Unrelated at first glance, a series of tactical assignments draws Mithril's Special Response Team into a tangled web, with the spider wearing a haunting face from the past! With inside help and technology to rival their own, this adversary is after the Arbalest no matter the cost. And don't forget that math test...
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 review, we watched this series in English and in Japanese. I am split on the voice cast preference as I both casts seemed do an excellent job. It was really hard to nail down a preference for this one. In listening to both language tracks we didn't have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2005, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The video quality for this release is fantastic and looks great. The transfer does have a few minor, if not noticeable flaws. On a very rare occasion, the background would have some noise or a hint of aliasing would appear. From start to finish, this is a very solid looking transfer that really shows off the great animation quality.
The Full Metal Panic! Second Raid collection takes on a packaging personification that is similar to the recently released Viridian Collections that are now being released by FUNimation. The exception to this is the plastic slip cover that fits over the cardstock holder for the discs.
The transparent plastic slip cover is a side-entry cover that will help to insure the longevity of the cardstock holder throughout the years. The cover is a nice addition as it features Sousuke and Kaname along with the evil twin sisters Yu Fan and Yu Lan. The back side of the slip cover contains a nice summary of the series along with a few screen shots, and of course, the technical specs. The spine of the slip cover is colored in a dark blue background with Sousuke and the Arbalest.
On to the cardstock holder or gatefold case… What’s cool about its design is that it provides the background image for the plastic slip cover. Here, you have profile images of the two main mecha in the series, Arbalest and Venom. The spine of the cardstock holder features the logo for the series along with a picture of Tessa. Once assembled with the plastic slip cover, the box set collection becomes a very attractive attention getter.
Within the card stockholder, you will find two transparent plastic holders that house the discs. Each plastic holder houses two discs. The top discs are mounted on a hinged plate. To access the disc beneath, one has to pry the disc mount loose from the plastic base. My biggest concern here is that you have to s really pry against the plastic base to gain access to the second disc that is concealed beneath. I could see someone easily tearing the cardboard or breaking the plastic.
A jacket on the right side of the cardstock holder (once unfolded). Has a listing of the contents for each of the four discs, which is a nice touch. Inside the jacket flap are the four booklets that contain liner notes about each of the discs and the episodes within.
In all, this is a nice box setup. However, the cardboard and plastic found within the gatefold case concerns me. The heavy prying one has to use to open the hinged discs may cause the gatefold case to not last very long.
The menus for this collection use blue shading and background designs that are similar to that found on the cover artwork for the single disc releases. Of course, as with most box collections, this full release uses the same menus as found in the single releases.
The menu layout is nicely done with the character artwork alongside the series logo. The navigation design is simple, but effective. The menus are also tied in well with instrumental music clips that are from the series. Surprisingly, the menus for this release are in a 4:3 aspect ratio while the show is in a 16:19 aspect ratio. The menu access times were quick and easy to navigate.
The Second Raid box set comes with a load of extras. The liner booklets are a great addition to this collection as they allow you to immerse yourself further into what you have just watched. They contain character designs, mecha profiles, and other production information.
In addition, there is a hefty collection of extras on the discs. The extras included in this collection are:
• Bonus OVA
• Bonus Episode 000
• Tour of Japanese Self-Defense Force
• 7-Part Featurette: Location Scouting in Hong Kong
• "Dawn of the Light Novel"
• Audio Commentaries (all episodes)
• Textless songs
This has to be one of the most jammed packed collection of extras that this reviewer has had the privilege of reviewing. The audio commentaries alone are a huge treat in that it allows you to gain a further understanding of how Shoji Gatoh created the series of short novels and adapted them to the this third anime release. Of course, each episode has a track featuring a couple of the series' voice actors or other staff members.
Bonus Episode 000 is a promotional trailer rather than an episode for the series. However, the bonus OVA is a treat that runs on the same level as Fumoffu. If you liked Fumoffu, then you’ll love this one as the episode is pretty much an episode featuring Tessa. The prankiness of this episode has a real Fumoffu feel to it.
The “Tour at Japanese Self Defense Force” was of interest as I am a fan of military equipment. It was interesting to see how much US military equipment was being used by the Japanese Self Defense Force.
The "Dawn of the Light Novel" featurette provides you with a deep insight into how Shoji Gatoh’s popular style of serial fiction gave birth to Full Metal Panic. It may even cause you to want to seek out those novels and read them for yourself!
In all, this is a great pile of extras that can cause you to delve deeper into the world that Shoji Gatoh has created. After viewing this, I am going to seek out those light novels as I can’t get enough Fullmetal Panic.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers).
In this third season, Full Metal Panic returns to its roots. The writers go back to focus on writing about action with a side of comedy, not the other way around. Balance is regained and so is its appeal. The storyline begins where the first season left off. Fans that have watched the series before will fall into step with the story, but new viewers may have a hard time becoming oriented. There really isn’t much back story to catch up ‘newbies’.
The Second Raid jumps right into the middle of a mission, literally. A third world Baltic country has gained some advanced technology, specifically anti-ECS missile (missiles able to detect systems with ECS invisibility), and they are using it against their own people. Sousuke is called upon to use the Arbalest as the key player in the plan. He is to destroy the missile installations so the helicopters filled with refugees can escape. The first arc punt kicks the traditional ‘happy ending’ format. Sousuke fails to activate the Lamda driver and begins a downward spiral. Mao gets hurt and Mithril realizes that they are up against a new enemy that could be a serious threat.
This first episode also sets the stage for the villain of the series. Gates makes his grand entrance. He sold the weapons to the dictator, and he wants to collect his money. It’s hard to say who is more maniacal, Gates or the dictator. As an adversary, Gates is a skilled AS pilot and has an unit like Gauron’s. He also has an entourage of other skilled pilots including some interesting, twisted twin sisters Xia Yu Fan and Xia Yu Lan. However, Gates is a whiny chump compared to Gauron, who was the main protagonist in the first series.
Gates is also a skilled strategist. After the Baltic battle, he decides to acquire Sousuke and his Lambda Drive AS. He sets up a trap for the Mithril team by kidnapping a number of officials that are involved in the North / South China Armistice Treaty negotiations. Gates establishes a mole in Mithril who not only gives Gates’ people everyone’s location, but also breaks up the Mithril team’s communication system. The team ends up like ducks in a barrel, or rather a tunnel system that mimics a maze. While fighting to survive against Gates’ lackeys, the team also encounters the twisted sisters. Kurz Weber struggles against Xia Yu Fan, piloting the only Zy-98 Shadow-type Arm Slave in the battle, while Melissa Mao and a team of Mithril's infantry deal with Xia Yu Lan, who posed as one of the hostages, and Sousuke is left to face Gates, who is operating a Venom-type Arm Slave. The team finally thwarts the enemy and lures them into their own trap, forcing them to flee. All the same, their operation was successful.
Mithril is still unable to identify its new enemy. Following their only breadcrumb, the mole Blueno is found in Italy, and brought in by Mao and Kurz, with help from Sousuke. Blueno finally provides Mithril with the name of their new foe, Amalgam. In this arc Kurz and Mao get to pull off a spy gig, and we get to see Mao at her finest.
During this time, the tension surrounding Sousuke continues to rise. Kurz and Mao get on him about his performance during the missions, and Kaname takes him to task about his absenteeism and grades. Sousuke’s ability to be everything to everyone is quickly faltering. The superhero façade’ is fading, and one simple question from Kaname is the catalyst for a change in course. The question is “What are you going to do about your future?”
Sousuke begins to think about his future, and contemplating the possibility of being a normal high school student. As Sousuke begins to think on these things and begins to realize how he feels about Kaname, he finds himself suddenly removed from his duty to guard her. Another guard is taking his place, Wraith. This new guard is more of a distant observer, and Kaname, unaware of the change of personnel, thinks he is there to stalk her. When Kaname discovers that Sousuke has left her, she begins to take matters in her own hands.
As Kaname tracks her pursuers, we get an insight into what has been concealed behind the curtain. Mithril is a rather large organization and they have some nasty enemies. She confronts Wraith, and finds out that she really does have someone else following her, Xia Yu Lan, who seems to appear on cue. Xia Yu Lan takes over, shoots Wraith and then attacks Kaname. Kaname manages to escape, then takes control of the situation.
The foes seem to be falling out of the sky when Leonard Testarossa, Tessa’s brother and a fellow Whispered, then appears on the scene. He is an agent of Amalgam and comes to reel in Yu Lang. Yu Lang refuses and gets killed by one of her own. After having Yu Lang killed, Leonard lets Kaname go, and she is left to her own devices.
Meanwhile, Sousuke find himself back on the ship, uncomfortable with life, and under the new Uruz-1 (Urzu-1), Lieutenant Belfangan Groseaux. The new Lieutenant is there to lead, not make friends. Sousuke seems to be on everyone’s short list. The next mission and confrontation is underway soon enough as an AS is loose in Hong Kong. The other twin sister, Yu Lan, is now acting by order of her Sensei, and is taking everyone to task. The Uruz (Urzu) team is sent on a seek-and-destroy mission. Unfortunately, not long after its beginning Sousuke finally has his melt down and abandons the mission.
Sousuke, abandon his mission? The man known for always spouting “Not a problem” finds himself with a whole bunch of them. Will he get his head on straight in time to keep his team and himself from getting killed by Yu Lan and Gates? Will the almighty Sensei to the sadistic twins finally be revealed? And, by the way, what happened to Kaname? The ending of the series is heavy and full bore. There is little humor, but lots of action. The visual detail of the battles, fast paced plot, and character development carried to the very last moment of the final episode makes the viewing “not a problem” at all. Highly recommended for the initiated viewer.
Oh, and I forgot to mention that an old arch enemy of Sousuke is still alive?
The Second Raid picks up where the first Full Metal Panic! Series left off. This next iteration does not disappoint as the cast is thrust into a new set of circumstances that can literally destroy them or make them stronger still. Second Raid lives up to its name as the plot moves at panicked pace. This series has Sousuke and Kaname facing some of the toughest circumstances that they have ever confronted.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Japanese Cast Episode Commentaries, 8 Behind the Scenes Documentaries, 4 Mithril Report Booklets.
Hitachi 62VS69 62" UltraVision LCD Projection HDTV, Samsung BDP-1000 Blu-ray Player with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound.