Gonzo does it again with this action-packed mecha comedy. She's an ordinary high school girl. He's a counterterror agent assigned to protect her from those who would steal the information locked in her mind. OK, so she's not so normal after all. Armored Slave battles and lovers' spats abound as Sousuke and his comrades try to track down the mysterious Gauln before it's too late.
The Guy I Kinda Like is a Sergeant
I Want to Protect You
Boy Meets Girl
Dangerous Safe House
Run, Run, Run
One Night Stand
StoryLooking 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.AnimationFMP 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.SoundIf 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.CharactersCharacter-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.OverallWhat 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.
Full Metal Panic is a series that tries to please two kinds of viewer, and as a result, succeeds at neither. The problem with it, in general, is that Full Metal Panic is both a serious militaristic action series and a high school comedy at the same time. Now, I've seen quite a few things over my years that should not go together, but do anyway. This, however, is not one of them. The two of them are essentially a massive clash, rather than a well-mixed combination. The premise of Full Metal Panic is this: Kaname Chidori is one of the "Whispered", a group of people whohave the power to generate information... or something along those lines. The details are kept vague, for the most part. As a result, terrorist organisations are after her, leading the military superpower Mithril, belonging to no particular government, to send Sosuke Sagara, our main character, into her school disguised as a student to watch over her. Hijinks ensue. The high school comedy side of the series is lacking, to say the least. It's mostly the standard material you would expect to see in that kind of series, mainly humour based around comedic misunderstandings, very little of which is really funny at all. Played for laughs most of the time is Sosuke's complete maladjustment to normal society, which is usually more cringeworthy than it is entertaining. The military half of the series is considerably more interesting, and are very true to a military style of series, and certainly fit the scene, whatever it may be. They use the perfect blend of dialogue, action, drama and realism to keep those episodes afloat. One of the things I like more about the series is the antagonist Gauron. The pure nihilism of his actions is always entertaining, if questionable. While the questionableness of his actions is, in one way, a good thing, what I refer more to is that you really have to wonder why in the hell he's doing them. One does not simply kidnap, murder, maime, hijack and possibly rape just for the fuck of it, and his reason for doing so isn't given passing mention in the series. The sequel, Full Metal Panic: The Second Raid clears a bit more on the subject, though it is still annoying to watch the first season without his motives brought into question. A big problem with the series is the pacing. As one might expect, the constant switching every other episode from wacky comedy to serious action doesn't really work very well. Interesting parts of the story are kept few and far between, and a large number of the episodes in the show are thoroughly pointless. Finally, my biggest complaint is the characters. Sosuke Sagara, as of the first season, is a character some enjoyed and others hated, and I have to say that I'm in the second boat with this. His actions, as said before, are generally quite cringeworthy for the comedy side of things, and in the more serious parts of the series he is as much as you would expect of the perfect soldier: a complete tool devoid of personality. Thankfully, the series that follow the first fix these problems and then some, but in the first season he can be really painful to watch. The supporting cast is also horribly one-dimensional. Kaname Chidori is the tsundere, Kurz Weber is the handsome lecher, Melissa Mao is the action chick, and Teletha "Tessa" Testerosa is the moe-girl. While Gauron is an excellent antagonist, he really doesn't outweigh the bad cast on show here. In technical terms, Full Metal Panic isn't terrible, but not particularly great. The animation is OK, but there's a lot of CG scattered around the place. The music is unremarkable, and the voice acting isn't particularly great in either language. I wouldn't particularly recommend either track over the other. I'd say this kind of show works better in dub (the military side of it, anyway), so that would probably be a good choice, but if you generally prefer subs then you really aren't missing anything. Overall, despite being pretty clearly flawed, it's hard to call Full Metal Panic outright bad. It's watchable on its own, in particular with the help of Gauron, and the series that followed (Fummofu and The Second Raid) are more than excellent enough to make this season worth watching just for the sake of watching those. Final Words: By no means a bad series, but very hit-and-miss. Worth watching if only to see the sequels. Animation/Graphics: 5/10 Story/Plot: 5/10 Music/Background: 5/10 English Dub: 5/10 Overall: 5/10
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. 8/10 -Vikingr
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