This has been one weird series, in how they approach the overall stories. The first two seasons of “Full Metal Panic” were rather grim and unrelenting tales of world terrorism and the steps that the ultra-secret organization, Mithral, engaged in to keep the world safe from peoples and organizations bent on a dictatorial regime or just basically a lot of dead bodies.
Sousuke Sagara, the boy fighter, is severely damaged goods, having endured some truly horrific events in his young life. There was also serious questions if he could even handle the newest Gundams, as they required a sharp, clear mind, and he did not possess that. Even he came to realize that and was shaken as to his real worth, Yeah, kinda heavy.
Season Three, “Fumoffu”, was a lark. We have sent Sousuke to school, in the hopes of mainstreaming him into society, and it was a colossal failure, as he was always in his combat mind. Needless to say, it made school very interesting, as he nearly killed them ALL off. (Well, it was an accident, OK?) In fact, two of the episodes in this run, Episode 2b “A Fruitless Lunch” and Episode 12 “5th Period Hot Spot” are on my list of Off the Hook Episodes.
(OK, I had someone tell me that I have my ordering of the series wrong, but it just feels better in the run of things if “Fumoffu” IS Season 3, rather than Season 2. That is how I am going to play it.)
For the fourth season, “IV – Invisible Victory”, we have gone back to the harsh and cruel world that Sousuke normally inhabits. Kaname Chidori is the key to all of this and Sousuke has been directed to protect her. However, a multi-pronged attack, pretty close to a full-on blitz, decimates Mithral, destroys overall Central Command and flattens Sousuke as Chidori is kidnapped by Amalgam, a group that is the opposite of Mithril. The series then follows how Sousuke tries to find out where she is, get her back and kill everyone in his way.
The odd thing about the show is that it is broken into four-episode arcs, where the fourth show is a bit of a recap before we head on to the next portion. Sousuke goes to the Far East, to enter into a Robot Fighting Contest. Yup, it’s Gundam-On-Gundam action and Sousuke can take even the most pathetic robot and make them a force to be reckoned with.
But with anything like this, there as traitors within traitors and Sousuke’s presence is quickly detected. There is also more going on with these people, so it gets hard to know what the truth is and whom you can honestly trust. They would as soon pat you on the back as stick a knife in your ribs.
Now, I liked the stupidity of “Fumoffu”, in that nothing was that terrible (a man in a horse head assaults women…..so he can redo their hair styles! Sousuke orders some bizarre chemical that could kill everyone….but it merely eats off all their clothing! Naked, naked, naked!), except that Sousuke could not function in that world without destroying something. Or everything. I mean, he basically blew up his locker EVERY MORNING!
For this season, play time is over and there are a ton of people that need to be killed or mowed down or blown up or otherwise dispatched. Sousuke is more bullet-proof than ever, but he has a solid goal to attain and the Forces of Evil that are Amalgam are in for the final fight.
I will kill things for the series and say that we didn’t wrap up anything, but you kind of felt that was going to be the case, so Season Five (or “V for ‘Vengeance’”) is probably going to be a ton of mega deaths, as Sousuke hunts down everyone. If you don’t kill him, that’s ‘30’ for you!
We also see the rebuilding of Mithril, as you failed to fully destroy your enemy, so that means the carnage, the carnage, as we get ready on all fronts and all levels.
Although I had a hard time with the ‘serious’ seasons, I didn’t have that issue here, although some elements of the GFR got a bit silly. It came off to me as fighting a tank with a Radio Flyer, but I have to assume that is part and parcel of this series. Despite some reservations, I would still suggest you see this season. It’s not as good as it could have been, but it was a decent entry into the franchise.
Because of what goes down, I would binge, but not a flat out approach. Since it is broken into these arcs and they are a level of independent from each other, I would approach it that way: catch an arc, take a breather, continue. It doesn’t have to be the stem-to-stern approach.
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 8 (She’s cute, he’s grim)
Plot 8 (Plays better than expected)
Pacing 6 (The fight sequences can get too much)
Effectiveness 7 (As we knew things would not get fully resolved)
Conclusion 5 (It reaches a ‘coupler point’, but hasn’t ended)
Fan Service 3 (A similar show would be “Okamisan”)
Bingeability 8 (You can pace yourself)
Overall 7 (Sousake is a bit too bullet-proof)
And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. I will find you.