The third addition to the Full Metal Panic (FMP) series - The Second Raid (TSR) focuses on the increasingly complicated life of Sousuke Sagara, our 17-year-old professional soldier who is employed by the anti-terror organization Mithril. For starters, Sousuke must continue his job as the undercover bodyguard of Kaname Chidori, while somehow mastering the unreliable Lambda Drive within the Arbalest proto-type (think mecca unit) so he can continue to do battle with rogue terrorist organizations; all while at Mithril's beck and call! Of course, TSR wouldn’t be complete without creating a secondary love interest for Sousuke in the very cute form of Tessa Testarossa, the 16-year-old captain of Mithril's technological marvel of a submarine upon which Sousuke is assigned.
The story itself revolves around the ever-changing political landscape of a futuristic Earth, where behind every news-worthy event lies at least one covert terrorist or anti-terrorist organization. In essence, the heart of TSR is about how these covert organizations struggle for power to either maintain the current political balance or to de-stabilize things in their favor. Add to this the evolving personal dynamics between Sousuke, Chidori, and Tessa, all of which is constantly muddled due to the title each character holds (ie Tessa is Sousuke’s boss and Chidori is his assignment). As a result, what you have is an extremely complex plot that is totally worth your time, but in order to really get what’s going on you should start from the beginning with the first season of FMP.
Unlike like a lot of American animated pieces, TSR really does a nice job of blending CGI scenes within the course of the piece in such a way that they don't stand out like a sore thumb. Beyond that, the colors are vibrant and the imagery was extremely realistic as evident to the high attention to detail paid to in the shots of the Hong Kong skyline. On a whole, FMP TSR is truly one of the better animated pieces I've seen, and would highly recommend it based on production value alone.
Like other aspects of this anime the soundtrack does a great job of reinforcing the mood of the series. The opening theme is a very up-beat and establishes the inherent optimism that's found within the series. The closing theme is a much slower and reflective piece that describes the bond that forms between Sousuke and Chidori. Beyond that the soundtrack is quite lively and appropriately sets the mood throughout the series, as well as provides all the necessary background sounds that makes the user feel that they're right in the middle of the war zone.
Similar to the previous FMP series, the three key characters here are Sousuke Sagara, Kaname Chidori, and Tessa Testarossa; and like the previous series, TSR continues to evolve and define their relationships. However, the one over-arching constant in this series is that the characters must mature as individuals in order for their relationships to survive. As a result, all of the characters are isolated and then placed in very difficult situations that they must each see their way through.
It is worth mentioning, however, that unlike other series which rely strictly on circumstances to drive character development, TSR actually relies on a whole host of secondary characters -- some of whom are re-introduced from the first series. As a result, I would not recommend watching TSR without first seeing FMP â€“ though it should be noted that FUMOFFU doesn't really play much into the plotline of this series except for one or two recounted memories that Chidori shares.
TSR is really a great series because unlike a lot of other anime, this series is not simply about evolving the character. It instead focuses on Sousuke, Kaname, and Tessa actually growing up and learning to make decisions for themselves. In that way, the series does a great job of conveying the message that teenagers are still teenagers no matter what they do or how talented they are. And in the end, maturity only comes from stepping up and making decisions while being fully aware of the consequences involved. All of these things are wrapped up in a complicated storyline that both introduces new characters and gracefully re-introduces old ones from the first series.
In short, TSR was a series I had to finish once I started and it did not disappoint. It's a must watch for any fans of the FMP series as it does a great job of extending the story and continues to evolve the characters, while still delivering the usual hi-jinx and FMP humor.
The first season was much better in my opinion. And I'm not just saying that because it was longer. The second season starts out okay and it ends okay, but everything in between is just blah. Okay, the very beginning was a bit blah too.
This season was more mecha battles and typical mecha this and that which is different from the first season. What made the first season interesting was the main characters lack of ability to live a normal life and trying to balance his work and school/bodyguarding life. The little quirks of the different characters was interesting too. All that got sort of lost in the second season. His mission as a bodyguard and his time as a student is terminated. That's when we lose the conflict of balancing work and school and the comedy of his inability to be a normal kid. We also lose the relationship between him and Chidori as well as some other characters. He as a person becomes less interesting too. Basically, everything goes down the drain until the moment he abandons a mission and things get interesting again.
The enemy in this season is kind of annoying too. First, the main enemy guy is a quaky idiotic weirdo. Not very interesting and it kind of changes the feeling of the show to something more common and less interesting. The whole thing with the twins is kind of the same. It's not interesting and it gives off a different vibe that I can't quite describe. Basically, the enemy sucks.
The overall quality isn't great either. I could overlook it during the first season because I was enjoying the story, but not with this season. There were times when the quality seemed to improve but I didn't even care. I was just waiting for the episode to finish already or do something interesting.
I haven't watched the third season but I can sort of guess what is going on from reading about it. The first season combined everything in to one anime. The second season focused mainly on the mecha portion of the story and from the looks of it the third season will focus more on the school and everyday life situations. In other words, they split the original into two halves. I think the school and everyday life portion will probably be a bit more interesting though as there is more you can do with it and in this case, you can avoid some of the overly used situations and change them up.
Full Metal Panic: The Second Raid came to me at a time when my love for anime was suffering a most unnatural downturn. I thought its predecessor FMP generic and overhyped and thus harboured low expectations when embarking upon this show. The FMP franchise is beset with chronic disjointedness – while FMP delivers a standardised mecha plot involving various criminals, the side story Fumoffu is a highly successful spastic comedy. TSR, again, is a very different kettle of fish in that it adopts a more brutal narrative style that allows the characters to strut their serious side. I also think it’s a remarkable leap up from its predecessor, FMP.
Its thirteen wonderful instalments includes an ever-delightful mosaic of comedic farce, intense military action and touching personal drama. And all of this peppered with characters that have magically come alive since the first season. Sousuke matures convincingly through gripping personal dilemmas, Kaname takes a backseat (thank God), and the antagonists have a lot more entertaining personalities and convincing back story. Additionally, the animation rocks in every way that matters, delivering gripping, thrilling, eye-popping battles.
A powerful addition to the FMP franchise, TSR also reinvigorated my sense of fun for the art as a whole. Let it do the same for you.
Right, it's confession time for me. If you have been reading my reviews than you may have noticed that I tend to rip the anime a new one. There is a reason for this though and it has to do with the fact that I can't turn my brain off when watching anime. I can't ignore the stupid shown in the anime and this is a problem as most anime are very stupid indeed.
In this case I'm not talking about a 90 pound girl catching a multi-ton cruise missile and throwing it back. Yes, it is stupid but it is a stupid that I'll allow. It's anime. Things like this are normal here and I'm pretty much fine with it. It annoys me to be sure but I will not rant about it.
So, having explained this lets rip into this anime shall we? Just a heads up: There will most probably be spoilers. The more I hate an anime the more spoilers there will be.
ART: I had absolutely no problems with the art. It did what it had to do and that is to show the action so that it was easy to follow and make characters easily identifiable. It passed with flying colours.
SOUND: I really don't remember much of it but I remember not disliking it so I guess it was better than average? Voice actors did a good job overall.
CHARACTERS: Main character is Sousuke. He grew up in a war-torn land and spend almost his entire life fighting. Despite his youth he is very militaristic and has a habit of taking things very literally.
Kaname. A normal highschool girl who just wants to graduate. Unfortunately she is suddenly stuck with Sousuke, who threatens to complicate her life. She is a bit of a tomboy but has excellent grades and is good at sports.
Mithril is a powerful mercenary group that employs Sousuke. Despite their small group they are very powerful due to the technological advantage that they have over regular armies.
Whispered are rare humans who can receive information on future technologies through dreams. This makes them a prima target for arms dealers and despots who wish to rule for a bit longer then the population wants.
STORY: During a rescue mission, Mithril, suddenly finds itself coming under attack by highly advanced weapons that rival their own. Investigation reveals a secret organisation called Amalgam, who uses whispered technology as well. Unlike Mithril they have no scrupules on how they use it. Amalgam must be stopped but with their technological superiority cancelled this fight will be far from easy.
RANT: Making a sequal to a popular series is always very hard as expectations from the fan base will be high. They succeeded better than I hoped but there were some parts that I really hated.
What most sequals tend to do first is retcon some things. In this case it Sousuke who gets retconned. At the end of the first series he was completely in tune with his mecha and able to use the Lambda Drive to kick major butt. This made him a formidable force and we can't have that. With a snap of the fingers we now turn our main character into a whiny emo case who second guesses himself so much that he can no longer use the Lambda Drive.
He is still an ace pilot, just not one able to use his machine to its fullest. If you want to piss me off then this is one of the quckest ways to do it. I salute your lack of imagination and utter incompitence.
This nicely brings me into the next part that I didn't like and wasn't needed. Gauron is still alive. This anime has a pretty good villain in Gates who is , admittedly, a Gauron 2.0 himself but they actually brought back Gauron.
The problem? Ehm.... Well, last we saw him he was flying off into the ocean in a wrecked mecha with enough C4 to blow up a small country strapped to him. So he not only survived the explosion but there were allies close by to save him before he sank to the bottom of the ocean and get him enough medical aid to keep him alive while keeping his being alive a secret to everyone.
From his deathbed he directs his loyal assistants to aid Gates in fighting Mithril even if they die doing it. They go along with this because of their fierce loyalty to Gauron because he..... Uhm.... Yeah I got nothing. The anime doesn't really explain either and by this point I also didn't care.
I would have accepted a revenge plot from the 2 women but most important is to explain to us why would want to take revenge in the first place. We get little to no backstory on either of them and if you are going to use them as such then they really need at least 1 dedicated episode explaining it to the viewer why they would want to avenge someone like Gauron.
Especially since it would have taken screentime away from emo Sousuke. You can never have to little of him here.
For the most part I liked the series though but the addition of Gauron and emo Sousuke brought it down a bit. As far as sequals go though they could have done a lot worse. If you like the series and want it complete then go and watch it.
Spoiler Free Review
Well, as pretty much every anime watcher knows, the best way to ruin a good story is to give it a cheap rushed ending. Sadly, thats what they did here. The story continues 3-4 months after FMP left off (fumoffu fills in that gap, there are a few references to it, but if you skipped it, you won't be clueless). The majority of the series gets a 8-9, the story is new, somewhat develops characters, and it interesting. The last couple, get a 2. The ending is extremely rushed, and it feels like they simply ran out of time. There are numerous unresolved parts, and what they did do was rushed to the point that it lost credibility. I'll occasionally accept a deus ex machina ending, but this one made no sense, as there was no explination of how the triggering factor knew were to be, or how it managed to get there (given the situation illustrated in the previous 2-3 episodes). This would have worked better as a 26 episode series, making it 13 really hurt it. I'd have prefered a less rushed story with some filler over what it ended up as.
First off, I'm not much of an animation critic. Everything looked good to me, bordering on great. They didn't recycle footage, there wern't any parts that felt 'cheap', so basicly no issues here from me. Defiantely a strong point.
Knock off 1-4 points if you watch it in english, the voices (particularly Chidori's) lose a lot of emotion. Other than that, the sound worked.
Most returning characters remain about the same. There's some development with the command crew which I liked. Chidori developes some, but it isn't particularly believeable. Sousuke... changes, but the reasons given are flimsy at best, and the deus ex machina ending that I already mentioned messes this up even further. Villinous characters have an acceptable combination of being deveoped and remaining mysterious (to hide a very easily guessed secret). The new 'good guys' are pretty hollow, but the new neutralish one was interesting. All in all, character development suffers the same issues as story; too much to do, and not enough time. End result: they cut corners, and it shows.
Definately could have been better. If you liked the first two series, I'd recommend watching this. If you thought they were alright but nothing special, don't make this a priority. While the majority of it isn't bad, the ending is towards the top of my lists of lousy endings.