Full Metal Panic: Mission.03 Review
Things are about to heat up for Mithril as they're called in when a young terrorist passes through customs and assaults an officer. It seems he's been brainwashed and drugged up but for what purpose? Captain Testarossa and Lieutenant Commander Kalinin race to find out, soon discovering that the Lambda Driver may have something to do with all of this.
Our primary focus here is on the newly introduced A21 terrorist group but before we're taken deeper into the story we're given more time with Tessa and Kalinin. Until now they've been background figures, in charge of command while above ground Sousuke, Kurz and Melissa protect Kaname. There's an obvious father/daughter relationship going on between the two and what makes it interesting is that Tessa, despite being just sixteen is in charge of the entire operation. Kalinin shows much respect toward her position which is something we're still not fully aware of - the how and why. He's also developed far beyond what we might have expected from him, as he’s been a stiff figure who's shown little character, past his devotion to his job. Tessa is still a child and because of this she is prone to mistakes. It's her abilities at decision making which is looked upon further and we learn that she needs support from those she leads. Things start to pick up when she arrives at Sousuke's place where Kaname soon spies her with a potential love triangle rearing its head. At this point it becomes a case of both girls trying to win Sousuke's affection, which is going to be quite a game, especially now they're becoming friends in the process.
Accompanying the above is a fair amount of humour as these characters are now placed into awkward and uncomfortable situations but then that's the series for you, it's managed to evenly balance humour, drama and action and if any suddenly go missing then it becomes a missed opportunity. Thankfully when Full Metal Panic delivers its gags it delivers them fast, maintaining a decent tone throughout. Still, much of the episodes here do take on a dramatic turn that follows the A21 terrorist organization.
With the introduction of the group come several new faces, first being the young man, Takuma who displays an aggressive personality. Along with his sister, Seina they seek out the "Behemoth" to bring destruction on their road to revenge. This arc takes up much of the volume and dispenses a little of the "whispered" storyline, save for a few moments involving Kaname. It's not quite so much a problem at this stage, with four volumes to follow but here her ability is glossed over as it had been during previous volumes. It's interesting though that four episodes are given such an arc involving this group, whether it means they will show up again is anyone's guess and the relative obscurity surrounding the Lambda Driver means that Volume 3 doesn’t leave the viewer any wiser than before. Though the series is still immensely entertaining it leaves plenty of questions hanging as it involves more plot lines that stray a little from its main objective.
Dangerous Safe House
A boy by the name of Takuma Kugayama is arrested after lashing out at a customs official. He seems to be intoxicated with drugs and appears mentally unstable. Tessa rushes to the SDF base to find out who he is and after a brief interrogation Seina drops by in an Arm Slave in an attempt to take him back.
Run Running Run
Kaname is still a little upset after seeing Tessa in a towel at Sousuke's place, but no matter how hard he tries to talk himself out of the situation it just won't wash. Tessa cruelly plays on the notion of a relationship, leaving Kaname in the dark but they soon have other things to worry about when they locate a transmitter in Takuma's arm.
As Kalinin lies injured at Seina's safe house, fellow members of A21 head out to capture Tessa and Kaname. They're soon found and taken to where Kalinin is being held. Sousuke receives a transmission from Kaname's bracelet and along with Kurz and Melissa heads out to save her. Upon arriving at the tanker location they become surrounded by the SDF.
One Night Stand
With Takuma back, Seina can continue her plan. She orders Takuma to take over the "Behemoth", despite a recent injury and he soon sets off destroying everything in his path. Melissa's Arm Slave becomes its first victim but as luck would have it help isn't too far behind.
Another neat reversible sleeve graces the amaray case, this time featuring the Behemoth on one side and Tessa on the other in a far more colourful picture. Also included is another mini fold-out poster featuring Seina, while on the reverse we have some insightful information on various characters and mechs. Be advised to read these after watching the episodes contained on the DVD to avoid any spoilers.
Full Metal Panic is given another fine transfer, preserving its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. At times the series appears slightly soft during wider shots, which seems to be down to the animation process rather than the authoring. Otherwise it maintains its fine detail and colour, with only the usual issues (banding) bothering it.
Japanese 2.0 and English 5.1 tracks are made available, both of which provide plenty of surround usage, with clear dialogue. ADV usually provide better dubs that this one, I'd have to recommend the Japanese track again for superior direction and better matched performances. The optional English subtitles provide a solid translation which is easy to read, well placed and free from errors.
Clean Opening/Clean Closing
Once again we have the usual addition of credit-less title sequences to view.
Production Sketches (1.54)
A brief collection of artwork that starts of with Kaname wearing various outfits, moving on to Seina and the A21, then Mithril's sub and various mecha and interior designs.
Japanese Piracy Warnings (1.02)
Broadcast piracy warnings featuring Melissa and Seina.
Trailers for other ADV releases, including Martian Successor Nadesico: The Prince of Darkness, Zaion, Najica Blitz Tactics and Sakura Wars.
Volume 3 of Full Metal Panic sees plenty more action and humour, spread across an interesting but perhaps dragged out sub plot that does little to further the main story. There's plenty of fun moments as there are sadder ones and the series is still keeping sharp, with more characters being fleshed out. With a bit of luck Volume 4 should hopefully start to kick into gear and let us in on some secrets.