Greetings! I am back with the 2nd installment of “Should You Watch?”. In this series I explore an anime series and answer whether a series is worth your time. For the first post in the series I discussed the series FLCL. You will find the post here. This time I have another series which returned after a long layoff with a new season this year. The series is Full Metal Panic!
Series Discussed: Full Metal Panic! (24 episodes)
Full Metal Panic? Fumouffu (12 episodes)
Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid (13 episodes)
Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory! (12 episodes)
Series Run: 2002-Present
Synopsis (from Wikipedia)
The series follows Sousuke Sagara, a member of a covert anti-terrorist private military organization known as Mithril, tasked with protecting Kaname Chidori, a spirited Japanese high school girl. He moves to Japan to study at Chidori’s school, Jindai High School, with assistance from his comrades Kurz Weber and Melissa Mao. Having never experienced social interactions, Sousuke is seen as a military maniac by his schoolmates as he interprets everyday situations from a combat perspective. He comes to relate with Chidori who realizes that Sousuke is protecting her, but he does not reveal the reasons due to orders as well as the fact that he does not know why Chidori is being targeted by different organizations.
Full Metal Panic, The Second, Raid, and Invisible Victory
One major strength of Full Metal Panic is it’s characters. From the caring but hot headed Kaname to the bad ass but naive Sousuke, Full Metal Panic boasts characters which go beyond archetypes. Sousuke may seem like a one note character but as the plot progresses you find a character that really takes each failure to heart. So much so that besides his stoic confident facade, he is actually quite insecure. He also is troubled because his failures have harmed others. The series’ heroine Kaname is also a great character because for the most part she is not helpless damsel. She is smart, tough, and not someone to be messed with. She is also someone who really cares about the well being of others and has no issues with being a leader. I also loved the contradiction among a lot of the characters. Many of the characters are good people but they are involved in not so nice things or they have a tortured past. The characters feel very real in this series.
Another reason that I enjoyed Full Metal Panic as much as I did is the fact that despite a relatively far-fetched premise, the series in it’s more series moments tends to stay rather grounded. Unlike some other series with mechs, the world is full metal panic is really a believable one and not that dissimilar from our own. They also really keeps on a personal level with many of the characters. Sure, there are large scale battles, but at the core of the battles are the personal stories and struggles. The series does an amazing job of balancing the large and small scale stakes in it’s conflicts.
Speaking of it’s conflicts, the narrative in the Full Metal Panic series is actually quite enjoyable. The series mixes your fish out of water story with dramatic and action packed military conflicts, and some amazing character arcs. The series does an awesome job of weaving Sousuke’s past and character arc into the conflicts that occur. In addition, the events organically cause the romantic plot between our two main characters to grow. This comes to a head in the climax of the latest season.
The series does have a lighter side as well. The lighter parts of the series can be seen in some of the characters or their interactions with each other. In between missions, Sousuke’s naive nature is certainly the source of some humor. In addition, some of the other members of Mithril such as Kurz and Melissa can provide some humor as well. These interludes are neither forced or unnecessary to the series. Such scenes are not forced into the narrative at all and they help the overall experience of watching the series.
The series is also a pleasure to look at. Admittedly, the 3D animation they use is very inconsistent and since the early seasons were released the 2000’s and some of the animation certainly can seem dated compared to modern series. However, it doesn’t mean that it is horrible to look at. The latest season, Invisible Victory looks quite amazing and is able to keep the older style while looking crisp and new.
Fumouffu is an interesting series to tackle. In the midst of a series which has relatively serious drama and action, Fumouffu takes the characters from the franchise and sticks them in a comedy. Sure, there are comedy aspects to the other seasons but Fumouffu takes those elements and ramps them up to 11. As one would expect, much of the comedy centers around Sousuke and his clueless nature. Surprisingly, the comedy for the series is quite good.
One would think that that jokes would grow stale over the course of the series, however they do not. I actually wanted more once the season ended. What makes it work is Sousuke himself along with his relationship with Kaname. The two have an interesting and contradictory dynamic anyway but add in absurd scenarios and it just highlights that dichotomy further. Also the actions of the characters in this season are what you would expect based off their personalities. You can totally by the characters doing such things.
In many cases such a diversion or change in tone would absolutely ruin a franchise, however I feel that Fumouffu aids in the argument to watch the series. The fact that you can take a charatcer from a more serious story and put them into a comedy without changing the characters is a testament to how well the characters are written in the first place. It also tells you that the setting and premise of the story is a good one because it can be adapted to different genres without losing anything.
So should you watch Full Metal Panic? My answer is a resounding yes and I will designate this series as a Classic ranking. Full Metal Panic is a series which really nails all of things that it is trying to accomplish. Whether it is a funny moment or dramatic one, Full Metal Panic hits it’s emotional notes perfectly. Full Metal Panic Invisible Victory was one of the least talked about sequels to come out this year and that is a shame. The franchise has a lot to offer and I recommend that you check it out if you haven’t done so already. Hopefully, I was able to convince you to give it shot if you haven’t done so already.
So what do you think of Full Metal Panic? Please comment below or message me on Twitter (@Railgunfan75) or Facebook (Railgunfan75’s Geek Blog). For the next installment of Should You Watch, I will be discussing Steins; Gate. Also, I wanted to remind everyone to please submit your nominations for Best Boy for my upcoming Best Boy classic. The information can be found here which includes a link to submit your nominations. I am looking at closing nominations in about 2 weeks so submit your choices soon. So until next time, this is Railgunfan75 signing off. See you soon and stay geeky my friends!
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