The Disappointing Truth: Full Metal Panic – Ultimate Edition
08/11/2015 10 Comments
Due for release on the 7th December 2015 the UK Blu-ray debut of the entire Full Metal Panic franchise is something to get quite excited for if you are a fan of the franchise; however this excitement also comes at a great cost… and I’m not referring to its three digit retail price tag.
For those who attended the London MCM Comic Con in October advanced copies of the set, known as the Ultimate Edition, were available for purchase and considering its relatively competitive £90 price tag it had (for reference its £110 on Amazon UK) I opted to pick-one-up and explore its collectable goodness; unfortunately however what happened next came as a bit of a disappointment; and i apologise in advance if it sounds like i’m nagging.
We’ve all seen the unboxing pictures on the Anime Limited website, which showcase a large box with three standard amaray Blu-ray cases placed inside alongside an artbook; and yet somehow in person it doesn’t look as good as I was expecting. Maybe it’s because I opened this set alongside the likes of Baccano and Fate Kaleid (both of which are gorgeous) or maybe because I like getting value for my money… who knows but overall I wasn’t impressed with what it had to offer and interestingly enough that’s only the tip of the iceberg.
First of all lets start with the packaging; it’s very minimalistic and it leaves much to be desired – sure enough the collectors box itself is sturdy and nice to hold but upon getting inside its all relatively bare and basic. Each of the three amaray blu-ray cases for instance feature a singular character on the front and back of the case (with the exception being The Second Raid) with colour coding for each season. I have no ‘real’ complaints about this its just that they don’t feel as ‘welcoming’ as the american counterparts; worse still on the inside of each case there is no inside artwork or reversible sleeve – it’s just completely blank; making it feel very cheap. Of course some people like this minimalistic design but Full Metal Panic has a variety of artwork – some of which is inside the bundled artbook – so its surprising that Anime Limited could’nt get permission to use it on the sleeves – even on the inside, like those in America.
Interestingly enough however the discs do have artwork on them, as you will see further down this page; however they are so cheery and colourful that it makes them feel out of place in this military styled presentation seen on the collectors box and out sleves. Theres no flow or continunity to be had between the disc artwork and sleeve- which is something i like to have in my sets.
Another disappointment I found with this set was how Full Metal Panic FUMOFFU, which I always considered to be an OVA series or Companion series rather than part of the main storyline cannon, has been dubbed Season 2 in this collection (even on the disc box and artwork) with The Second Raid been reverted to Season 3. Anime Limited have always advertised this fact, and even people tell me FUMOFFU is considered Season 2 in the cannon, but seeing it listed on the sleeve and disc as Season 2 – which inclines me to watch in that order – just doesn’t sit right with me especially as previous DVD releases (and its American release) saw it listed as simply FUMOFFU rather than FUMOFFU – Season 2. Of course this is just my personal niggle but im entitled to an opinion right?!
Continuing on with the packaging; in addition to no artwork or reversible sleeves there’s also no product information to be found anywhere (other than the sticker which gets ripped off as part of the cellophane). In short theres no ‘exact’ listing of what each disc contains in terms of audio and subtitle options, region formats or disc content (such as bonus featurs and so forth) – the only ‘product info’ that is listed is printed on the discs themselves and even then this is just restricted to which episodes are on a disc. I guess this isn’t a major issue; but its disappointing not being able to clearly see whats on each disc without putting it into your player; especially as each season has a varied amount of content on them – especially the original series and The Second Raid.
Speaking of the discs we’ve all heard the rumours and speculation about which video assets Anime Limited were going to use – the original Japanese high definition remaster or the American HD upscale, both of which had their own perks and downfalls. Well interestingly enough Anime Limited have opted to use neither and have instead decided to use the exact same disc masters as those used within America by FUNimation several years ago.
That’s right; the discs which FUNimation released over five years ago are the ones used in this ‘Ultimate Edition’ and Anime Limited have not made any alterations to them either. As a result of this we see the old FUNimation logo and trailers related to products that were released half a decade ago, such as Sengoku Basara, One Piece and Devil May Cry. The only thing that has been changed is the disc artwork (as you can see above); but everything else surrounding the disc is exactly the same; heck even the discs themselves are Region A and B compatible just like the ones released in America.
Of course it’s not uncommon for UK Distributors to re-use disc assets from other American or Australian distributors, as Manga Entertainment UK and MVM Entertainment UK do it all the time, but usually they add-in their own logo or alter the discs in some form – just like with how Manga UK treated their release of Dragon Ball Z Kai. An Ultimate Edition is meant to be mind blowing and something you’d want to keep – such as Gurren Lagann and Patema Inverted – but with this set I get the impression it was a cheap shot at cashing in on collectors (sorry guys!) as it doesn’t seem to have the same care and attention to detail that other sets have had; like Baccano and Fate Kaleid for instance – which is a surprise considering that we’ve been waiting for news on this release for quite some time.
This is why i called this article, The Disappointing Truth, as opposed to an unboxing as after handing over nearly three digits worth of english notes i find it to be no-different to the US release all those years ago and as such i can’t help but be disappointed; especially as the US release is ‘much cheaper’ even when buying from within the UK. For reference, and i’m not trying to hurt Anime Limited’s sales here, to purchase the American releases of Full Metal Panic would cost – at most £80 and at best £50 – and not only would they be presented in a colourful and matching manner but all the product information would be displayed on the box and inner packaging as well. This means we are practically paying £10 to £60 for an artbook and collectors box thats too big to fit on shelves which doesn’t sit right with me.
If Anime Limited made some form of adjustments to the discs, like they have with all of their other releases, then i’d be more inclined to reject my complaints about this release as the only bonus we are getting is the artbook (and a collectors box). The Artbook in question however, as shown above, is quite good as it does feature various pieces of character artwork, location art and mecha designs from the show but due to the type of paper used some of the colours can look darker than they are actually meant to be. The book is hardback, so it does offer a more ‘collectable’ feel; but compared to the books seen in Fate Kaleid and Baccano, it seems cheap like those yearly overpriced annuals we used to receive as kids around christmas.
Of course when all is said and done the major positive is that we get Full Metal Panic on Blu-ray within the UK; but like as i have said when the American releases have been ‘at arms length’ for several years now and have the same disc content its hard not to feel a little bit cheated. But that’s just my view on my view on this particular release.
Full Metal Panic – Ultimate Edition will be released on the 7th December 2015 within the UK; and it is currently available to pre-order from retailers such as Amazon UK, Zavvi, United Publications and All The Anime’s online store.