Okay guys, I know I've not been very recent with my updates, so bear with me... Sort of blogger's block, of sorts... Okay, same excuse again, I know... Anyway, this is an anime I really, REALLY enjoyed, so let us get down to da review!
Okay, ever met some of those so-called 'freaks' that go on and on about a certain subject nobody wants to hear? Yeah like this one right here *points at self*, the anime freak, can't stop spouting nonsense bout anime... Meet any war-freaks? People who can name each and every gun on tv, and give running commentaries on war techniques and facts when a military-themed movie is on? Well then, met anyone who actually acts like a born-on-the-battlefield soldier? Well, if these musings are remotely striking a chord somewhere (or if you actually understand what the heck I'm saying), imagine a real-life, teenage dyed-in-the-wool specialist soldier pushed into school after spending all his years on a battlefield. Real messy, no?
Welcome to the world of Full Metal PANIC! then, boys and girls! Yeap, I meant exactly what I've been rumbling about up there.
Sergeant Sagara Sousuke, codename URUZ-7, is a soldier of Mithril, a top secret NGO that operates in secret around the world, protecting world peace via covert military operations. An Arm Slave (AS, giant machines armed with heavy artillery and armour, used as an extension of the pilot's body... Just think of it as a very low-tech GUNDAM) specialist, he was born and bred on the battlefields of Afghanistan, therefore his life was that of constant war and survival. An excellent soldier, he has served in many missions for Mithril, and was recently attached to the submarine Tuatha de Danaan, under the command of yet another teenage prodigy, Teletha Testarossa. In one of the early episodes, in a battlezone while covering for civilians, he recovers and pilots one of Mithril's top secret AS, a prototype model known as the Arbalest unit, equipped with the mysterious Lambda Driver, a mode that apparently synchronizes the actions of the Arbalest with the brain-waves of the pilot, allowing for feats impossible for ordinary AS. As the original technician died in a raid, he is the only one currently capable of piloting the said Arbalest. Then he is sent, for reasons of age, to Japan, where he is to go undercover as a high school student to protect a girl known as Kaname Chidori. (the gal with the blue hair above... Don't ask me why anime characters have all these funny hair colours...) Well, with juggling two jobs, protecting Kaname AND piloting Arbalest to save the world, that must relly be the limit, isn't it? Well guess what. As he has and always been a soldier, HE HAS NO IDEA HOW TO ACT THE PART OF A NORMAL HIGH SCHOOL KID. Get the picture? No? Ok then, let me spell it out for ya... Kaname, from the very get go, guessed that Sousuke was trailing and watching her, what with all the FBI-style gunpoint interrogation techniques on people who just wanna talk with her... When asked for a diversion to steal term papers by Kaname, he threw a smoke grenade into the room... Blowing up the locker room because he was suspicious of a love letter in his locker... The list goes on...
However, you are wrong if you think that this anime is all about laughter and fun. A secret organization, the anti-thesis of Mithril, Amalgam, is on the lookout for Kaname. To the point, they are after her secrets... No, not those Secrets! Kaname, as it turns out, is a Whispered. Okay, for the lost... Whispered are exceptional individuals that possess secret technological knowledge that are either buried within their subconciousness or are present in their active conciousness. Kaname is one of the former types, while Tessa (the captain of the de Danaan, Teletha Testarossa) is the latter. In order to obtain this so called Black Technology (which actually gave birth to the Lambda Driver technology), Amalgam seeks these individuals out for ends only they know. So you still get that war and battle fix, fans of military battles... However, like all anime, what's an anime without some good old love angles (or rather triangle in this case), especially when it is punctuated by a lot of laughter and slamming on the part of the poor hero... Haih... *grin*
Alright, review time! This anime stretches over 2 seasons, Full Metal PANIC! and the sequel, Full Metal PANIC!: The Second Raid, so it is quite a long one, with an added spin-off called Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu. (some maintain that Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu IS the second season, but I'll leave the debate there...) Both Full Metal PANIC! and The Second Raid focus on war and the development of the angle between Sousuke and Kaname, his growing frustrations with the Arbalest and the hounding of his footsteps by Gauron, an old adversary while he was still in Afghanistan. Fumoffu, however, is a spin-off with ENTIRELY 100% laugh-till-you-drop scenes. So if you want the anime itself, with the character advancement, love triangles and haunting war scenes and the sort, take the two proper seasons. IF you have a bad day and wanna laugh till you drop dead, take Fumoffu. Honest. This is now my recipe for laughter online, with Hardo Gae coming in a close second. Hehehehe... All in all, a great anime, lovely artwork (though some scenes may not be suitable for young kids, you know, slight nudity, gore, violence, yadda yadda yadda...), real military operations and fleshed out characters. Definitely a 5 star rating from me, anytime.