Today we have the final installment of the Full Metal Panic! anime review series. Today we review the most recent installment of the franchise, with another change of tone back towards the serious.

Cast, Crew, and Other Info:

Director: Yasuhiro Takemoto
Series Composition: Shoji Gatoh
Animation by: Kyoto Animation Studios

Cast:

Satsuki Yukino as Kaname Chidori
Tomokazu Seki as Sousuke Sagara
Akio Ohtsuka as Andrei Kalinin
Daisuke Namikawa as Leonard Testarossa
Emi Shinohara as Xia Yu Fan
Houchu Ohtsuka as Gates
Ikue Kimura as Kyouko Tokiwa
Mamiko Noto as Shinji Kazama
Masahiko Tanaka as Gauron
Michiko Neya as Melissa Mao
Miyuki Sawashiro as Xia Yu Lan
Rikiya Koyama as Belfangan Grouseaux
Shinichiro Miki as Kurz Weber
Tomomichi Nishimura as Richard Mardukas
Yukana as Teletha “Tessa” Testarossa

Premise:

It’s been 6 months since Sousuke had taken on the task of trying to juggle his school work, his body guarding duties, and doing field operations for MITHRIL. However, the appearance of a new, dangerous, enemy, AMALGAM, who also possesses the special Lambda Driver technology installed in Sousuke’s AS, the Arbalest, forces Tessa to withdraw him from his assignment protecting Kaname, at a time when the threat appears most grave…

High Points:

  1. All the emotional investment you’ve put into Kaname and Sousuke is gets paid off, at least in part, here. Their relationship still has places it can go, will go, and from what I’ve read of plot developments in recent light novels – does go. However, I was involved. I even cared about some of the bad guys – one that 5 minutes prior I was looking forward to seeing dead.

  2. Gates, one of the more visible of the bad guys, is somewhat funny in a more than slightly disturbing kind of way. The chuckles start to go away by the last few episodes. However, there are more then a few occasions where I found myself saying “did they actually do that“.

  3. If it’s your thing – this is the darkest point in the Full Metal Panic franchise, at least where the anime is concerned. If we get a fourth series, and I hope we do (I really, really hope we do), it’ll get darker – but right now it gets pretty dark.

  4. When Kaname shows up in Hong Kong, I was practically cheering. I may or may not have gotten weepy. Nobody saw me, you
    can’t prove a thing.

Low Points:

  1. Intelligence Division makes some mistakes that anyone who read a Cold War-era John LeCarre novel would know are incredibly amateurish and stupid – and they don’t get called to task on it.

  2. The length of the series hurts it. It’s half the length of the first series, and while it hits a good stopping place, it leaves you hanging in a bad way. Now, from what I’ve heard about where the Light Novels are going, once the next book comes out we should be at another good stopping place for another series. It just needs to come out. And we need to get another series. Really, really need it.

  3. The series ends with more than a few big plot threads untied, and while they’re currently being tied up in the books, and I can imagine that they don’t want to run out of book before they run out of anime, but there’s plot developments left to be wrapped up, big time.

  4. There is more nudity, though not exactly fanservice, and there is more graphic violence, in keeping with the darker tone. Depending on how you look at it, it can be a really big negative.

The Scores:

Originality: It’s a sequel, so that docks a couple points. It’s an adaptation, that’s a point. That still leaves 3 points. Besides, there are still some changes, particularly with the Xias, who in the original novels basically only had a bit part, and were male. 3 out of 6.

Artwork: The art is still spot-on, and it helps that the director did location scouting in Hong Kong and elsewhere to get realistic backdrops for the animators for the shooting in those areas. 5 out of 6.

Story: For the moment, until the next anime comes around (and it had better come around), this is the darkest point in the FMP
anime series. It’s a well crafted darkest point. Where the first series covered about 4 books – this one focuses on 2, and gives us a
tighter, more focused narrative, allowing for a lot of narrative development. 5 out of 6.

Acting: The acting felt much better here then in the other 2 series. The new characters were well done, though the Xias were
kind of bland. 4 out of 6.

Production: This is Kyoto’s first go at a serious FMP anime, after previously doing Fumoffu, and they did an very good job at it. My big thing I noticed here that Gonzo didn’t do well at was the sound design. Kyoto put a lot more work into their sound, and it really showed. 6 out of 6.

Emotional Response: I can’t particularly say anything that isn’t spoilers, so I’ll probably end up spoiler tagging most of this. I felt the hurt when Kaname and Sousuke were separated. A critic referring to a different film referred to an actor as “suffering beautifully” – and that’s what happens here. They suffer in a way that’s beautifully portrayed, in that you get a very good sense of their pain – you’ve been with them for 2 series, so when this happens now, you’ve gotten to know the characters. The characters are lost without each other, and the series gets this across extremely well, in the writing, in the animation, in the acting. Further, while you come to dislike the Xias, but the tragedy of their deaths and how horribly they die, made me hate Gates and Leonard more for killing them. I’d say emotional response from this series is much stronger then the one from Gunbuster. 6 out of 6.

Overall: The Full Metal Panic franchise is one of the best mecha franchises out right now – particularly considering how the Gundam franchise has already begun to stagnate after a brief burst of life in Gundam SEED. This series really shows why, though I’d say it really helps to watch the first 2 shows before moving on to this one. 4 out of 6.

Total Score: 33 out of 42.