Full Metal Panic! is an anime/manga/another manga/series of novels. The TV anime series premiered in January of 2002 and has been fan subbed to death already. The TV series was produced by Gonzo, Digimation, and WOWOW. The show is a brilliant blend of romantic comedy and action, as well as beautiful animation, amazing CG effects, and good music. The action is provided by giant mechs or mechas, whichever you prefer, called Armor Slaves (or ASes in the show). The show progresses around the relationship between the two main characters, Sagara Sousuke and Kaname Chidori. Chidori is being protected by a secret army of mercenaries called Mithril because she is wanted by the KGB and other 'terrorist' organizations. For reasons unknown at the time. And so the tale begins...

Notes on Mithril

Mithril is a top-secret military organization that seems to be both associated and unassociated with the UN. Their main base is a giant submarine, the Tuatha de Danaan. It's hinted that it is a global organization. They seem to take responsibility for "terrorists and drug factories." Stuff the UN can't touch because of political problems. Their technology is at least 10 years ahead of conventional military technology at the timeframe of the series; seemingly present day, but the Soviet Union still exists. Go Figure.

Characters

Sagara Sousuke - Teenage elitist member of Mithril. Began military training as a child (before age of 8) for what I understood to be his nation's Independence War. A strategic and technical genius. But he's spent his entire life around a military 'men' and not in any informal social situations. So naturally he's selected to attend a high school as a mission. To his class mates, he is nothing but a military "otaku", or 'fan-boy' and a nuisance to his teacher (with his bringing of automatic guns loaded with hollow point bullets and live grenades to school and all). Hilarity ensues.

Chidori Kaname - most popular and pretty girl in school, her class representative and star of the softball team. She is wanted for a unique power that she posses, the ability to 'know' how top secret military technology functions, operates, and how to build it. People like her, Whispereds are responsible for the Lambda Driver (later), and the Armor Slaves in general. Chidori's power has made her the target of pretty much one man, named Gaul. She has a crush on Sagara, but won't admit it; is also frequently beating Sagara over the head with a roll of paper.

Gaul - Chinese crime... lord? International terrorist? Drug Dealer? I'm not sure what he is, one thing's for certain though, he's a bad guy. And he dies a lot. He has the ability to use the Lambda Driver at will, which makes his Silver AS an impossible opponent for all but, guess who, Sagara, his long time enemy. Sagara 'killed' this man once before when Gaul invaded his country. And kills him at least twice in the series. What's weird is Gaul doesn't have an army, isn't the ruler of a country, doesn't have zillions of dollars at his disposal.... He somehow miraculously has a Silver AS that kicks everyone's ass.

Teletha Testarossa (Tessa) - 16 year old supreme high commander of the Tuatha de Danaan. Sometimes you wonder who's dick she sucked to get into that position. Seriously. She has no combat experience, is spastic, quiet, uninformed (seemingly by choice), unathletic, clumsy, and a Whispered (which explains everything). She has the ability to communicate directly with the Tuatha de Danaan through her powers, but only when/if she's in this pod thing. She's "in love" with Sagara, but aside from random sexual positions on a beach (that make Sagara uncomfortable) nothing ever comes of it. Because of her age and lack of experience she feels that she has to prove everyone wrong when they say she can't do something.

Kurz Weber - A sharpshooter with an eye for the ladies. Tries to get it on with everything with two boobs. He is Sagara's partner in Mithril and plays a minor role throughout the series, even though he's in almost every episode.

Melissa Mao - Sagara's and Kruz's commanding officer. She has a rivalry with Tessa and gets drunk off non-alcoholic beer. That's pretty much it.


Armor Slaves

M9 - Most modern mass-produced Armor Slave. Used by all Mithril members. It features advanced user-recognition safety functions, invisibility, and increased mobility over older models. It's weapons vary from sub machine gun to a big ass sniper rifle, but a very large bowie knife is standard issue. The knife's edge is serrated all the way around and features a chain-saw like movement of the teeth.

RK-Savage - A Russian-made Armor Slave. Awkward in design and movement, but highly dependable and requires little maintenance. Weapons include a very large AK-47 type gun and a spade shaped dagger.

Arbarest - Sagara Sanosuke's personal AS, fully equipped with a lambda driver plus some. It has an advanced AI that conformed itself to Sagara, so he's pretty much the only one who can use it. His skills alone means he's pretty much the only one who can use it. He has one of those large bowie knives, and is usually equipped with a shotgun. 'Aru' as Sagara calls it, is transported by ICBM, shot out from the Tuatha de Danaan to where it's needed.

Gaul's Armor Slaves - Gaul has two AS's in the series. At first he has a silver one with hair, and the second one is a red one with a chain gun. The silver one is highly mobile and can easily dodge bullets. Both are equipped with the lambda driver, so they really don’t need to dodge the bullets at all.

M6 - The most modern non-mithril Armor Slave. It runs on gas and is used by NATO and the UN. Easier to operate than the M9, but not as advanced.


Lambda Driver

The Lambda Driver is part of what is called Black Technology in the series. Probably designed and built by various Whispereds. It has the ability to turn some one's will into a physical energy attack or a shield capable of reflecting bullets. The operator of the AS equipped with a lambda driver must concentrate on a goal in order to see it through. When two lambda drivers meet, the one with the more powerful force of will wins.


Episode List

These are the titles presented to me by the various fansubs I downloaded. Not all are from one fansub group. Some translations are not entirely accurate.

  1. The Worrisome Guy is a Sergeant
  2. I Want to Protect You.
  3. Lingerie Panic
  4. Kidnap
  5. Whispered - The One who Whispers
  6. Still Alive
  7. Boy Meets Girl
  8. Part Time Steady
  9. A Dangerous Safehouse
  10. Run, Running, Ran
  11. Behemoth Awakes
  12. One night Stand
  13. The Cat and the Kitty Cat's Rock and Roll
  14. Is Narashino Burning?
  15. The Wind in the Homeland, Part 1
  16. The Wind in the Homeland, Middle Story
  17. Rising Wind in the Homeland, Final Book
  18. Ocean Party
  19. Engage: Six-Seven
  20. Venom's Fire
  21. Deep Trap
  22. Jack in the Box
  23. A Giant's Field
  24. Into The Blue

Opinions

Full Metal Panic! is good. Very Good. But it's unoriginal. Nearly every aspect of the show can be directly linked to another mech anime; Neon Genesis Evangelion and Gundam Wing mostly, with hints of Escaflowne and the much-to-be-disappointed-with G Gundam. Regardelss, the anime is worth watching. The music, plot, and scripts (possibly due to the unofficial translations) aren't the best, but the animation and humor is. Unfortunately, both the animation and humor give way to a half-decent plot towards the end of the series. In the first couple of episodes, you're treated with stunning mech fights that include amazing CG effects. At the end of the series, the mech fight has been boiled down to two humongous robots squirming on the ground in sexually provocative positions. The same thing happens to the humor. Still, it's worth the download until it becomes available to buy. Then it's worth renting to see if you like it.

Also, I forgot to mention, this is the first anime where I have seen black people. Not those rich yuppie African Americans that act white, but pure Ghetto thugz who'll pop a cap in yo' ass. They are members of Mithril, however. They appear in the Wind in the Homeland episodes if you want to witness American-Ghetto black men who speak perfect Japanese.


asterphage says Speaking of Full Metal Panic's unoriginality, the M9 looks to me *a lot* like one of the main mecha from Gasaraki, but scaled up to the size of the robots from Patlabor. This is good, though, since those influences are some of the nicest "realistic" robot designs in anime.


dokool says re Full Metal Panic: series has been licecned by ADV, vol 1 is due out in the USA in June. (2003)

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