Finally, my third Fumoffu DVD arrived today, and even though it only featured three episodes, they were some of Full Metal Panic‘s greatest moments: the rugby match and Tessa’s visit to Chidori’s school. Sagara training the rugby team? Comedic genius. I couldn’t stop laughing watching the team “practice” before Sagara started to work his magic… and laughed harder after he took over the training. More hilarity in this episode than the entire first season summed and totaled.
But I always had a hard time pinpointing if I enjoyed that episode more or when Tessa goes to the hot springs. Fanservice, Austin Powers style, and the greatest comedic twist ever at the end.
After Fumoffu ended, I wondered, “What could top it?” Thank goodness for
squirrel pr0… err… The Second Raid. So many great moments, yet great in another way: a great dramatic successor to Fumoffu.
The Second Raid Episode 2.
The episode itself wasn’t anything special: recap of episode one along with a quick explanation of the FMP universe for newbies that featured a very, very supple Tess shot, and a fairly standard plot of “Sagara imports deadly miliarty device and uses it against unfortunate soul blackmailing Chidori.” But that’s not the best part. It was so macabre yet surrealistically stunning when Gates was singing Ave Maria as bodies dropped around him. It was the first time when I started thinking that he could be more insane than the police chix0r from Fumoffu. Toss in some incestuous assassin twin symmetrical docking… well, TSR could have ended here, and I would have been happy. I thought things could only go downhill. Boy, was I wrong.
The Second Raid Episode 5.
The team chases a traitor who almost seriously screwed over Mithril in a previous mission in China. I really enjoyed the Lupin-esque car chase and definitely how Sagara was attempting to have a phone call with Chidori during the whole case. The Mao fanservice helps too; she needs to wear that black dress more often. Great action-oriented episode.
The Second Raid Episode 6.
Uh, wow. This episode highlights what I immensely enjoy from the FMP universe: it does everything, and it can do everything well. The main plot of the episode is a very simple concept: Sagara needs a haircut, but knowing him, it’s not an easy task. But a simple thing, like how he gets jumpy with everyone who tries to cut his hair except for Chidori, well, that says something. Then just when you think things are going well for them, BAM. Sagara gets pulled from his guard duty, gets sent back to Merida island, and Wraith is now in charge of Chidori’s protection. The worst part is that he’s not allowed to say goodbye, and you just get this knot in your stomach knowing that Chidori’s going to find an empty apartment next time she stops by. Of course, somehow, they mix in squirrel pr0n in a somewhat logical manner, which completely pushes this episode to a new level of awesomeness. School romance? Check. Insane comedy? Check. Human drama? Check. Definitely a great episode, and, amazingly, not a single Bonta-kun or Arbarest to be seen. Just proof that mecha doesn’t make the show (I hope you’re listening, Mr. Gundam Seed Destiny).
The Second Raid Episode 9.
As great as episode 6 was… episode 9 was better. And, oddly, zero Bonta-kun, zero Arbarest, zero crazy police chix0r, zero Mao in the black dress, zero squirrel pr0n, zero Tessa (ok, like 1 frame of Tessa), and, more importantly, zero Sagara (ok, like 1 frame also). Instead, we’re treated to Chidori’s rapidly deterioriting mental state as she realizes that maybe, just maybe, she’s alone again, and Sagara isn’t coming back. To make matters worse, she’s still paranoid that someone is tracking her, and she hatches an ingenious plot to counterattack the stalker. Could she have done this back in season one? Doubtful. Definitely an example of how her character grew since she first met Sagara.
Her ingenious plot eventually has her leading a poor guy to a love hotel, where a plot device forces her to disrobe (always a plus) and run around in the rain in a robe chasing after Wraith. Of course, Wraith isn’t the only person looking over her, and Xia Yu Fan (Lan the pilot?) appears and tries to kill Chidori, but Chidori manages to outwit Xia Yu and stop her. And Chidori wouldn’t have won if not for her putting up with Sagara over the past year. Then Leonard shows up and starts hitting on a mostly nakkid Chidori. Fantastic. A definite tour de force for Chidori, and the episode shows a great deal of depth to her. I mean, is this the same Chidori who brought food to Sagara and the rugby team training in the woods? The same Chiori picking her nose in episode 2? The same Chidori controlling Toatha de Danaan while Gaurun tries to hijack it?
Full Metal Panic is just one of those rare franchises that can so seemlessly pull off comedy, action, and drama. And somehow can go from omega funny as stuffed animal mecha fight the yakuza to omega serious as Chidori weeps because Sagara isn’t there when she needed him the most. Good stuff.