us which shows you would like see covered in the comments. If we see higher demand for a show it may increase the likelihood someone picks it up.

  6. This wasted absolutely no time jumping back into the plot. Which is why I had to marathon the entirety of The Second Raid (having never watched it before) because otherwise, this wouldn’t have much context.

    So nice to see Sousuke attempting to take the first step in a serious relationship with Kaname instead of the other way around. Really shows how far he’s come. Of course, Kaname also holding his hand, even though she said it’s strange after the fact, was sweet.

    If there is one thing I’m not sure of though, it’s the transition to 3D mechs instead of sticking to 2D models. I’m not surprised they’d take this approach in this day and age of anime, but the 2D models were so well done before in FMP! , so I couldn’t help but to feel strange about all this. They may actually be good, but for now I’ll hold my judgement.

    1. Agreed. This is in fact my ONLY concern. And NO, i belive it will be trash. As is the level of CGI in modern anime.
      As the old heads perish, the new fans will accept the travesty that is low budget CGI as the norm.



      BROOKLYN otaku
      1. It’s true that the 3D CGI tech just isn’t there for anime yet. They don’t have the time or budget to do the high quality stuff in movies and big name video games. One can only hope that the tech gets cheaper and more accessible faster than the industry’s skilled 2D artists and animators die off.

    2. I know Xebec can do great hand-drawn 2D animation that involves mecha. Or starships.

      Another good example (besides Lyfe’s mention of Fafner) is that of General Domel’s battle with the Comet Empire/Gatlanteans in episode 11 of Space Battleship Yamato 2199 (granted, it was a co-production with AIC, but still).

      Show Spoiler ▼

      In any case, it’s a great example of medium blending and contrasting styles: The 3DCG Gamilas ships against the 2D animated Gatlantean ships. And it’s one reason why I’m confident Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory is in good hands.

      I’m assuming that the Arbalest (and later, the Belial and Laevateinn[sp?]) Arm Slaves will be hand-drawn in their closeups at the very least, while leaving the 3DCG for the action scenes.

      P.S.: That’s the Eligor Arm Slave in that standoff, right?

    1. Despite being on Team Tessa, I’m willing to agree with that.

      I’ve also noticed that Kaname’s voice has mellowed out since The Second Raid. While it could be attributed to age in real life (if memory serves me correctly, the last time I heard Satsuki Yukino in anime was Misae Sagara in CLANNAD), in-universe, Kaname has become more at ease with Sousuke (and vice-versa) after the events of The Second Raid.

      It was sweet of Kaname to invite Sousuke over for dinner at her apartment (and for Sousuke to ask to hold hands with Kaname earlier). Too bad Leonard had to show up.

  7. 13 long years, in that time I spoiled myself on the stuff from the LN’s and read the manga so I know whats coming and I’m excited as hell. This first arc is going to be fantastic.

  8. Loved this first episode. It gave me the exact chills when I read Tsuzuku On My Own years back. A bit sad though that they skipped Odoru Very Merry Christmas. I wished they did an OVA before the series for it.

  9. Good first episode.
    I’m glad that I rewatched TSR, considering how IV continues where it left off without any real explanation of the story and characters. I wouldn’t have remembered what the deal was with Chidori and Leonard, though he did reintroduce the Alastor’s that were protecting him.
    I felt right at home with the characters sounding and acting the way we know them.
    Rewatching TSR I could also appreciate the animation work done by Kyoto Animation. While the old series already had some (crappy looking) CGI, e.g. the Tuatha de Danaan, the mecha (fights) were (mostly?) hand drawn, I think.
    Still, the 1st episode’s CGI of IV turned out to look better than expected coming from early promo videos. Remains to be seen whether IV will turn out to look better animation wise than the 13 years old TSR. Soundwise I’m missing TSR’s 5.1 audio.

  10. Man, the last real anime which I watched and completed the entire series was One Punch Man and Chivalry of a Failed Knight. Since then I’ve not followed any other series actively. But if there was one series that would bring me back to watching anime again, this would be it.

    Series starts off pretty much like TSR. Its down to the serious business from the get go. That said, if there was a chance for another separate side like Fumoffu, I certainly won’t mind (its probably still one of the best comedy series I’ve ever watched).

    Kinda sad that Hayashimizu likely won’t feature anymore. But I do like how they brought forth a closure of sorts to his story. Probably one of the more underrated characters in this series. No matter the hijinks that Sousuke and sometimes Chidori cause, he’s always been there to help them cover it up. But now he himself has admitted that he won’t be able to help them anymore since he has to go.

  11. I watched the first three seasons way back in ’08 or somewhere around then, eventually reading Sigma a few years ago to finish it up, and really enjoyed it. I’ve always been in love with the series, mostly because it does a good job with characterization.

    In anticipation for IV, I sort of binge-watched the first season, Fumoffu, and TSR (blu-ray) over the course of a week or so. Watching it again after so many years (and so many other series under my belt), the first season was okay It wasn’t as great as I remember (maybe a 6 or a 7 now), but I still enjoyed it. Fumoffu aged well and was still funny throughout.

    As for TSR, it was actually better than I remembered. The animation in the blu-rays had amazing detail and fluidity (especially apparent in the first episode). The pacing was generally good, and of course it still has some of the best scenes in the entire series. I actually felt TSR did a better job conveying the emotions of the characters than the manga did. It wasn’t perfect, but most of it’s flaws could also be found in the manga, so overall I think it was a very good adaptation.

    As for IV….I just finished episode 5 and I’m still not sure how to feel about it. The CG is hit or miss (many, many misses in the first episode, especially body movement for the characters). I’m not sure if they went back to hand-drawn for the characters in following episodes, but either way, it seems to have gotten better. The car-chase scene in episode two was really cheesy, mostly due to the poor CG. On the other hand, the AS battle in episode 5 was actually really well done, even if it was brief.

    I also take issue with the dialogue between Kaname and Sousuke at the end of episode 3.
    Show Spoiler ▼

    The dialogue in episode 3 certainly feels more correct/normal, but I feel that’s essentially the antithesis of how the audience is actually supposed to feel, given where the plot goes in the future.

    Overall, I’m happy with the pacing, but the execution and the CG still need some work. Desperately hoping they go back and hand-draw a lot of the CG scenes for the eventual blu-ray.


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