It’s nearing the of Sousuke’s and Kaname’s second year of high school, and the two have developed something resembling a peaceful life. The two walk home together hand-in-hand to celebrate their year-end progress, only to have their moment of happiness interrupted by Leonard Testarossa, the head of the horrible Amalgam organization. He warns Sousuke and Kaname that all hell is about to break loose, but he’d be more than willing to take in Kaname and have her protected, but she turns him down. Leonard leaves without a fuss, but the next day is pure hell on Earth. Amalgam has begun a relentless assault on Mithril’s headquarters on Merida Island and sends a hit squad after Sousuke and Kaname. The two will have to use their wits to escape!
After 15 years of wait, simply seeing Sousuke and Kaname hold hands has got to be one of the most cathartic events in anime this year. For longtime fans of Full Metal Panic, this is a monumental moment. What’s better though is how, even though this signifies progress for the couple, they’re still growing up. There’s clearly an attraction that’s understood between Sousuke and Kaname. And while they’re enacting on it, but they haven’t quite talked it out. Neither one really knows how to deal with the other. Kaname unsure if she can get over Sousuke’s past to feel comforted enough by the protection he provides. While Sousuke is unsure if he can adjust to the normalcy that Kaname brings.
This conflict comes to a head in episode 2, where Sousuke and Kaname are on the run, and Kaname is visibly upset over Sousuke’s lack of concern for his surroundings. He’s treating her home like a war zone, completely disregarding a civilian that’s bleeding out from shrapnel. To Sousuke, this is just another mission, but for Kaname, this is her home, where she grew up over the years, and Sousuke isn’t really bothered by it. They’re both attracted by what the other has to offer. But when put on the line, neither one really knows how to be supportive of the other’s feelings.
There’s just something very natural about the way Full Metal Panic has been able to portray natural human interactions and allowing us to derive meaning from them. There’s a moment in episode 2 where a hired mercenary suggests that they overpower Tessa and hand her over to the enemy to save their hides. Later, Tessa threatens to kill anyone thinking of committing treason. As a reaction, the mercenary jokes that she’s the kind of girl he’d like to marry. Clouseau, their commanding officer, follows up by mentioning people at higher ranks have first dibs. This eases tension and the group shares a laugh. A lesser series might have turned this into a bigger gag to make the audience laugh. But Full Metal Panic resists this temptation and keeps it at the moment. The situation is still grim, and the joke’s purpose was to de-escalate some lingering tension.
However, for all the strengths of the story-telling, there is one somewhat noticeable issue that brings it down: the animation. Full Metal Panic makes use of 3D for all of the action sequences. Unfortunately, the models are noticeably different and feel out of place from the rest of the world. So while the action is fairly fast and intense, the contrast between 2D and 3D ends up being distracting.
Still, Full Metal Panic: Invisible Victory is an absolute must-watch for fans of the original series. Watching the original series is nearly obligatory. If you haven’t done so please do! After all the original Full Metal Panic is a great military drama, to begin with!