Review by: Eduardo Zacarias
Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: Blu-ray: $54.98 US; DVD: $49.98 US
Running Time: 600 minutes
Rating: TV 14
Release Date: Available Now
Definitely not just another mech series.
Having been a fan of the Full Metal Panic! series since it came to our side of the pond, news that FUNimation was packaging the complete series on Blu-ray was good news indeed. If you know the series as well as I do you know why The Complete Series of Full Metal Panic! is reason to celebrate. Taking us to the very beginning of the series, these 24 episodes introduces us to a High school girl with a most unusual gift and a strange new transfer student who has sworn to protect her.
Somewhere in a fictionalized and future Russia, a young girl runs for her life as attack choppers pursue her. It is clear that the interested party chasing said girl wants her badly and just when things begin to go sour, a mech steps in to defend the girl. In another part of the world – Japan, to be exact – an attractive and spunky High school girl named Kaname Chidori has no idea that she too is a target of a secret organization hell-bent on locating girls just like Chidori. These girls are known as Whispered and they possess a most unusual and beneficial power.
Enter the mercenary group known as Mithril that has advanced technology and a lot of money at their disposal that has been hired to protect Whispered candidates like Chidori. Among their seasoned professionals like pretty boy sniper Kurz Weber and the beer-guzzling babe Melissa Mao is 16-year old Sousuke Sagara whose military career began as a child soldier in an Afghanistan-inspired country. Sousuke’s mission is to secretly protect Chidori … a job he, unfortunately, takes way too seriously.
In fact, his gung-ho attitude immediately annoys Chidori who sees Sousuke’s arrival to her High school as a new transfer student as the beginning of her misery. Half the fun of watching this series is relishing in Sousuke’s countless misunderstandings that annoy Chidori or the extreme manner in which he jumps to the wrong conclusion when it comes to identifying actual threats. Seen as a military freak by everyone around him, Sousuke comically pulls out weapon after weapon with students and faculty believing his weapons are toys.
As it turns out, though, Chidori’s life is in danger as the secret group that is seeking out Whispered candidates have locked on to Chidori. This group hires a deadly psychopath named Gauron who is a mercenary with an impressive record as well as the ability to pilot a certain mechs (also called ARM Slaves or just AN). It isn’t until a class trip turns into a plan hijacking that Chidori realizes there’s more to Sousuke than meets the eye. Taken to a hidden lab during the ordeal, Chidori also comes to learn that she is a Whispered whose ability is to see in her mind’s eye a great deal of information pertaining to military technology.
In the second half of the series, Chidori finds herself accepting that she is a target and that Sousuke is a Mithril soldier who is protecting her. Still, this doesn’t stop her from being annoyed with the young man but also coming to care for him as well in a slightly romantic sense. Chidori isn’t alone in having feeling for the young man when they both meet the 16-year old Captain of Mithril’s advanced submarine codenamed the Toy Box. She is Teletha Testarossa and, despite her age, she is a respected Captain and Sousuke’s superior officer who falls hard for her subordinate to the point that she considers herself Chidori’s rival in love. Another great part about the series is the cute rivalry between the two girls and the Captain’s schoolgirl-like crush that makes her act funny around Sousuke.
As cute and funny as many of the may be there is also a dark and edgy feel to the series as well that is made up of the bloody action sequences. As I mention, Gauron is a psychopath and his sadistic streak is very evident as he not only kills other mercenaries without flinching but also anyone who might annoy him as well and that includes his employers. He has a connection to Sousuke that is revealed and the two fight it out a few times throughout the series.
Another aspect of the series that works are the characters that you can’t help but like immediately whether it’s the charming flirty that is Weber (voiced in the English dub with much gusto by Vic Mignogna) that keeps getting knocked around by the likeable Melissa Mao or the two distinct personalities that are Sousuke and Chidori. Even their classmates actually add something to the story. Even if you’re not a fan of mech shows, Full Metal Panic! doesn’t push the mech battles in a tiresome way like in some anime series.
The Complete Series of Full Metal Panic is just too good to miss in any format but if you have been looking for a Blu-ray set that deserves your money then this is the series you have been waiting for … trust me. A blast to watch from start to finish, anime like this is just too hard to pass up and even more so if you’re an action-junkie like myself. Filled with action and topped off with fun comedic moments, Full Metal Panic is a classic in its own way that will very quickly make a fan out of you.
BLU-RAY REVIEW BREAKDOWN
Possessing a power she has not control over or does not understand, Kaname Chidori becomes the target of terrorists and other shadowy figures. Fortunately, a mercenary group called Mithril sends a young gung-ho soldier named Sousuke to watch over her as a new transfer student at her school.
VIDEO QUALITY: A+
While not the most visually stunning anime out there, the series does have spectacular fight scenes and bloody action. Even better, the series looks particularly better on Blu-ray so this is the format fans new and old should definitely consider.
AUDIO QUALITY: A
For my money, the Japanese voice cast is at the top of their game and the best way to watch the series. Then again, the English dub voice cast does a stellar job.
The extras come in the form of Japanese piracy warnings, twelve of them featuring the Japanese voice cast voicing their characters perspective characters. There is also the clean opening and closing theme songs as well as the original television commercials for the series. Plus, there are some FUNimation trailers but very little else.
There are some Complete Series collections you have to own and then there’s the Blu-ray release of Full Metal Panic! that you NEED to own. Sure, there are many military-styled mech anime shows out there but none have the raw action-packed punch, comedic wit and great storytelling of this series. If you’ve never checked this series out, now is the time to pick it up.
Review copy provided by FUNimation Entertainment