Top

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

September 17, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

“Full Metal Panic!” is one of the more popular anime series to be released in the US post-2000 and its a series that has been re-released many times as well.  But this is the first time the series has been released on Blu-ray and although this is an older series, this Blu-ray release is for those who want to upgrade to Blu-ray or are simply fans of FMP and want it on HD.  Otherwise, for those looking for a true anime on Blu-ray HD experience, this release may not be for you.

Images courtesy of © Gatoh Shoji/Shikidouji/Jinda High School Student Committee. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Full Metal Panic! – The Complete Series

DURATION: Episodes 1-24 (600 Minutes)

 

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition 4:3, Dolby TrueHD English 5.1 and Dolby TrueHD Japanese 2.0, Subtitles: English

 

RATED: 13+

 

COMPANY: FUNimation Entertainment

 

RELEASE DATE: September 7, 2010

 

Originally Created by Shoji Gatoh

Directed by Koichi Chigira

Script by Fumihiko Shimo, Koichi Chigira, Masashi Sogo

Music by Toshihiko Sahashi

Original Character Design by Shikidouji

Character Designs by Osamu Horiuchi

Art Direction by Masaru Ohta

Mecha Design by Kanetake Ebikawa, Toshiaki Ihara

Anime Production by GONZO

 

 

Featuring the voices of:

Satsuki Yukino/Luci Christian as Kaname Chidori

Tomokazu Seki/Chris Patton as Sousuke Sagara

Yukana/Hilary Haag as Teletha “Tessa” Testarossa

Akio Ohtsuka/Mike Kleinhenz as Lt. Cmdr. Andrey Kalinin

Ikue Kimura/Monica Rial as Kyoko Tokiwa

Mamiko Noto/Greg Ayres as Shinji Kazama

Masahiko Tanaka/Mike Macrae as Gauln (Gauron)

Michiko Neya/Allison Keith as Melissa Mao

Shinichiro Miki/Vic Mignogna as Kurz Weber

Tomomichi Nishimura/Andy McAvin as Cmdr. Richard Mardukas

Kaname Chidori’s one of the most popular girls at her high school – unfortunately, it’s her growing popularity off campus she should be worrying about. Unbeknownst to Kaname, terrorists are plotting her abduction, believing she possesses the rare and coveted abilities of “the Whispered.”

That’s where Sousuke Sagara enters the picture. He’s a hotshot soldier from the clandestine counter-terrorist organization known as Mithril – and he’s going undercover at Kaname’s school to try and keep her safe. He may be an ace in the cockpit of an Arm Slave mech, but there’s no training in the world that could prepare him for the warzone of high school.

 

In 1998, Shoji Gatoh along with illustrator Shiki Douji began work on the “Full Metal Panic!” light novels.  The individual chapters were then published on Monthly Dragon Magazine and then were released via paperback compilation.

By 2006, three anime TV series were created “Full Metal Panic!”, “Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu” and “Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid” by Kyoto Animation and a total of five different manga series.  With FUNimation Entertainment releasing the third TV series “Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid” on Blu-ray, FUNimation is now releasing the first two series on Blu-ray (as well as re-releasing the series on DVD) in Sept. 2010.

The first “Full Metal Panic!” first aired on television back in 2002 and was directed by Koichi Chigira (“Gate Keepers”, “Kimagure Orange Road”, “Tokyo Babylon”, “Vandread”), the screenplay adaptation was co-written by Chigira, Fumihiko Shimo (“Burst Angel”, “Gravion”, “Kanon”, “Prince of Tennis”) and Masashi Sogo (“Bleach”, “RurouniKenshin”, “Shadow Skill”).  Music for the series is by Toshihiko Sahashi (“Fatal Fury” OVA’s, “Ghost Sweeper Mikami”, “Gunslinger Girl”), character design is by Osamu Horiuchi (“New Cutey Honey”, “Burst Angel”, “Last Exile”, “New Cutey Honey”) and art direction by Masaru Ohta (“The Big O”, “Golden Boy”, “Neon Genesis Evangelion”, “Queen Esmereldas”).

“Fullmetal Panic!” revolves around a covert anti-terrorist private military organization known as Mithril who must protect Kaname Chidori, a teenage girl that happens to have special “Whispered” abilities (abilities that allow these special individuals have knowledge of advanced mathematics, engineering and physics beyond human comprehension) and now the terrorist are after her for her abilities.

But Mithril must keep their identities private and so they assign Sgt. Sousuke Sagara, Melissa Mao and Kurz Weber to watch over her.  But the primary duty will be for Sousuke to disguise himself as a school student and to be close to her.  The problem is that Sousuke doesn’t have any social experience and didn’t grow up like most people and has been fighting in wars since the age of 8.  So, he does find it a bit difficult to fit in at the high school and everyone thinks he is a bit weird.

But somehow, through their time together, Kaname begins to trust Sousuke and starts to become attracted to him but since Sosuke is not a normal guy, he is unaware of her feelings towards him and most of the time, his mind is on battle.

“Full Metal Panic! features the following characters:

  • Sousuke Sagara – A young man who grew up in a war setting.  At the age of 8, he has been involved in fighting in a guerrilla movement and is now a member of Mithril, the covert anti-terrorist private military organization.  He is the main member assigned to protecting Kaname Chidori’s life.
  • Kaname Chidori - A popular girl in high school and a girl who speaks her mind.  She is also a teen who has “Whispered” abilities and while being protected by Sousuke, starts to become attracted to him.
  • Teletha “Tessa” Testarosa – Although a 16-year-old, Tessa is the Captain of the Tuatha da Danaan.  Because of her young age and bubbly personality, many have a hard time believing she is only 16.
  • Melissa Mao - She is the superior officer of both Sousuke and Kurz and is also a woman who likes to have fun by drinking and smoking a lot.
  • Kurz Webber – A lady’s man (who tends to fail in getting close to his superior officer Melissa) and an excellent sniper for Mithril.  Kurz tends to give Sousuke love advice since Sousuke has no clue about romance or social activities.
  • Gauron - The main antagonist of “Full Metal Panic!” who can command the lambda driver and pilots the Venom.  He has bought or blackmailed his way to the top.

“Full Metal Panic! – The Complete Series” features episodes 1-24 on three Blu-ray discs. Here is a basic, spoiler-less summary of each episode:

DISC 1:

  • EPISODE 1 – “The Guy I Kinda Like is a Sergeant” – Mithril sends Sousuke Sagara, Kurz Weber and Melissa Mao to protect Kaname Chidori from terrorists.
  • EPISODE 2 – “I Want to Protect You” - Sousuke has a hard time fitting in high school and begins to irritate Kaname.
  • EPISODE 3 – “Lingerie Panic” – Sousuke finds some guy sneaking into Kaname’s apartment.  Who can he be?
  • EPISODE 4 – “Kidnap” – Kaname’s class goes on a field trip to Okinawa but a terrorist named Gauron hijacks their plane.
  • EPISODE 5 – “Whispered” – Sousuke tries to save Kaname, while Mithril launches a rescue operation to save everyone.
  • EPISODE 6 – “Still Alive” – Sousuke and Kaname survive and are in the woods and they find Kurz who has been inured by Gauron
  • EPISODE 7 – “Boy Meets Girl” – Sousuke takes on Gauron but has a hard time with the Arbalest’s Lama Driver and Kaname’s Whispered abilities appear.
  • EPISODE 8 – “Part Time Steady” – A jealous Mizuki Inaba is upset that her boyfriend Shirai has asked Kaname out on a date, now Mizuki wants revenge by pretending to get closer to Sousuke.

DISC 2:

  • EPISODE 9 – “Dangerous Safe House” – Mimiko and Kelly try to look for Jiro (who is looking for Kotaro). Meanwhile, Kelly’s true identity is revealed.
  • EPISODE 10 – “Run, Running, Ran” – Tessa checks to see who Takuma Kugayama is and Mithril suspects he pilots a Lamba driver for the terrorists.
  • EPISODE 11 – “Behemoth Awakening” – The terrorists manage to rescue Takuma and kidnap both Tess and Kaname.
  • EPISODE 12 – “One Night Stand” – Takuma pilots the Behemoth and takes on Sousuke (inside the Arbalest)
  • EPISODE 13 – “A Cat and a Kitten’s Rock & Roll” – Melissa challenges Tessa in an AS duel.  Tessa goes to Sousuke for assistance.
  • EPISODE 14 – “Is Narashino Burning?” – Sousuke, Kaname and friends visit the Narashino military festival and learn that Shinji and his father don’t get along too well.
  • EPISODE 15 – “The Wind Blows at Home, Part 1″ – Sousuke is sent to Helmajistan after news comes to Mithril that Gauron is still alive.
  • EPISODE 16 – “The Wind Blows at Home, Part 2″ – Sousuke finds out that his old childhood friend is now working with the terrorists and he must fight him.

DISC 3:

  • EPISODE 17 – “The Wind Blows at Home, Part 3 – Sousuke vs. his childhood friend Zaied.  Meanwhile, Gauron takes on the Mithril team.
  • EPISODE 18 – “Deep Sea Party” – Kaname is shocked when Sousuke invites her to a secluded island with him.  Does that mean that Sousuke is attracted to Kaname too?
  • EPISODE 19 – “Dangerous Safe House” – Melissa talks about how she recruited Kurz and Sousuke into the SRT (Special Response Team).
  • EPISODE 20 – “Venom’s Flame” – Tessa explains the nature of resonance of the Whispered to Kaname.  Meanwhile, Gauron is captured in battle.
  • EPISODE 21 – “Deep Trap” – Sousuke takes things hard when Melissa is injured in battle and lashes out on Kaname.
  • EPISODE 22 – “Jack in the Box” – Gauron manages to escape custody inside Mithril’s Tuatha de Danaan and he and his men have captured Kaname and Tessa and are in control of the submarine.
  • EPISODE 23 – “Field of Giants” – Sousuke tries to rescue Tessa and the crew from Gauron.
  • EPISODE 24 – “Is Narashino Burning?” – Sousuke vs. Gauron to the death.

VIDEO:

“Full Metal Panic!” is presented in 1:33:1 1080p High Definition.  It’s important to note that FUNimation Entertainment is releasing the three series on Blu-ray and while “Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid” was an awesome looking upconvert, because “Full Metal Panic!” was released on television back in 2002, with that being said, one should not expect spectacular, vibrant animation.  You are going to see edge enhancement, the PQ is a step up from the previous released DVD series.  It’s important to note that the initial opening theme is picture boxed.

For those looking for the true anime HD experience, this title is not one of them.  But are for those who are considering upgrading their series to Blu-ray and getting away from the DVD format.

AUDIO:

“Full Metal Panic! – The Complete Series” is presented in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and in Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0.  And like the video, this is an older series and while you do get a Dolby Digital TrueHD 5.1 lossless soundtrack, for those looking for an immersive lossless audio experience will not find it in “Full Metal Panic!”.  It’s an older series and if anything, the soundtrack was good but not fantastic.    But with that being said, it’s still a major improvement from the original DVD release.  I detected no hissing or anything audio problems.

I did watch the series both in English and Japanese and both are well-done but it’s all subjective to the user.  I preferred watching the series in Japanese and setting my receiver on stereo on all channels for a more immersive soundtrack.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Full Metal Panic! – The Complete Series” comes with the following special features on Disc 3:

  • Koichi Chigira x Shouji Gatou Special Interview – (23:22) A 2008 interview (for the original Japanese Blu-ray release) as director Koichi Chigira and FMP creator Shouji Gatou reminisce of the past of when the two worked on the “Full Metal Panic!”, first impressions and also working together once again for “Tower of Druaga”.
  • Japanese Piracy Warnings - (8:23) Featuring 12 Japanese piracy warnings from a different character that are from “Full Metal Panic!”.
  • Original TV Spots – (:34) Featuring the original Japanese commercials promoting the series on television.
  • Textless Opening Song – Featuring “SIN” by Mikuni Shimokawa
  • Textless Closing Song – Featuring “Natsumi Kobayashi” by Mikuni Shimokawa
  • Trailers - Upcoming FUNimation Entertainment Trailers.

Before I get into my review, I just want to say that I loved “Full Metal Panic!” when it first came out and I purchased the DVD when it first came out.  I loved the series, its characters and that it was a series that provided us with humor and also mecha action.  And when I first reviewed the DVD a long time ago, I scored it pretty high.

Here we are in 2010 and I’m reviewing “Full Metal Panic!” on Blu-ray but at the same time, knowing that those who are purchasing anime via HD are wanting the best video and audio presentation of the anime series but most of all series that take advantage of the technology.  And I have always felt that anime TV series released post-2008 are series that benefit in Blu-ray as there are a good number of series created for HD.

With that being said, “Full Metal Panic!” is a 2002 anime TV series.  It’s an older anime series that is being re-released once again in the US but for the first time on Blu-ray.  But the series is more of an upconvert and simply for those who are wanting to focus on anime on Blu-ray and getting rid of their DVD’s.  With FUNimation Entertainment having released the third TV series “Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid” on Blu-ray, now we are going to get both “Full Metal Panic!” and “Full Metal Panic! Fumoffu” on Blu-ray in Sept. 2010.

As I do feel this series is still quite enjoyable, this Blu-ray release is for the fans who want to upgrade to a Blu-ray release and for those fans who have the third series and want to complete their release by having the first two TV series on Blu-ray.  This is NOT a release for those who are picky about PQ and AQ and the fact that this is an older TV series, is going to push those hardcore video and audiophiles away from “Full Metal Panic!”.

The series is an upconvert and its going to look and sound a lot better than your original DVD series but it’s not going to be an enormous difference that you want to show it off to all your friends of anime on HD.  This is not one of those titles.

But what “Full Metal Panic!” does bring to the table is a series with cool characters, a lot of humor and a lot of action.  It’s not as bloody or violent as “Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid” but it is an enjoyable series.  I enjoyed the interesting chemistry that both Kaname and Sousuke have and in some ways, it’s kind of reminiscent of the “Ranma 1/2″ Ranma/Akane relationship.   Sousuke is a guy who was geared for war but his introduction to Kaname has brought out emotions he never felt he had.  Kaname is a strong-willed individual and despite how she dislikes Sousuke, she grows to appreciate him and even like him.  But the problem is, he’s not a normal guy.  He never grew up with love and his whole life was about fighting in wars, so its a bit hard for him to comprehend these social activities that Kaname and her friends experience.

The series does have its share of violence, especially towards the end of the series where things get a little bloody and violent but for the most part, much more tamer than “Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid”.  And just to warn people, the second series “Full Metal Panic! Fumoffu” is a complete 180 from this series as it focuses less on the battles and more on the high school teenage life between Sousuke, Kaname and friends.  If anything, the second series is more of a comedy but it does stay within the canon of the FMP series.

Needless to say, if you want to complete your FMP collection on Blu-ray, now is the time.  Otherwise, if you are in it because you have heard that this series is awesome, then that’s great.  But it is important to know that “Full Metal Panic!” is an upconvert and its an upconvert of an older 2002 TV anime series and so it’s not going to look as vibrant as previously released FUNimation Entertainment anime TV series on Blu-ray.  And although I scored the series high when it was released on DVD years ago, it’s hard for me to give this a high rating on Blu-ray.  Great series but not a series that takes advantage of Blu-ray technology, but it is a much better version than its DVD counterparts, so if you never owned the DVD, then this is definitely the way to go.  And for fans, at least you do get newer special features including the interview with series director Koichi Chigira and creator Shouji Gatou which was cool to watch.

Overall, “Full Metal Panic! – The Complete Series” is an awesome series but if you are in it strictly interested in having an anime series that looks fantastic and has awesome, immersive lossless audio, then this release is not for you.  But if you are a hardcore “Full Metal Panic!” fan and you are ready to kiss your old DVD’s goodbye or you enjoyed “Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid” and now want to watch the previous two series, then “Full Metal Panic! – The Complete Series” on Blu-ray is definitely for you.

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

August 9, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

“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!

Bottom