Full Metal Panic Vol. #7 (of 7) (Mania.com)

By:Paul Jacques
Review Date: Monday, November 15, 2004
Release Date: Monday, October 18, 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 Review!
Woah!: Last volume; Last episodes; Last action; Last laughs. It is with a small tear in my eye (s’dust particles, honest) that I insert the last disc of this series.

Audio:
I listened in English 5.1, English 2.0 and Japanese 2.0. I have to say that the 5.1 is very good and carries a decent depth in the playback, so don’t feel obliged to stick with the stereo options. In fact my wife complained about the 5.1 explosions (reviewer smiles and pats the subwoofer). Also, is it just me, or does the incidental music sound a bit like the "A-Team" theme?

Opening theme is called "Tomorrow", closing theme tune is called "Never Dying Flower".

Video:
Very good video, clean, sharp and plenty of colour. No problems were seen and the only thing that could have improved this presentation would have been widescreen.

Packaging:
Excellent box (transparent) with a Mithril Arbalest adorning the front. The reversible covers are very welcome and make for a great read. The foldout poster is once again full of information about characters and weapons contained in this volume, although you may want tot read it afterwards as it contains a spoiler. The other side of the mini poster is a picture of Kaname.

The disc itself is nicely printed with a graphic of the menu.

Menu:
Menus are really cool looking, with sliding metal panels when you select an option. The opening menu links are Languages, Extras, Episode and Scene selection. I had no problems with the menu options, and all links worked quickly.

Extras:
We get clean Open and Close animation, Production sketches (around 20) and a collection of funny, but very serious anti-piracy warnings from the series characters (in Japanese).

Content: (please note that content portions of a will contain spoilers)
Episode 22 picks up with Gauron running the show, literally. He taken control of the sub and is very much enjoying the opportunity to rub Mithril’s nose in the fact that he has out-smarted them.

Although most of the crew have been trapped in the main hangar, Kurz and Sousuke are free to make their way towards command centre. On the way they encounter the traitors who have joined Gauron payroll, this leads to some tricky hand to hand combat as a game of cat & mouse is played out in the sub’s many rooms.

What Gauron doesn’t know is that the Captain and Miss Kaname (telepathically) hatch a plot to take back the control of the sub by getting to the AI. This course of action leads Gauron to hand out a little revenge- he fires on a US warship! This in turn makes the Captain of the US sub (Pasadena) seek retribution against Mithril.

Episode 23 sees the Tuatha de Danaan being hunted by the Pasadena, and Gauron doesn’t care at all. In fact in this episode we really begin to understand that Gauron is one sandwich short of a full pick nick.

With Sousuke help Kaname is finally able to reach the AI, and in doing so regain control of the sub whilst under enemy fire. Unfortunately, Gauron escapes in the mle, but Sousuke goes in pursuit. This is a really good episode, when action and laughs aplenty.

The final episode is a mano-e-mano showdown, as Sousuke and Gauron battle it out in their AS’s, with the sub as the battleground. This is a down and dirty fight, with Gauron intent on destroying the sub if he can. And if things weren’t bad enough the US sub Pasadena is closing in for the final shot. There is a very good down-to-the-wire ending to this situation, so I won’t spoil it for you.

There is an epilogue style second half to this episode, where the crew remembers those who gave their lives so that others could live. It also gives an opportunity to see where the love triangle between Sousuke, Testarossa, Kaname will go. And yes, this sort of seems to resolve itself.

In summary-
For me this series has been a joy to watch, with it’s mix of action, comedy, solid characters and some really nice underwater 3D CGI. The first volume was a tad slow, but funny, and then volume 2 onwards was just a pleasure to watch. The only fly in the ointment is the resurrecting Gauron. They should either leave his ONLY death to the end, or explain how he keeps coming back from the grave after Sousuke repeatedly kills him >_<

Despite it’s 12 rating, I had no problem letting my daughter watch this series. As such it is rare that an Anime series can be interesting to both adults and children, and therefore it makes a safe purchase for any member of the family- if you don’t mind the odd swear word ^_^ And thanks to the Production team never succumbing to penning a predictable route to the stories ending, it always remained exciting during any given story. I eagerly await the second series.

Features
English 5.1 Language,Japanese 2.0 Language ,English 2.0 Language ,English Subtitles ,Fold-out poster with in-depth background information printed on the reverse,Clean opening and closing animations ,Production sketches ,Japanese piracy warnings

Review Equipment
JVC 28" Pure Flat Wide Screen TV, Pioneer 454 Progressive Scan code free DVD player, Logitech Z-680 THX DD/DTS receiver & Speakers. Secondary equipment, 21” Sony Trinitron monitor, ATI 9700pro & PowerDVD v4, Creative Audigy 2 & headphones.



Mania Grade: A-
Audio Rating: A-
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: A
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 12 & Up
Region: 2 - Europe
Released By: ADV Films UK
MSRP: £19.99
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Full Metal Panic