In the aftermath of the explosion, Sousuke is approached by his comrades who tell him that his friends have engaged Xia Yu Fang’s AS. Sousuke learns that the Arbalest is being launched to him, and shortly after, it arrives. Sousuke is less than happy to see it until, feeling distraught after hearing of Chidori’s death; that is, until he hears a voice behind him, a very familiar female voice…Chidori’s. After beating him up a bit to release her own anger, Chidori she motivates him into going to help his friends and settle things. Meanwhile, Clouzot in his M9 is being beaten pretty badly by the Codarl-class AS. After Clouzot’s AS suffers some major damage, he notices a group of five Venoms nearby. Their target seems to be Xia Yu Fang and, after Gates dangles her sister’s dead body in front of her, he impales and destroys her. Once that’s done, Gates turns his sights on the crippled M9. However, a blast from a nearby rooftop chips his red armor, courtesy of no other than Sousuke and the Arbalest. In a brilliant firefight, Sousuke moves from Venom to Venom, defeating each one. As they progress, Sousuke and Al start to synchronize their thoughts and speech. To finish off Gates, Sousuke uses the Lambda drivers to completely shatter his opponents AS while not harming Clouzot’s M9, which Gates was using as a shield. With the battle over, Sousuke contacts command and tells them that he’ll be abandoning the Arbalest. When Al asks, Sousuke replies that his problem, no, their problem, has been solved. He then climbs out and returns to Chidori and the two fly back to Japan. He returns to MITHRIL at one point to change his contract: he wants to go to school while also working for MITHRIL. Despite some initial resistance, the officers agree to let him have his way. Afterwards, he apologizes to Tessa for the way he acted before, and he actually addresses her by her first name, which makes her incredibly happy. Back in Tokyo, after another Sousuke-screws-up incident, Chidori finally breaks down crying in front of him, hitting him for leaving her alone back then. Kyouko approaches them from behind and wonders if Sousuke did something weird again. On the train home, Sousuke asks Chidori about what she was trying to say before in Hong Kong, but she doesn’t answer, instead holding onto his sleeve. It seems that everything is back to normal.
You know what impresses me most about this episode?
I expected this to be mostly action, with some epilogue at the end. This episode turns out to not only have the action and ending that I wanted, but it also adds comedy and drama that I did not expect to see in a single (albeit extended) episode. Chidori’s return was funnier than I remember, bringing much humor to a serious scene. But then it becomes serious just the same, as Chidori is unable to confess her feelings to Sousuke, and then motivates him to fight. And Tessa’s little dance at the end is just too cute and funny. The other part that I really enjoy is the additional ending (compared to the novel) on the train. Although the two of them haven’t been able to confess their feelings to each other, they certainly have gotten a lot closer over the course of all this.
There a boatload of changes from the novels to the animated adaptation. The basics of the story are the same, but the little details changed: who arrives to tell Sousuke of the ongoing battle, how Gates presents Xia Yu Lan to Xia Yu Fang, how Xia Yu Fang dies, etc. I could go on for a long while listing each one, but since none of them terribly impacted the story, there’s really no need. The only complaint I have with the episode is the usage of the opening song at the climax of the battle. It makes the scene feel a tad cheesy, similarly to the effect Number One has in Bleach. Not that I didn’t love that scene anyway; it’s just so freaking pretty.
And now that The Second Raid is over, where do we go from here? Life is back to normal for Sousuke and Chidori (with Wraith still guarding her) and the MITHRIL team, but Leonard is still on the loose, and Amalgam certainly hasn’t bowed down. There are several more novels to cover, with the next one being the A Dancing Very Merry Christmas, and then Continuing On My Own. However, it will probably be a (long) while before we see those animated (and I hope we do).
Final Thoughts: For fans of the Full Metal Panic! series, The Second Raid is a must-see. For everyone else, this is the latest incredible sequel to a very impressive series. The return of Sousuke and Chidori, along with several new faces, creates a new and thrilling story. Kyoto Animation does a tremendous job: not once did I think that the production quality dropped, something that is very rare with series these days. The only complaint? It leaves you wanting more. Here’s to hoping for several more FMP! series to come!