Full Metal Panic has been around for quite some time now and it's a franchise that has garnered a cult following across the globe. The series hit mecha lovers like a tsunami and from the manga to anime it's been a "go to" concept for those looking for kick-ass mecha action. The first 24 episode season was soon begot by FMP? Fumoffu and then Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid a short while later.
The Second Raid was the true sequel to the original, since Fumoffu was more or less a side story. This thirteen episode program essentially picked up right where the first series left off and offered a great deal of continuity in that regard. If you're new to this franchise you'll definitely want to find the original season somewhere because many things will get lost in translation. Characters and their roles are never fully touched upon in this second season and the whole story truly feels like a continuation of the first season. This is a great thing for fans of FMP, but it's all fairly damning to someone who decides to test the waters a bit. Open to newcomers this sequel is not.
If you're familiar with the show then you can skip this next section because I'm going to get people brought up to speed.
The first season of FMP followed Sousuke Sagara, who was a soldier for the secret anti-terrorist organization known as Mithril. Joining Sousuke was a host of other characters such as Melissa, Kurz, and Teletha, but the most prominent personality next to Sousuke is Kaname Chidori. Chidori possess an ability called Whisper and it's connected to something known as Black Technology, which is a high commodity in the timeframe of FMP. Together with Mithril this company fought terrorist and in particular a guy named Gauron, who surfaced early on in the series.
Without giving too much away towards the end of the first season of FMP Gauron and Sousuke had a climactic battle at Tuatha de Danaan. Three months after that conflict The Second Raid kicks things off with its first episode. Right out of the gate one thing that this follow up season has going for it is the fact that it doesn't really have to set the pieces. Because there is very little to no explanation about the world, the characters, and plot the show is able to gel right away and the action gets started almost as if Sousuke and Kaname never stopped. It's a very fluid way to begin Second Raid and it's another key component that wedges it in quite comfortably with the rest of FMP.
Almost immediately Second Raid throws you right into the center of a plot where Mithril attempts to find those who betrayed them. Sousuke, Kurtz, and Mao are eventually shipped to a small country where a dictator has gotten a hold of some powerful Arm Slave (AS) units. As you'd imagine there's quite a lot of fighting and the tension builds as the enemy has some equipment that causes the Mithril fighters some difficulties. Much like the rest of the franchise after the battle dies down the show slides back into its comfortable, amusing, and altogether well-balanced high school element. I always found this particular part of FMP fascinating because it kept the show from getting too serious and provided a nice contrast to the battlefield. Naturally I was happy to see it return here.
The rest of this season follows a similar pattern set by the first FMP and much of the first couple of episodes here. The Mithril team is sent on mission after mission and there is a whole lot of mecha fighting with Sousuke and Kaname being the focal point for character development. The tone feels somewhat more adult this time around though it's still jovial at times to cut back on the intake of seriousness.
Through the course of this show a familiar enemy from the first show comes back around and ushers in events that lead to the end of the show. This was a nice throwback though this particular foes return did leave me scratching my head. At any rate there's plenty going on in the 13 episodes to keep Mithril and company busy.
Probably the most impressive thing about this season isn't the glorious battles or dramatic moments but rather the journey of Sousuke and Kaname. They really begin to grow up in this series and their feelings for each other become stronger to the point that they seem to realize that they love each other. I don't want to give too much away but let's just say if you enjoyed their banter in the first season of this franchise then you'll definitely love what comes in the second set.
Overall Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid is a solid sci-fi adventure that will please fans who loved the original. Familiar characters make a return and the creative team from the first release comes back as well. The show feels very similar in tone and its creative methods which definitely helps make it better than Fumoffu. If you're new to the series you'll most likely be lost right out of the gate with regards to some details but even so there's still plenty to love. Check out the first season then pick up Second Raid and you'll come to understand why this show is adored as much as it is.
While the series is much the same, this edition of Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid is being touted as "Digitally Remastered". Quite honestly this presentation doesn't look that much different than what we saw in the previous boxed set. The show is still presented with a 1.78:1 aspect ratio and anamorphic widescreen, and it's every bit as beautiful as the original release; just more so. The visuals are continuously crisp and detailed, the color palette seems slightly more vibrant somehow, and all in all this is one heck of a presentation. There's really nothing to gripe about with this transfer, though if you own the original set I wouldn't exactly say it's worth upgrading.
Keeping up with the great presentation values this set comes with English and Japanese tracks which feature both 2.0 and 5.1 offerings. The dubbing quality for both tracks is exemplary and the English cast in particular did a great job of capturing the range of emotion that runs through this season. As far as the technical aspects are concerned the 2.0 tracks are decent but flat when compared to the 5.1 obviously. This is a series with a great amount of action and you want a sense of immersion that keeps in step. Thankfully both the Japanese and English 5.1 mixes offer just that and you'll definitely want to crank your system's dial up.
Included in this three disc boxed set are some trailers and clean animations as well as two bonus episodes. The first is Episode 000, which is more or less a stepping stone for this second season. The other is a Bonus OVA, which brings about another close for the series. There is also a seven-part featurette for location scouting in Hong Kong. The production crew takes us around Hong Kong for the various sources of inspiration that went into making the show.
Bonus features from the previous collection have been omitted here, sadly. The original boxed set included original Japanese audio commentaries and art booklets, however, none of them make it into this box.
Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid is a fantastic follow-up to the original series. While it's only 13 episodes in length it maintains the personality and atmosphere of the first season to the point that it truly feels like a continuation of the main plot. It goes without saying that lovers of the first FMP absolutely must buy this if they haven't already. Newcomers should not blindly jump into this set; go back to check out the first season and then come to this. This edition isn't necessarily worth an upgrade over the previous set. Sure the visuals are slightly better, but the set is missing some key bonus material.