My Kyoto Animation withdrawal (4 months since the end of Clannad) finally reached a level that got me to watch the only series of theirs that I haven’t seen. I’d been meaning to watch this before but once a series becomes a little older, it’s sometimes hard for me to want to pick it up. The other fact that helped delay me watching this show was that Gonzo did the first season and I thought that – if a studio loses a franchise to another company – then the first companies effort must have been subpar. Turns out the first season was a very good effort by Gonzo and shouldn’t be missed.
Final Series Score: 11/12 A+
Rewatchablity: high, I hope to watch this with my sister soon
Pros: Characters, plot, and action were all top-notch, animation quality is still above average, great bad guy
Cons: nothing really stands out
The story for Full Metal Panic, if you don’t know, revolves around Sagara Sousake, a mercenary in the organization Mithril, and the person he’s been tasked to protect, Kaname Chidori. Kaname happens to be special, she’s a Whispered, though she doesn’t know it at the beginning of the show – she somehow has knowledge of advanced technology tucked into her head waiting for someone to tease it out of her mind. Mithril is a mercenary organization that has the goal of eradicating terrorism and if Whispered like Kaname fall into the hands of terrorists it would be bad for the world. Since Kaname is in high school, Mithril needs to pick someone young enough to be able to go to school with her to be her bodyguard. Sagara fits the bill, not only is he young -17- he is very experienced, having been a fighter in various theaters of war since he was eight years old.
Sagara might be young enough but since he has been a fighter for essentially his whole life, he doesn’t know how to survive in normal society. This leads to a lot of the comedy in the series and somehow fish-outta-water scenarios are always funny but most don’t involve love confession letters mistaken for bombs or the use of deadly force whenever some boy gets too close to Kaname (even if all they want to do is ask her out).
Determining a grade for this season presented a problem. After the first season I thought to myself I should give it a perfect score but when I watched the second and third season I said to myself that I like the second and third seasons better but how can you do better then perfect? Upon reflecting I decided I had to give the first season an 11/12 A+ because it lacked something that allowed me to like the second and third seasons more. I think I can point to the something in each of the other seasons and will do so when I do their series review. I also think that it suffers from being the first series – it had to take the time to introduce the characters and get us to like the show. The subsequent seasons already had a nice foundation to build on; kinda like how the first Lord of the Rings movie lacked the grand battles and emotional climaxes of the later movies and had the task of introducing us to Middle-Earth and it’s characters.
One area that I think Gonzo should be particularly praised for is the pacing of the story. Whereas characters, plot, and action all come the source material, the pacing of the series is something the animators have the greatest control on and I thought Gonzo did a good job. The introduction episodes where just long to solidly establish the characters but not feel drawn out. The smaller arcs flowed together nicely and most importantly, as many know, in a large number of24 – 26 episode series there is a long spell in the middle where the episodes are essentially plot filler that pad out the series to the needed episode count but not so here. There is only a pair of episodes, in the middle, that could be considered filler but they were still very good episodes that help give us a needed break from the plot.
Another thing that really helped this series was Gauron, the big-time bad guy. He makes several appearances in the series and each time he’s onscreen it’s memorable. There’s nothing like a brillant villain to bring out the best (and worst) in out heros.
In closing, this was a very good series and if you haven’t watched it yet then I’d definitely recommend to do so and if the reason why you haven’t picked it up is because you’re not really into mechs then rest assured; this show isn’t really about the mechs.
The fact that the teacher didn’t realize that was a real gun is scary
Probably the funniest scene in the whole show – the UN actually doing something
We’ll see more of the bear in the next season