Full Metal Panic: First Impressions

By Shamus Posted Wednesday Jul 5, 2006

Filed under: Anime 15 comments

While waiting for the next disc of Last Exile, we started watching Full Metal Panic. I’ve watched the first two discs, and so far I’m pretty happy with it.

Full Metal Panic: Kaname Chidori

Kaname Chidori is a high school girl who is somehow connected to the plans of the bad guys. They need her for some reason that would take too long to explain, even if I understood it. So they mean to kidnap her.

Mithril (the goods guys) finds out about this beforehand, and so they send a team of three agents to protect her in secret. One will keep tabs on her via spying. Another remains on standby in a nearby Arm Slave (a mecha) just in case, and the third attends high school with her to provide direct protection.

Kaname is the biggest flaw of the series for me. We’re supposed to empathise with her, and so far I don’t. She may grow into an interesting character as the story moves along. We’ll see. Right now she seems pretty shallow and self-absorbed, and I feel like the show expects me to care about her a lot more than I do. I like all of Kaname’s classmates better than I like Kaname herself.

Full Metal Panic: Sousuke Sagura

Sousuke Sagura is the agent sent to protect her and act as a bodyguard, although he’s not allowed to tell her anything. As far as she knows, he’s just a creepy kid who follows her around. This makes for some humorous tension in the first few episodes.

I love Sousuke’s attitude. He’s quite stoic and serious, and has no idea how to act like a normal teenager. Seeing this practical, diciplined soldier try to pass himself off as a normal kid is pretty funny. He has to pretend to take an interest in the world of school exams and pop music. He’s terrible at it, and so he’s a lot of fun to watch.

Full Metal Panic: Andrey Kalinin

Andrey Kalinin is my favorite character. He’s the XO aboard the secret submarine that acts as a base of operations for Mithril. He’s a pretty realistic depiction of what an XO should be like, which is really amazing given that anime rarely has realistic military characters. He makes tough choices, even when it means sacrificing his men. He doesn’t do so because he’s cruel or arrogant, but because he also has the mission objectives and the rest of the crew to think about. He’s not heartless, just firm and resolute. He supports his captain’s decisions, even when he might disagree in private. He does so without angst and shouting. I don’t think his beard is regulation, though.

Full Metal Panic: Testarossa Theresa

Testarossa Theresa is the kind is military character I’m used to seeing in anime: Far too young for her post, overly sentimental, showing doubt and conflict in front of her crew, lacking in technical knowledge, and generally not at all the type of person you’d put in charge of the most advanced submarine in the world. Sub captains – particularly ones who see a lot of conflict – are usually hard-nosed men of steely resolve, not soft-spoken doe-eyed teenage girls.

There may be some sort of explanation for why she’s in this position, which might be related to why the bad guys are after Kaname. I can’t say at this point. Either way, she’s an interesting character. I like how she messes around with her braids when she’s anxious.

Full Metal Panic: Gauron

Gauron is the main bad guy so far. Sometimes – just for a second – I’ll look at him and think he looks a bit like a younger, more muscular Jack Nicholson. In the dub he even sounds like Jack. He’s kind of cool, and seems to have a real plan aside from “be an evil jerk”, although it should be noted that he IS an evil jerk. This guy isn’t Antonio Salieri. Heck, he’s not even Anakin Skywalker, but he’s not a cardboard villian either.

At the end of disc two they made it look like Sousuke killed him, but I’ve been around long enough to know that the villain doesn’t die in the first act, and that when he does die, we see it happen. Bad guys who seem to die in explosions aren’t really dead, so I’m not falling for it.

Full Metal Panic: Arm Slave

But the real star of the show is the Arm Slaves. Here is a paradox for me: I really like giant robots. I love seeing them in action. I think they look cool and the kid in me wishes he could jump into one of these things and brawl around the city with the bad guys. However, I can’t stand the story or characters for most mecha series. They are usually built around a nonsense plot with angst-driven characters who spend the whole show SHOUTING AT THEMSELVES AND EACH OTHER. Bah.

So Full Metal Panic is pretty fun for me. It lets me get my mecha fix without making me suffer through too much angst and stupidity. It has some great characters. I’m looking forward to the next disc, although I won’t see it until I’m done with Last Exile.


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15 thoughts on “Full Metal Panic: First Impressions

  1. HC says:

    FMP is good, and you’ve just seen the best arc of it. FMP:F is the comedy-only version, and is more consistently good; it is highly recommended. FMP:TSR is the main plot sequel, and the early word is promising.

    There is a reason why Tessa captains the sub, and arguably two.

    Other potentially fun mecha series for you would be Nadesico and Dai Guard.

  2. ubu roi says:

    Dunno about Dai Guard, but Nadesco and FMP are my two favorite series so far. Don’t take Nadesico seriously though.

    You will probably find that the the middle stretch, when Souske has to go back to Buttcrackistan (whatever they call it) to be difficult. The thing I disliked the most was that they never explained how an 8 yr old Japanese boy ended up in the middle of all that–it wasn’t even a question raised.

    There’s a brief arc involving the team plus Tessa and Kaname getting thrown together under pressure that has a number of good moments, but theres a random reality blunder (it’s in the ship, you’ll probably know it when you see it) that spoiled it for me. Despite that, it was easily Kalinin’s best segment.

    There’s a couple of throwaway episodes, very weak IMHO. I’d have relieved Tessa of command over one of them. Then the final arc gets rolling. There were a number of nitpicks and dislikes there; once again in anime, the US Military is portrayed somewhat negatively. To me, the best scene is when…ah, but that would be a spoiler. Let’s just say that Tessa’s tougher than she looks.

    I have to ding the series for all the loose threads lying about, and obvious plot cliche’s like Gauron’s supposed death(s), but it’s a darn good series. At the end though, I felt it was most harmed by one thing. After all they’ve been through, Kaname and Souske should be tighter than two strands in a rope, yet they’re not. There’s always a certain amount of audiance “pull” for the main characters to get together, but it’s hard to imagine two people (let alone teens) going through what they do together and not becoming very close, emotionally at least. Both of them maintain their distance from each other–I can see it with Souske, because he’s still very tightly wrapped. But I have a harder time believing Kaname doesn’t seriously start thinking about her life after high school, what it means to be what she is, and Souske. It make her look shallow.

    Still, there’s a reason I put her in my fantasy harem.

  3. HC says:

    Yeah, FMP has a (relatively) weak middle. The military portrayals make more sense if you think of it as a military overlaid upon a feudal setup – Tessa’s family is big in Mithril.

    Dai Guard, like Nadesico, is half parody. Straight mecha shows that do not devolve into angst-fests are… rather rare. You’re almost better off trying to identify an acceptable level of angst, and then look for a show that is otherwise good.

    In the alternative, plumb the horrors of Brain Powered… and never fear any lesser mecha series.

    1. tessa says:

      I really love full metal panic as you do. I can’t wait for the next series , the fourth

  4. Sub captains – particularly ones who see a lot of conflict – are usually hard-nosed men of steely resolve, not soft-spoken doe-eyed teenage girls.

    It’s interesting that you should write that. It’s virtually a word-for-word quote from the third DVD.

  5. Wonderduck says:

    I’ll third Nadesico. Consistently fun series, even when it get a little grim and tries to get gritty on Mars.

    There was something about FMP that rubbed me the wrong way. Maybe in a few months I’ll try it again, but I couldn’t get out of the first disc the last time.

    Hmm… if you and I are both being written by SDB, does this mean he’s schizophrenic? Wouldn’t all three of us like FMP if we’re the same person?

  6. Pixy Misa says:

    No! Don’t listen to him!

  7. DrHeinous says:

    Funny, I never considered Kaname the main character, rather I thought it was Sousuke. I liked Sousuke quite a bit more, plus he had all the cool toys.

    1. tessa says:

      Me, i consider the three of them as main characters. I mean tessa kaname and sousuke

  8. Ghostrider says:

    well there is alot of story plot that isn’t in the anime that is in the manga (funny how that happens) Kaname has quite a history. If you are looking really close in the first episode when they hold up the clip board with all her info you can see that see had family problems while young and even ran away from home. She is as emotionally distant as sousuke is she hides it in a different way. The writers IMHO did a great job of pairing the characters well and writing this better. Sousuke is not a cuddly cute person and that is why he blows up at kaname on the sub. She doesn’t know what he is and it rubs at him in a way that he can’t understand. The bond between them is very strong and if you watch TSR you see that he even falls asleep while she cuts his hair. If you can imagine sousuke in a salon with strangers covering his eyes and wielding sizzors it does not end well. I diverge from the subject, sousuke is not a soldier he was never trained to fight one to one in open warfare he is an assassin, and later kaname is told point blank about how many poeple ( i say people because it was not just men) he had killed. It made her a little sick.
    *spoiler stuff ignore if you don’t want to read*

    Sousuke was on a japanese passanger plane that went down in Russia where he was trained as an assassin for the russians to kill the helmagistan (afghanstan) resistance leader. He failed and instead fought for the helmagistanies against the russians. This is where he first meets Gauron they aren’t fighting eachother Gauron is supplying the rebels or something but when he sees the very young sousuke he becomes obsessed and that is part of the reason Gauron makes sousuke so miserable. He wants to see sousuke like he was back then a souless “angel of death.”

  9. Geliormth says:

    FMC! is really a good anime series, especially for Mecha.
    But I must disagree with you about Testarossa Theresa, she might look incertain, and not suited for her position. But as you will see in The Second Raid, she is a very good tactician.

  10. TheDeepDark says:

    Okay, this was refreshing to hear. I’m glad to know that TSR is going to be worth my time finding and seeing. I actually bought the original run of FMP after only seeing episodes 3 and 4 at a convention, and borrowing the first couple Manga. I’d eventually like to own the manga as well… Probably find TSR first, though.

  11. abc123 says:


    Anyone know if they're coming out with a season 4 soon because I know the last book part 2 will be out this Friday August 20,2010 :/

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