Funimation has jumped on the Blu-ray bandwagon! They
have previously released some Dragon Ball Z feature
films, the series
Shigurui, as well as some
assorted other titles on Blu-ray, but now they're
going through their back catalog and have scheduled several series for
in HD. The first of these is Full Metal
Panic!: The Second Raid. Though
might be surprised that they release the third season of a series
first two1 it's not such a bad choice.
The show stands by itself rather well, looks great in HD, and is
excellent program to boot.
As is told in the first season and recapped here, Sousuke
Sagara is a young mercenary, part of an international fighting team
Mithril. Mithril has weapons technology
that's a decade ahead of anyone else, and so they are an important
the world scene. Sousuke has been
assigned to protect a young high school girl, Kaname Chidori, which he
with military efficiency. Kaname is one
of the Whispererd, special rare teens who have enormous intelligence
ability to design Black Technology.
As this season starts, Sagara is still enrolled in Kaname's
high school in order to keep an eye on her, but is also performing
Mithril, piloting a mecha unit, the Arbalest.
Things quickly start to go wrong however. When
on a mission protecting some refugees
from a dictator who wants to slaughter them, Sousuke and his comrades
highly sophisticated weaponry, equipment that rivals their own. It turns out the dictator has purchased Black
Technology from a group called Amalgam that is headed by an
psychopath named Gates. Mithril is
worried about the emergence of this technology; it can detect their
cloaked mecha which leaves them very vulnerable.
It's obvious that Amalgam has found one of the Whispered,
and this causes Sousuke to fear for Ms. Chidori's safety.
But Sousuke can't be all things to all people
and when he tries, things fall apart.
He's distracted on his missions because of his feelings for
he's missing a lot of school by trying to track down Amalgam. Finally Mithril takes Souske off of his guard
duty and replaces him with a cold and mysterious agent named Wrath. This only accelerates Sousuke's downward
and may end up destroying the young soldier.
This is a very good series.
Like the first season, it tells a serious story with some light
moments to break up the tension and gloom just a bit.
If anything, this season is darker than the
first, and it works just as well. The
second season was done for laughs and flopped, but this time around
created a near-perfect mix of action, romance, comedy, excitement and
While the main plot may seem to be about stopping Amalgam
and discovering where they obtained their technology, the real meat of
is in the relationship between Souskue and Kaname.
The show fully explores their characters,
especially Sousuke, and creates real three-dimensional people in the
process. Sousuke starts to question what
he wants out
of life and what is really important to him, while Kaname (though this
happen later in the series) starts to mature and grow into her own
longer content to wait around and be rescued, she starts taking
for her own destiny. The way these two
characters grew, while not bogging down the military action or plot,
pushed this from a typical mecha show up to a great series.
The full 13-episode second series comes on two Blu-ray disc
each in their own case. The two cases
are housed in an attractive box.
The 1.78/1080p AVC encoded image looks very good with only
some occasional problems. The colors are
strong and the lines are very tight. The
blacks were nice and inky and contrast was excellent.
The only problem I had was that there was some
pretty significant banding at time. When
a face was highlighted by the glow of a CRT screen for example. I think this was the way the show was made
and the fault lies in the master, but I was disappointed to see it. I wasn't able to detect any other digital
defects however. Aliasing and blocking
weren't present to any degree I could detect.
The show comes with the original Japanese soundtrack and an
English dub, both in Dolby True HD 5.1.
The series sounded very good in both languages.
I alternated between track for the first few
episodes and then settled on the Japanese, not because it was superior
dub, just because I prefer to watch most anime in Japanese. The English cast did a very good job bringing
their characters to life, as did the Japanese actors.
Both tracks were full and used the soundstage
to good effect and neither had any noticeable hiss, dropouts or
distortion. Whichever audio track you
select, you'll be happy.
This set ports over a lot of the extras from the DVD boxed
set release of this season, which are quite considerable, but skips
important ones that fans of the series will surely miss.
Aside form the lack of the booklet which the
DVD set contained, we're also missing all of the audio commentaries
episode had one) and the rather cool featurette on the military
by the Japanese Self Defense Force. Even
with these omissions there is a good amount of bonus material, it's
bad we couldn't get all of it... that would have made an upgrade a no
First off there's Bonus
Episode 000 a six-minute promotional short presented in 480p. It features the main characters taking out a
terrorist camp. If that seems a little
lame, don't worry, it gets better. Next
up is a Bonus OVA Episode: A
Relatively Leisurely Day in the Life of a
Fleet Captain. This runs nearly a
half hour (presented in 1080p!) and is a humorous look Tessa, the
the submarine Tuatha de Danaan. While
this was done for laughs and wouldn't have worked well as an episode in
second season I really enjoyed it. It's
Viewers who are curious about the origins of the series will
enjoy Dawn of the Light Novel. Unlike
many anime series, FMP wasn't adapted
from a manga, but rather from a series of 'light novels' books with
illustrations. This half-hour featurette
(presented in 480p alas) looks at the books, talks with the creators,
up with a tour of the animation facility.
The longest extra is a seven-part documentary Location
Scouting in Hong Kong. This runs
nearly 2 ½ hours! The SD feature is
hosted by director Yasuhiro
Takemoto and writer Shoji Gatou and they horse around while traveling
about Hong Kong.
entertaining, I was a little surprised at that, but it ran way too long
me. Hardcore fans will certainly
appreciate it though.
The set is wrapped up with a series of trailers and clean
opening and closing animations.
The first season of Full Metal Panic! was very good, and it
could be argued that this one is even better.
A bit darker than the first, this story has a great mix of
romance, comedy, and personal growth.
Even if you've never seen the first season (or the not-so-great
season1) you'll still enjoy this excellent
show, in HD no less. Highly Recommended.
1) Though it's
subtitled The Second Raid this is
actually the third season. The First
season was just Full Metal Panic!,
the second year the title was Full Metal
Panic? FUMOFFU a rather comical look at the characters who
first season. This humorous take on the
show was slammed by fans and critics and so for the third season the
to a more serious plot with comedic interludes. Full
Metal Panic!: The Second Raid starts
a couple of months after the events that took place in the first season
pretty much ignores what little occurred in the second.
images in this review are not from the Blu-ray disc and do not
represent the image quality on the disc.