Japanese Title: Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid
Related: Full Metal Panic! (prequel)
Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu (side-story)
Similar: Black Lagoon
Watched in: Japanese & English
Length: 13 episodes + 1 OVA
- A darker evolution on the first season.
- Engaging battles against psychotic enemies.
- Stellar voice work returns coupled with the series’ best music yet.
- Several great new jokes.
- An unfinished side plot with no sequel available.
Mithril is back, this time facing their most psychotic and depraved enemy. The conflict centres on Hong Kong, where weapons-dealing organisation Amalgam has set up camp with their Whispered Technology. Across the river in Japan, Sagara still protects Chidori from capture; however, his ability to balance work as a bodyguard, student, and mercenary piloting the ace mech comes under question by the top.
After Fumoffu’s sidesplitting hilarity, The Second Raid may come as a shock with how dark its narrative goes. It begins familiar with Mithril intervening in a takeover by a military dictator, followed by a couple of episodes with excellent comedy. I could relate to Sagara’s fear of allowing someone so close with scissors for a haircut – No, the shampoo isn’t poisonous, he tells himself. Then Sagara’s story descends into darkness when his competence is disputed.
I love this direction in the franchise. It shows a progression to the story, a maturing of the show alongside the audience, and more importantly, Sagara. His work and Chidori are all he has. His work is his life and when he feels like a failure, his whole world collapses under that weight. I didn’t believe the writer had the courage to push his characters this far when I started this series back in season one.
The villains received similar treatment. Gates, the weapons dealer, brings a mix of humour and craziness, as he executes his henchmen on a whim when offended or for a mere joke. But the truly twisted aspect is the twin girls working under him. They have this creepy sexuality to them that speaks of a psychologically tortured past, probably isolated from birth. I got the impression that they were a ‘what if’ scenario to Sagara. What if he hadn’t found a mentor that gave him direction in life? He might have ended up as damaged as these two girls. I wish to see more of their backstories.
Lastly, the action, already great in the past, has improved, more strategic than before. Equipped with technology to rival Mithril, the stakes are high on the streets of Hong Kong.
Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid is an excellent continuation to the franchise. I loved the darker direction, yet still with enough signature humour, and the limits to which Sagara is pushed.
Art – High
The Second Raid sports an upgrade in visual quality from the original, particularly in the action department. A darker aesthetic to match the tone and greater detail make for a nice anime. The new mechs look vicious, evolved forms of Venom.
Sound – Very High
The same great actors return alongside a couple of new faces (Naruto’s Ero-sensei as the villain is hilarious) – I still recommend Japanese despite the good English track. With the Hong Kong setting, we hear plenty of Chinese, which works in either version. Tense violin and a brass orchestra bring the best soundtrack Full Metal Panic has seen.
Story – High
The Second Raid takes Full Metal Panic into some dark corners to excellent effect. Still has some great comedy to offset the weight, most notably from the villain. Greatest flaw is the unfinished side plot with Tessa’s brother.
Overall Quality – High
Recommendation: A must watch, though I highly recommend starting with Full Metal Panic! for context. I loved the grim evolution to Sagara and the darkness he faced. Now where is the final season?
Awards: (hover mouse over each award to see descriptions; click award for more recipients)