'Full Metal Panic!' Season 4 Release Date Confirmed: 'FMP: Invisible Victory' Trailer Shows Light Novel Story

The Full Metal Panic! Season 4 release date has been officially confirmed to be rescheduled for April of 2018. The fourth season of the FMP anime was originally scheduled to premiere in the fall of 2017, but the postponement by Xebec pushed the premiere back by several months. In addition, we also know that the original timeline for the Full Metal Panic! light novel series will be the basis of the story instead of the spin-off sequel FMP! Another. At the recent Anime Expo 2017, author Shoji Gatoh and light novel illustrator Shiki Douji both talked about the Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory anime.

The anime series has been on such a long hiatus that there's almost been a full generation gap between the original fans and today's younger anime watchers. Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid originally aired in 2005, and the Full Metal Panic! light novel series, which number 12 volumes in total, was completed in 2011. Even the light novel sequel, Full Metal Panic! Another, is up to Volume 12 as of February of 2016, never mind the short story collections. As Douji puts it, she was "worried that people may have forgotten about the first few seasons" of the anime.

Full Metal Panic! Season 4 Release Date

Considering it's been 12 years, some fans might be wondering why this new FMP anime isn't being called Full Metal Panic! Season 3. In this case, Full Metal Panic! Fumoffu is considered the second season and Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid is the third season, even though Fumoffu is officially a comical side story.

Regardless of naming issues, the Full Metal Panic! Season 4 release date is set for the spring of 2018, with an August 2017 interview with Gatou confirming that the first episode will air in 2018. The premiere date is April 13, 2018. The number of episodes for the fourth season have yet to be confirmed, but this article will be updated once the announcement is made.

The cast of the new FMP anime has been announced as follows.

  • Lee Fowler - Tomokazu Sugita
  • Wilhelm Casper - Masaki Terasoma
  • Sabina Refunio - Marina Inoue
  • Sachi Shinohara - Aya Uchida
  • Nami - Minori Chihara
  • Mitchel Lemon - Kenjiro Tsuda
However, it's possible to speculate about the number of episodes based on the available information. The way that the official Full Metal Panic! Season 4 website explained the postponement gives us a hint.
"In addition to the original staff who have worked on the series since the first season, we have added new members and have sunk our teeth into the production. However, Full Metal Panic! is a title that demands a high level of capability and vitality -- not only from the new members but also from the original ones. We have almost given up the project many times. At all such times, we worked our fingers to the bone in order to deliver the best work we can to the fans. Then, literally, we reached our limit. We needed more time. We realize that we need to ask for more time to continue the production. As a result of various discussions, we have decided to postpone the airing to the Spring of 2018."
For years, the author has talked about wanting the full light novel series adapted into a single anime season. That can't be done in a single 13 episode season. Considering the team is talking about how much work needs to be done, it's probably safe to assume that the number of Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory episodes will be at least 24 to 26 episodes. However, it's possible a Full Metal Panic! Season 5, or even a movie, may be required to avoid overly condensing the source material.

Full Metal Panic Invisible Victory Key Visual
'Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory' Anime TV Key Visual | Studio Xebec
The key visual for 'Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory.'

It really depends on the pacing set by the writers. The first FMP season adapted three light novel volumes (Fighting Boy Meets Girl, One Night Stand, and Into the Blue) into 24 episodes, although several episodes were anime-original content. The Second Raid adapted two light novels, Ending Day by Day parts 1 and 2, into 13 episodes. Overall, each episode covered a single book chapter or less.

Full Metal Panic Very Merry Christmas
[Image by Kadokawa/FMP! 4]

That means there are seven volumes composed of 42 chapters (including prologues and epilogues) left to adapt into 26 anime episodes. Fortunately, a radio drama called Full Metal Panic! Very Merry Christmas was already released in 2016 and it's an audio adaptation of the sixth light novel volume, Dancing Very Merry Christmas.

If Full Metal Panic! Season 4 skipped most of Volume 6 then the anime adaptation would only need 35 chapters need to be adapted, which is still not an easy task. But when Anime News Network specifically asked about this issue, creator Shoji Gatoh said, "The anime is going to take place from Volume 6 and move onwards, and that's about all I can say at the moment." That seems like an impossible task but it seems like the anime will be skipping any filler episodes.

During Anime Expo 2017, Gatoh confirmed that Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory is definitely a "continuation" and there won't be any "explanation or expository episodes." After 12 years of waiting, Gatoh definitely wants to find a way to make it work. The pacing is going to be "full throttle from the get-go" although it will still "follow the original work pretty closely."

Gatoh is listed as Story Editor for the anime, so it sounds like he'll be picking and choosing what plot elements are relevant to the main story. Condensing the story into 26 episodes may not be possible without major restructuring and cutting, but will that approach do justice to the romantic comedy elements? There's also the possibility that they're planning for a longer three-cour season, which would be unusual, but we'll just have to wait and see.

Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory Trailer Spoilers From Anime Expo 2017

Fans of the Japanese light novels have long known what to expect from the final season. Unfortunately, the official Full Metal Panic! English translation and manga did not go beyond the anime's story, so English-only watchers have to rely on spoilers.
The Full Metal Panic! Season 4 trailer video shown at Anime Expo 2017 gave audiences even more hints. Overall, the second half of the light novel series was darker in tone and the FMP trailer definitely focuses on the mecha action rather than the romantic comedy.

"It has been a long time since I saw you last time," Teresa says at the end of the FMP Season 4 trailer. "And I've made up my mind to see you now. Because it is going to be tough."

The opening of the trailer declares that the terrorist-supporting group, Amalgam, is fiercely attacking Sagara Sousuke. Mithril bases around the world are being assaulted. Amalgam possesses third generation Arm Slaves (AS) and the Whispered in their ranks have created advanced Black Technologies.

For those needing a refresher, the Whispered are humans, like Kaname Chidori, who were accidentally created during a Soviet experiment in this alternate reality Earth that affected people born at a certain time. The Whispered intuitively know how to create technology that surpasses all current understanding of science and engineering. The Whispered can also talk to each other telepathically, but if they connect too deeply, their personalities will meld. By the beginning of the fourth season, which corresponds to Volume 7 (Continuing On My Own), some of the Whispered have developed Amalgam's Arm Slaves tech to the point of surpassing Mithril's armaments, putting the main characters in a tough spot.

Back in the trailer, Amalgam attacks Merida Island, the location of the Mithril flagship submarine, the TDD-1 Tuatha de Danaan. At the same time, Sousuke and Kaname are being stalked by the "hand of the devil." It's likely that the fourth season will open with the silver-haired Leonard Testarossa, an Amalgam Whispered pilot who manages to obliterate Sousuke's AS and kidnap Kaname. (In the original light novel series, Kaname is kidnapped multiple times in the story, but it's possible writer Gatoh may condense these events.)

Otherwise, we do know that Full Metal Panic! Season 4 will explain all the mysteries surrounding the Whispered, like Leonard and Tessa Testarossa. The final enemy will be defeated in many action-packed mecha fights. Most importantly, the romance between Kaname and Sousuke will finally reach a resolution after being teased for so many years.

[Update 10/24/17] Added new preview video trailers and key visual.

[Update 12/18/17] Added cast and new key visual.

[Update 03/12/18] Added exact premiere date.

[Featured Image by Kadokawa/FMP! 4]