Full Metal Panic Vol. #7 (of 7) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, February 10, 2004
Release Date: Tuesday, February 17, 2004
What They Say
The Tuatha de Danaan is under fire! A U.S. Navy captain with an axe to grind has targeted the sub. In order to stop this modern-day Ahab, Mithril's Lt. Commander Kalinin goes straight to the top.
But aboard the de Danaan, the chain of command is missing a few key links, leaving Sousuke and Kurz to find out just who is running the ship. Meanwhile, Kaname has to call on every ounce of her power as a Whispered. Boatloads of intrigue, dynamite action, and a knockdown, drag-out fight to the finish! It's all here in the final installment of Full Metal Panic!
The first season of Full Metal Panic comes to a solid action packed ending that doesn't exactly answer any questions but plays with some fun concepts in a very teasing manner.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to the show in its original language of Japanese and in stereo. 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 similar to past covers with the metal background but has most of it filled with a blue lined explosion and fog. The final piece to the series provides a really nice looking shot of Sousuke's AS against the backdrop. Below it there is 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 purple-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 a nice shot of Kaname in one of her thumbs-up poses with a smile. The reverse side of the poster provides a lot of details and information on some of the AS's seen in this volume as well as talking about a number of characters. Each episode also gets a mini summary and some interesting side notes to them. The back reverse side of the cover uses the character Japanese cover artwork and gives Kurz his chance to shine with him in the full black combat outfit. 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 continue to mirror the earlier volumes with only some small differences. The video art gallery, using some amusing incidental music to play along, runs about two minutes and has a number of character pieces but is mostly filled with character artwork and background designs. 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 final three episodes, the first season of Full Metal Panic comes to a close by rounding out the storyline that's come into play with Gauron taking over the Mithril submarine, Toy Box. Like the end of any season of a series, there's a heightened focus on the action and the relationships between characters, so in a sense there's not too many surprises here. What we do get is some solid action sequences, some actual resolution and some interesting revelations about just what a Whispered can do.
Gauron's control of the ship has him pretty much set, with the back half of the vessel contained and its air thinning out so that anyone down there can't come up with a plan to try and stop them with all the equipment that they have. The middle section of the ship is virtually empty due to the evacuation drill that was run, so the bridge crew is relatively free of any threat that could come. Even still, Gauron has everyone tied up nicely with the couple of turncoats he has with him while Tessa and Kaname are kept within boot kicking distance from the captain's chair.
While Gauron does have complete control of the ship's AI and starts to use it to attack a nearby American warship while being pursued by an American submarine, he makes the one mistake that starts to cause everything to unravel. With both Kaname and Tessa having the ability to communicate telepathically due to the Whispered status, Tessa instructs Kaname on how she has to take her key, retrieve a universal key from her cabin and then go to a chamber in the center of the ship called Lady Chapel. From there, Tessa tells her that she'll be able to take over all of the ships functions with Tessa's help, and they can stop what Gauron has planned.
Once Tessa springs into action and sends Kaname on her way, the three episodes spend much of the time in games of cat and mouse across the ship as Gauron's men chase them while Kurz and Sousuke make they way into the fray. There are a number of very good combat sequences along the way in the cramped quarters and hallways as well as the last of the big AS battles for the series. Added into all the tension is the threat of the U.S. forces launching an all out attack on the ship that's in the hands of a man who wants to go out in a blaze of glory.
This aspect of Gauron that we learn as the tension mounts was actually fairly relieving. I was glad that there wasn't some huge clandestine plot that he was seeking to achieve but rather to simply take out the biggest most expensive gadget in the world in a huge blaze that would at the same time lead to a massive war of some sort. It fights his personality to some extent since his life was leading him down a path where nothing could stop him at all and the thrill of it was lost. Even Kashim doesn't pose a challenge to him that he would like after the last battle in Afghanistan.
My greatest fear during these final episodes when the two come to fight each other again was for that damn corny line of Gauron claiming to be Kashim's father or long lost older brother or something along those lines. Another area that worked out well, though obviously we'd all like to know more, is what the deal is with the Whispered and the continued rise in very high tech equipment coming about in the world. There are some gorgeous scenes with Kaname taking over control of the submarine and how its visually displayed, both in the chamber she's in and via the monitors on board the ship, but the details behind what she and the others are is still a secret here.
This series from start to finish has simply been a hell of a lot of fun. The characters are very enjoyable, the competition that builds up between Tessa and Kaname is fun and the action scenes were both striking and tense. At times, I felt like qualifying the series as a guilty pleasure but then I realized there was nothing to feel guilty about. Full Metal Panic isn't set to be the most serious show in the world, but it manages to play the pendulum well between fun goofy scenes, such as the early part of the series at Kaname's school, to the deadly dark moments when Sousuke returns home and confronts an overly powerful Gauron there. While I wish the disc count were shorter, that's the only downside to this release that I can find.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Production sketches,Clean opening,Clean closing,Japanese piracy warnings
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.
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: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Full Metal Panic