OP: 「Even…if」by 山田タマル (Yamada Tamaru)
「損害制御」 (Songai Seigyo)
I’m sure most of you are familiar with the convention. Act I, Scene I: open with the protagonist living an idyllic life in their hometown. It’s a peaceful place full of good people. Act I, Scene II: burn it all to the ground. It’s a tried and true way to push the hero out the door and onto the road of adventure. If Luke Skywalker is too attached to the moisture farm, destroy it. Simple, direct and effective. As a bonus, turning the protagonist’s world upside down is a fast way to change a naivé perspective, and it also gives them a spot of personal tragedy to hold onto for some development down the line. And for us, the audience, there is no better way to signal that there is no turning back than to burn all the bridges behind us.
That’s basically what Invisible Victory is doing now. Sure, we’re far past Act I by now, but the idea is the same. Full Metal Panic! is embarking on something new — or is at least forcing our protagonists to — and has decided that scorched earth is the best policy. And so everything must go. The peaceful town. Mithril’s stronghold at Merida island. Every place that we associated with sanctuary before must be torn down. Our main takeaway from all this should be impact it has on Kaname. She’s not stupid nor particularly frail, but she’s a civilian nonetheless and Mithril had thus far shielded her from the worst of the secret war over the Whispered, but they’re obviously in no position to do that now. Now she needs to go through something of an anagnorisis, realising that peace is not the status quo, that her safety is bought with the blood, and that even that may not be enough in the face of the true menace of Amalgam.
But the star of this episode is definitely Tessa, who contrasts Kaname by maintaining an unwavering gaze on reality the entire time. She stares certain death in the face, keeps her calm through incomparable disaster, and puts down a mutiny all by herself. With the larger Mithril organisation basically dismantled, Tessa has to keep her crew of mercenaries together by strength of will alone, and watching her do it was glorious. Her personal conflict throughout FMP! has been whether a young girl, no matter the intelligence, is worthy of a command position. And she is undermined at times. Often she’s treated as just ‘the cutie’, a decoration, or just an alternate love interest. She got a fanservice OVA all to herself, after all. But in times of crisis Tessa demands respect and earns it with sheer mettle even when she shouldn’t have to. I’m no military man and I’m behind a monitor, but damn did I not get the urge to salute.
But FMP! is in full thriller mode right now, so even as Tessa’s TDD outfit stabilises Kaname’s school gets hijacked. Evidently FMP! is going to keep ramping up from here, no doubt leading to a show stopper in episode 03. I’m look forward to it. Sure, I’m still getting used the the CGI mecha — maybe they could use more textures, or I’m subconsciously too used to the 2D look of TSR — but overall I’ve been quite happy with what we’ve got. Invisible Victory is not going to maintain this level of tension forever, but so far the return of FMP! has been thrilling. Keep up the hype.
ED: 「yes」 by 山田タマル (Yamada Tamaru)