Full Metal Panic Invisible Victory Episodes 11 + 12: Reunited

While these two episodes certainly do a better job of bringing the season to a resting point, this remains pretty much not concluded with no real indication of a follow up any time soon.

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After a couple of weeks off we finally get the last two episodes of this season and it is the big and dramatic rescue attempt of Chidori (or abduction attempt depending on which faction attacking the one mansion you are). These two episodes bring us all our favourite characters into one location, we’ve got some great fight sequences, an accidental shooting, and a radio message from Chidori to Sousuke that would have tugged at the heartstrings even without the soundtrack kicking into gear in the background.

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Like most of the season, these two episodes were nostalgic fun and just good at doing what they set out to do. There was very little time wasted and yet the pacing didn’t feel too extreme. I did like that even after the main team reunited it wasn’t as though the months of separation and the fact that they were currently operating separately disappeared. Sure they helped each other out but they all stayed on their mission.

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Of course, what sours these two episodes and the season as a whole is the fact that we don’t know if we’ll ever get anymore and we are still undeniably not finished. At least Second Raid had the courtesy of bringing us to a very solid end point (even though the story would continue) with the characters all back together and doing their thing. But it is hard to feel too hard done by here. There was very little more I could have asked from a follow up season to Full Metal Panic other than an actual ending and I absolutely love the journey Sousuke has been on over the course of this season. Fingers crossed we do eventually get another part to this.

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Full Metal Panic Invisible Victory Episode 10: And So It Doesn’t End

After a thirteen year gap, two recap episodes, we now have a ten episode season with a totally incomplete story. If this were any other franchise I’d be dropping it for good and never looking back and yet Full Metal Panic still makes me desperately want more of this story.

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There comes a point where a franchise knows that its core audience isn’t going anywhere and so they realise they don’t need to worry about a big season finish or even attempting to tie up their story. It is dissatisfying to say the least and makes Invisible Victory more or less impossible to recommend to anyone except die-hard fans of this franchise given you can’t start the story without knowing the history of the characters and events and then it just leaves us all hanging.

This final episode is clearly setting up the next phase of the story, but we haven’t really done anything with the current phase. The best way to describe Invisible Victory is a bridge between the previous seasons’ events and whatever they are moving toward but we don’t know what that is.

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Still, Sousuke gets to do a cool take down even from a hospital bed, we get Kaname sighing and then swimming in her underwear, Tessa also has a changing sequences because the anime couldn’t possibly ignore the fans of Tessa, and we get a Sousuke training sequence before they reveal who some villain is and the story just stops. Kind of something for every fan of the series in this episode and yet nothing for anyone because we don’t have an announced follow up yet and by itself this story went nowhere. I don’t think I’m going to do a series review of Invisible Victory at this point because basically it isn’t a full series and other than complaining about that and being all happy about seeing Sousuke and Kaname again, there isn’t a lot to say. You are either already a fan of this franchise or you never touched this season of it.

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Here It Is! The Results of the Best of Spring 2018 Reader Poll!

Welcome to the Best of Spring 2018 and while we might say there were slightly leaner pickings this time around, as always it has been fun following the shows with others in the blogosphere and discussing from week to week. Whether that is the discussions around Wixoss, the laughing at Devils’ Line, or just being perplexed by what Grancrest planned to do next, there’s certainly been entertainment to be had this season. But now, even though some shows are yet to complete, it is time to reveal our choices for best of the season.

To my awards…

Best Story – Tada Doesn’t Fall in Love

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I realise this is a really odd choice, but to be perfectly frank the story is what failed on so many of the shows I watched this season so Tada Doesn’t Fall in Love might be a fairly ordinary story, but it was at least competently handled from beginning to end. I nearly went with Wixoss, but unfortunately that story makes no sense unless you’ve watched the three prior seasons, so Tada it is.

Best Visuals – Darling in the Franxx

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This is another category I struggled with more than I should but this season nothing has really visually grabbed me or made me want to discuss it (outside of the anime that have been pretty terrible). Even Full Metal Panic isn’t exactly a visual masterpiece as it is trying to reconcile a look with its predecessor from 13 years ago. While Franxx may have its issues, it does at least have an interesting and memorable look about it.

Best Opening – Steins;Gate 0

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Finally, an easy question. The opening here is distinct and really does set the tone of the story, while also being reminiscent of the original series. I really enjoy this OP each week. The only other one that really grabbed my attention was Space Battleship Tiramisu but that’s mostly because it got stuck in my head for hours after watching.

Best Character – Sousuke (Full Metal Panic Invisible Victory)

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Okay, he had the advantage of already being one of my favourite characters from way back when and his return was greatly appreciated. Most so when I realised that the character progress he made during season 2, even if he had to break apart a bit to get there, was going to continue into this season. Sousuke is a dynamic character who might seem static at times but each event he goes through definitely leaves its mark and it is really rewarding seeing those small advances even if they are interspersed with some backsliding at times.

Best Slice of Life (First Time I’ve Ever Included This Category) – Rokuhoudou Yotsuiro Biyori

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I don’t normally get to the end of anything that would actually be described as a slice of life and I got to the end of my awards and realised that this consistent sweetness and relaxation in my week had come up dry. Rokuhoudou Yotsuiro Biyori isn’t a masterpiece or an unforgettable anything, but the number of times it gave me that moment of pure mental relaxation during the Spring anime season meant it deserved a mention here.

And now…

Best Anime of the Spring 2018 Season – Lostorage Conflated WIXOSS

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This season there was probably plenty of doubt given so many shows were very hit and miss. But with Full Metal Panic giving us two recap episodes and then not finishing in time because of needlessly dragging out its run, My Hero Academia having another cour to go, and not much else that really made sit up and take note (though plenty of light entertainment shows this season), WIXOSS kind of won by default.

That isn’t to say it doesn’t deserve the victory. The culmination of four seasons of build up is a hard thing to pull off in a manner that satisfies and doesn’t feel anti-climatic and yet WIXOSS more or less accomplishes this with only a handful of minor areas where criticism could be laid. It isn’t the single most exciting thing ever, but nor does it need to be. It is a fairly solid work delivering a compelling conclusion that feels like it is giving the audience some closure.

Finally, Reader’s Choice

Voting this time round was scattered as it was clear there wasn’t one single title that people were getting behind. However two titles ended up gaining quite the lead and kept it most of the way with My Hero Academia only really gaining ground toward the end of the vote. Interestingly enough, I haven’t seen either of the top voted anime and will have to rectify that for one of them soon as it is available. The other I won’t be able to see unless it gets a DVD release or ends up going onto a different streaming service.

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And the winner is… Hinamatsuri!

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Normally I would write something about the show and what I liked or didn’t about the reader’s choice, but I still haven’t actually seen this one so other than noting that it is on my watch list, I really don’t have a lot to say about it.

Wotakoi narrowly edged out My Hero Academia to take the third spot and Megalo Box is sitting in a comfortable second. These two along with Hinamatsuri will go into the poll in December for anime of the year. Interestingly enough, I watched none of these this season which could account for why I had a pretty slow season.

Thanks to everyone who voted and shared the poll. Be sure to check back for the worst of the season coming out later.


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Karandi James

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Tuesday’s Top 5: Reasons The Anime of Spring 2018 Have Been a Bit Disappointing

I normally try and keep the top 5 posts pretty upbeat, but I can’t deny I’m a little disappointed with the last season of anime. No, it isn’t a sign that modern anime are dreadful or that seasonal watching is the problem. It is just that there were a lot of anime that just didn’t live up to their potential or deliver. As the season comes to an end, I’m reflecting on reasons why I was so disappointed this season.

Whether you liked the season or not, I’d love to know your thoughts on the anime from Spring 2018 so be sure to leave me a comment below.

Please note, there will be spoilers below.

Number 5: Sequels and Spin-offs That Just Didn’t Land

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Whether it was the debacle that was the continuation of Tokyo Ghoul (reverting to the story in the manga without providing explanation for anime viewers) or the disappointment of SAO Alternative: GGO where viewers were asked to watch a pink bunny girl play a game without much in the way of stakes and were expected to care, the Spring 2018 season has definitely had its share of mis-fires with sequels and spin-offs. Even if we look at the ending of Cardcaptors, most people are expressing a general sense that it just didn’t manage to live up to its predecessors and My Hero Academia took a fair while to get going (though fortunately it has now gotten going and it has certainly stepped up).

Number 4: Scattered Viewership

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Normally with seasonal viewing there’s the couple of shows that everyone is watching. Spring 2018 hasn’t had one of those unifying shows that has ignited the entire community. Instead we have small groups of people proclaiming a love for Megalo Box while older mecha fans have been rejoicing over the return of Full Metal Panic, some people praising SAO Alternative: GGO for not being SAO and a few who have gone for one romance or another. But there’s been no single show that has gotten everyone really excited. With so many big titles out that would seem really odd and yet nothing has really captured the masses this season.

Number 3: Controversy and Fan Idiocy

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While I like to avoid the fandoms are toxic debates, some of the stories going around this season really do emphasise that sometimes people just go too far. Death threats to writers and voice actors just should not be a thing. I know I don’t want someone coming into my workplace and threatening my life just because they disagree with how I go about doing my job, or spamming my email or twitter feed for the same. And then of course we have the issue of post plagiarism sweeping the blogosphere with quite a number of bloggers impacted. The last few months have not been great for community spirit and like it or not, it does impact on the enjoyment of the medium when the community is very much focused on some of these more negative aspects.

Number 2: Recaps, Fillers and Gaps

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How many shows this season have done recap episodes or fillers? And how many have skipped airing one week or another due to some event of the like? It has made following shows more challenging than normal as episodes are delayed or skip a week, or worse they put out a recap episode four episodes in as if the entire community suffers from short term memory loss. While I get production delays happen and that sometimes schedules do go awry with broadcasting, the Spring 2018 season feels like it has just been one interruption to the schedule after another making it even harder to get into some of the shows on offer.

Number 1: Broken Narratives

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Whether it is Record of Grancrest War, Darling in the Franxx, or even the abomination that is Devils’ Line, there are so many anime this season that just make no sense in terms of how they have structured and delivered their story. Maybe they are trying to avoid the label of generic but we’ve got time skips, random characters dropping in and out, reveals that make no sense, themes that get built up and then abandoned, and all and all its just a mess. This hardly makes for a satisfying viewing experience. There’s a reason narrative structure is almost identical in every culture, and that’s because people figured out a long time ago how to deliver a story in a way that made it interesting. A lot of these shows need to go back to basics and just figure out what they wanted to be because honestly Spring 2018 has definitely been a bit of a miss in terms of delivering anything resembling a compelling story line.

So those are my reasons for feeling a bit disappointed. I’d love to know if you were disappointed with the season and why, or whether you ended up loving the season and why. Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments below.

Also you can vote for your favourite and least favourite anime of the season below.


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Karandi James

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Full Metal Panic Invisible Victory Episode 9: Perfect Timing

Despite the fact that Sousuke has been carrying this season fairly well on his own, episode 9 of Full Metal Panic Invisible Victory brings the welcome return of some familiar faces at just the right time.

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Despite the twist being obvious from the minute Tessa was picked up, this was a deeply satisfying return for the crew as we watched Tessa work her magic playing bait for the bad guys. The crew all got their moment to shine in a short but effective fight sequence and all and all this was a really fun reunion for the audience with these characters who have so far only really had a token appearance in this season.

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Then we jump to Tessa’s brother, Leonard, and for the first time since episode four we get a look at Chidori. It is nice to know that while she’s being compliant enough to not be chained to a wall that she hasn’t lost all of her attitude despite captivity.

Lastly, we return to Sousuke, where we are reminded of the events in episode 8 and see the toll they have taken. This is where the episode ends and it makes me really excited for what will come next now that all the players are back on the stage. I also really liked the parallel from the beginning to the end of this episode with Tessa on the hospital bed to Sousuke being on the hospital bed.

All and all, another solid episode (provided you don’t look too closely at Sousuke while he’s lying in the hospital bed – there’s some bad shots there where his neck looks like it has disappeared entirely).

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Friday’s Feature: It’s In His Kiss

As much as I love my action, dystopian futures, horror stories, and generally violent adventures, deep down inside I have a soft spot for a well told romance story. This comes from an upbringing of watching family friendly romantic comedies with my mother on weekends while folding piles of washing or ironing or other incredibly boring chores but the laughs and sweet stories of all those girls finding their one true love definitely left an impact. Now, if I have a choice of romance or action, I’ll probably pick the action, but every now and then I’m just in the mood for something a little bit sweeter and then out come the romances.

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However, as I sought out anime romances, one thing became incredibly clear to me. There are very few romances that fall into a moderate category. Romances either present as beautiful stories of chaste characters who blush at the mere sight of one another or they present as stories with super aggressive characters who rapidly push the age rating and most people’s comfort zones. And while every now and then we’ll stumble across a story of characters who will actually just fall in love and be a couple, the more common scenario is watching twenty to forty episodes with a couple who have barely managed to hold hands.

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Yes, it is the third season after a 13 year gap, but Sousuke and Kaname finally confidently hold hands.

What this leaves us with, however, is a story that starts reading all sorts of things into fairly mundane actions. The ‘indirect’ kiss nonsense that comes up time and again is one particular example that really makes me roll my eyes. While admittedly, characters probably shouldn’t be drinking out of the same water bottle or sharing a straw or whatever (have these characters never considered glandular fever) the sheer fuss they put up about the possibility of an ‘indirect’ kiss is just insane sometimes. These characters literally melt into puddles of stammering and half the time end up dropping or knocking over the thing they were supposed to eat or drink.

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While this sequence is cute enough in one or two stories, by the time you see it play out again and again and again (don’t believe me, check out the TV Tropes page for indirect kisses and the anime examples) and it ultimately all just gets a bit silly.

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One of my favourite anime romances, Kimi ni Todoke, suffers from being one of those impossibly ridiculous stories. Sawako is a stammering mess of insecurities and doesn’t believe Kazehaya could ever have feelings for her. As a result, when it is first suggested she should date him she flat out states it is impossible. She doesn’t give him the gifts she makes him. She eventually can’t even meet his eyes. All and all, she does everything possible to make herself a cliche shoujo heroine and the type that under most circumstances would drive me half-way up the wall. I don’t know why she doesn’t because I do know that by the end of season one I wanted to slap her for not actually just kissing the guy at the shrine. Nope, you will have to wait until the end of season two before these two will actually kiss and even then, that is as far as their relationship is going. Thirty plus episodes and they finally manage a kiss. Two characters who have been in love with each other since nearly the beginning. To say the pace of that relationship progress was glacial would be being generous.

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Now not every anime romance is quite so insanely slow or chaste. Still, it is interesting how much emphasis is put on the notion of kissing your partner. In some ways it is kind of refreshing and it feels nice to know that the emotional connection between the characters is getting more emphasis then the number of times they can get the characters into the bedroom. Also nice to know that there is a focus on the narrative behind the romance rather than just showing us the characters making out. I appreciate both of these things. At the same time, like with everything else, when there isn’t a variety of relationships and relationship types being shown, it risks normalising some behaviours, marginalising some viewers, and ultimately not providing options so the argument if you don’t like it, don’t watch it, ceases to have weight.

Because a great many people want to watch romance and anime. They may not be after the super shoujo high school girl who blushes to the tips of her ears when a guy picks up her eraser, but they’d like to see a relationship unfold.

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Part of this was why I really enjoyed My Love Story. The protagonist was a male, rather then the girl, and the confession was over and done with four episodes in. The story was about them learning how to be in a relationship rather than getting to the relationship. That doesn’t mean they moved any faster given how long it took them to accomplish hand-holding and the protagonist kissed his best friend (with the aid of some cling wrap) long before he got around to trying to kiss his girlfriend but it still felt a bit different from so many other love stories.

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It was also why I was so puzzled by the number of people who tried to play down Yuri and Victor’s relationship in Yuri on Ice. The ones who claim it wasn’t a kiss and they aren’t engagement rings. Given how little physical connections characters in other ‘romance’ anime have, Yuri on Ice was outright explicit in showing off that relationship. Those two were hugging nearly from the beginning and if hungry stares are the staple of most relationships, just watch Yuri before he starts any one of his skates as he meets eyes with Victor. The average female protagonist has got nothing on that look across the ice and if it was being directed at her she’d probably claim she’d gotten pregnant on the spot.

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Admit it, you want him to be looking at you right now.

Although, the mis-information about pregnancy and sex that comes across in some anime is also a little bit alarming. I kind of get why it happens culturally but at the same time I don’t think girls claiming they’ll get pregnant from kissing a guy really helps get the right kind of information across to people. I’d suggest you not learn sex-ed from anime in the first place, but at the very least they should try to stamp out the more pervasive myths that get flung about.

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However, personal thoughts about romance aside, one thing anime does very well, is really makes those rare scenes, the kiss between the heroine and her hero, truly melting moments. Maybe it is the long wait for it, the build up, the anticipation. Maybe it is the sound tracks, the soft lighting, the sparkles. Whatever it is, one thing I know is that when a couple in anime finally get together and they finally lean in for that kiss, I know I’m usually on the edge of my seat and once or twice I’ve applauded.

Question:

Who was your favourite anime couple and what episode of their anime did they finally kiss in?


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Karandi James

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Full Metal Panic Invisible Victory Episode 8: Knowing How To Finish A Cliff-Hanger

If you don’t understand why Full Metal Panic has so much appeal to me, the end of episode 7 and the beginning of episode 8 will probably help clarify. This anime uses the emotional cliff-hanger to bring us gut wrenching trauma in the first few minutes of this episode that then launches us into nearly non-stop action for the remainder of the episode. Clearly spoilers coming if you haven’t watched the episode yet.

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Last week I was overjoyed to see Sousuke back in the field even though it came at the cost of the newer and softer Sagara we’d seen with Chidori at school during the first few episodes. Still, Full Metal Panic is at its best when it points Sousuke at an objective and we watch him run at it. Mostly because the writers of this anime really like hurting Sousuke emotionally. As an audience, we never really have to fear for his life. As the main character he’s pretty much guarded with impenetrable plot armour, however that isn’t a safe-guard against either physical pain or emotional trauma and he’s been put through huge amounts of both (and I will need to get around to reviewing the earlier series of this sooner rather than later I think).

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Episode 8 of Invisible Victory brings us the perfect culmination of everything that is great about this series (except of course any interaction between Chidori and Sousuke because Chidori is still missing in action save for a very brief mental hallucination Sousuke has later in the episode). The first few minutes of the episode dump us straight into the stand-off from the end of episode 7 and rather than drag it out or have some implausible victory for Sousuke then and there, they literally pull the trigger on a character who we’ve only known for three episodes and yet part of me assumed that of course she would get rescued.

Even then, Sousuke’s Rambo act is not the only determining factor of victory as Lemon’s group are still on the move and they briefly converse before Sousuke takes off in pursuit of Nami’s killer. As we see the rampage in the city, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the first fight of this season when Chidori cautioned Sousuke more or less at every turn about property destruction and civilian lives. As Sousuke blows holes straight through the sides of buildings to take down his pray, I wondered if he could also hear her voice or if he had shut down everything except the absolute need for victory in the here and now.

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When we finally get to the show-down at the arena, we’re reminded once again that Sousuke is a soldier through and through. And a smart one who has a lot of field experience. Couple his natural talents with an absolutely unshakeable will and you can almost anticipate him simply kicking a grenade to the side as he charges after his foe. The final fight and the final shots are wonderfully done and then we go to the closing credits.

My only complaint then would be the post credits moments where we get exposition for the sake of it and information that kind of kills the mood of the end of the episode when we really could have just seen this sequence at the start of the next episode. But that would be a very minor complaint in the face of an episode that was just a ride from start to finish.

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Full Metal Panic Invisible Victory Episode 7: There’s Something Really Satisfying About Watching Sousuke Pull A Helicopter Out of the Sky

In one episode so much was packed in. This returning anime has definitely continued to impress as Invisible Victory marches on.

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It is rare that an episode can pack so much in and yet not feel like it is rushing a mile a minute or mashing things together that just don’t fit. We continue directly on from the previous episode with Sousuke and Nami gearing up to fight in the illegal battle (which is of course rigged against them and designed only to kill off Sousuke). However, in the midst of this they manage to drop a potentially major character reveal that could become fairly critical to the plot later around Nami. Sousuke starts to raise the point and then decided to let it be because his attention is still squarely on Kaname.

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And that brings me to another excellent character point in this episode. Sousuke is fully in military mode for the majority of the fight. Its been awhile since we’ve seen him this on edge and having to think of a way around what seems like insurmountable odds. I like that for the most part this show doesn’t rely on just giving him the best equipment or being the most powerful (even when he had the Arbalest he could seldom use it at full capacity). They also don’t really rely on luck or chance. Sousuke genuinely thinks through the possibilities based on his and his machine’s capabilities at the time and manages to apply clear decision making in the heat of the moment. It occasionally helps that his opponents aren’t always the brightest bulbs.

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Despite this, Sousuke makes a declaration after the battle that really struck with me. He tells the former Mithril mercenary that he is ‘just a man’. For those words to come out of Sousuke’s mouth really demonstrates how far he has come. Previously he would have claimed to be a soldier or to have a mission or something to that effect. This is a really impressive moment for him and yet it isn’t given a fanfare, it comes across as part of the natural flow of the episode.

We then have the reveal about Lemon and though we still don’t know exactly what he’s up to this looks like it is going to get interesting as he swooped in and saved the rest of Nami’s crew from becoming pig food.

So, a cool robot fight and some fantastic character work, meanwhile the plot progresses in a satisfying way; what more could you want from an episode?

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Full Metal Panic Invisible Victory Episode 6: There Is A Plan

After wondering how long it had been since Kaname had been taken and what Sousuke’s plan was last week, this week the anime lays Sousuke’s plan kind of on the table and it makes everything else so much easier to swallow.

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While I’m not against delaying reveals in order to build suspense, there’s something fairly positive about a series that is confident enough in its plot and characters to know it doesn’t need to. Holding all its cards close to its chest isn’t necessary because the audience want Sousuke to get to Kaname so letting us in on his current course of action isn’t going to take away our interest in watching the plan play out. With that said, Full Metal Panic continues to keep Kaname’s whereabouts and current state a complete mystery without even a teaser glimpse of her for two episodes. There’s some smart calls here in how the story is playing out and I’m loving the anime for that.

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This episode mostly focuses on Sousuke using the corruption of the fights to try to get a look at what Amalgam is up to. It isn’t a great plan and even Sousuke knows he’s going to have to rely on others and that some of his friends are going to get burned along the way. And yet, the defeat of Mithril has left him with little choice. While it isn’t entirely clear, it does seem like Mithril is gone and Sousuke hasn’t been able to make contact with anyone, though I’m still kind of hoping that the rest of the crew show up sooner rather than later to help Sousuke out because while Sousuke is incredible at putting a plan together, he’s also a realist about his chances of taking on an organisation the size of Amalgam all by himself.

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So all and all, Full Metal Panic is continuing its fairly strong run this season and I look forward to what comes next now that Sousuke has an in to the illegal battles but Amalgam is also keeping their eye on him.

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Friday’s Feature: Romance in the Spring of 2018

As always, it strikes me as odd that I’m writing about Spring as the temperature plummets and I am being plunged into Winter. Now Winter in Australia, particularly QLD, isn’t exactly chilling for most people, but when your Summer and most of Autumn days are hovering at the 35 – 39 degrees Celcius, a sudden and abrupt drop to the low twenties with nights dropping to frost levels is more of less like an ice-age swept through. Particularly when you live in a house designed to let heat escape so you don’t bake in Summer.

And that’s an incredibly long preamble to get to the point, which is Spring may have brought in a whole bunch of sequel and spin-off anime, but it has also given us some interesting, and less interesting, takes on romance. While there is one title I’m wanting to watch but can’t, I’ve still found more than enough sweet stories and stories of broken hearts, misunderstandings, companionship and the like to give me cavities this season and this week I wanted to take some time to look at some of these.

On that note, there will be some spoilers for the anime below so if you aren’t watching the Spring season you may want to check out one of my other posts instead.

The Frozen In Time Couple

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Carrying over from Winter, we have the adorably sweet relationship that is Sakura and Syaoran in Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card. For fans of the original series, or fans of Tsubasa Chronicles, this is not a new pairing. These two are totally fated to be together and define cute and wholesome. One might suggest the two are in fact a little innocent and naive but when you consider the age they were in Cardcaptor and the time when the original anime aired, it kind of makes sense that their relationship wasn’t exactly flying into the R-rated territory.

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Clear Card continues to tone of their relationship and that’s probably one of its downfalls. There’s been no progress here at all. In the beginning of Clear Card Syaoran returned and Sakura was happy to see him. Since then he’s had some great moments where he’s actually gotten to be useful and protect Sakura and she’s continued to be the fairly independent and powerful character she’s always been and the two of them have had so many cute moments. But that’s more or less where they were when we left them twenty years ago so while nostalgia is a wondrous thing, realistically, if we wanted to see this phase of the relationship, we could just go back to where the original series and watch it through. Then we’d get to see them go through the rivals/friends phases again to actually becoming a couple which was by far the more interesting part of their story.

The Do I/Don’t I deserve Love Couple

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As much as 3D Kanojo: Real Girl has started to bother me, the initial phase of the story set up a fairly standard introverted nerd/otaku falling for the outsider girl who was brash and spoke her mind. It’s a dynamic we’ve seen before and done well can be a lot of fun. Early on there was some promise that this series was going to explore this dynamic however as we’ve entered the mid-season viewers might be struggling to see these initial characters. The introverted guy has a whole group of friends he talks to who like him and the girl who speaks her mind has suddenly become fairly silent.

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What that left us with were two fairly generic high school characters who keep butting heads because the guy keeps devaluing himself and the girl is still hiding something which also makes her wonder if she has the right to be in the relationship. It’s no wonder they aren’t making progress as a couple when both characters are trapped inside their own insecurities. Still, if done well, these characters could still deliver something of note in terms of an anime relationship, but at the moment we’re kind of lost in the maze of miscommunication and teenage angst and my hopes for it lifting its game are not so high at this point.

The She’s A Monster and So Am I Couple

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Yep, we’re back to Darling in the Franxx where the man devouring woman turned out to just be a misunderstood and lost monster who wanted to connect with her childhood friend. After which she becomes a teenage girl obsessed with how she looks, her guy, and suddenly becoming the perfect team player. Meanwhile, he may not have been devoured, but Hiro is definitely transforming into something other than human and the question will become how much he remains Hiro after the physical transformation is complete. Though, given how little exploration has been given to other themes in Franxx, I’m not optimistic on this one being explored either.

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While Hiro and Zero-Two are actually an undeniably cute couple and almost nauseating in their honeymoon period as they bond over drawing a picture book that Zero-Two apparently literally ate back when she was a child, this relationship kind of came at the cost of Zero-Two’s actual personality and character. She’s a far less interesting presence in the series now that she’s resolved her past with Hiro. As for Hiro, he seems to have lost any drive he had either. Previously he wanted to pilot the Franxx, then he wanted to be with Zero-Two, but now he just kind of is. There’s no real motivation pushing him any more so the relationship coming together has more or less cut the guts out of what story there was and left viewers wanting the next step but there’s no real clue as to how we’re going to get there.

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Of course, if we’re talking about couples on Darling in the Franxx, the undeniably adorable couple is Mitsuru and Kokoro. Now there’s a girl who knows how to get what she wants and yet she seems so unassuming.

The He’s a Monster and I’m Suicidal Couple

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Devils’ Line… There’s only so much you can write about this one. However, I’m giving this one props for having one of the stupidest female character from any of these anime relationships this spring. Forget the fact that her chosen partner is a vampire (devil). And forget the fact that they never actually had a conversation before he stuck his tongue in her mouth and somehow she fell madly in love with him to the point where she became obsessive. The sheer fact that she knows the sight of blood sends him crazy and hurts him as he tries to stop himself from killing her and that she still goes near him while bleeding just kind of hurts my head.

The Classic Hollywood Couple

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Tada and Teresa, you two kids are so cute. Of course, given the title is that Tada Doesn’t Fall in Love, I have to wonder if they are setting us up for an ending where Teresa does in fact return home at the end of the school year to face her obligations and they just have the photos of their year together to remember. That would be very sweet and very Hollywood from an early age, and yet somehow kind of annoying. It would make all the Roman Holiday comparisons for this anime fairly conclusive at the end of the day.

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That said, Tada as a protagonist has served the role of being perhaps the least interesting character in his own series. He does have good moments and interactions with other characters, but it is the other characters who seem to drive things forward. Teresa is also a little too over the top at times in her portrayal of a foreigner obsessed with Japan due to love with an old anime. It is adorable at times, but at others just makes her a little hard to take seriously. Still, the two of them together have undeniable chemistry even if that chemistry seemed to form in a near instant of sharing a shelter during a shower of rain.

The Action Couple

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Finally, we have the return of Kaname and Sousuke in Full Metal Panic. If you don’t know why these two characters are amazing already that’s probably because you haven’t seen the original series. Go and watch it. Both characters start out in a very stereotypical manner, but unlike so many other romance/action leads, they don’t allow those roles to define them. They grow and adapt and bounce off one another and their development individually and as a couple has been extraordinary with the first four episodes of Invisible Victory show-casing the incredible bonds between them, right before it ripped them apart.

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Your Favourite Couple

With so many relationships and couples on parade, and I’ve missed a huge number of them, I know, I’d love to know which couple have grabbed your attention this season. Or even which couple you find the least convincing. Sometimes we learn more through observing failure than success.


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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