Full Metal Panic Vol. #3 (of 7) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Saturday, August 30, 2003
Release Date: Tuesday, September 02, 2003
What They Say
A young boy flies into a psychotic rage passing through customs, and Mithril flies into action. Is he some sort of brainwashed terrorist? Or is he something even more dangerous and sinister? Hidden away in Mithril’s secret research facility, Captain Testarossa and Lieutenant Commander Kalinin attempt to find out. Has someone done experiments to fit the boy for the mysterious Lambda Driver?
Suddenly, their research grinds to a halt when an armed group attacks, reducing the facility to a burnt-out shell. With Kalinin injured and missing in action, Captain Testarossa turns to the only person who can help her: Sergeant Sousuke Sagara. Little do they know that waiting in the shadows is their biggest enemy yet – and we’re talking really, really big! All-new enemies, all-new mecha, and all your favorite heroes are all here in full force!
With the second volume fairly well closing things up for the first arc, the third volume starts things off in a new direction that’s again action packed but also filled with just the right amount of humor.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to the shows original language for our primary viewing session here, which is a solid sounding stereo mix. Dialogue is nice and clear throughout and there are some excellent moments of directionality and depth to the sound effects. ADV has also included two English soundtracks; the first is a 5.1 mix that does a good job of providing a bit more clarity to the track, but don’t expect much out of the rear speakers, if anything. The second is a 2.0 track which lets people with older or poor players to avoid the problems of downmixing done by their equipment.
Originally airing back in 2001, this is a very slick looking transfer that almost feels glossy at times. Though the show is full frame, there are a number of sequences where it goes into a letterbox mode, such as the opening sequence and one or two other scenes. Colors look lush and vivid, very nicely saturated without any bleeding. Cross coloration is extremely minimal, showing in only a few scant areas and aliasing is much reducing, even during panning sequences. This was a very eye-pleasing print.
Continuing with the clear keepcases, the front cover is a very dark gray background image while the foreground is filled with the new Behemonth AS mech. Below it there is both the English logo and the Japanese logo as well as volume numbering, all three of which are also on the spine. The back cover continues the dark look in shades of blue-gray by providing a few shots from the show and a brief summary of the premise. The discs features and technical information is all nice and clearly listed. The insert is a mini-poster pullout with an image of a new character introduced in this arc in her full unfirm. The reverse side of the poster provides a lot of details and information on the various Arm Slaves, secondary characters and props from the show, mixing conceptual sketch pieces with full color images and shots from the show itself. The back reverse side of the cover uses the character Japanese cover artwork and features a nice shot of Tessa in her command uniform. The back cover provides a rundown of each of the episodes, lots of artwork and only Japanese production information. This is essentially the R2 cover with only a few very minor tweaks, and now turned around on my copy as the main cover.
The menu layout here goes for the metal aspect of the title with lots of interlocking pieces merging together to provide the main menu. Selections are nice and easy to get to, though there are some sections where you have to really focus for a minute to make sure you’re looking at it properly, such as the trailers in ensuring you’re selecting the right one. Access times are nice and fast and everything worked as expected.
The extras here pretty much mirror the earlier volumes with only some small differences. The video art gallery, using some amusing incidental music to play along, runs just under two minutes and showcases the pieces found on the reverse side of the poster. The opening and ending sequences are provided again in a textless format and the Japanese versions of the piracy warnings are included, fully subtitled.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the opening arc pretty much completed and the series setting things up so Sousuke is guarding Kaname now, there’s a couple of ways things can go. The most obvious is having Kaname continually chased by some organization that wants to acquire her for her Whispered status. The other is to go in a completely different direction and work things so that she gets caught up in situations she doesn’t want to be in. Both provide hard to believe concepts in their basis, but one of them is more formulaic than the other.
The chosen path is the better of the two, at least in my mind. Kaname finds herself getting caught up in Sousuke’s life which brings her once again to places and situations she’d rather not be in. It all starts this time around with the arrival of a young man named Takuma into Japan. Having escaped a raid by Sousuke and his friends, he’s making his way into Japan to hide out until he can be reunited with his sister. Unfortunately for this seemingly off balance and overly violent kid, he ends up caught fairly early on and taken to a secure hospital.
His condition is something very rare, rare enough that Kalinin requests his commander, Tessa, to leave the secure submarine and come to the hospital so that she can investigate him. While she doesn’t get a chance to do a full investigation, she ends up agreeing with Kalinin’s belief that young Takuma has the ability to be a Lambda Driver. Naturally, this increases his value quite a lot and explains the subsequent violent attack on the hospital by his sister and her compatriots to rescue him.
That attack doesn’t go as well as planned, leading to Seina capturing a severely wounded Kalinin while Tessa makes an escape with Takuma in her care. With little ground based knowledge, she heads to the safest place she can think of, which is Sousuke’s apartment. Sousuke’s surprised when he returns to find here there, having had a difficult day of trying to show Kaname some of the new protective elements he’s had made for her. When he finds Tessa and the slightly drugged out and violent Takuma, he moves quickly into protective mode again and takes over the situation. Which lasts until Kaname decides to come over to make up somewhat, only to find Tessa in a towel after a show.
Finding herself now wrapped up in the situation after an amusing attempted explanation of who is who, the foursome find themselves on the run from Seina’s terrorist group while their own people are trying to track them down as well. It’s very heavy on the action sequences, but it’s really nicely balanced out with the characters and how they handle the situation. When Sousuke is stuck in a hostage situation and has to decide which girl to be freed first, it’s a huge “uh oh” situation no matter what he does. His internal logic is spot on for him as he tries to do what’s right and then listen to everyone later on as to why he was wrong.
While this show really lets the military otaku run wild and enjoy all the aspects of it, it’s got a really sweet and comical side to it that can bring in a lot of other people. Full Metal Panic has quickly turned into one of my wife’s favorite shows because she enjoys the characters so much and likes the way the situations play out with them and how they handle it. If it had been a pure military otaku show, I doubt she’d watch more than the first episode. This series cross over beautifully and continues to build nicely upon what came before while still retaining some secrets for the future.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Clean opening and closing animations,Japanese piracy warnings,Production Sketches
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.
Mania Grade: A-
Audio Rating: A-
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: A
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 15 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Full Metal Panic