Full Metal Panic Vol. #5 - Mania.com

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  • 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
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Full Metal Panic

Full Metal Panic Vol. #5

By Chris Beveridge     November 18, 2003
Release Date: November 25, 2003

Full Metal Panic Vol. #5
© ADV Films

What They Say
It's never easy being the new guy. Ask Sousuke-proving himself to a squad of teammates at least ten years his senior will be an uphill battle. But when the mission drops them deep behind enemy lines with no support, it's going to take everyone's cooperation just to stay alive. Suffice it to say, not everyone cooperates. Nor does everyone who dies actually stay dead.

And speaking of things that won't die, the rivalry between Kaname and Tessa finds new life on Tessa's home turf. It's the de Danaan's first birthday, and Kurz has taken the mike to emcee a racy game of bingo for the crew-promising the winner a red-hot kiss from Captain Testarossa! Will Sousuke win the big prize? Everything is turned up full-blast in the fifth scorching volume of Full Metal Panic!

The Review!
Full Metal Panic continues its darker storyline in Helmajistan, as things get quite serious and deadly.

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 a very dark purple and gray background image while the foreground has a shot of one of Sousuke’s current AS of choice. 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 great image of several AS’ in action. 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 features a shot of Gray from the three-part storyline in her combat uniform. 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 ninety seconds and has a number of character pieces but is mostly filled with AS 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 fifth volume of Full Metal Panic, the series shifts again back to just three episodes on the disc. Unlike some of the past volumes or with other recent seven volume series, the layout here doesn't work too terribly well for it. With the second and third part of a three-part storyline and then the first of a new one, it doesn't have that open and close feel that we'd gotten earlier in the series.

Regardless of that however, we do get some great episodes. The "Wind Blows at Home" storyline continues strongly here after the opening episode on the previous volume that has Sousuke working with a more seasoned military crew in trying to retrieve a nuclear weapon and keep it out of enemy hands in the rough and dirty country of Helmajistan. While the opening episode dealt with the tension within the group over having what they perceived as a boy and a rookie, these two episodes are much more combat oriented. With the team having acquired the weapon and now trying to transport it out of country, they're faced with the oncoming army of mercenaries that are trying to get it for themselves.

This plays out in a couple of good ways. The first one is that we get Sousuke back on his home turf. This brings up some flashbacks to his time as a resistance fighter in the country and the hit and run raids that they performed, sneaking through various rock enclaves and using the terrain to their advantage against all manner of opponents. These kinds of performances, where he's also taught by campfire the rules of engagement that they have to follow, really makes it much more believable that someone his age could be as well suited to battle as he is. It brings a new measure of realism to his skills and the manner in which he conducts himself. The situations he had grown up in have shaped him and it helps make it all the more applicable to him in the present.

One of the downsides to this is that they go for the heartstring tugging by having a friend of his from that time, a close comrade a few years older than him who taught him some of the most important survival elements, is now working for the "other" side in this mission. That means he's teamed up with Gauron and is working to acquire the weapon that will give them more power and a bigger and better bargaining chip. While that serves as the pretext, the arrival of his friend Zaied into the picture brings up the usual kind of angst and conflicting emotions one would expect, but applied through a really strong veneer of restraint. Sousuke tries hard to not let it get to him once he realizes whom it is he's fighting against.

All in all, the two episodes for this storyline are well done and serve as a good side story, which is all that it really is, that fleshes out both Sousuke and Gauron and gives the two of them even more reasons to hate each other. The action sequences are quite well done and getting to see more of the Lambda drive in action as well as a seasoned military AS crew going into action brings out a number of great combat moments. There are no pretty moments in these fights; they're brutal and honest about it for the most part. During on sequence where Gauron essentially shatters one of the AS units into pieces, which took me by surprise and had me perk up at the brutality of it.

With that done, things start to move back to normal a bit with Sousuke's return to Japan and bringing Kaname back into the picture. They start off wonderfully again as Sousuke takes up an interest in the upcoming school festival. While the previous year was done to theme of Peace, this year he's managed to make it Security. Appropriate indeed, until she finds out that the entrance towers he's built to the festival grounds are highly fortified military style towers, complete with defenses. She's freaking out completely on him over the cost and concept, even after being paint-sprayed, until he casually mentions that he was intending to ask her to an island retreat with him the following week before school starts.

Kaname is Kaname and with only a few quick thoughts takes him up on his offer.

The planned destination is actually one of Mithril's bases, though she's unaware of that first, but the two of them end up getting caught up in a new mission that Tessa has their submarine base take up. Bringing both of them on board, we're treated to a fun and slightly tense episode at times. The tense portion comes from the potential relationships both women may or may not have or want with Sousuke, each knowing the other may be more interested than they let on. The fun part comes in that before their mission really gets underway, there's a big celebration over the one-year "birthday" of the submarine that Tessa commands. This is actually quite a lot of fun and has the characters engaged in interesting ways. It's the kind of episode that lets them let their hair down a bit and relax, something that's most definitely needed after the three-part storyline that we just went through.

In Summary:
While the pacing of the volume is a bit off in how the episodes progress, these are definitely good sections. The final episode seems to be setting up events for the last story arc of the series while the three-part storyline closes an interesting side-story that helps beef up Sousuke's background and the why behind the man. With Kaname and the folks at Mithril back in the picture though, the light comedy and dark undertones are back in a good way, leaving me wanting more episodes as quickly as possible.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Production sketches,Clean opening and closing animations,Japanese piracy warnings

Review Equipment
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.


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