Full Metal Panic!
Overall review rating: 10
Distributor: ADV Viewing age: 15+
Reviewed By: Stephen Lerch
Review Progress: Complete-full series Genre: Sci-Fi Action
Release Date: Currently Available
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-Running Time: 600 Minutes (complete series)
-Screen Format: 4:3 Fullscreen
-Number of Discs: 1 per volume (7 total)
-Special: Collectors box available with vol. 1, Thin Pack box available

On the surface, Kaname Chidori appears to be a normal, popular high school student. The problem is, she doesn't realize just how popular she is. Unbeknownst to her, a group of terrorists believe she possesses the special powers of "the Whispered," and they're out to kidnap her.

Enter Sousuke Sagara, a young, hotshot agent from the stealthy anti-terrorist organization Mithril. Will he be able to protect Kaname without her finding out what's really going on? Or will he just drive her crazy as he tries to fit in as her awkward, gung-ho, war-crazed classmate?

Full Metal Panic isn’t known as a good series without a good reason. It has plenty of mecha action for the robot fans, it has comedy for the comedy fans and it has some awkward love comedy/drama thrown in for good measure. One would assume that with the mixture of so many different aspects that the show would lose focus and just be another has been show; a flash in the pan. One who would assume this would be incorrect.

Sagara Sousuke is a special agent working for the independent military forces of Mithril. Mithril is a group devoted to keeping world peace with as little human life lost as possible and run by the teen age beauty, Tessa Testarossa. In Sagar’s first mission shown in the beginning of the first episode, we meet what is known as a whispered. Whispereds are people who are born with a subconscious knowledge known as Black Technology. Black Technology covers all range of military applications from new Arm Slaves (the mecha in the show) to armor to advanced weapons controls.

After completing his first mission, Sousuke is assigned a new duty: protect Kaname Chidori whom is possibly a whispered being targeted by a terrorist organization run by an old enemy of Sagara’s. The hardest part of the mission for Sousuke, having been brought up in an environment led by military discipline, is just trying to live the life of a normal high school student, an experience he has never had before.

This is where the love and comedy aspects come in. Sagara has two interested females, Tessa and Kaname, though he is too dense to really understand it, causing much suffering to Kaname and delight at torturing him by Tessa.

From big explosions to fights between Arm Slaves to fighting for the peace of Jindai High School, Sagara Sousuke has a lot of work for himself.

In regards to the ending, I have to say I was quite satisfied even though it left one of the bigger pieces of the puzzle wide open. Without giving anything away, it is kind of like the choice is made, yet it is left ambiguous enough for one to question if that's REALLY how it will be. The action pieces are all closed off nicely, but you can tell there is more than enough room for a sequel of some sort.

The opening uses some of the animation from the episodes themselves, but is well chosen and flows together to present the viewer a fair idea of what to expect in the coming show. It shows explosions, Arm Slaves and the high school acquaintances that Sagara meets. The opening is well chosen and laid out. The opening theme, ‘Tomorrow,’ sung by Mikuni Shimokawa, works perfectly and is quite memorable. It should be noted that roughly half way through the series the opening animation changes and the theme changes in that it is the same track, but takes place after the first refrain, whereas this is about where the original opening theme ended..

The ending animation consists of photos of Kaname and the life being led at High School. I assume these are pictures taken by her photo taking friend, Kyoko. It is really well done and plays out to the Karenai Hana also performed by Mikuni Shimokawa. The end theme is also well done and fits the feel of the animation it plays over.

I consider the opening and ending sequences to be excellent, thanks to fitting the mood of the show and presenting what to expect from the show.

Full Metal Panic’s animation, coming from Gonzo, is extremely high quality. The character artwork is of the highest quality for TV animation from the time and shows off Gonzo’s animation capabilities perfectly. The animation is a mixture of digitally painted 2D with 3D CG. The CG would be mecha in the show, such as the Arm Slaves and the Tuatha de Danan (Mithril’s submarine) while the people and backgrounds are digitally painted 2D. The animation is smooth and the merging of 2D and 3D is near seamless. This is what Gonzo is known for after all.

On the audio side of things, the Japanese is presented in its original stereo format in Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0. The English audio, however, has been presented in both the original stereo mix but also redone by ADV for English audio in 5.1.All three audio tracks are well done and the 5.1 mix is passable. What gets the biggest boost in 5.1 is the bass, which helps you feel the Arm Slave battles, while the rest of the show neither suffers nor really benefits from this presentation.

On a final note, Full Metal Panic is easily one of my favorite Anime properties and is done well on every level. ADV has also released Full Metal Panic: Fumoffu!? In the US, while FUNimation has just recently announced Full Metal Panic: The Second Raid for the US market. Fumoffu concentrates on the comedy, while TSR focuses on action and the love drama aspects with very little comedy thrown in.

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