The editor wanted to riff on the title's similarity to Full Metal Jacket, but couldn't find a family-friendly quote to spoof. Oh, Appellate Judge Rob Lineberger reviews this anime disc.
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 02 (published April 7th, 2004), Full Metal Panic: Mission 03 (published April 8th, 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.
"If I lose, I'll run a lap around the base naked."—Melissa Mao
Almost every series experiences a lull from time to time, and Mission 04 is Full Metal Panic!'s. The episodes aren't necessarily bad, but they aren't cohesive and they don't drive the story forward. The net result is a feeling that the series has stagnated and can't figure out where to go with the premise.
Adding to the malaise is the decision to drop from four episodes per volume to three. This decision comes at a particularly bad time. The first two episodes are filler episodes, and the last one is the first part of a three-part side story. These factors combine to make Mission 04 the probable nadir of Full Metal Panic!. The worst part is it doesn't make any sense. Check my math:
Mission 01 (4 episodes) + Mission 02 (4) + Mission 03 (4) = 12 episodes
Mission 04 (3 episodes) + Mission 05 (3) + Mission 06 (3) + Mission 07 (3) = 12 episodes
It doesn't take a financial genius to see that the first half of the series is a much better value. It doesn't take a math whiz to see the solution, either: drop Mission 07 and add one episode to Missions 04-06, and you have yourself a neat and tidy six volumes of four episodes each. Makes sense, doesn't it? The rhythm of the episode breaks wouldn't be any worse than it is now.
• "A Cat and a Kitten's Rock and Roll"
It is unclear to me what purpose this episode serves. Is it an attempt to create a conflict or relationship between Tessa and Mao? If so, it is awkwardly introduced. Is it a chance to highlight Sousuke's military prowess? I don't see how, because all he does is watch Tessa repeatedly fall down in her Arm Slave. The confrontation is fudged, relying on the apprehension and pretense of battle rather than actually showing us what is happening. The best part about this episode is getting a look into Tessa's thoughts and finding some sexual tension between her and Sousuke. What's most bothersome about this episode is not what happens, but what doesn't happen. Tessa is presumably a whispered, so the series creators lost a golden opportunity to have her tap into unlocked resources in a dramatic exercise-turned-deadly. I'm also a bit resentful of the long buildup to a "run around the base naked" that doesn't take place. Not that I'm desperate to see nude anime gals running around; it is more that the episode continually referenced it and didn't capitalize on the gag in any way. The episode isn't bereft of entertainment value, it simply doesn't mesh well with the rest of Full Metal Panic!.
• "Is Narashino Burning?"
• "The Wind that Blows at Home—Part 1"
Fortunately, Mission 04 maintains the high level of animation quality, giving us many moments of pure eye candy. The sound is still strong, with good voice acting from both Japanese and English casts. Unfortunately, the extras continue to mimic the extras from previous volumes. The dropped episodes in combination with the filler episodes make Mission 04 disappointing. But it is still Full Metal Panic!, which means it is a high functioning batch of filler. The court warns Full Metal Panic! to snap out of it and get back to the mayhem.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: ADV Films
• Reversible Cover
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