Full Metal Panic Mission 01 (2002)
Review by Dindrane

Original story by Shouji Gatou
Directed by Koichi Chigira
Opening and Closing Vocals by Mikuni Shimokawa
Voices by Tomokazu Seki, Satsuki Yukino, Chris Patton, Luci Christian, Vic Mignogna, et al.


Dindrane's Anime Warnings:

Released by: ADV
Region: 1
Rating: 15+
Anamorphic: N/A; appears in its original 1.33:1 format.

My Advice: Anime fans will want to own. Others should give it a rental.

Full Metal Panic is an interesting hybrid anime; it combines massive military action and mecha battles with high school silliness and something more in the genre of Tenchi Muyo. Our fish-out-of-water hero, Sousuke Sagara, is military to the core, but he's been assigned to guard vivacious, popular high school girl Kaname Chidori. Russian terrorists want to kidnap her. So Sagara goes undercover as a high school student himself, and his total lack of socialization yields much madness and humor.

The plot is quite interesting. Anyone who likes tales of non-government secret groups, as well as organizations bent on destroying crime will appreciate Mythril. There are a few questions of course still left unanswered, such as why the delicate child Tessa is captaining the ship, but future volumes bid fair to answer us just fine, and a little mystery is good.

The audio and video quality are both outstanding. There's not a peep out of place on the digital sound transfer, and all sound effects are blessedly balanced in volume with the dialogue. Battle bits should be a little louder, of course, but there's nothing worse that a show with whispered conversations you can barely hear and yet fight scenes that blow you out of your house. None of that here, and both the Japanese and the English actors are good here--take your pick. The art is just stunning. The shading and shadows are nicely handled, as are the lighting effects and color distributions. The character faces are particularly gorgeous here. It's very nice to be getting a lot of newer anime shows almost as quickly as the Japanese audiences get to see them.

We also have a nice passel of features on this disc. The DVD case has a reversible cover that is a physical reminder of the wide appeal of this show: one side has a nice portrait of a mecha and is all grays and blues. The other side, in pink and with Japanese lettering, has a nice pose of Chidori. We also get a nice fold-out poster of the mecha, clean opening and closing, and a pair of Japanese piracy warnings that are just hysterical--any insight into Japanese life is appreciated. Finally, there is a nice selection of production sketches that will please any would-be artist or manga-ka.

Full Metal Panic is one of the rare anime shows that should appeal to both shoujo and shonen fans; the shoujo fans get a hint of romance, good characterization, and high school fun, and the shonen fans get massive mecha, lots of battles, and political conspiracy. Both get an interesting plot, secret groups, beautiful art, fun science fiction elements, and mystery.

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