Finally, Full Metal Panic is back and I really enjoyed this episode for the pure fact that it is NOT a recap episode.
No Recaps, only Memories
The story picks up some time after the end of “The Second Raid” as far as I can tell. I haven’t watched the previous seasons again but it’s easy to get back into the world of FMP, which was a pleasant surprise. We have our protagonists Sousuke and Chidori who work with the military organization Mythril. Tessa and the old crew are back to get into action although we’re not seeing much of Weber and Mao yet but they do appear.
Chidori and Sousuke are starting their third year in High School but there’s a lot more going on in the background this time. Amalgam, the terrorist organization, is sick of Mythrils interventions, so they tighten their policies. What does that mean?
The brother of Tessa, Leonard Testarossa, who looks incredibly bland but is still immediately recognizable which supports his personality even further, goes around to warn everyone about the fact that if they don’t get Chidori soon, then they better expect an ocean of death.
Or in short: Leonard slams his hand on the table to remind Mythril where they stand in comparison to Amalgam and what’s going to happen if they defy them.
I won’t go into more spoilers because there’s much more happening this episode. Despite the plot taking its time to build up tension, don’t make the mistake of thinking that this is slow paced. There aren’t any battles in this episode but the political development is at breakneck speed. It even goes as far as to cut the audience itself out from the events that currently transpire in order to make them feel unsure and insecure as well.
While watching this episode, I felt a threat coming from the organization of Amalgam. It feels like an eternity since I last perceived anything in a story (either in a videogame or in an anime) as dangerous because we have seen already what Amalgam is capable of. When they themselves tell you: “We let you play with us a little bit, but you’re getting on our nerves, so you better start obeying or the people you care for die, hand in hand with hundreds of innocent civilians!”, then you feel the weight of that statement, despite me not having clear recollections of what exactly they did before.
Still, it’s frightening to meet your adversary in your living room who casually tells you that you’ve been perceived as some children who shot their agents on a playing ground. It’s a great way to get me back into the story and by the end of the episode, I was hooked again.
What also hooked me was the relationship of Sousuke and Chidori. It’s just fun seeing those two growing closer together while the world around them falls apart, without them even noticing.
So what about the visuals and the music? I honestly can’t say anything about the music because this episode got rid of the opening and ending themes in favor of having better pacing and consistent story telling. I have no clue whether or not that will change in the upcoming episodes. Unfortunately, I can’t remember a single track that was playing in the background but none of it was bad by any means, but it’s not memorable yet.
The new, modernized take on the art style of FMP is a doubled edged sword in my opinion. When it comes to the characters and the environment around them, then I prefer this modernized style.
If we’re talking about mechs then I definitely prefer the old anime. We’ve barely seen any big mechs so far but the ones we’ve seen were CG contrary to being drawn. The big boys had no chance for action this time, so I won’t make a scene saying “All CGI mechs are awful”. I’ve seen worse CG for other anime, that’s all I will say so far. The boys themselves had a good amount of detail though.
What I’m really worried about is whether or not these CG boys can carry over the heavy impact that the action scenes previously had. Whether or not this season manages to hold the standard of the animation quality established here is also a question that is to remain for time to tell.
It’s Full Metal Panic!
Overall, this was a really good episode. I can’t recommend newcomers to watch it, as they will be at a complete loss of what’s going on. However, anyone who enjoyed this series before will enjoy it now again too. This series knows when to use action and when to build up to it. I feel like we’ve seen two battles in this episode, but not a single punch was thrown.
I was surprised at how quickly I remembered the characters and referenced events despite this new season making no attempt of unnecessarily reminding the viewer of them.
Though even with that, there were flaws. The animation standard seems a little ambitious and I would be surprised if we wouldn’t see some kind of downgrade in the future. The mechs didn’t look too great when they directly conflict with drawn characters. The music was nothing special and might take away some impact from important scenes, although it’s too early to say anything about that.
In return, I’m expecting a lot out of the story and dialogues now because this episode had great pacing and fantastic ways of teasing upcoming events. I’ll be sticking with this for the entire season for sure. The second episode will probably have a lot of action, so let’s look at that when the time comes! I feel like this season could be something special.