Anime Worth Watching: Full Metal Panic- The Second Raid

Full Metal Panic- The Second Raid (フルメタル パニック!The Second Raid) is a 13-episode mecha anime from 2005 by Kyoto Animation 1 based on a series of light novels by Shoji Gatoh.

Synopsis

In the near future of an alternate world where the Cold War never ended new technological leaps such as advanced AI’s, 3D holograms, and mechas are possible thanks to gifted people known as the Whispered who can hear voices telling them how to build things. The secret mercenary organization known as Mithril has sent one of its young soldiers to Tokyo to observe and protect a high school girl who has been identified as a Whispered from the various evil organizations that want to monopolize her potential powers for their own ends, but Mithril is also concerned about destabilization occurring in Africa and the Chinese civil war where they need Sosuke as well.

Appeal

Full Metal Panic started off splitting the difference between being more of a comedy series with militant Sasuke being woefully ill-adjusted to handling Japanese life and the more action-y aspects of Mithril operations elsewhere, a kind of divide which shouldn’t really work yet somehow does and even manages to merge the two different settings fairly well later on. His overreactions to “threats” against Kaname such as someone wanting to release an unflattering picture of her online, and Kanames overreactions to him, keep a pretty strong slapstick comedic energy on as you can see if you watched Full Metal Panic: Fumofuu2 and are present here… for all of one episode. See, The Second Raid is not the first Full Metal Panic series, hell its not even the second, its actually the third and takes place in the middle of the novels right as things start turning toward a grimmer, more action focused plot and thats where this show really shines.

Kaname and Sosuke in their natural habitat

This is one of KyoAni’s earliest productions as lead and they absolutely knock it out of the park with the animations putting forth some of the best mecha combat you’ll see anywhere as well as their characteristic strong designs across all levels of the show. The plot isn’t super special, most of it revolves around Sosuke trying to make a decision for himself for once in his life- which creates problems we’ll get to, but its a fairly straight forward story which just works as it doesn’t get in its own way. Mithril finds out about a problem, then spends several episodes investigating it while the bad guys do their own things until both sides get pulled into a battle. Thus even if you haven’t seen the previous series you should be able to pick this up with only a slim primer of what happened before as most of the events are self-contained to here3 which is a good thing since I dont recommend you watch the first season.

and the other half of the tone.

I’ll keep this short, the original 2002 Full Metal Panic anime was done by Studio Gonzo and its ok at best, characteristically Studio Gonzo and its worst especially with how they handle the CGI and its ending. If you love the franchise its worth getting through once as it will make understanding the characters in The Second Raid easier, I just dont think there’s enough there to justify sitting through its full 26 episode run (the first story line, about 8 episodes, is its best so maybe just watch those). Going with that you really have a strong “middle of the story” energy to everything here, as not only does it not introduce anything it also doesn’t exactly end anything either- this is only adapting the 4th and 5th novels out of like 12 so the conclusion is a little vague at best and may leaving you wanting more from the franchise, something which you’ll only be met with disappointment by. The novels have been licensed TWICE for the US yet somehow only get through the story here before companies stop releasing them, and while there is a 2018 sequel series by Studio Xebec its really rough- watching that and you can really see how everything KyoAni did right with the animation helped elevate things when Xebec does it all wrong. Shame too since the later plot is a strong mix of shadow war action and intrigue, but everyone only wants the comedy here for some reason.

The other big change KyoAni makes from the novels to here is in the villains. In the books all the villains have basically no presence, there are two sets of them and combined I dont think theyre on more than a dozen pages across two novels, whereas KyoAni gives them actual characters and spends a lot of time with them. Doing so not only keeps things from being way too much angsty Sosuke the whole time, it gives us some generally great anime villains including a guy whos one of the rare over the top psychopath villains that actually still makes some sense of why hes in charge.

Conclusion

Weeb Level: While based on a light novel most of those tropes are really downplayed here, especially since they dont spend much time with Sosuke in school. With the sharp animation style and action there’s nothing overly Japanese going on here.

Content: The violence is somewhat strong, while most of the action is mecha on mecha theres still a bit of people fighting on foot and it can get brutal in a few places. It tends to be very brief shots of blood without focusing on the gore, but it is much more violent than say a Marvel movie. There is some mild fanservice and even some minor nudity though it tends to be brief. Theres also a scene with the big bad involving a video of some kittens and a box of kleenex thats out there, although just implied.

Worth Watching: Seek it out if you like mecha anime or strong action in general. Worth watching if you like character driven light novel stories with a military theme. Skip if you really want a whole story and will be mad at the lack of beginning or true ending.

Where to watch: This is one of the easiest ones to track down of all these weve done. Crunchyroll, Funimation, and Prime all have all 4 seasons available so its pretty straight forward watching it. Funi also has a blu-ray set out of this which is pretty good and includes the bonus OVA episode which is absolutely hilarious and needs to be seen as well.