Full Metal Panic
Ah, those summer memories so many girls have of their teenage years. The fun at school. That hot new mysterious transfer student. The giant robots blowing stuff up. The plane getting hijacked on the class trip. The expeditions on a top secret submarine. Wait. What kind of girl has this kind of summer?
Kaname Chidori, that's who. In a twist of fate, it turns out that she's one of the people known as the Whispered - people who can be put into a trance and reveal knowledge beyond that of the understanding of current technology. Not surprisingly, there's a lot of people out there who'd like to get their hands on such a person. That's where the anti terrorist organization Mithril comes in. They've got a vested interest in keeping Kaname out of the hands of the bad guys. Their solution was troubling however.
While Mithril continues to fight off terrorists, they decide to send Sergent Souske Sagara to protect her, and he even becomes a classmate. As someone who's only known war, he's got a lot of problems adjusting. Really dense, too wound up, yet he's strangely interesting. To Kaname anyway. But he's only in his element when bullets are flying, and she's only in her element when things are normal. Can these two ever get along? Wait, there's a love rival. No, they're doomed.
Before I start on this review, note that I get pretty down on it due to the fact that it pushed a LOT of my buttons. Despite all this, I did like this anime, it's just got a lot of problems. Full Metal Panic is like a high school romance/comedies and a full blown mecha anime sandwiched together. At first I assumed it would progress from one to the other, but this series does both at the same time. "Unoriginal" doesn't even start to cover it. This anime could have been assembled from various parts of other anime.
It's the characters that annoy me most in Full Metal Panic. They're shallow, and no one ever breaks out of their casting. Sagara is a guy who's thick skulled and sees everything in the view of an over the top army nut. He often takes actions that defy common sense, because he has no common sense. That works on the surface having never mixed with civilians, but many of his actions are like someone who's never interacted with other human beings period. This might fly if the show were more oriented on comedy, but Full Metal Panic is just a little too serious to make it work. The worst character by far, is the main villain Gauron. He's one of those villains they were too lazy to develop, so they simply made him a psychopath killer who's totally bent on destroying everything all the time. A completely unrealistic an unlikable character, he gets killed after the first few episodes. No wait, he's alive. No he's dead. No he's really alive again. It doesn't matter if you detonate a nuclear warhead in this guy's crotch, he'll come back. After having seen the first season of Full Metal Panic, all I have to say is that this dude better REALLY be freaking dead this time.
As a high school type anime, most of the comedy revolves around Sagara being obtuse and using his tactical military knowledge in ways that are ridiculous. As a mecha anime it didn't deliver much due to unoriginality. And if there's one thing that annoys me, it's giant robots fighting with knives, and there's a lot of it here. The only daring thing this anime does, is having really uncool looking mecha. The Soviet models anyway. I think the subtext here is if anyone other than the Japanese were to make giant robots, they'd look like really lame fat metal ninja turtles and would basically suck.
Alright, enough of the bad stuff. The production value of this anime is very good. Good enough to forget that it's a TV series. It always looked very attractive from start to finish. The music was unobtrusive and worked well. As far as the story goes, it was so-so. Interesting enough to make me want to watch more at least. Even though I harp on the comedy, I found some of it funny.
So my verdict on Full Metal Panic is that it's an ok title. Yeah I complained about it a lot because those are valid complaints, but there's something about this title that made me want to like it. Which it mostly did. If you over-think the anime you watch, you're probably going to hate this title. If you either don't care, or can just suspend questioning logic holes and ignore cliche elements, it's an alright title. For that matter if you can think of the high school parts as a parody, that could work well, it even gives a nod in that direction at times, but I don't think Full Metal Panic managed to get that to feel natural enough to pull it off. I watched all 24 episodes and have no regrets. I'm also looking forward to seeing some more. An alright title, mostly worth watching.
Kaname: How old are you?
Kaname: Let me tell you something. I've seen a lot of old war movies, and the captain of a submarine is always some old guy with a mustache or a beard.
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