ADV Films // 2002 // 100 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Chief Counsel Rob Lineberger (Retired) // April 8th, 2004
"Of course, you're war crazy and your work is the priority." -- Kaname Chidori
Listen up, troops. I am altering our briefing format to streamline digital review assimilation. Our scouts gathered full reports during the previous two missions, which has given us a good idea of the technical capabilities of Full Metal Panic!. From now on, you will only receive abbreviated overviews of each mission with tactical summaries of each episode. This should enable you to more quickly assess the situation and understand the unique aspects of each mission. If you need a refresher on the technical background of Full Metal Panic!, you can access the previous scout reports for Mission 01 and Mission 02.
The four episodes that comprise Mission 03 deal with a terrorist group and an enemy Whispered. The story is somewhat self-contained; even if you are unfamiliar with the previous two DVDs, you could jump in here and be entertained. Mission 03 grants more screen time to the enigmatic Captain Tessa Testarossa, which provides for an amusing emotional undercurrent. After a minor lull in Mission 02, Mission 03 rebounds with zeal, cementing Full Metal Panic!'s trademark blend of humor and action. Great technical quality and fluid animation make Full Metal Panic! an immersive experience that will keep you wanting more.
* "Dangerous Safe House"
This episode introduces a new subplot about an enemy Whispered. The subplot seems to come out of nowhere, but the story arc that continues over these four episodes is dramatic and smooth. Kaname and Sousuke have comedic moments as they argue over a missed study date. The real meat of the episode is Captain Tessa's sojourn into the field, which goes badly. Tessa has had little substantive screen time, so this is a welcome opportunity to understand her character a bit more. I've always been a little suspicious of Lt. Kalinin, but this episode dispels any hint of duplicity his character might have had. Much of this episode is setup for the next three, but it is enjoyable nonetheless.
* "Run, Run, Run"
The setup pays off here. Sousuke's arrival at his apartment is fraught with tension, until he discovers that Tessa has fled there with her prisoner. While the previous episode was moderately funny, this one is devilishly hilarious. Sousuke is perceptive enough to realize that Kaname will not be pleased to find Tessa in the shower. He does his best to prevent Kaname finding out, but she does. The coup de grace is when Tessa feigns ignorance of Sousuke's military identity. The entire situation is played out with aplomb. Takuma soon makes trouble, so the group flees to Jindai High School. The interplay between the four characters is priceless. The episode ends in a terse prisoner exchange that features fast and furious action.
* "Behemoth Awakens"
The character-building moments from "Run, Run, Run" are used to great effect in this episode. We discover that Takuma has been twisted by a terrorist group to pilot a nasty Arm Slave. The backstory of the group and its motivations adds depth to the later action sequences. When Takuma hops into the cockpit, we know that mass destruction is on the way. The whole episode is one long adventure, leading up to potential annihilation: powerful and touching.
* "One Night Stand"
"One Night Stand" is a fitting end to this story arc, but it seems slightly one-dimensional compared to the emotional depth and character interplay of the previous three episodes. Basically, everyone flees destruction and tries to take down Behemoth. On an action level it works well. Several "just in time" plot twists artificially bail people out of desperate situations. Kurz gets to shine, and Tessa opens herself to Kaname, so all is not guns and explosions. This is a satisfying end to an interesting story arc.
The plot may not be intricately wound, but Full Metal Panic! continues to offer an enjoyable experience with great range of mood and focus. If you find Neon Genesis Evangelion too bleak and Bubblegum Crisis too bubbly, this one may suit you just right. The court grants Full Metal Panic! a continuance.
Review content copyright © 2004 Rob Lineberger; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: ADV Films
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Japanese)
Running Time: 100 Minutes
Release Year: 2002
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Reversible Cover
* Fold-Out Poster with Background Information
* Clean Opening and Closing Animations
* Production Sketches
* Japanese Piracy Warnings
* ADV Previews
* Official Site
* DVD Verdict Review, Mission 01
* DVD Verdict Review, Mission 02