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Show: Full Metal Panic! (2002)  
Review by: Animetique
This summary/review is provided by animetique.com and used under the Creative Commons License.
My Rating: 4 out of 5

Full Metal Panic was one of 2002's biggest hits in Japan and it's easy to see why. The anime mixes beautiful animation with an engaging plot and likeable characters. The story follows Kaname Chidori, one of the most popular girls at school, who lives the life of the normal high school girl until a strange boy named Sousuke Sagara shows up in her class. She soon learns - and admittedly has a difficult time accepting - that Sousuke's part of an elite anti-terrorist organization and his latest mission is to protect Kaname from anyone that might want to kidnap her.

As it turns out, Kaname is one of the "Whispered," which means she has hidden knowledge of advanced technology. Several terrorist organizations are looking to get their hands on her because if they can probe her brain, they'll learn how to make weapons more advanced than nukes. The anime doesn't really go into much detail on who the Whispered are, where they came from, how many of them exist, or how they came to possess such knowledge - perhaps they'll expand on this in 3rd season, just announced. Regardless, this is all revealed in episode 5 and the anime doesn't come back to this theme until eps 20+ where clarification is scanty at best.

Sousuke grew up in Afghanistan and joined a guerilla movement at age 8. He's been with some type of military unit or organization ever since. So, you can imagine that he doesn't deal real well with the perils of high school life. Still, he's "undercover" and must protect Kaname from any potential threats or suspicious activity. His backups include Sgt Melissa Mao, his spunky supervisor who's not afraid to speak her mind, and lady's man/ expert shooter, Kurz Weber.

The anime works really well as a combination of action/adventure mixed with romantic comedy. Several of the episodes are mission driven military crusades involving intense mech battles while others are light-hearted slap-stick school scenes where Sousuke must learn proper high school etiquette. Some of the more humorous scenes include him attempting to understand the dating scene by failing miserably at a dating sim, and him giving Kaname a lovely set of earrings and a bracelet, only to inform her that the earrings are really flash grenades and the bracelet is a tracking device. Despite Sousuke's good intentions, he gets smacked by Kaname quite a bit.

I was surprised by the excellent pacing of the storyline. Most animes lag somewhere along the way, but FMP worked really well to contrast Sousuke's life as a military mercenary with Kaname's life as a popular high school girl and still maintain flow.

That being said, there were a couple of times when Sousuke had ample opportunity to kill the anime's big bad along the way before things ballooned to the last several episodes, but I'll give the anime the benefit of the doubt. You can't have a mech anime without the last episodes being the grand finale, I suppose. And I do wish there had been a bit more background information on the Whispered, Mithril, and some of the characters. Still, given that I'm not a big mech fan, I was amazed that I enjoyed this one so much.


Animation:

My Rating: 4 out of 5

The animation is from 2001/2002, but still very top notch for tv anime. Everything is vibrant and crisp, though I thought the 3D water animation was a bit outdated. Still, it blended well with the rest of the anime's look and feel.


Music:

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Both the opening and ending themes were by Mikuni Shimokawa. I liked both and thought they fit well with the anime.


Character Design:

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5

With so much going on, you got a decent amount of character development in a short 24 episode series. Yes, they could have dug deeper into many of the characters' pasts - for instance we learn that Kaname traveled abroad. We know Sousuke was part of a guerrilla movement in Afghanistan but the anime only skimmed the surface of his bio , and we know very little about Tessa and how she became captain of the multi-billion dollar Danaan.

However, given the number of characters and the scenarios in which they interacted, Gonzo deserves credit for trying to give the characters real personalities rather than your typical caricature/stereotype. I thought they did a great job contrasting say, Melissa's on the job die hard integrity vs. her desire to make Tessa squirm/inferiority complex phase to how she picked Sousuke and Kurz as her subordinates. Tessa was also cute, ranging from playing flirtatious to proper to deadpan serious with a huge weight of responsibility on her shoulders It's a shame this wasn't fleshed out a bit more, but we can hope in season 3. Kaname was quite outspoken, and at times, you wish she'd just calm down and stop overreacting. And then she does and even feels sorry for losing her temper occasionally. It's kind of refreshing. And Kurz is portrayed as the ultimate lady's man, yet ends up being the one to give out the serious love advice. You can feel the characters have depth that we don't quite get to explore.
Last Updated: 2/2/2009
Other Reviews by Animetique
1) FLCL (Updated: 1/18/2007)
2) Ah! My Goddess! (Updated: 1/18/2007)
3) The Animatrix (Updated: 1/18/2007)
4) Chobits (Updated: 1/25/2007)
5) Parasite Dolls (Updated: 1/25/2007)
6) Noir (Updated: 1/25/2007)
7) Martian Successor Nadesico (Updated: 1/25/2007)
8) Gasaraki (Updated: 1/25/2007)
9) Fullmetal Alchemist (Updated: 1/25/2007)
10) The Vision of Escaflowne (Updated: 1/25/2007)
11) Neon Genesis Evangelion (Updated: 1/25/2007)
12) Scrapped Princess (Updated: 2/8/2007)
13) Escaflowne (Updated: 2/8/2007)
14) Metropolis (Updated: 2/9/2007)
15) Howl's Moving Castle (Updated: 2/9/2007)
16) Spirited Away (Updated: 2/15/2007)
17) Tenchi Forever! (Updated: 2/15/2007)
18) Blood: The Last Vampire (Updated: 4/4/2007)
19) Paranoia Agent (Updated: 4/23/2007)
20) Perfect Blue (Updated: 5/10/2007)
21) Elfen Lied (Updated: 5/17/2007)
22) R.O.D the TV (Updated: 6/5/2007)
23) Read or Die (Updated: 6/5/2007)
24) Elfen Lied (Updated: 6/29/2007)
25) The Twelve Kingdoms (Updated: 7/9/2007)
26) Love Hina (Updated: 8/17/2007)
27) Samurai Champloo (Updated: 3/6/2008)
28) Texhnolyze (Updated: 3/12/2008)
29) Tsukihime Lunar Legend (Updated: 9/2/2008)
30) Full Metal Panic! (Updated: 2/2/2009)
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