Our reviews of Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu: Full Metal Pandemonium! (Volume One) (published November 10th, 2005), Full Metal Panic: Mission 01 (published August 13th, 2003), Full Metal Panic: Mission 03 (published April 8th, 2004), Full Metal Panic: Mission 04 (published April 14th, 2004), Full Metal Panic: Mission 05 (published April 22nd, 2004), Full Metal Panic: Mission 06 (published April 22nd, 2004), Full Metal Panic: Mission 07 (published April 29th, 2004), Full Metal Panic! Season One (published November 28th, 2010), and Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid: The Complete Series (published December 16th, 2009) are also available.
"This should take priority over your own lives. We're the only ones in the world who can succeed in this mission!"—Andrei Kalinin
Mission 01 of Full Metal Panic showed promise—stellar animation, good music, interesting characters, and an entertaining mix of action and humor. The disc ended in a cliffhanger. Now we get to see whether Mission 02 can maintain the momentum generated by Mission 01.
Facts of the Case
Sergeant Sousuke Sagara breaks military protocol to rescue Kaname. This decision sets events into motion that reveal hidden truths about Kaname and the mysterious Black Technology. Kaname and Sousuke try to settle back into their familiar roles of protector and protectee, but the truth has forever altered their relationship.
After the impressive Mission 01 left me craving more, my anticipation for Mission 02 was fairly high. These next four episodes had every right to disappoint, given my lofty expectations. To my relief, Mission 02 continues the outstanding quality of the first four episodes and maintains the strong first impression.
Mission 01 set a strong precedent in terms of animation and visual style, and the four episodes of Mission 02 mostly continue the trend. I noticed flaws this time, such as periodic softness, minor anti-aliasing, and a handful of 3:2 pulldown errors. Nonetheless, most anime series have more flaws per episode than Full Metal Panic does per volume; the quality here is excellent. The visual style is simply amazing, with detailed characters and backgrounds, rich colors, and fluid action. Special effects (such as explosions, energy blasts, Whispered mental projections, and other oddities) elicit oohs and ahhs. As far as episodic anime television goes, I've never seen its equal. Full Metal Panic is about action, movement, and energy, and the animation reflects all these well. There were some moments of static imagery, but in general this is a feast of movement.
The soundtrack is particularly well suited to the action. It is always hard to describe music using words, but the track just feels right. Action is heightened and emotion is tempered by the music. The voice acting is great in both sub and dub. I'm rarely tempted to recommend the English vocal track, but this one is good enough to listen to. There are a few dropouts, which is disappointing given the relative quality of the soundtrack. Like the first volume, the 5.1 mix dramatically improves the action sequences. Watching in Japanese 2.0, you see Arm Slaves flying around and hear explosions. With the 5.1 track engaged, you duck to protect your head while you tremble at the bass-heavy aftershock of the explosions.
Given the superb technical quality, it's nice to have an interesting story to go along with it. Thus far Full Metal Panic is not overly deep, though Mission 02 had some moments of emotional connection. It still manages to balance action, romance, intrigue, and humor into a pleasing package. Sure, some of the elements are overplayed, and the characters tend to forget powerful moments from the recent past. There are definitely frustrating aspects to the story, where you want to reach through the screen and shake the characters. The rest of the story, however, compensates for these moments of frustration, giving us a relatively smooth path of escalating tension.
Specific notes on the individual episodes follow, but be warned—they contain spoilers.
• "Still Alive"
• "Boy Meets Girl"
• "Part-Time Steady"
The Rebuttal Witnesses
For all practical purposes, the extras in Mission 02 are the same as the ones in Mission 01. Nothing about these extras really distinguishes them. Full Metal Panic is a new series with a wide following, and some lesser series have managed to produce great extras. Surely there is something of interest available, aside from character sketches and credits?
Mission 02 is not quite as good as Mission 01, which is like saying that your banana split with whipped cream and syrup is missing a few sprinkles. The action and humor are both handled well, to say nothing of the fantastic visual style and impressive soundtrack. Full Metal Panic continues its march into classic status.
Sousuke is remanded to civilian anthropology training, while Kaname Chidori is ordered to take sensitivity training. GONZO Digimation and ADV are found innocent.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: ADV Films
• Reversible Cover
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