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Full Metal Panic!: The Second Raid – The Complete Series (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 9, 2009 by  



“Simply wonderful!  ‘Full Metal Panic!: The Second Raid’ manages to keep the fun, lighthearted and hilarious moments from the previous two seasons but also is much more dramatic and action-packed series from beginning to end!  The Blu-ray release of ‘Full Metal Panic!: The Second Raid – The Complete Series’ is a perfect example of an anime TV series that looks and sounds incredible via High Definition!  Highly recommended!

TITLE: Full Metal Panic!: The Second Raid – The Complete Series

DURATION: 13 Episodes (300 Minutes)

 

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (16×9),  Dolby TrueHD English and Japanese 5.1, English subtitles

 

RATED: TV 14

 

COMPANY: Kadokawa Pictures/FUNimation Entertainment

 

RELEASE DATE: August 11, 2009

 

Originally created by Shikidouji and Shoji Gatoh

Directed by Yasuhiro Takemoto

Series Composition by Shoji Gatoh

 

Music by Toshihiko Sahashi

Character Designs by Osamu Horiuchi

Art Director: Jouji Unoguchi

Chief Animation Director: Osamu Horiuchi

Mechanical Design by Kanetake Ebikawa and Toshiaki Ihara

Sound Director: Yota Tsuruoka

Director of Photography: Ryuuta Nakagami

Theme song by Mikuni Shimokawa

 

 

Starring:

Satsuki Yukino/Luci Christian as Kaname Chidori

Tomokazu Seki/Chris Patton as Sousuke Sagara

Akio Ohtsuka/Mike Kleinhenz as Andrei Kalinin

Daisuke Namikawa/Blake Shepherd as Leonard Testarossa

Emi Shinohara/Christine Auten as Xia Yu Fan

Miyuki Sawashiro/Kira Vincent-Davis as Xia Yu Lan

Yukana/Hilary Haag as Teletha “Tessa” Testarossa

Tomomichi Nishimura/Andy McAvin as Richard Mardukas

Shinichiro Miki/Vic Mignogna as Kurz Weber

James Reed Faulkner/Rikiya Koyama as Belfangan Clouseau

It’s tough to keep your grades up without having to take off at a moment’s notice to save the world.  But for Sousuke Sagara, undercover high school student and member of the mercenary group Mithril, life in Tokyo seemed the same as always.

But underneath the promising exterior spin the wheels of a conspiracy that threaten to destroy the peace.  A new threat has arisen:  Amalgam.  An unknown element with advanced mech technology, this mysterious organization has been running things from behind the scenes.  As dissension spreads throughout the ranks of Mithril, Sousuke faces his own internal struggle.  Spread thin between schoolwork and war, the powers that be have decided to lighten his load…beginning with Kaname!  Life and death hang in the balance as the clash between good and evil scale new heights.  When the smoke clears, Sousuke’s path will be the one that he forges for himself.

 

In 1998, Shoji Gatoh wrote a light novel titled “Full Metal Panic!”.  Featuring illustrations by Shiki Douji, the stories were featured in Kadokawa Shoten’s Monthly Dragon Magazine and is still continuing and going strong in Japan.  Needless to say, by 2002, the stories were adapted into a manga and anime format and “Full Metal Panic!” not only attracted fans in Japan but also worldwide.

For the anime series, the 24-episode television series revolved around an alternative Earth during the 21st Century.   It was a time where China including Hong Kong are split in half.  North China was led by the People’s Liberation Committee and the Southern China area represented the Democratic Chinese Alliance and both are at war with each other.  Also, there was turmoil that in the Middle East with the Fifth Middle East War and the Soviet Union succesfully invading Afghanistan.

Enter the Mithril, a mercenary organization that uses mecha power suits known as AS (or “Arm Slaves”) as a way to prevent terrorists from hurting innocent people.  Within the Mithril is one of our primary characters,  Sousuke Sagara, a mercenary.

When Sousuke was a young boy (after surviving a plane crash that killed his parents), he was raised by the KGB and by the age of 8-years-old, he became a killing machine.  Now as a teenager, he is an expert fighter and also a talented member within Mithril as he is the only one that was able to control the deadly AS known as ARX-7 Arbalest.

As Mithril is a Western-based organization, they have opposition such as the Communist-allied group known as Amalgam who have been at war with each other.

These two battle over a group of teenagers who are known as “The whispered”.  A group that is known to be quite advanced in math, science, engineering and physics and are able to produce machines and technology that are futuristic compared to present modern technology. This technology The Whispered are able to create is called “Black Technology”.  In fact, it’s The Whispered who are capable of creating the AS machines and thus these organizations want the people who can produce the technology.   And the next teenager the organizations have an interest in is the Kaname Chidori.

Chidori is a popular teenager at her high school.  Highly bright but also has a hot temper.  But because she is one of The Whispered, Mithril knows that organizations will do what it takes to get her.  Because of this, Mithril has given the mercenary Sousuke Sagara an order to protect Chidori.

Unfortunately, part of the problem is that he was raised only in battle and never to be around normal people and live a normal life.  Everything around Kaname, Sousuke suspects that they may be terrorists.  So, what may seem innocent, Sousuke over reacts to anything that can be used as a weapon, may be an attack on Chidori and thus  he gets himself in trouble quite a bit.  But for the most part, the first series focuses on Sousuke and Chidori and his involvement and duties with Mithril.

A year after the release of “Full Metal Panic!” on television, a new series (12 episodes total) was developed after the success of the series and would receive the title “Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu” and unlike the first series, focused more on high school romantic comedy and not the action-based series that people were used to from the first season.

But despite the humorous, upbeat and fun episodes of “Fumoffu”, the series did introduce the plot of a somewhat love triangle between Sousuke’s Captain Teletha “Tessa” Testarossa, Sousuke and Chidori.  Tessa, although his superior officer, has such a major crush on him that she tries to explain her feelings to him.  But since Sosuke is not exactly understanding how to live around people and not in the battlefield, he sees things much differently than most guys would and thus misunderstands things quite a bit and gets him into trouble.

In 2005, “Full Metal Panic!: The Second Raid” featuring 13 episodes was featured on television.  The series would take place three months after the events of the first series and Mithril finds out that there is another secret organization utilizing technology to counter Mithril’s Electronic Conceal System.

The episodes on the Blu-ray disc are as follows:

Blu-ray Disc 1:

  • EPISODE 1 – The End of Day by Day
  • EPISODE 2 – The Scene Below the Water
  • EPISODE 3 – Labyrinth and Dragon
  • EPISODE 4 – Daylight
  • EPISODE 5 – Beautiful Sicily
  • EPISODE 6 – Edge of Heaven
  • EPISODE 7 – Left Behind
  • EPISODE 8 – Jungle Groove
  • EPISODE 9 – Her Problem

Blu-ray Disc 2:

  • EPISODE 10 – Hong Kong in Two
  • EPISODE 11 – His Problem
  • EPISODE 12 – Burning Hong Kong
  • EPISODE 13 – The Continuing Day by Day

For the most part, for these 13 episodes, they can be viewed in three arcs.  The first arc features the Mithril realizing they have a spy in the organization and that there is a new nemesis out there that they are unsure of.  A nemesis who possesses technology that rivals their own.  As for Sousuke, he grows frustrated because he is unable to control the Arbalest completely. Also, the challenges that Tessa must face as the Captain of the Tuatha de Danaan.

The second arc deals with Sousuke and Kaname Chidori.  The two seem they are growing closer and closer and although it has been only six months, because of the growing threat to Mithril and this other secret organization, he is taken off the mission to protect Chidori and someone else from the organization will take his place.  For Sousuke, who seems to have no emotion since he was raised on the battlefield, he starts to have emotions that he never had before and it starts to affect his performance.

The third arc deals with the final confrontation, the final reveal of who is the mystery nemesis and a battle that puts our characters in Hong Kong.

“Full Metal Panic!: The Second Raid” is unlike its predecessors in that the series manages to merge the first and second series together, so you get a balance of the action and the romantic drama that fans are used to.  But “The Second Raid” is a much more intense, more serious storyline and puts the characters in a situation unlike anything they have been into before.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Full Metal Panic!: The Second Raid” looks absolutely fabulous on High Definition.  The anime series uses a lot of vibrant colors and colors are quite solid.  I did not spot any compression artifacts, dust or blemishes although I did notice some banding.

If there is one thing that may get hardcore videophiles was the fact that FUNimation Entertainment opted to put the first nine episodes on one disc and not put four or five in order to give a stronger bitrate for the video and audio.  But nevertheless, it’s hard not to like the picture quality.   The artists really did a spectacular job of incorporating sunlight and various lighting sources for the anime.  Even when the characters are inside their AS, it was cool to see the shimmering of light inside the cockpit.

It’s also important to note that many fans have said that because the series was created back in 2005, that the series must be an upconvert to Blu-ray.  If it is, it doesn’t look like it because the series looks absolutely wonderful on Blu-ray.

As for audio, “Full Metal Panic!: The Second Raid” is provided in English and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1.   Both are solid, lossless tracks but there are some differences.  For the most part, FUNimation Entertainment improved on the audio by making sure the battlescenes especially in the first and last episode, sound quite immersive.  All channels are utilized in an exciting manner.  Multiple gunshots whizzing and explosions utilizing LFE as the rumbles of the explosions linger.  I was absolutely impressed by the audio.

I watch the episode both in Japanese and English and again, both are solid soundtracks but you will notice the English have a little more pronounced audio, especially during communication scenes, from cockpit to headquarters, there is a hint of the English dub track being a bit louder.  It’s important to note that by saying that, this is not like the “ORIGIN” Blu-ray release in which the English lossless track was at a higher bitrate than the Japanese soundtrack.   I felt that FUNimation Entertainment wanted to step up the sounds of the series and make it more immersive during the action sequences over the Japanese track.

As for dialogue, there is also a difference where the English dub track uses quite a bit of profanity while the Japanese doesn’t.  English dub fans will most likely appreciate the use of profanity because it gives certain characters their own style of abrasiveness during battle.  So, you’ll see a scene during battle where in the Japanese dub dialogue such as “You’re nothing but a piece of junk” becomes “You’re a piece of shit!” in the English dub.  For the most part, dialogue is nice and clear even during the intense battle sequences.

For the most part, both picture quality and audio quality for “Full Metal Panic!: The Second Raid” is quite solid!

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Full Metal Panic!: The Second Raid” comes with the following special features in 480p Standard Definition (with the exception of the OVA):

  • Bonus Episode 000 – (5:52) A short episode leading up to the first episode featuring Mithril on a mission.  Mainly a short clip of the main characters of “Full Metal Panic!: The Second Raid”.  Featured in 480p and Dolby TrueHD 5.1.
  • Bonus OVA – A Relatively Leisurely Day in the Life of a Fleet Captain – (29:26) This OVA takes place after the events of the final episode of “Full Metal Panic!: The Second Raid”.  The OVA focuses on the Captain Tessa Testarossa.  Tessa who is in love with Sousuke has a dream about him and only wearing her panties and bra (and a shirt), she accidentally sleep walks to his room and by the time she wakes up and realizes what she has done, she is shocked at herself.  But she tries to find out why her stuffed animal is missing and thus the series is about Tessa trying to piece together of what she did late last night and what may have happened to her stuffed animal.  Featured in 1080p and Dolby TrueHD 5.1.
  • Dawn of the Light Novel – (26:02) This featurette is very entertaining.  Hosted by Mikuni Shinokawa, the person who sung the music for the series, we learn about how “Full Metal Panic!” was a light novel and how it was adapted to an anime series.  Director Yasuhiro Takemoto takes FMP creator Shoji Gatou for a tour of the animation studio and learns about the various jobs of various staff members and what they do for the anime.  I really enjoy series that dwelve into the creation of an anime series.  Very cool!  Featured in Japanese with English subtitles.
  • Location Scouting in Hong Kong – (2:26:22) This was very fun to watch and most amazing is that it’s over 2 hours long!  Mainly it’s the crew going through Hong Kong and looking at the various buildings, markets and areas where they can use for the final half of the anime series.  Both FMP creator Shoji Gatou and Director Yasuhiro Takemoto do commentary on this and for the most part, the guys tell a lot of jokes and talk about their experiences.  Takemoto talks about how he was asked to do one of these location scouting videos before but didn’t want it to be like a person forced to watch videos of someone else’s kids or family films.   But there is quite a bit of tongue and cheek humor and for the most part, for those who have never been to Hong Kong can definitely feel as if they are being taken on a tour throughout the area.  Featured in Japanese with English subtitles.
  • Textless Songs – Opening and ending themes without the text
  • Trailers – FUNimation Entertainment trailers for upcoming or currently released series or films.

Those who own the DVD box set may not want to get rid of it so quickly.  The main special features missing on the Blu-ray release from the 2008 DVD box set release are the Japanese commentary tracks for the episodes (with English subtitles). I would assume the main reason for the omission of the commentary track is because nine episodes are featured on the first disc and there was not enough room for the commentary track.  Also, the DVD box sets do come with the four full color booklets.

“Full Metal Panic!” has been of those series which manages to capture the mecha genre but also managing to balance humor and the romantic drama all together in one.  With “The Second Raid”, the series manages to take things up a notch with a more serious storyline and continually bringing in new life to the series with an awesome storyline thus far!

The series really does a great job in bringing out the character of Sousuke and we eventually to see a growth as a human being rather than just an employee of Mithril and I really enjoy where the love triangle is going with Sousuke, Chidori and Tessa.  There is no filler episodes, pacing was just right and the storyline is getting quite intense and after watching this series, I wanted more!

Again, the DVD box set release did come with the commentary tracks and the booklets.  I wish the series was spread out onto three discs and so the commentary tracks could have been incorporated or at least a higher bitrate for the video.  But I was absolutely surprised by how beautiful this Blu-ray release looked and how awesome the lossless audio tracks were.  It’s one thing to get the Japanese audio track in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 which is awesome but to see improvements made for the sound effects in the English dub track.  With many Blu-ray releases planned for release from FUNimation Entertainment, I hope the Japanese soundtracks continue to receive the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 treatment.

Overall, “Full Metal Panic!”: The Second Raid – The Complete Series” was overall magnificent!  All-out action, humor and dramatic moments make this title a definite must-own anime title on Blu-ray!  You won’t be disappointed!






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