19 CommentsAnime Analysis / By Scamp /

Revisiting Full Metal Panic: The Second Raid

Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid 06 - Edge of Heaven.mkv_snapshot_09.42_[2013.01.30_22.15.59]

The entire cast of Death Note making a rather random appearance in The Second Raid. I’m pretty sure even writing Gauron’s name in the Death Note would not kill him.

After taking the reins from Gonzo and mucking about a bit with Fumoffu, it was time for Kyoto Animation to roll up their sleeves and get to making some serious Full Metal Panic. Perhaps a little bit too serious. Picture the scene: A rainy night on top of a love hotel. A girl wearing nothing but a tattered dressing gown is down on her knees. She’s been sexually assaulted and just had to watch someone be choked to death. Shivering with her arms wrapped around her, she casts her face towards the sky, tears and rain dripping down her face, and screams “WHHHHYYYYYYYYY”. Fade to black, roll end of episode credits.

This is a thing that happens in The Second Raid. I get that you wanted to get serious this season after Fumoffu, but there’s serious and there’s surgically removing all the fun from a franchise.

Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid 13 - The Continuing Day by Day.mkv_snapshot_04.38_[2013.01.31_16.18.36]

The Second Raid is a huge angst-fest, growing an emo-fringe down to its knees as characters throw aside their regular characterisation to shiver and moan and agonise over the pain of existence. Sagara, the once straight talking, straight shooting male lead, goes down the path of alcohol and hookers. He regards the death of his comrades with cold apathy. He starts following the cult of nihilism, asking what is the point in living on this gay earth anymore. I get that they’re trying to communicate to us that he just really cares about Kaname and doesn’t want to be apart from her, but there has to be a better way to demonstrate this that doesn’t involve beating up repeatedly with the frying pan of angstyness. I’m sure there’s another way we can understand his pain without it being so tedious and irritating to watch.

The new villains in this arc, brought upon by this shift in tone, are equally terrible. The Chinese assassin twins are where most of the horribleness revolves around. They’re the main recipients of the anime’s new turn into the Violence and Tits arena, and it comes off as immature at best and exploitative and worst. Particularly when you consider there’s tits everywhere while they too are contemplating the pain of their existence and them being raped by their new boss. The violence usually surrounds them too, with shots of things like spinal columns poking out the top of slit necks and things like that. It’s not saying anything with the violence and sexuality either. With the tone of TSR, it comes off as trying to appear hardcore.

The leader of the military group in TSR deserves credit for making me appreciate the first season’s Gauron a whole lot more. I’d always thought Gauron was a bit crazy and psychotic and wondered why people kept funding him, but at least Gauron didn’t randomly shoot dudes in the face who were on his team. At least Gauron was capable of holding a conversation enough for a deal to go through. You only realise Gauron’s insanity when you get up close and look into his eyes when he makes a near suicidal decision, but up until then you can see why someone would follow his orders. His obsession with Sagara gave him some actual depth. The lunatic in TSR, on the other hand, is nothing more than a lunatic. What’s most bizarre is the show seemed to be trying to play up his lunacy as comedy. His actions are so cartoony and exaggerated  it feels like he belongs in a totally different anime to the otherwise oppressive angst that the rest of the show has.

The plot is also nonsensical. Sagara’s story with Kaname is the main draw here, and that at least makes sense, if admittedly tonally off. The actual terrorism committed in this show is way stupider though. Asides from random nothings like “hey, lets introduce Tessa’s brother like it’s no big deal, and then do absolutely fuck all with him”, the entire mission in the second half revolves around two depressed Chinese twins following the orders of a psychotic cripple as they escape from a lunatic scientist who rapes them when he’s not shooting his subordinates in the face, all for the incredibly roundabout purpose of getting Sagara to walk into a single building. That’s leaving aside the fact that somehow that guy managed to survive a self-destruct sequence inside his own robot with several tons of explosives right out in the middle of the ocean. I know he’s supposed to give off this Terminator-vibe, but that’s just silly. I’m choosing to believe that he was just a figment of Sagara’s depressed imagination. The plot arguably makes more sense that way.

vlcsnap-2013-02-11-12h17m20s41

What makes this more depressing (for me that is, because I’m not sure the tone of TSR could get more depressed) is that there’s clearly a better show here. Kyoto Animation’s production quality and general shine is light-years ahead of anything Gonzo ever did, even accounting for the 3 years advances in animation technology KyoAni had. Shame that they put this talent into something so angsty and hardcore. This sounds especially weird coming from me, who could not give a rats ass about anything KyoAni make nowadays because of their devotion to the bible of cute, but badly made hardcore angst is just as tedious as shallow cuteness.

Thing is, there are two episodes in the middle of TSR that are amazing. It has a fantastic chase sequence through some town in Sicily where Kurz, Mao and Sagara try to escape the mafia in a crappy little car, which has that brilliant quality of any great chase sequence in that events keep spiralling up and become more dramatic as it goes on. Then that episode is followed by easily the best scene in the entire FMP canon: The haircut scene. Its remarkable in its low-key simplicity. Wonderfully directed, with pregnant pauses and great sound design and a closeness to it that captures fantastically how much Sagara and Kaname feel safe around each other, with so much being said with so little. Its perfection hurts, with makes it that much more disappointing when the rest of the show careers off into angst-town.

…now where’s season 3 damnit.

This entry was posted in Anime Analysis and tagged , , . Anime: . Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.

19 Comments

  1. Shengar
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    “now where’s season 3 damnit.”
    That’s just like asking “Where’s Baccano season 2?”

    Speaking about this, you always put FMP in fake chart. Have you put Baccano S2 there?

    • fathomlessblue
      Posted February 12, 2013 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

      The difference is Full Metal Panic sold well enough to see three seasons made, while Baccano was largely ignored in Japan. Hell, it barely sold over here initally, being one of the last shows released in single pack dvds. I think sales picked up with the complete collection edition, but not as much as you might think.

      • Shengar
        Posted February 13, 2013 at 11:19 am | Permalink

        Alright, point taken. Well, that raised even more question of why they aren’t any FMP S3 yet. There is no reason not to do that right?

      • lmm
        Posted February 14, 2013 at 12:07 am | Permalink

        Because KyoAni are running short of more profitable things to make?

      • Shikamaru
        Posted February 14, 2013 at 6:51 am | Permalink

        Kyoani moe sells. If they can make more money by making moe series they don’t have a reason to make more FMP. I’m pretty sure even Chuunibyou sold better than Second Raid. Air, Kanon, Clannad, Lucky Star, Haruhi and K-on! All have sold more. I like moe series and other Kyoani stuff in general but even I wish they would stop making moe stuff for a while to make more FMP or Haruhi.

      • GrinLogin
        Posted February 14, 2013 at 8:22 am | Permalink

        It sold well enough, but most anime adaptations are glorified advertisements for the source material anyway. FMP already has three seasons worth of promotion so it would make more sense for Kadokawa (not KyoAni) to fund a new show of a less known franchise. Even if it sells the same amount of discs as FMP, the increase in light novel sales and kinds of merchandise to produce (because of new characters) make it a better business opportunity. That’s how most of the industry works, so enjoy your FMP Sigma.

      • Scamp
        Posted February 14, 2013 at 11:10 am | Permalink

        No more FMP is more a Kadokawa thing. They just sort of lost interest in it, and I’m not really sure why. I guess TSR didn’t do well enough for them?

        As for Baccano, I was under the impression it did quite well abroad. It’s hard to keep track of that sort of stuff

  2. Gunslinger
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    I recently watched Second raid but my god its such an emo fest. That chidori lookalike hooker was the clincher when i said fuck it and went back to rewatch Fumoffu.

  3. fathomlessblue
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

    It’s weird that although I only watched FMP: TSR a year or two back, I can barely remember anything from it. No crazy villains, or twin-assassins or even the basic plot. I vaguely recall sulking in a hotel with a prostitute, a fight scene in a tunnel, possibly in China, & the Tessa ova, obviously. I guess it just had no lasting impact for me. Ultimately, my reaction to the franchise remains the same as when I first checked it out after it aired: an alright series hyped up far more than it deserved.

  4. Posted February 12, 2013 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    I was surprised that there was so much “hardcore” stuff in this given that KyoAni nowadays is about as far from hardcore as you can possibly get. But yeah, more FMP please! And a Hyouka movie! Screw the rest of their stuff…(gets booed by Haruhi fanboys).

  5. Shikamaru
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    YES! That haircut scene is amazing. It should win somekind of “anime oscar” or something. One of the best anime scenes ever, if you ask me. That short scene has better romance in it than 99% other anime, movie or tv series have during their whole run.

    This was pretty much what I wanted, instead of Fumoffu. But yeah… It is too angsty, even for me. Gauron being alive, “Fake Chidori” and twins are pretty bad things too. Easily my favourite FMP season still. Angst>comedy. Well when Chidori and Sagara reunited it was really fun to see Chidori kick his ass. Season 3 please.

  6. Fumoffu!!
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 11:55 pm | Permalink

    Maybe I’m just being weird, but I didn’t mind the angsty-ness of it. In fact I liked how serious it all was. One thing I’d make clear though, you can call the anime itself angsty, but not the characters, yes, they were the ones full of woe etc. but it was what they would of course feel given the plot.

    SPOILER ALERT!

    Spoiler alert: Saousuke is finally living a carefree life with people he cares about, particularly Chidori who he’s become very close to, but then he has to leave her without a word, of course he’d be a wreck of emotions. Chidori dies because he wasn’t there to protect her? Of course that would fuck him up. Sousuke has never been one to express emotions much, that’s how the humour operates, so naturally the way he’d wallow in grief and anger would be in that silent moody “angsty” way. When he’s apathetic to the deaths, it’s because he’s traumatized at the recent shock. It’s not as if none of it makes sense. One of my few complaints about the drama was how they resolved it at the end, they undermined Sousuke’s revelation that Chidori was alive.

    END OF SPOILERS.

    I agree with a lot of what you said, the enemies were really poor, Gauron should have just stayed dead, and the haircut scene was fantastic etc.

    It is a massive swing in the serious direction after Fumoffu! but the thought never crossed my mind when I was watching it that it was being angsty, to be I was simply the characters going through strife as the events of the series unfolded.

    But that’s just me, maybe.

    • Scamp
      Posted February 14, 2013 at 11:13 am | Permalink

      I said as much in the review, that it was clear what they were trying to get across, but that’s not an excuse for making it so tedious. The Helmajistan episodes of the first season were serious business stuff too, but they were great and managed to juggle the tone a lot better. It’s not that I didn’t want the series to get down to being serious again, but the way they handled it was terrible.

      But opinions

    • Fumoffu!!
      Posted February 14, 2013 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

      It made it seem like you found the content tedious, rather than the execution.

      I was about to ask you what about the execution was tedious (in fact I still will), but then a memory appeared in my mind, it was of a part of TSR that I had somehow forgotten entirely, and had ignored, Sousuke and his problem with the Lambda drive on his mecha. That was really tedious…. well, there goes one of my 10s…

      So out of interest what were the things that were most tedious?

  7. Anonymous
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 3:28 am | Permalink

    Now read FMP Sigma!

    • Scamp
      Posted February 14, 2013 at 11:13 am | Permalink

      Is it even translated?

      • grinlogin
        Posted February 15, 2013 at 3:33 am | Permalink

        They’re scanlating it as the volumes come out, so you might have to wait for a while once you catch up.

  8. Posted February 13, 2013 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    I guess it worked for me since I totally bought what was going on. The Second Raid was a different type of FMP that we saw in the first season but I kinda like its perfectionist approach towards the angsty plot (First season = Volumes 1 to 6; Second Season = Volume 7). What TSR truly excelled at though was developing Sousuke and Chidori’s relationship even further (as what you’ve said: that haircut scene was amazing).

    I just want more FMP period.

  9. Aelms
    Posted February 14, 2013 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    I actually liked TSR more than any other part of the series which probably has a lot to do with how I was actually looking for a serious mecha/drama series more than one that was involved with having fun. I agree that KyoAni set a completely different tone than Gonzo’s rendition but the expressions of angst and sorrow were so fresh and so vivid (especially since I had not watched Eva yet) made it particularly memorable to me.

    If you ever get to reading my comment I hope that you check out ‘Oyasumi Punpun’, a manga about birds.

  • Categories

  • Anime

  • Latest MAL Articles