Full Metal Panic! is fast becoming a popular franchise, with numerous mangas, novels and two other anime series already released., You would be hard pressed to able to guess where it will all end. This entry in the franchise is a continuation of the first anime series, and picks up the story about five months after the events of Full Metal Panic!
We rejoin Sousuke Sagara and the rest of his unit as they prepare to “drop in” on some nefarious soldier types who are about to kill injured men, women, children and the elderly at a humanitarian aid station. Securing the area for evacuation, the helicopters sent in to evacuate the civilians come under fire from an anti-aircraft battery that is equipped to be able to take out their stealth mode helicopters, which is unusually high tech for a the third world nation that they are in. Sousuke goes it alone to take out the battery but gets left behind by his retreating comrades. While trying to evade the enemy and get extracted, his Arm Slave (the show’s term for the mecha) uses a device called the ‘lambda driver’ to stop dead in their tracks some missiles that have been fired at him. The driver and its use will come into focus later in the series.
After getting back to safe soil Sousuke is back to the bodyguard detail of Kaname Chidori who is still safe and well since FMP! And it isn’t long before he creates problems for Kaname and those around him while still trying to adapt to the civilian world. It is also around this time that we get introduced to the villains of the piece, Gates – a psychopath and AS pilot that routinely kills his own men for very little reason – and Sisters Xia Yu Fan and Xia Yu Lan who provide some rather disturbing fan service when first introduced. They are a part of a conspiracy to destroy or hamper MITHRIL, which also includes a mystery behind-the-scenes man that we have yet to fully meet.
Both sides face each other in battle when MITHRIL gets ambushed by the baddies during an operation. And when it happens it is a HOLY S#!T moment for what is probably the most horrific and sudden death I’ve seen in an anime in along time. I knew that the bad guys were going to spring the trap but how it goes down was something that will stay with for a long time and I’m not entirely sure that’s a good thing. This is not the same Full Metal Panic! that I remember; this a darker, less family friendly FMP! (if it ever was) and certainly deserves the MA15+ certificate it is given.
The Second Raid is less about the bodyguard duty of Kaname that the first series used to such great story telling and comedic effect, and concerns itself more with the military operations that Sousuke is taking part in. That takes away a lot of the ‘fish out of water’ comedy that the original show is best remembered for. While it might be there in the odd episode, this new instalment’s main focus has changed to the darker side that inhabits the series.
I enjoyed the first series for its combination of humour and action, but in The Second Raid the change of focus changed the comedic/dramatic balance and unfortunately makes it slightly lesser than the first series. I’m not saying the show isn’t good, just a step down from its predecessor that not every fan will want to take.