Looking for a hilarious comedy with a gripping political plot and a fantastic new angle on the mecha genre? Then stay away from Full Metal Panic. This anime is chock-a-block with familiar ideas, which should make it accessible to a broad spectrum of mainstream viewers; but on the whole these ideas aren't combined very well and FMP succeeds only at being totally average.
FMP's story begins with ultra-serious overtones; a tense escape-cum-rescue plays out in the snowy night, leaving you hanging nicely to the edge of your seat. The inclusion of the mercenary-style defenders of justice idea is promising, and in general, the setup seems to foreshadow an epic with powerful plotting, intrigue, exotic locations, explosions, tragedy and heroism. However, all of this posturing quickly dissipates into a fart of mediocrity as each new concept and plot point turns out to be generic, underdeveloped, or both.
So where exactly did FMP go wrong? Personally, I blame the storytelling approach, which is to tackle the plot from as many contrasting angles as possible. For example, while the strong military and political elements drive the action, most of the character development is presented through insipid romantic comedy subplots; the result is that I have no idea whether to take any of this seriously and engage or passively sit back and laugh at the silliness.
Examples of this messy storytelling are plentiful: one episode opens with humdrum comedic scenes and then switches quickly to Sousuke's tough life in a Middle Eastern desert without much explanation of how the two worlds tie in meaningfully with each other or with the rest of the anime. And soon after having survived a rather epic ordeal, Tessa turns her attention quicker than I can say ‘amnesia' to wanting an awkward romance with Sousuke. Even deciding to interpret FMP primarily as a comedy does not guarantee full enjoyment since many of the gags - especially the ones based on the Chidori-Sousuke dynamic - become repetitive and predictable.
Perhaps I do FMP an injustice, for it has quite a few high points to speak of. For instance, at one point, Chidori and Tessa are kidnapped by an interesting sibling duo, and the subsequent rescue mission culminates in a tragic mecha battle. Upon reaching this part of the story, FMP seems not only more emotionally accessible but also to have more of a purpose. Furthermore, some of the comedic moments in the first few episodes, although nothing new, are effective means of establishing the characters; Chidori and Sousuke settle easily into their roles as female abuser and male abused.
Regardless of these high points, I find myself in the following position: I have not laughed once, I cannot remember much of what I've just seen, and the one thing I find interesting - the idea of a girl with mysterious powers - has been left unexplained and underused. Even watching the final battle is a bit like having an out of body experience; although vaguely aware that I should care, I have become so disengaged, that I really couldn't give a damn even if the worst were to happen.
FMP has the kind of animation that, although highly suitable and decent for its time, has aged quickly over the years. Just like shows such as Kaze no Stigma, FMP has enough of a budget to look presentable without being technically clever. All of the action sequences are enjoyable, and the quality of animation throughout is good, but, in comparison, there are also a million anime, both old and new, with better-looking stunts, more visually delightful world concepts, and less bland, less cliché character designs.
If there are two things FMP does well, it is the opening and ending themes, both of which are catchy and melodic and capture a mood that the episodes themselves fail to match up to. Apart from that, don't expect much from the synthesised jazz, rock, and pop score as it is both repetitive and forgettable.
The voice acting is good throughout, albeit typical; the men deliver unremarkable masculine vocals while the girls have high-pitched voices ranging from ear-splitting to barely audible. When the sound is at its most interesting, it actually drops out completely during action scenes, which is both unexpected and highly effective as a means of adding intensity.
Character-wise, FMP really takes a nosedive. Many of the characters are parodies on some level, but good parodies involve pushing the cliché of choice in a new inventive direction, which the show never really bothers to do. Confounding the problem is the fact that none of the characters have any detailed backgrounds on which to build their personalities, which means they never quite stop being caricatures.
Firstly, there is Sousuke Sagara's monosyllabic personality, which must be a joke if ever I saw one; he takes stoicism to a mindless new extreme. If Heero Yui from Gundam Wing were a cyborg, he would be positively verbose in comparison to Sousuke Sagara. At times, such as with Sousuke's amusing introduction to his classmates in the beginning, there are glimpses into what might be a soul; but all in all, he just tries too hard to be one-dimensional, if that even makes sense.
At least Sousuke is not as irritating as the female protagonists. Kaname Chidori is of the blue hair persuasion, which usually means one of two things: either ‘I am a meek, personality-less drone', or, ‘I am an overbearing woman with more tits and mouth than brains'. Chidori is of the latter kind, screaming and pouting and beating up her companions as a means of communication. Contrived as this is, she is hardly the worst screamer in the world and actually remains mildly interesting because of her mysterious powers. Sadly, as she does not really control her powers, she's passive as a protagonist and thus only of value when the plot says so.
Lest viewers be offended by the witless Chidori, the show presents Teresa Testarossa, the child genius and Captain of the Mithril team. In true FMP style, the idea of a teenage girl as a highly respected military leader sounds more exciting than it actually is; Tessa is soft-spoken, feeble-bodied and, outside of the Captain's chair, about as invigorating as beige emulsion. When I think of her, the phrase ‘doujinshi fodder' springs to mind.
Once you add to all the above Kurz Weber, the pointless womaniser of the team, and Gauln, an antagonist with indiscernible motivations, engaging emotionally just seems like too much effort.
What begins as a captivating military mecha anime, despite some interesting moments, falls far short of greatness because of the inane characters and ambitionless plot. Chances are, if you're in the mood for something a lot like every other mecha anime, or if you happen to be a young teenager, then FMP will do the job just fine. Otherwise FMP is just another addition to the mass-produced, middle-of-the-range anime on the market.
After being torn over season two of Sword Art Online I was hoping to watch something I could clearly review as either bad or good, something simple to talk about. Full Metal Panic!came up as a recommendation and I figured I’d really enjoy it, especially given how funny the first couple of episodes were. But as it progressed it got a little muddied as it was balancing two genres and couldn’t find a focus. This review is going to give my first impressions of this show as a whole but I do want the reader to know that it’s a show I want to watch again in the future now that I know that the initial impression it gives isn’t what you’re going to get.
Sousuke Sagara works for a mercenary group known as Mithril who operate out of a giant submarine and have made it their task to save people with a certain ability. These people, called the Whispered, have minds chock full of tech terminology and can also pilot and operate equipment with a certain driver installed.
This takes us to Kaname Chidori, a regular Japanese high school girl until Sagara shows up. She slowly learns of him and his pals being part of this military group as a bad guy comes after her hoping to unlock the secrets in her mind.
The series starts in a very comedic way, offering us a unique situation with Sagara. He’s a military guy who cannot adapt to civilian life in the least. Becoming a high school student in order to protect Chidori, he gets into all kinds of really funny situations from bringing a gun to school to saving Chidori by holding up a guy on her balcony who just wanted to steal her panties. The high school setting and Chidori’s tsundere character are all familiar but Sagara is that outstanding character that shines as a comedic entity. So I felt that the series was going to follow through as a comedy with a small amount of military action here and there.
Around episode four or five the class goes on a trip that leads to the plane being hijacked and Sagara having to save Chidori from the bad guys. This is where the show slows considerably. First of all the action for much of the show is weak and boils down to very shonen-esque. These sequences take far too long and the one or two episode comedy tease between these military-centered episodes are so out of place, yet the best part. Where Full Metal Panic! shines is the unique comedy. The dynamics of Chidori and Sagara work well to set up a romance, the situation works well to create the funny. But the show is so indecisive on what it wants to be that these glimmers of genius are shadowed by the mediocrity.
The bad guy Gauron is…well, a bad guy. He wants the Whispered because…well, they’re there. The reasoning behind Gauron being there is pretty shaky. We’re given a small glimpse of why he wants the girls but he’s otherwise there to be the antagonist. It’s one of the biggest problems with the show and especially considering FMP focuses more on the action than the comedy. If I were to be invested in the action, I’d want to be invested in seeing the bad guy get his come-uppance, right? But with Gauron, I could care less.
There are four big action arcs in this show, one of which is boring as hell, two of which are eh, and the other is kind of neat. The first two arcs of the show are the eh ones. Much like the bad guy, they’re just there. The third arc, which takes Sagara to his home country, is the weakest one. I was so bored I actually fast forwarded through it. The final action arc is overlong but has some unique action.
Did I mention the giant robots? This is one of those shows where I feel like the robots don’t need to exist. Don’t get me wrong, giant robots are always tactically stupid and make little sense in a real world situation, but watching these robots pull puny knives as weapons and start having CQC fights was pretty hilarious.
Let’s add to those complaints with a few more concerning the characters. Sagara as a lead is hilariously clueless and entertaining in the school setting. In the military setting he’s rather boring; just another cold, calculating military kid like Lelouche from Code Geass. And the accompanying characters are truthfully no better.
Chidori is a tsundere. Pretty cut and paste overall. In situations where she’s opposite Sagara, she can be cute and funny but on her own she’s hopelessly two-dimensional. As I keep saying, if this were a romantic-comedy these two would be perfectly acceptable characters and fun to watch play off each other. But on their own they’re pretty dull.
Tessa is worth a mention. She’s the sixteen year old captain of the submarine Mithril operates out of. She’s well-respected by the crew who also seems to see her as fap bait as much as the writers did. A strong female lead she isn’t. An adorable moeblob who acts strong only when the situation calls for it then cries into the arms of Sagara (who she loves, opening a pointless love triangle) when things get tough, she is. Tessa is a girl I only wish had been given a lot better treatment because there are moments toward the end where she seems a genuine badass.
Other characters include a womanizing sniper and a female sergeant whose character I can barely discern aside from “drunkard”.
Also, how can a show have some of the best animation I’ve seen in early-2000 anime yet some of the most mediocre at the same time?
Full Metal Panic! is all over the place and suffers from not having a singular direction. If it had focused on the comedy or the military action instead of jumping back and forth it would have worked. But as it is, it’s a very average piece with a lot of potential. I can only hope that later seasons nail the balancing of elements to leave me with a more satisfying experience.
Im not gonna spend much time on this, but ill briefly explain why it wasnt good.
Story: what was the main point? Was it supposed to be a harem? Was it supposed to be a high action mecha? What was the grand scale bad guy they had to fight? What was the mission that they were to carry out?
now im trying to make a point (yes they said their mission) but they didnt deliver at all. This was a PROBLEM OF THE DAY/WEEK. I hate hate hate hate hate these kinds of shows, because 19/20 times the plot SUUUUUCKS. Case and point, Full Metal Panic.
Aslo, the same stupid crap happened over and over, the "main enemy" kept blowing up and somehow surviving with no explaination or logic. It was retarded.
Animation: fair enough, but nothing great.
Sound: half of it sounded like it was ripped off from Gundam. The other half was just not exciting at all. The opening and ending were that of a high school slice of life anime, and sucked for a mecha with a romance that wasnt going anywhere.
Characters: Little development. They were the usual cliches with very little interesting content outside of those cliches. Really boring. There were some episodes to focus on characters or character groups, but in the end it didnt feel like anothing changed about the characters. The development came after they somehow undeveloped themselves, so that they could end up where they left off at. Boring. furthermore, the fact that the main character looked like Heero Yuy hit a bad spot with me. meh
Overall: bleh. This anime became extremely stupid as it went on. The complete fail in the integration between romance and good mecha ruined everything and the fail became more obvious. It sucked. I cant watch any more of this.
very uninteresting characters, story. did not care for. Not very exciting mecha scenes
forgetable ending, and I mean it when I say forgetable ending because I cant remember
I gotta say, I was sceptical at first, being that I'm not that into the mecha genre. But I thought that one time had to be the first, so I decided on FMP. And I can truthfully say that I'm glad I did. Not because of the mecha, but for the comedy and the characters.
The Story is about a young high-school girl named Kaname Chidori that is among a select few on the earth codenamed "whispered". These people have some sort of information locked away in their brain. Information that could prove very valuable for some people. A nationally independent anti-terrorist organization known only as "Mithril" are set on protecting these people. What do they do? They send in a 17-year old military hardcore professional arm-slave(mech) pilot undercover to watch her. He doesn't have a clue as how to function in a normal society, as he is always in a "combat scenario". Mix this together with a dangerous individual looking for the whispered, and the chaos begins.
The animation is pretty standard-looking, apart from the action scenes, which are very well animated. Gun animation, mech animation, and the lights and coloring, make for a pleasant watching experience when the lead is flying. Character animation is also nice, and the characters are nicely done.
The sound is pretty good in the everyday life situations, however it's in the action scenes it shines. Gun sounds are accurate and high quality, and the same can be said about the mech sounds. Voice acting is also pretty good.
The characters are amazing. A hot-headed high-school girl and a military 17-year old, is in a comical way, a perfect match. And to top it of, you get another young girl in the main cast. But this 18-year old girl is the captain of the most advanced submarine in the world, yet how clumsy she is. The secondary characters are also nicely picted, and not too much in the background.
Overall this series is awesome. Not necessarily because of the action, or the mechs, but as a comedy. It's still one of the funniest anime out there. As mentioned, I am not too into the mecha genre, but this series was alright, even for me. Great main characters, and nice action scenes.