Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory comes about nine years too late. That isn’t to say the story isn’t compelling and that I don’t appreciate them finally picking up exactly where it left off. There is a lot of like about the new chapter of Full Metal Panic, especially as they detach from the formula established in the original and Segura goes off on his own. I’m thrilled that the show exists but I can’t help but wonder why it exists. The last Full Metal Panic! anime came out in 2005 and while there have been a steady stream of light novels and manga released in Japan the anime has all but fallen out of the mind of the American anime fan. Sitting here in the year 2018 where memes are passed around that claim “Kill la Kill” is old school, I find it hard to believe that fans younger than thirty are going to care about an anime that came out in 2002. So how large of an audience can the new Full Metal Panic have? At the time of posting Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory is sitting at about 54th on the Crunchyroll popularity ranking.
We are in a new era of streaming where all three original Full Metal Panic! series are available with your Cruncyroll account. Still, it’s rare to find a fan that is going to go back and watch fifty episodes worth of classic mech anime in order to keep up with the new shows coming out this season. If anything, this is a fantastic test of the benefits that streaming can have to a show’s longevity.
I think longtime anime fans sometimes forget the fact that most people do leave the fandom after a few years. Not that everyone stops watching anime but anime as someone’s main hobby seems to have a narrow window of two to three years. Fans don’t have the long history with the medium that I have or that people twice my age have built up. In recent years long desired sequels to an American film or television series have started to get made. The X-Files revival, for instance, is relying on fans remembering the show fondly but also relaying on longtime fans having raised their children on X-files in order to create a new generation of fans.
Anime just doesn’t have that kind of longevity. I’m sure parents have and will continueto show their kids Dragon Ball and Sailor Moon but sitting their kids down to watch Full Metal Panic! and explaining that it combines their love of robot anime and contains characters who they could call their Waifu…. well I just find that hard to believe that it’s happening.
The best care scenario is that it introduces a new generation to a forgotten classic, a product of pre-Moe era anime. Now that we are past the moe years of the industry and we are starting to see a lot more variety in the shows that are being made again it’s refreshing to see a hybrid show; action, drama, and comedy; like Full Metal Panic! return and try to capture it’s duel audience again. I’m hoping that having the original series streaming will be a good proof of concept that you can have direct sequels to long forgotten anime and they will find their new audience who isn’t left in the dust because they didn’t pirate fansubs of The Second Raid in 2005…. like I did.