Sunday, June 11, 2006

Review -> Full Metal Panic!

I've spent the last 3 days watching the 3 series of Full Metal Panic, and I was impressed, shocked, disappointed and driven to tears (due to laughter, of course). If you know which episodes to leave out and which scenes to skip, it becomes a fascinating anime. I'll make a parallel review of the 3 series.

Full Title: Full Metal Panic!
Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu
Full Metal Panic!: The Second Raid
Structure: TV series - 26 episodes
TV series - 17 episodes
TV series - 13 episodes + OVA - 1 episode
Personal Comment: If you know which episodes to leave out and which scenes to skip, it becomes a fascinating anime.

Plot (4/5; 3/5; 4/5): Well, it's a bit more than your average mecha anime... Sergeant Sousuke Sagara is part of a mercenary organisation called Mithril and is the pilot of an Arm Slave (AS for short), one of those giant robots. Nothing out of the ordinary here. He is 16... still nothing much. However, he is assigned to infiltrate a school (because he's the only one appropriate to do it, both in terms of age and skill) and protect a girl, named Kaname Chidori. This turns his military life all around, as it introduces him to something completely foreign to his understanding... personal life. However, things get really wild when Kaname is targeted by a terrorist organisation and Sousuke's mission proves to be more than just playtime. The second series is a less serious one. It's a spin-off of the first one and explores the relationship between Sousuke and Kaname and their daily school life (a great amount of stress is placed on Sousuke's inability to adapt to normal life and the way he handles situations). The third series is a sequel to the first and continues the military story of Sousuke and Mithril, not without the serious involvement of Kaname. The twists in each of the two real series are quite interesting, and they keep you attached to the screen.

Characters (3/5; 3/5; 4/5): Characters are not all that developed. You can see the relationships between them, the tension, of course, but they are no where close to any real character-focused anime. The two main characters are contoured nicely, but the secondary ones are left somewhere in the penumbra (not really in the dark though). However, this changes in the last series, where most focus befalls on the characters' feelings. [PS: Did I mention that there was a love triangle present in the series?]

Approach (4/5; 5/5; 3/5): The real series are quite disappointing, as they provide nothing out of the ordinary, I might say. Besides the interesting technology involved and the plot twists (which I've covered in the first pointing category), there is nothing special. Still, they deserve the points I gave them, due to a few minor details: in the first series, the political issues are quite nicely coloured, with a hint of criticism (e.g. after the resolution of a dispute between the US Military and Mithril, the US Military official openly decrees: "Don't forget who the police of the world are"); in the third series, there are some Evangelion-like impressions, though far from the real ones, they bring a smile to your face (e.g. Sousuke's inability to use his AS correctly and his exclamations of "I hate it" targeted towards the said AS). The second series, the comic one, on the other hand is absolutely fascinating. The last time I laughed so hard was after hearing Osaka's remarks in Azumanga Daioh! or seeing Haruko run Naota over in FLCL. What makes it so funny? Let me put it this way: have you ever thought about blowing something up because it's in the way, or using a knife to threaten cutting someone's fingers off in order to get the needed information, or planting mines around your stuff at the beach so you could go swim without having to watch over it? Well, that's exactly what Sousuke's doing all the time (followed by a beating issued by Kaname, much like the punishment Kintaro usually gets in Golden Boy). Also, this series is full of easter eggs :D

Visuals (5/5; 5/5; 5/5): GONZO! The CG blends well with the hand-drawn animation. No more comments here. Next...

Music (4/5; 4/5; 4/5): The music blends nicely with the action. Nothing special, but appropriate.

Overall (20/25; 20/25; 20/25): I find that the 3 series complete each other. First you see an interesting mecha anime, with a little added spice. Second, you find something related to that, giving you the opportunity to laugh your ass off, knowing that it won't spoil the seriousness of the series. Third, you find an extension that develops the emotions and deeper nature of the characters, filling the gap that had been left open. Though some scenes ruin the whole atmosphere (namely around the first quarter of the last episode of the third series), overall it's an anime worth watching.

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