The next installment of my Full Metal Panic franchise review skips Fumoffu (because fellow writer Kaushik shares my opinion of it rather well), and moves on to TSR. The second (and so far last) Full Metal Panic anime made by Kyoto Animation, The Second Raid takes one aspect of the original and sticks with it. While Fumoffu focused on the comedy, school-life aspects, and some romance, The Second Raid is more of a drama-heavy series filled with a lot of action and even more romance. With all this focus on the serious aspects of Full Metal Panic, my main problem with the first season, the lack of focus, fades away. In fact, The Second Raid is so damned good at executing everything, that I wound up loving it.
I actually like how the OP (and part of the series) takes place in Hong Kong. That’s not a locale you see in anime all that often.
Since The Second Raid is a sequel to the first season, the only quick synopsis I can give is that stuff happened, and this season follows suit with more stuff happening on a larger, more dangerous, and at the same time, more personal scale. Right off the bat, I have a few things to mention. For starters, the plot doesn’t meander between the serious and light-hearted elements, as this season focuses almost entirely on the serious aspects. Additionally, while TSR is based on a series of light novels, the novels they picked to use couldn’t have been better. TSR adapts a novel two-parter (Ending Day by Day), and as a result, while there seemingly is an arc-based format, the entire plot flows from start to finish without being broken by arc resolutions, or the like. Interestingly enough, TSR also happens to resolve the plot of the first season at the same time. The plot itself, while nothing special on paper, is delivered rather brilliantly. The plot intertwines with the characterization, where often the plot is the characterization and the characterization leads to plot. In fact, without the characters, the plot probably couldn’t ever aspire to be an excellent drama. My one and only gripe with the plot is a somewhat weak ending. And that’s it. Before you get to the ending, however, you’re in for one hell of an emotional, angst-ridden show. And yes, while angst usually has negative connotations, I feel the angst is an overwhelmingly positive aspect, fully supporting both the drama and the story in general.
Now, while I mentioned the characters before, it was only because I couldn’t exactly separate the two. If you’ve watched the previous two seasons, you’re already familiar with most of the characters in The Second Raid. There are a few newcomers here, but none too many. What’s interesting to note about the characters is that they follow the developments that happened in the first season, and go a step further with the characterization. As I’ve mentioned, there’s a lot of great angst, and it comes with loads of character development and dynamics. What’s particularly interesting to note is that nearly none of this is pretty at all, and yet, it’s all so interesting. Seeing established characters break down so excellently is like a gift from the story telling gods. Even the ones who don’t get a lot of development are still very interesting. Overall, with excellent characterization, development, and dynamics, the characters of TSR are perfectly suited for the role of an excellent drama.
I have to say, I’m really impressed by the art. While the designs are largely the same as the first season’s, they’re heavily improved, with a much greater attention to detail. Additionally, scenic shots are also heavily improved, as well. Although the mechanical designs didn’t improve much, they happen to be pretty great now too. Despite the use of CG, the animation is phenomenal. The action scenes are heavily engaging and dynamic, with some pretty good choreography too. The fights, as a result, are always extremely exciting. However, even when there is no action going on, the animation is notably good, making scenes stand out quite a bit. Overall, The Second Raid is an amazing visual treat from both art and animation perspectives.
The BGM is a step up from the first season’s in terms of quality, but is still like the first season’s BGM: it has its memorable songs, but a big part of it is largely forgettable. The songs, however, perfectly suit whatever’s happening, so at least they work well. The themes are also like the first season: two Mikuni Shimokawa songs that a large majority like. The sound effects are pretty high quality, and make scenes a lot more lively, and the voice acting is of a really high caliber. In both English and Japanese, the voice actors do a fine job of conveying the feelings of all the characters. Overall, the sound does a great job of supporting the series’ great strengths.
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