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.
Half a year has passed since Sagara Sousuke took up the job of protecting Kaname Chidori and has started living like a normal teenager for the first time. A former child soldier, his view on the perils of everyday life is highly unconventional and in frequent need of violent adjustment; Chidori can only hope her endless assault will eventually get him used to normal life. But a shadow looms over their happy days as Sousuke's employer, the private army called Mithril, is attacked by a new unknown enemy. Suddenly outgunned, can Mithril afford to keep one of their best playing around?