Full Metal Panic! has had a bit of an awkward release in the past with one season never making it to the West and the others having different studios working on them, but Anime Limited have collected them all together in one ultimate package!
Gonzo animated Season One whilst Kyoto Animation animated the following seasons but they mostly manage the transition seamlessly, although KyoAni’s seasons clearly focus more on comedy and the highschool aspect of the show whilst Gonzo have a larger focus on the mechs and Sousuke’s military career – but let me make this clear, it’s bloody hilarious all the way through. Sousuke Sagura is a teenager who’s only lived a life of war, leading him to be incapable of understanding social situations and so he has difficulty in living a normal highschool life. When he’s assigned to protect student Kaname Chidori, – known as a ‘Whispered’ with the ability to create more powerful weapons than what’s currently available – both characters have trouble adjusting to this new arrangement which leads to plenty of laughs and, as Chidori is a target of less-than-pleasant enemies, plenty of action.
It might not be quite as plot-heavy as it is character-driven but that makes it harder to talk about without spoiling it, which I really don’t plan on doing in my reviews. The plot moves along at a healthy pace and the character development is gradual, noticeable and far from heavy-handed, and I really enjoyed seeing the main cast grow as they learn about each other’s unique daily lives and how much more they have to learn about the world. FMP! is an anime that fans have been clamouring for for years and, finally, I can see why.
Before I get to the other aspects of the show, I have to put emphasis on how hilarious this show is – it constantly put a smile on my face and got more laughs out of me than many other anime have done. Sousuke with his deadpan reactions to everything, and Chris Patton’s glorious voice-acting for him, by far keeps things entertaining and it never gets old. The other characters carry their weight too, even side characters such as Sousuke’s friend Shinji who gets an episode dedicated to him – of course, he shows up fairly regularly. If you don’t find Full Metal Panic! funny, then I’m not sure you have a funny bone.
It holds up visually although its 16×9 aspect ratio gives itself away, as is what happens with many early 2000 shows, but there’s no trouble with watching it cubed when the animation is so good. Obviously there’s a slight change in animation styles as the show has been animated by two different studios, but they’ve done a good job in keeping consistent and I can’t help but praise both studios! Yes, I may not be a big fan of Kyoto Animation but they’ve done a great job here, although the content they were given does seem to play to their strengths of being a light-hearted comedy that more or less does away with the mecha aspect of FMP! The juggling of genres is done justice here, and you’re sure to fall in love with the character design that doesn’t really stand out on its own but is brought to life by how good the series is.
The English Dub is by far one of the funniest around. As I’ve mentioned earlier, Chris Patton’s delivery of Sousuke constantly cracked a smile out of me and was one of the main draws in continuing the already great series. Luci Christian as Chidori provides laughs too with her take on Chidori’s constantly changing moods and energetic behaviour. A few other well known voice talent appear including Vic Mignogna as playful flirt Kurz Weber, Greg Ayres as the clever and military-loving Shinji, Hilary Haag as the cute and playful commander Tessa, and Monica Rial as Chidori’s close friend Kyoko. Allison Keith, perhaps best known as Misato from Neon Genesis Evangelion, also plays a similar role here with the alcohol-loving, military woman Melissa. You can pick the Japanese voiceover too which you can’t go wrong with, but I recommend the English Dub because Chris Patton’s performance is worthy of all the praise I can give. The OST, OP and ED are suitably laced with the early 2000’s, and I adore them for it!
Full Metal Panic! really is better than I’d expected it to be, and it’s something I could find myself returning too if I want a laugh as the episodes fly by due to the superb way that they’re handled. Anime Limited’s release looks great and has a few extras in the way of an interesting interview, clean OP’s and ED’s, the original TV adverts and, uh, the original Japanese piracy warnings. The Ultimate Edition (as reviewed) will be the only way to buy Fumoffu within the UK and you really don’t want to miss it. It might have a steep asking price at roughly £100 but with how much content is packed in, it’s more than worth it.
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