Review by: Faith McAdams
Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: $59.98 US
Running Time: 320 minutes
Rating: TV 14
Release Date: Available Now
The beginning of a new battle and a battle between a boy and his mech.
Full Metal Panic is one of those rare anime series that blends political intrigue involving an alternate look at the Cold War and its aftermath as well as futuristic mech action and the story of a boy trying to blend into a normal High school setting and failing hilariously. So it didn’t come as a surprise that fans of this series get another season in the form of Full Metal Panic!: The Second Raid and while the series focuses more on action, this series is still one hell of a fun ride.
The Second Raid still finds Sousuke Sagara a major part of the mercenary organization known as Mithril as the pilot of the experimental Arm Slave unit called the Arbalest and he is still protecting a “Whispered” named Kaname Chidori as a student at Jindai Tokyo Municipal High School. Unfortunately, the world is still in turmoil with ceasefire agreements breaking under the pressure of some hidden threat that seems to want nothing more than to see countries affected by the seemingly unending Cold War to ignite in violence again.
In the opening episode, we find Mithril trying to bring some semblance of peace to Taboli City that is in chaos thanks to an evil military Colonel who is slaughtering the innocent. In an effort to take down the enemy, however, a Mithril-friendly chopper is shot down by an unexpected use of hardware a bit too advanced for the local insurgents and it is Sousuke who takes the enemy down and the advanced missile system. It’s a hard situation but with Kurtz Weber and Melissa Mao along with him they get out of it in one piece but with questions as to who is supplying advanced weapons to the enemy.
Meanwhile, Sousuke goes back to his other duty of watching over Chidori who is still annoyed by the young man’s constant tardiness and the fact that that he comically sees conspiracies and assassination attempts in everything including his own teacher’s car … which he takes apart piece by piece. It’s clear that Sousuke feels guilty about what happened in the first half of the series when the enemy got a hold of her. As a Whispered (one who could unlock the secrets of new technology), she is a prime target for organizations who know the value of a Whispered. Incidentally, it seems that Chidori is being watched and Sousuke doesn’t like it one bit
While he’s not attending classes and failing every test he takes or trying to flush out the one who is spying on Chidori, Sousuke is skipping class and going on missions. He joins Mithril on a mission in Nanking City that is being attacked by the crazy and despicable Mister Gates who is using the twins, Yu Fang and Yu Lan, to do most of his dirty work in his organization called the Amalgam. Once again, their Venom units baffle Mithril’s high command and intelligence department. Where do they get this kind of technology and what is Amalgam‘s ultimate goal?
The battle in Nanking is brutal thanks to Mr. Gates plan and Melissa Mao goes up against Yu Lan in one impressive fight and the team fights its way out of another difficult situation when Gates makes his move and defeats Sousuke. It doesn’t take the team long to figure out that they were betrayed and – in one of the coolest episodes – Melissa catches up to the traitor in Italy in a daring getaway with Sousuke behind the wheel trying to evade the enemy and talk to Chidori on the phone at the same time. We also meet a new commanding officer who reveals a truth about Sousuke and the Arbalest
Things get even more interesting when Sousuke finds out that Captain Teletha Testarossa has relieved him of his duty as Chidori’s bodyguard and, as a result, sets off a chain reaction of events. For Chidori, Sousuke’s sudden absence makes her paranoid to the point that she makes a drastic decision to lure out Sousuke’s replacement but lures out one of the twin assassins instead. Meanwhile, Sousuke doesn’t handle his orders to leave Chidori well and even confronts the Captain (who still has a monster crush on him). Beside that, Sousuke even does the unthinkable in the middle of an important mission in Hong Kong … he walks out on his comrades.
The Second Raid certainly has more action sequences and even more blood than the last season as we can see in a violent moment when one of the twins slits a throat. The final episodes lead to a climatic battle with Mister Gates and Sousuke encounters an old foe he thought was dead. It’s also great that FUNimation included the OVA episode with Captain Testarossa trying to piece together the events that lead her to an embarrassing moment with Sousuke.
Full Metal Panic!: The Second Raid is a more action-packed season but it never really loses the elements we love about the series including its great sense of humor and wonderful cast of characters. While I do love the amazing battle scenes, I do miss Sousuke and Chidori’s school antics that take a backseat to the fight against Amalgam as well as Sousuke’s trouble with the Arbalest. If you’re already a fan then I can’t recommend this one enough but if you aren’t you are missing out on one hell of an action anime series.
DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN
Time has passed since the events of the first half of this series and Sousuke Sagara is still juggling has role as a Sergeant for Mithril and his secret role as High school student/bodyguard for Kaname Chidori. When a mysterious rival organization called Amalgam activates their plan to set the world aflame with violence, it is up to Mithril to put a stop to their plan.
VIDEO QUALITY: A
The series looks amazing on DVD and this is a good thing seeing as the animation is simply gorgeous, although this time around there’s more gore and more fan service than in past episodes. Still, the action sequences are visual treats and so are the exotic backdrops.
AUDIO QUALITY: A
The original Japanese voice cast for this series has always been top notch and even more so in The Second Raid, although I have to give some well deserved praise to the English dub cast for some great performances. There’s also a catchy opening tune, “Southern Wind,” and a sweet closing theme, “I Wanna See You Again” both sung by Mikuni Shimokawa.
There’s an entire third disc loaded with juicy extras that come in the form of a short-but-awesome Episode 00 plus the cute and funny bonus OVA episode that follows Captain Teletha Testarossa after a night of hard drinking. There’s even an interesting 7-part featurette with the staff that includes director Yasuhiro Takemoto on location in Hong Kong. There are also textless songs and some trailers as well.
With a bigger emphasis on action this time around, The Second Raid is still a thrilling and comical series that makes this one of the best mech shows out there and trust me when I say that you will be a fan of it by the first episode. If you haven’t checked out this series before than you are really missing out on a great anime series with a lot to offer.
Review copy provided by FUNimation Entertainment