The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Full Metal Panic!

Title: Full Metal Panic!
Genre: Action/Comedy
Company: Gonzo
Format: 24 episodes
Dates: 8 Jan 2002 – 18 Jun 2002

Synopsis: Sagara Sousuke, a seventeen year old lifetime soldier is assigned to protect high school student, Chidori Kaname from terrorists. These terrorists are after secret knowledge buried deep within Kaname’s subconscious and will stop at nothing to get it. With Sousuke’s sharp battlefield senses, Kaname should be in good hands… except that Sousuke perceives almost everyone and everything as a threat to Kaname, due to his social naivety from a life on the battlefield. Is the greater danger to Kaname from terrorists, or from Sousuke’s misguided attempts to protect her?

The Highlights
Action: Excellent mecha action, some of the best out there.
Characters: Funny.
Style: Inconsistent in the first half.

I did not have high expectations for Full Metal Panic!. Romantic comedy and mecha are far from my favorite genres and I figured that all the hype surrounding it was due to it being Gonzo’s latest fanservice title that pretends to be serious. For the first half of the show I was correct.

Apparently Gonzo couldn’t make up their minds about whether Full Metal Panic! should be a romantic comedy or a serious action anime. This indecision caused the tone of the first half of Full Metal Panic!‘s to change like a traffic light. The comedy, while very funny, takes away from the tense moments. It’s hard to believe Kaname and Sousuke are in danger when they were just in a romantic comedy scene last episode. Likewise, the plot doesn’t go much of anywhere in the first half because it gets broken up by the filler comedy. Few shows are this hard to get into from the get-go; Texhnolyze comes to mind, but I digress.

Fortunately, Gonzo made up their minds and focused on the action in the second half. The plot develops nicely, and the characters are given background, making them more than comedic devices. Not to lose the main draw of the show, the superbly animated and well-done action is still present to back up the plot. The last story arc kept me on the edge of my seat while everything fell into place nicely. If only Full Metal Panic! had been that good from the start.

Fans of mecha anime will certainly want to check out Full Metal Panic! to see Gonzo’s fantastically animated battles if nothing else. Full Metal Panic! is one of the better mecha anime in recent memory and will provide anyone who decides to watch it with hours of entertainment. Even this old mecha detractor was able to genuinely enjoy the action and suspenseful second half. Don’t give up on this title based on the shaky beginning; the ending is worth the wait.

The Rating: 7

Reviewed by: Kuma

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