Full Metal Panic: Mission.02 Review
Ah, vacation time. What better way to spend it than on a trip to Okinawa? Or that's how things should be. Instead Siberia is on the cards and unfortunately for Kaname and her entire class they're forced to remain seated as Sousuke squares off with an army bent on capturing her. Still, it's all in a day's work for our hero. Let panic commence.
Picking up from the cliff-hanger which ended the previous volume the series naturally moves at a quick pace, not just for its first episode but throughout most of the four episodes presented. As we learned previously, Kaname is quite a special girl, it seems that everyone wants a piece of her brain, not least of whom Gauron and as volume two sets out we learn why. Without realising it she holds "black technology" within her, if used in the wrong hands she can provide top secret information that can very well threaten mankind. As a "whispered" she has no idea.
The first three episodes on the disc are real adrenaline packed stuff, featuring plenty of mech-service for those who love their robot action and it's gorgeous to boot. The series held up brilliantly for its first volume and it's nice to see that it's maintaining consistency. Ihara Toshiaki and Ebihara Kanetake's Arm-Slaves are a sight to behold and we even get to see a brand new one going by the grand name of "Arbalest", ready to kick seven bells out of anything standing in its way. It's unsurprising therefore to see that much of volume two is played pretty straight. With no time for any real comedy the bulk of the episodes are about survival and as the show's title would suggest, panic. Limited to their choices, Sousuke, Kamine and Kurz must rely on their training or wits. These three main episodes look at a desperate situation whilst trying to pick apart its characters and their motivations. The progression of its characters is exemplified by the situations they find themselves under and as their natural human responses begin to show so does a deeper understanding form between them and the viewer. Amidst the main plot objective we find our friends coming under a great deal of fire and we see how the military attitudes work, given the strain it is put under which results in immediate decisions that may not be to its employees liking but must be undertaken regardless. Still let that stop the animators from showing a bit of upskirt and flirting from time to time.
As Kamane is now forced into a situation whereby she cannot leave Sousuke's side, along with Kurz after a fierce run in she finds herself becoming intrigued by Sousuke's sensibilities and actions. There's a certain amount of negativity that stems from her but who is she to complain at such a drastic stage? It's only when things become more heated and her hidden abilities begin to surface that she can finally be of some heavy assistance and it is during these moments that Kamane realises she does care for Sousuke, while at the same time he is far too naïve to even see it. And so the foundation of what can quite possibly be a romantic relationship is set.
After the excessive amounts of action on display things thankfully settle down and get back to some good old fashioned comedy routines. I say thankfully because I had missed the humour which featured so much in the last volume. This time sees Sousuke being asked out on a date by a girl who has to cover up the fact her boyfriend just dumped her. Cue a series of routines with poor old Sousuke not being able to do anything right. He might be a top marksman and super spy but when it comes to girls he's just a square and it shows big time. Perhaps the funniest moment of the episode comes from when he is trying to get to grips with a dating simulator, which incidentally is huge business in Japan. Clearly not understanding that if a girl asks you to help her shop you shouldn't retort by saying "Go by yourself." When he's called a nerd by the little pixel lady he retaliates by calling himself a specialist, resulting in game over. It's an interesting side to his character, one that in many cases is not customary to have a hero be so innocent but that's another charming side to Full Metal Panic which still has plenty of time to allow him to grow.
Volume 2 contains the following four episodes:
Sousuke manages to save Kaname from her captors and the pair flees an air base from terrorists after an epic showdown between Arm-Slaves. However their bid for escape is soon halted when Gauron heads them off and draws Sousuke into a one on one fight. As the AS battle commences Kurz and Melissa make their way closer but can they reach Sousuke and Kaname in time?
With a little luck on their side Sousuke, Kurz and Kaname have survived their last ordeal but their journey to safety is about to get tougher. Kurz has been wounded in battle and cannot fend for himself, while Sousuke thinks up a plan to get Kaname out of the forest. Upon hearing his idea Kaname refuses outright, preferring to stick with the idea that they'd be better off sticking together as a team. Things soon start to become a little more complicated than expected.
Boy Meets Girl
Sousuke and co have been successfully surrounded by enemy troops. Escape seems impossible but as hope fades Mithril sends out their ultimate Arm-Slave - the Arbalest. Sousuke quickly jumps in and pilots the AS, taking out the enemy with ease until he’s forced to once again to have some fisty-cuffs with Gauron.
Sousuke and Kaname are finally back to school and no sooner has their day begun that trouble looms in the air once more. Mizuki Inaba has recently been dumped by her boyfriend and now she's decided that she wants Sousuke to take her out on a date. But this isn't going to be any normal date; he has to pretend to be her ex in front of her friends! Can he pull it off or will everyone suss out their little charade?
Like the previous volume ADV provide us with a clear amaray case that has a reversible cover. On one side we have an Arm Slave and on the other we have Sousuke, ready for action. I prefer these more colourful character covers, it's nice to have the choice. There is also a mini fold-out poster featuring Mizuki Inaba, with series notes on the reverse.
Presented in its original ratio of 1.33:1 Full Metal Panic looks as good as the last volume. This really is a wonderful looking transfer, marred only by some mild Edge Enhancement. Colours are vivid and detail is exceptionally good. There's a spot of banding in addition but as far as recent anime releases go this is among the best of them.
For the audio department we get a choice of Japanese 2.0 and English 5.1. I’ve listened to some of the English dub and I don't particularly like the direction an awful lot, the actors don't quite do their characters justice and sound very flat. The Japanese cast once again hit the spot and provide very amusing moments when need be. In terms of surrounds there isn't a huge difference between tracks. Despite being 2.0 only the Japanese track makes good use of the rear speakers also and music, sound effects and dialogue are all challenged remarkably well, as good if not better than the English 5.1 track, believe it or not.
Optional English subtitles are included as standard and provide a good translation.
A chance to view the opening and closing sequences without credits rolling, to the background vocals of Mikuni Shimokawa.
Production Sketches (1:43)
This is a collection of colour drawings which contains character, mech and prop designs specific to this volume.
Japanese Piracy Warnings (1:10)
With a worsening of piracy in Japan when it comes to anime these warnings were part of the original DVD release, as we ourselves get them. They're performed in character and sound light hearted, though their message is deadly serious.
Trailers for other ADV licensed shows include RahXephon, Voices of a Distant Star, Zone of the Enders: Dolores and Zaion.
Full Metal Panic packs itself with plenty of action and intrigue this time round, leaving it a little shorter on laughs for which it makes up for on the last episode. As far as its storyline goes it is still early on and so far it has handled itself with ease, with a bit of everything for the anime enthusiast - yes even fan service.
Last updated: 15/05/2018 22:59:17