Life is about growing up. The process of learning what's good and what's bad, and focusing to deliver what's good even better the next time round. Such a simple rule, and yet people continue to miss many lessons in their lives and repeat costly mistakes. Not so for wise folks of Kyoto Animation. Having taken over from GONZO to produce the second installment of the popular Full Metal Panic! - notice I did not use "sequel" - they exhibit awareness and acknowledgment of what everybody loved about the old series, and jam packed pure comedy skits in 17 riotous episodes.
The episodes (some short ones are paired together in a single TV airing) are mostly self-contained and can be viewed in any order. Most are stripped of plot fibres linking back to original (annoying) backstory, so no timeline really exists. One can take them as isolated incidents during Sousuke's tenure at school. With no story to adhere to, the Essence of Comedy has been allowed to run wild with reckless abundant. While the plot is essentially absent here, one may nonetheless feel abit lost without first watching the setup of the original. This series is no doubt for "existing customers".
Back to the rest of us, we get treated lavishly by the already infamous Sgt Sagara Sousuke, as he tops himself several notches up the absurdity scale. He gives everybody around him in school an extremely hard time to get by those care-free days. Interpretation of innocent (and not so innocent) events and behaviour of regular people give rise to a wide variety of actionable options. And that means military manoeuvres with his inventory of combat equipment. The ensuing disasters and mess following his professionally precise and efficient executions are outright riots and hilarious to the core. The skits have been organised really well to also grant the supporting characters, especially Kaname, key roles in contributing to the destruction and carnage, or just to fall victim to Sousuke's plans and pay the price of sanity.
Such comedic actions require plenty of fluid animation, and those demands are met with highly dynamic cinematography to give a good sense and awareness of the action. The art quality does not fall as the number of frames increase either. Given the change in animation studios, the artists retained the characters' feartures remarkably well. For most scenes, the females have been toned down on their bustiness to give a more slender, thus realistic look. That is a good thing. But unfortunately, it seems that even a series that spews out perfect pearls still feels the need to sink to the level of blatant fan service. That has only served detrimental to the series, and gets a big red cross from me.
And despite knowing in advance the format of Full Metal Panic? fumoffu, I did feel that yearning for just that bit of plot and character development, so that the relationship between Kaname and Sousuke can witness some growth, and thus giving fufillment to Shimokawa Mikuni's awesome opening song "sore ga ai deshou" ("Isn't that love?"). Alas that was not to happen, but no big loss here. At all. Kyoto Animation has studied the diamond well, and cut out a truly shining piece here.
Overall rating: 9/10
More raw entertainment; comedy orchestration; quality art & animation
May require context from original series; is fan service a necessity?