The follow-up to the fantastic Full Metal Panic! Brings new intrigue while advancing Kaname’s and Sosuke’s relationship.
What They Say It's tough to keep your grades up without having to take off at a moment's notice to save the world. But for Sousuke Sagara, undercover high school student and member of the mercenary group Mithril, life in Tokyo seemed the same as always. But underneath the promising exterior spin the wheels of a conspiracy that threaten to destroy the peace. A new threat has arisen: Amalgam.An unknown element with advanced mech technology, this mysterious organization has been running things from behind the scenes. As dissension spreads throughout the ranks of Mithril, Sousuke faces his own internal struggle. Spread thin between schoolwork and war, the powers that be have decided to lighten his load... beginning with Kaname!Life and death hang in the balance as the clash between good and evil scale new heights. When the smoke clears, Sousuke's path will be the one that he forges for himself. Includes all 13 episodes plus episode 000 and the OVA "Tessa's Eventful Day."
For this viewing, I listened to the English 5.1 dub. A Japanese 2.0 track is also available. Sounds were clean with no distortion or dropout in any of the channels. Though the dialogue stayed centered, the rest of the channels were well used for the sound effects, with plenty of left-right and front-back directionality. Just a well done piece.
As opposed to the first series, The Second Raid is a widescreen series, and it looked gorgeous. Colors were bold throughout the spectrum, and the minor transfer errors on the first series are gone here. Beautiful series.
Standard Funimation double thinpak, though it looks as if they have solved the problem with flimsy cases, as the clasps are far sturdier than previous. The front has a collage of the main cast, while the back of the box has screen shots, a series summary, and technical details. Each thinpak has an Arm Slave and some characters on the front, with some character art and episode lists on the back, and a background image can be seen on the interior, though the cover is not specifically designed to be reversible.
The menus are nice, though basic. The main menu has a blue background with a static image of one of the characters striking a pose. The selections are offered in a clean layout in white, so they stand out well against the bright background; highlighted selections are easy to see too. The submenus all follow a similar sort of setup.
All of the extras for this release are by themselves on the third disc. There are clean versions of the opening and closing along with a few trailers. There is also a seven-part featurette about a trip the animators took to Hong Kong to do location research for the Hong Kong scenes. Each part runs about 20 minutes long, so this will take a while to get through. It’s pretty interesting, so it is worth the time spent. There are also two bonus episodes. The first is labeled as “Episode 000” and is little more than a five minute trailer for the series. But the second, the “Bonus OVA,” is a full episode and is well worth the price of admission by itself. It is a hilarious “Day in the Life of” following Captain Testarossa as she tries to put the pieces together of the events of a long, drunken evening from the night previous. Just great stuff.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Having just recently watched the fantastic Full Metal Panic! for the first time, I dove into The Second Raid with great anticipation, and I am glad to say that it mostly lived up to what the first series brought. Good action, a lot of intrigue, and some really nice twists in the relationship of Sosuke and Kaname.
After the death of Gauron and the end of the immediate threats to Kaname, life goes somewhat back to normal for Sosuke, and he returns to Jindai High School to continue his vigil watching over her. But he is starting to be spread a little thin; watching over her and keeping up with his school work is enough to be a full-time job, but Mythril keeps pulling him away to assist on other missions and he is starting to fall behind in all areas.
Sosuke’s stoicism refuses to allow him to see this as anything other than part of his duty, but Mythril quickly notices a lessening of his effectiveness. So when the order comes down from up top that Sosuke is to quit guarding Kaname, he is forced for the first time to reexamine what is more important: his desires or his duties.
What I enjoyed the most in the first Full Metal Panic! was the relationship between Sosuke and Kaname because they acted as foils for one another. And one of the most interesting parts of that was the slow humanization that Soskue went through as he learned to live in normal society. So when this series started, and he was not quite as militant as he was in the beginning of the first series, I found the dynamic of their relationship a little less interesting. Sosuke reacts to her outbursts more the way that typical anime protagonist would rather than in his usual robotic manner.
But in the end, I think it helped as the main purpose of this series was to rid Sosuke of his reliance on his orders and his duty. His humanization lessens the comedic value of his experiences in real life, but heightens the dramatic value of his soul searching. When he hits rock bottom in the later stages of the series, it is all the more crushing because he knows he can no longer accept his orders, but he does not know how to break the cycle.
I was also really liked the direction they took Kaname in here. What I liked about her in the first series was her ability to take care of herself. She relied on Sosuke to protect her but was more than capable of holding her own if she needed to. They pushed this dynamic further in this series when Sosuke disappears without a trace and an attempt is made on her life. It forces her to accept that she is truly on her own and that she cannot rely on anybody to protect her. In a bit of meta-fiction, Leonard describes her perfectly when he calls her “fragile and ferocious, vulgar and noble.” It is just a wonderful writing.
But what I did not like as much in this series was the overall plot that surrounded what was going on between them. A new threat has arisen as a mad scientist has taken an interest in the Lambda Driver and its potential, and with the help of a pair of emotionless, assassin sisters, he looks to take Sosuke’s Arm Slave, Arbalest, as Sosuke’s reputation with the Lambda Driver has preceded him.
It is not a bad story, but it is not as smoothly executed as the first series. The pacing seems out of whack, as if maybe it needed a full 26 episodes to get out, though I think that might have been too long. Rather, I think they could have used the time they had more effectively. The decision to pull Sosuke away from Kaname comes far too late in the series for it to be the crux that the rest of the series hinges on. It should have come in episode two (three at the latest) rather than in the sixth.
It just throws the pacing, and it makes the outside events seem a bit random, as if there was little thought given to how they all fit together. There was a lot of potential with it, but it just never came together in the way that the first series does. I would be bothered a lot more by it, though, if everything else with Sosuke and Kaname was not so strong. And as building their relationship is the main focus of the plot, then I can easily forgive everything else.
While the plot of Full Metal Panic!: The Second Raid does not flow as tightly as it did in the first series, the immediate events surrounding Sosuke and Kaname more than make up for it. This series does a great job of building on the dynamic the first lays out for them, making this a more than worthy followup to Full Metal Panic! Highly recommended.
Features Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Location Scouting Extras, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Magnavox 37MF337B 37” LCD HDTV, Sony BDP-S360 BluRay Player w/HDMI Connection upconverted to 1080i, Durabrand HT3916 5.1 Surround Sound System
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