Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid Vol. #3 - Mania.com

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  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: TV 14
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Kadokawa Pictures USA
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Full Metal Panic

Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid Vol. #3

By Chris Beveridge     March 02, 2007
Release Date: March 06, 2007

Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid Vol. #3
© Kadokawa Pictures USA

What They Say
Tensions are at an all-time high as the world spins rapidly out of control. Kaname is left alone when Sousuke disappears from class, and this time he seems to be gone for good. The spunky Whispered may be a survivor, but just how much can one high school girl survive?

Meanwhile, civil war looms around the corner as a rouge AS decimates entire city blocks in Hong Kong. The SRT searches the fractured city for clues as to the origin of this new threat, while Sousuke rushes to master his nerve and the Arbalest both... Time is running out on peace!

Contains episodes 8-10:
Jungle Groove
Her Problem
Hong Kong in Two

The Review!
More preparation and setup for the final set of episodes of the series, this installment moves all the pieces into place.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The audio side of this release is very nicely stacked as it includes two 5.1 soundtracks and two 2.0 soundtracks as well as a commentary track for each of the four episodes. We listened to the show in the 5.1 mix and it came across very sharp and well defined. There is an extra level of oomph and clarity to it in comparison to the stereo mix as dialogue is more precisely placed and the use of all the channels at one point or another gives it a good boost over the basic stereo mix. The English language track is essentially the same since dialogue is kept primarily to the forward soundstage. We didn't have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback of what we did listen to.

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. With the video quality that we had seen in the previous season of the series, there were plenty of fears and questions about how this one would turn out. We took the disc to three separate players and three different kinds of displays and across all of them it looked fantastic. The transfer isn't problem free but what we did find are the kinds of things that are really just nitpicking at this stage. Occasionally a background would have some noise to it or some of the fine lines would show a bit of aliasing but that's about it. From start to finish, this is a very solid looking transfer that really shows off the great animation quality.

Similar to the earlier volumes, this release has been given a cardboard slipcover that uses the silver/metallic method to give it a bit more shine. The slipcover, of which the keepcase matches, has lets Gates take center stage with a bit of a motion shot that's blurry around his arms while his AS is behind him. They also retained some of the Japanese text with the logo and have done a very slick job in doing something that really captures the original logo style, particularly for the subtitle. The back of the slipcover does match the keepcase back cover though and we've got yet another lengthwise design with a lot of empty space for a creatively designed background that mixes in shots from the show. The packaging does a great job of providing not only a brief but effective summary of the premise but a good clear list of the episode numbers and titles as well as the extras. The bottom is laid out in the usual format with lots of logos, production information and the technical grid but it doesn't feel as cramped as some other releases. That said, I'd hate to see these lengthwise covers become the norm.

The keepcase is clear for this release and the reverse side is done up nicely with a two panel spread that has the logo on the left side while the right side has some character and AS artwork to it. The insert is a small booklet which is listed as the "Mithril Report" which is something that I think is incredibly handy. With the series background covered in the first installment, this one focuses more on character backgrounds, some locations and some of the equipment used throughout the shot. Like the first one, it has a very solid quality to it and excellent paper stock.

Keeping in theme and using the blue shading and background designs from the cover artwork, the menu layout is nicely done with the character artwork Gates and his AS alongside the series logo. The navigation design is simple but effective and it's all tied well with the somewhat mellow instrumental music that's playing along to it. Menu access times are in good shape and navigation is quick and easy for the most part. We didn't bother with seeing if our players' presets would work due to multiple soundtracks and wanting to see the translated credits.

Similar to the second volume there is once again a good selection of extras that help show what went into the series. The audio commentaries continue with this volume during all three episodes as the creative staff talk about some of the inside jokes and stories behind all of it. Some of it can remove the magic but getting to hear them talk about all of it can be quite fascinating. The location shoots make up the bulk of the extras here though as the fourth and fifth installments go through the motions. Also included and always welcome are clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Moving through another set of three episodes, The Second Raid continues on with rearranging the pieces as it gets ready to cap off what's going on. With the show not able to continue on by doing what made the first season work, namely having Kaname and Sousuke going through awkward school situations punctuated by extreme violence, the dynamic is moving into something a fair bit more interesting.

Throughout these three episodes, the show is fairly well focused across multiple story arcs that are all leading to what seems to be the same place. Nothing truly major happens in any of them which gives this volume a bit more of a relaxed feel in some way, but a good deal of progress is actually going on. The separation of Kaname and Sousuke isn't something too terribly new as he's spent plenty of time on missions and away from her, but after that haircut sequence in the last volume their relationship started to take on some new dimensions. With him coping with the situation as best he can, namely just disappearing, it's put the pair into a very tough emotional situation. Sousuke's simply unable to carry on with his duties because of how conflicted he feels now while Kaname is at a complete loss as to why he left so suddenly.

Sousuke's story takes an interesting twist along the way as he's back on board Tessa's ship now and feeling the pressure of her interest by how she simply lays into him on things. His mind is now so completely caught up in Kaname that he's unsure of his mission in general. In something of a surprise he's actually almost commiserating with Kurz about his situation. That doesn't actually last long though as a new arrival on the ship from the Mediterranean fleet has decided to make his presence known among the Uruz group. Clousseau is a very confident but not cocky type who manages to get under both Kurz's and Sousuke's skins very easily and quickly by insulting their former dead commander. A bit of new history comes with him and some baggage as well but it's the right kind of character to try and shake Sousuke up. As he says, Sousuke is more of a danger to himself and his comrades now and that needs to be dealt with.

The story that works the best across this volume is the one focusing on Kaname. While Sousuke has lost a great deal in being taken off duty from her, he at least knows the reasons. She's left without any idea of why he left or what's going on. Even worse, she knows that she's being tailed by someone else from Mithril and it's leaving her uneasy. Everything around her seems like it might leap right into her and cause a problem which has made her incredibly jumpy. But what makes Kaname such an interesting character is that she's not a pushover or just accepts what's happen but rather is proactive on it. While her methods are certainly questionable when it comes to the idea that she may be bugged, her intentions are spot on for someone with no real training. Why she didn't buy some new clothes first before running around in a jacket and panties is beyond me but the visuals are just spot on.

The larger storyline revolving around Gates and Leonard as well as the twin sisters and their plans comes across a couple of times throughout this and intersects well with the other storylines. The eventual build up in Hong Kong is getting there and it's rather enjoyable to see that it's a slow and steady progression instead of just being dropped right into it. Hong Kong takes on quite a prominent role in this volume towards the end and it's done rather well as the suspense and atmosphere build-up is paced well. That particular part of the arc also works to give us a bit more information on the regulars, particularly Melissa, as her past experiences in the city provide for some contrast to what the reality is now.

In Summary:
This set of episodes isn't a huge sell on the series but the material within it is the kind that will please long time fans. The characters get some good growth here and they're able to express themselves fairly well. Well, outside of Sousuke who keeps it all bottled up until he can explode. The main plotline feels like it's not getting quite the attention it needs but once it starts moving forward you can see all the various elements that made up the earlier episodes come together for it. This volume feels pretty low-key for the most part but it has some of the best scenes and is a perfect follow-up from the events of the previous volume with Sousuke and Kaname. Closer and closer to the end it gets and the more I enjoy the show.

Japanese 2.0 Language,Japanese 5.1 Language,English 5.1 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Audio Commentaries,Location Scouting Part IV,Location Scouting Part V,Clean Opening,Clean Closing

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic DMP-BD10 player via HDMI -> DVI with upconversion set to 1080i, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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