「ストーミー・ナイト」 (Sutoumii Naito)
「 メイク・マイ・デイ」 (Meiku Mai Dei)
“Make My Day”
Why is it that, when the villain performs the classic game where he offers the hero a weapon and allows her to shoot him, failure to gun him down on the spot is considered a sign of weakness? To be clear, I don’t particularly like Male!Testarossa and would have only laughed if Kaname called his bluff and nonchalantly put one between his eyes. But I’m not going to give her a hard time for not choosing to kill Leonard in cold blood. Kaname is derided for naïveté, or a selfish desire to keep her hands clean, or a lack of resolve. The argument is that if she isn’t prepared to kill then she simply doesn’t want it enough. Why is it, though, that relative pacifism is automatically construed as relative apathy? I prefer to interpret Kaname’s actions positively. Isn’t it better to say that not killing somebody just to satisfy your desires is a measure of moral fibre?
This is why I don’t like smarmy villains like Leonard, the kind who get to set up strawmen like this and then act like he has caught the hero in some kind of ethical dilemma. It’s basically bollocks, but nobody ever calls him out on it. It’s not like the heroes are fools; in fact Kaname is supposed to be a genius level intellect. Yet all she seems to be able to do is offer limp protestations as Leonard spins his sophistry. It is so like a villain to insist on a moral equivalence between the perpetration of evil and the fight against it, but there’s usually some push-back against the idea, instead of immediately folding and accepting that, yeah, the guy who killed a bunch of people to kidnap me is really just the same as my boyfriend who’s killing a bunch of people to rescue me. Criminals shoot people, police shoot people, let’s not care about context and just teach the controversy. I suppose this is a mecha anime, though, where purely emotional reactions reign, and there’s no place for my cold logic. It’s just my way to get hung up on little details (like why the Codarls don’t use their Lambda Driver in melee while Sousuke has no such inhibition).
Still, no matter the reasoning, it’s good that Kaname does eventually finds that much touted ‘resolve’ and makes a firm decision on what she wants. Between her and Sousuke, Kaname has always been the moral centre of the duo. Sousuke doesn’t really have a moral dilemma; sure, he faces confusion every once in a while, but in the end there’s only really one thing he knows how to do, fight, and that’s what he’s going to keep doing. So if Kaname really wants Sousuke to stop fighting, she needs to firmly call him off. Conversely, if she really does want to be rescued (and, more importantly, stand up to Amalgam) she must firmly sanction Sousuke. Either decision can be potentially justified, but she must choose one of them. I’m glad that, in the end, she gets her groove back, neatly coinciding with the arrival of Sousuke’s fabulous new mecha (don’t tell me the hair is a heat management thing, you know it’s just there to be cool), because it doesn’t matter how much new firepower Sousuke packs; he’s here to save the girl and save the world, but if the girl isn’t keen on being saved then it’s all meaningless.
On that note, let’s get to the final impressions! No segue, we’re jumping right into it.
Final Impressions ~ How the mighty has fallen
Even before we talk adaptation, I must confess” I never overly liked this arc of FMP! very much. A lot of the individuals moments were quite compelling, and I remained engaged in the story for the most part, but overall the drama didn’t work for me. As you may have been able to tell from my comments on the episode(s), I didn’t always find Kaname’s reasons for her moping entirely convincing, and without the level-headed anchor she usually provides Sousuke is just a rudderless ship, requiring drama to basically be manufactured on his behalf a la Nami (poor Nami). He has his conflicts, sure, but a lot of those are resolved by Sousuke simply being the protagonist i.e. timely intervention whenever Gondor calls for aid and basically superpowers. I suppose part of my heart just wanted more focus on Tessa and crew; they’re more fun, being perennial underdogs since they’ll never get magic mecha, yet still having cool toys. And forget Amalgam, Tessa’s smile can save the world.
Overall, though, it was just a low point in the narrative, where our protagonist are in a rut, the Death Star is complete, and the struggle looks bleak. Those are necessary and can even enjoyable so long as the payoff is good enough; the night is darkest before the dawn yada yada. I’m pleased to say that, for FMP, the payoff is always damn good. Sure, Laevatein is an overdesigned videogame robot, but it scores enough points in awesome to override all other considerations. The low points leading up the high ones just make them feel even higher, but there are ways to make those low points go down easier. Here I must talk about the adaptation, and unfortunately there’s only really one thing to say. It was something of a disaster. I’m glad the extra weeks allowed Xebec to get their act together for these finale episodes; it looks like a great deal better than the tragedy that was episode 10 (perhaps that’s not saying much) and the big send-off to clear Invisible Victory‘s bad books. Not entirely, though. I keep FMP! in a nostalgic place in my heart, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. To see it lose such prestige, when Invisible Victory should have been a triumphant return, is heartbreaking. This arc is exactly the type that could use good production values as well; when the narrative is at a low, other areas can compensate, and looking good definitely does. I honestly expected better of Xebec, and I can’t begin to guess what went wrong internally. I have no inside track into the production of Invisible Victory, but the number of stumbles we witnessed points to a crisis. Hopefully that crisis will have been resolved when we get the next instalment of FMP!. If we get a next instalment. I hope the anime project doesn’t somehow collapse entirely.
If/when we get more FMP! we in for a doozy. Al has a cool new body, the band is finally back together, and everything is looking up. Of course, this can’t last forever and no doubt the narrative will hastily turn downwards again to give our protagonist something to do, but it does keep me in a positive mood while I wait for more FMP!. Despite my criticisms, I was still entertained week by week and on the balance Invisible Victory is still a good show, just perhaps not living up to the lofty standards set by its predecessors (does bringing out the original OP song help or not? Hmm.). I’m looking forward to a sequel. Though, if I recall correctly, doesn’t the plot does get trippier as we go? Well, more to look forward to.
ED3: 「Tomorrow」 by 下川みくに (Shimokawa Mikuni)