ADV Films // 2002 // 75 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Chief Counsel Rob Lineberger (Retired) // April 29th, 2004
"Remember Pearl Harbor!"
What makes a really good finale to an anime series? Action, of course. Resolution of the show's relationships is good, too. Less definable is a sense that all of the pieces have clicked into place, giving you a last minute "a-ha!" moment. Full Metal Panic! has action in spades, a forte of the series. It fares well in the resolution department as well, closing or addressing most of the show's loose threads. In terms of Gauron's fate, and to a lesser extent Kaname's destiny, these episodes are satisfyingly informative. As for the "a-ha!" moment, it has been postponed. It is as though the creators weren't sure if there was going to be a second season, so the finale has one foot in "The End" and another foot in "To Be Continued..." Such hedging reduces the dramatic impact the conclusion could have had, but it isn't enough to ruin what is otherwise a fast-moving and deeply layered season/series finale.
Now that all is said and done, it is time to process the net effect of the series's many threads. As per the rest of the Full Metal Panic! reviews, this one has plenty of spoilers.
Over the last few Missions, I've had a feeling that Kaname's Whispered powers have been sidelined for too long. In this Mission, she uses her powers almost continually, in an appropriately nebulous and mysterious way. It works well, yet I can't help but feel that the entire thread could have been given more drama. She showed her potential very early, which was a neat reversal of the usual formula. Why didn't they use her more, show her learning to master her gifts? Then, when the final confrontation took place, she could have really let loose. This is conjecture, of course. As it stands, Kaname is still given plenty to do: outrun enemies, find her way into a secret chamber, and wrest away control of Dana, the sub's operating system. Perhaps I'm just frustrated that the Whispered aren't given any firm form; it is all still vague. At least she figured prominently, in a believable way.
On the other hand, there's no arguing with Gauron's resolution, unless he mysteriously comes back later. He took everyone to the brink of destruction, and did it in style. In the end, he was simply bored and suicidal. Paradoxically, that works fine.
I appreciate how the events in the last three episodes are sharply impacted by the events in Mission 06. We saw Sousuke and Kaname get into a tiff; remorse is why Sousuke is even around to help her. Kaname and Tessa are both drained from an extended sauna session, which is bad timing if you're suddenly a hostage. Mao is nowhere to be seen...perhaps because she passed out from drinking all of that beer in the sauna? And let's not forget the angry sub captain in pursuit of the Toy Box. It is really neat to see these details suddenly figure prominently in the season finale. Let's look at the episodes:
* "Jack in the Box"
Trouble brews on the Tuatha de Danaan. Gauron has taken control of Dana and isolated the crew into the back half of the ship. Tessa and Kaname are held prisoner on the bridge, helpless to stop Gauron. Meanwhile, the U.S. sub has locked on to the Tuatha de Danaan and threatens to blow her to smithereens. This episode is mostly a set up for the next two, but you have to marvel at Gauron's smoothness and Tessa's cunning. There are some tense action sequences, some of which highlight Kaname's abilities. "Jack in the Box" moves quickly, and sets up a frustrating plight for Mithril to unravel.
* "Field of Giants"
Kurz and Sousuke, free to roam the mostly empty ship, fight to free the contained crew. Meanwhile, Gauron is getting desperate. This episode relies heavily on nautically-themed works that have come before, such as Moby Dick, Under Siege, and every sub movie from the last two decades. What would a submarine flick be without enemy torpedoes that are evaded at the last minute? The highlight of this episode is the Kaname/Tessa merged entity getting into the secret chamber and taking over the ship. This sequence is strange and beautiful. A couple of brutal confrontations give this episode a darkly violent streak. Gauron smacks Tessa into a bulkhead; for a moment we think she is dead. Also, Kurz gets into a fierce battle (which is nicely animated) and is only saved through some last minute intervention. "Field of Giants" takes no prisoners.
* "Into the Blue"
Kaname holds the ship together while Gauron and Sousuke face off. The problem is that Gauron knows he is beaten one way or the other. He plans to take everyone down with him. I've seen better showdowns in anime, but few that have this much tertiary activity. Sousuke shows real mettle. Gauron is truly nasty. The two make a fine pair. Everyone is pushed to the edge of their limits, and then...it's over. Kaname and Sousuke go fishing.
If you look at the events crammed into the last few episodes, there is a lot of action and drama. Nonetheless, I can't help a vague sense of disappointment. Is it because the series is over? Could be.
Full Metal Panic! has been remarkably consistent in providing adrenaline-spiked action, humor, and tension. The animation has been stellar, as well as the sound. Like the rest of the volumes, Mission 07 has little in the way of extras, which is particularly disappointing in the final volume. Also, I don't appreciate the decision to switch to three episodes per volume in mid-stream. Otherwise, this series has delivered an entertaining ride from stem to stern. Court is adjourned.
Review content copyright © 2004 Rob Lineberger; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 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: 75 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